We live in a time of brushing things under the rug.
We are holding back tears and internalizing our stress.
We clench our fists and curl our toes and keep our lips tight. Sometimes, it’s anger. When someone says something vile or does something cruel. Or perhaps it’s a lingering sadness. Something unsaid, or an opportunity missed. For a brief moment, we can feel the emotion within us, pushing wildly at our skin and bringing warmth and moisture to our eyes. We have a choice then, in that moment—to feel everything or to hide it away somewhere deep inside, where it will sit and grow, grow, grow, until one day, it erupts, a violent volcano of words and energy and negativity.
Decades ago Freud postulated that important feelings could be stifled before they entered consciousness. And in the years since, others have asserted that repressed feelings could emerge as illness. ~ NY Times.
Repressed emotions do a lot of damage, both physically and mentally. I feel like this is a pretty well accepted truth. As animals, we aren’t built to handle constant, internalized stress. It tears holes in our insides and invites inflammation into our being. When emotions are constantly internalized, our bodies think that we’re under attack. We go into “survival mode,” and everything that doesn’t need to be working, stops working—like our immune system and our digestion. The feelings don’t just dissipate into the universe. They’re there—in the marrow of your bones and the lobes of your lungs and the cells of your brain. They might make you perpetually achy and have unexplained pain in your joints. You might feel unstable, unbalanced or foggy.
So what can be done instead of repressing those powerful emotions?
You feel them. Feel everything.
When you feel that sadness bubbling up in your ribs, don’t keep it in. When you feel anger spreading red hot in your cheeks, invite it with an open heart. Know that it’s there—that sadness, that anger—and be kind to it. Imagine your anger as a frightened child and nurture it. Allow it to cry out. Allow yourself to cry out. Press your hands to your heart center and cry, wail, sob, scream, bellow, bawl, sniffle and then—something beautiful—a smile. A smile?
Feeling emotions will lead to the most blissful sense of relief that you’ve ever experienced.
You can feel the anger (and it’ll only last a moment!) and then let it free into the universe, never to return again. No more worrying about exploding when you feel those repressed emotions tickling at your insides. No more burned bridges or awkward meetings. You are free.
And what about all of the emotions that I’ve hidden for so long?
You feel them, too. You must bring them to the surface. Find a comfortable place, and a comfortable posture, like lotus pose, or savasana. Find silence, and space away from the hustle & bustle of your daily routine. You might even lay in the bathtub, or get cozy in bed.
First, recognize the emotions. Discover them by focusing your attention to your ajna chakra—the spot right in the center of your forehead, and your heart center. Give them a nod, and invite them to rise, rise. As they come, feel everything. At this point, you must become open. Spacious. Feel how much the sadness tugs on your heart and raises the hair on your arms. Indulge in the power and heat of anger, like the tumbling, swelling, crashing tides of the sea.
Feel powerful, for you are a force of nature. You are a beautiful being of both light & darkness, and for one to exist, the other must be recognized, and embraced.
Sometimes, you need a little extra kick to get the emotions out. Yoga works wonders—especially hip openers like kapotasana and supta baddha konasana. The hips are like the junk drawers of the body—all of the stuff we don’t know what else to do with we put there. Stretch your hips, your legs, your spine and feel as the alignment of your energy centers unveils emotions that may have even been hidden to you.
When everything’s all out in the open, dance. Smile. Cry warm tears of joy. And then, when new emotions rise and swell, feel them! Fully. With every part of yourself.
Life is nothing but emotions, you see, and all of them are equally as beautiful. Anger, bliss, sadness, passion and joy alike.
To be the brightest and most blissful being of light that you are, you must make sure you’ve shaken free all hidden emotions, like a tree in the Autumn that drops its leaves so that new and beautiful ones may grow.
Kristen Hedges is a registered yoga and meditation instructor, holistic health coach, Kombucha brewer, raw milk drinker and spreader of light and love. You can discover more of her work at her website or on Facebook.
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Assistant Ed: Wendy Keslick/Ed: Kate Bartolotta