Have you ever left a yoga class, meditation, reiki session or retreat with that calm, at peace and totally ‘Zen’ with the world feeling, only to have it shatter the moment you arrive home?
Here’s why; you could be using the peace to escape, not to do the work to heal.
I have experienced this many times myself and it took me a very long time to understand what was happening, and why. However, once I understood it changed my life and my relationship with these amazing spiritual practices forever.
The human body is an amazing thing, not only does it move, see, feel, hear, smell and think, it is also a store house for all our emotional memories. When we experience trauma, grief or emotional woundings that we aren’t ready to deal with, our bodies have the ability to tuck that pain away into our cells, where over time it gets expressed through our organs, bones and muscles as pain, illness and injury.
To find out more on this take a look at:
- Sean Grover’s Psychology Today article, Where You Store Stress in your Body, in this article Sean discusses his years of observing clients and how the body responds to different types of woundings and stressors and where in the body it is stored and manifested.
- Research by Nummenmaaa, Glereana, Harib and Hietanend, Bodily maps of emotions, that has mapped where emotions are activated within the body.
- Louise L Hay’s book, You Can Heal Yourself which speaks directly to the body map of emotion and unhealed pain.
Because our bodies contain these maps to our emotional pain, when we take time to deeply listen and feel, they also reveal the key to healing our repressed woundings. Our spiritual tools and practices are designed to help this process, revealing to us what we have been too afraid to see. However, so often we prefer to focus on our state of Zen, and not the emerging pain and discomfort.
The meditation, the energy healing, the tai chi sessions, they relax and open our bodies, bringing us into the spaces in which our woundings reside. But, more often than not, we stop at the point of relaxation, the opening. Thereby, arriving home without our emotional armour, and vulnerable to the triggers and challenges instilled in everyday life.
The challenge in this moment then is not to run, but to use this opening to heal. To do this we must be prepared to sit with the trigger and the pain, as it is an extension of, not in opposition to the healing process that we have begun.
Our society is fast paced and consumer driven, designed to provide us with maximum distraction from our mental and emotional pain. We are encouraged to indulge in distraction and self medication, distancing ourselves from what we don’t want to deal with or feel.
While many of these distractions may not be inherently bad for us, when they are used to numb the experience of trauma and discomfort and distract us away from the healing work, they are doing more harm than good.
Reiki, yoga, shamanism, meditation, and other practices and modalities, for a short time each day, week, month or year provide a balm to life’s frenetic pace and constant distractions, giving us permission to seek peace and calm for a while. During this time, we are present with ourselves, relaxed in our body and mind and connected with our heart.
Then it is over, and we come back into life with every intention of staying in this state of peacefulness and we are often able to do so, until we get the next text message, conversation, email or media story that triggers us back into our stressed state again. We slip back into old behaviours and responses and we are mortified and angry at the breaking of this blissful illusion. Because that is what it is, an illusion, a glimpse into what is possible but not yet realised.
So, what is happening?
When we mistake the tools for the purpose, we create an illusion of having done the work. Our practice and healing modalities are only tools to assist us to reach inside and gain access to our deeper woundings. They highlight the pathways to our woundings so that we can begin to really feel them. Feel the truth of our pain, and our potential for healing and wholeness. They light the path, they are not a panacea nor bypass around our trauma and discomfort, they are the way to the truth of it.
As we relax into these practices, we are more able to see the path of our own healing. Our body prepares the parts of us that need to let go in order to release the feelings held beneath.
As we stand at the entrance to our pathway, we have a choice; to turn away from that which may come crawling from the darkness, or to lean into it, greeting this strange new creature with love and compassion.
We can distant ourselves, dissemble and pretend, going back to our distractions until we are stressed enough and angry enough to use our tools of relaxation again. Or we can, upon our return home from our state of bliss, front up and face the darkness, sit with it, hold it, cry with it, see it, forgive it and most importantly thank it for showing up, so that the darkness can again return to the light.
How to Feel your Feelings
- An unpleasant feeling or memory arises
- Your mind launches into whatever inner story accompanies this feeling (‘I’m unlovable’…I’m a loser’…’I can’t deal with this’…’This is too hard to feel again’…’I’m too weak/not strong enough’)
- Stop thinking your feelings!
- Redirect your mind away from these thoughts and into the sensations in your body. Mentally name them (my chest is tight, my stomach is churning etc) You can also give then a shape, colour or texture.
- Breathe! Breathe into the feeling/sensation and allow it, give it permission to exist. Cry, shake, rock etc
- Take deep breaths. Keep feeling into your body. Let the feeling exist and trust it will leave (because yes, it will leave).
- Observe it changing. Watch it move.
- Notice that you have survived.
Adapted from work by Emily McDowell @emilyonlife
Resources for helping to face heavy emotions:
- Lifeline ph 13 11 14 or https://www.lifeline.org.au/
- talk to your GP, they can put you on a mental health plan (this reduces the costs of counselling) and refer you to some appropriate professionals
- not for profit counselling services eg Relationships Australia, Anglicare, UnitingCare
- The Gratitude Prescription by Will Pye
- The Presence Process by Michael Brown
About the author:
Louise is a healer, author, community worker and mother.
She started her healing practice The Wilga Tree in 2011 where she utilises the practice of Reiki, her years working in the community services industry and her own spiritual and healing experiences to support others in connecting with and reclaiming their own truest self.
Louise is an accredited Reiki Master/Teacher and Treatment Practitioner, with the national Reiki association, Reiki Australia, and having practiced Reiki and its healing modality since 2002, she is also an established Reiki Teacher.
Louise’s practice includes over 25 years of meditation and spiritual exploration, throughout which she has committed to her own inner heart work and personal growth, always seeking to bring the esoteric into practical life.
She has recently self published the first edition of her My Moon Journal. Based exclusively on the Lunar Year, the My Moon Journal challenges us to live outside the solar rhythms of our daily calendar and instead play in the light of the changing faces of the moon’s feminine energy.
Louise’s approach to enlightenment and awakening has always been to walk her talk, and while still far from perfected, Reiki above all things has enabled her to connect the dots between her healing and spiritual experience and everyday life.