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Dustin LindenSmith

father | musician | writer

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experiencing the emotion physically, then moving on

A great friend of mine recently told me about his approach to dealing with traumatic personal experiences. When his emotions are running hot during an intense period in his life, he finds it helpful to let himself feel the given emotion quite physically; like, he really feels it in his body. Whatever emotion is raised -- be it anger, anxiety, fear, stress, whatever -- he lets it settle into his body wherever it feels the most natural and then without judgement, or trying to dispel the feeling, he lets it work itself through his body however it sees fit. Sometimes it's painful, sometimes it's liberating. It all depends on the quality of the emotion and how tightly it's wrapped around our consciousness.

It's a useful visualization. For those of us who feel like we're stuck in the muck; unable to change; hung up on events, however traumatic, from our past; crippled by a perceived inability to move forward in our lives -- maybe there's some latent emotion that hasn't had the opportunity to work its way all the way through our system yet. It's probably something deep down that we've suppressed from our past, maybe even for years. We have to let that emotion come up, see the light of day, realize itself fully in our wakeful consciousness, and fulfill its natural course before ultimately leaving us.

It does eventually have to leave us, though. At some point, we have to let it go. If it doesn't leave us, if it doesn't release its hold on our ongoing thoughts, habits and actions, then we remain stuck. And we bring to a halt any apparent forward momentum we may have been building up over time. Not letting go of these suppressed emotions can cripple us indefinitely: it can impair our judgement, impede our clear seeing, and hold us back from realizing our natural potential. At some point, we must let go. And be free.

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wildgarden November 7th, 2005
I do this one. It's an old Vipassana technique.

This is why I've come to view bodywork itself, as the most effective form of psychotherapy.

iamom November 8th, 2005
Thanks for that tip. I didn't know it was a vipassana technique, too. I quickly researched that, and on one site I found some good meditation examples in this vein. Like this meditation on healing, this meditation on equanimity, and this meditation on not-self.

wildgarden November 8th, 2005
I just read all of these. Very nice, thanks.

whonowz November 8th, 2005
Something like this happens here but not as a visualization, it's just a case of feeling whatever arises. In fact it seems a lack of visualization is much more effective than anything else. There's no need to even name the feeling, like calling it anger, greediness, frustration, etc, they are not the names anyway, just feelings. Whatever arises is simply let to be what it is, all the so-called good, bad and ugly.

In seeing that whatever is being felt is not separate from me, there is nothing 'apart' to act on it, no separate 'entity' to do something, there is just feeling. In not being apart there is just me, and the feeling that arose is absorbed or dissipated as me. Can't really explain and I don't even need to understand what's happening, it just works. This also works for minor physical aches and pains, which are not separate from me either.

A word of caution here, this 'technique' (or whatever you want to call it) 'transforms' all feelings that arise, including those often considered 'good', feelings of love, compassion, happiness, everything, even the sense of self. So there is a continuous falling away into nothingness, which may be disturbing initially. With it however comes a lightness and wonder at the total simplicity of this 'annihilation', while at the same time having never felt so aware or so fully alive.

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