Many, many years ago, after the breakup of a significant relationship I was cycling home one night trying as usual to suppress the feelings that were there, I remembered what I’d recently been reading in a book called “Emotional Clearing. In this book the author outlined a very simple way to let go of whatever you are feeling in the moment, to actually be in the present moment with the emotion. This may seem, well, kind of obvious in this age where the concept of mindfulness and being in the moment is everywhere but strangely enough still not grasped in any significant way when it comes to emotional freedom. Back then, even though I had years of therapeutic stuff under my belt it was still a revelation when I tried it, on my bike, thankfully in the dark as it involved tears! I took a deep breath in and out and just allowed the feelings to be felt. The revelation for me was, not only how easy it was to relieve the pressure that had been building up, but in the release of that first layer I realised why I’d been holding on to them. I was worried that if I released the guilt and loss over leaving him I would want to go back, this was so illogical that after ten minutes of crying I started laughing…
And this is an interesting point about emotional overwhelm and suppression, the illogicality of our thinking processes, conscious and unconscious. When we are caught up in the surface of a problem, usually going round and round with it both in our head and when talking about it, we seldom get below the surface and experience insights or revelations never mind complete release of the issue. There are exceptions to this of course such as Byron Katie’s “The Work”, or the “digging down” methods used by NLP, or an extremely skilled talk therapist who intuitively asks questions in such a way as to bring about release and insight. The difference with these examples is that certain ways of questioning bypass the conscious mind.
The mental body is separate enough from the emotional body to warrant different processes, though of course, as with every level of our being, they are intertwined; the methods mentioned above bridge both bodies. Despite that though we still need distinct methods to bring order to our thought processes and ways to specifically target emotional distress. We need methods that make dealing with distress easier in order to take the fear out of actually feeling the emotion, and that fear is significant for many reasons. One reason being that if there is unprocessed trauma or pain from the past because the unconscious mind always lives in the now moment the pain is still happening somewhere so we instinctively wish to avoid being retriggered. The problem with that though is the pain seems to take on arms and legs and grow bigger and farther away from reality with each telling. Nothing we remember is actually the truth of what actually happened, we remember through our own personal filters, and the further away the event the more it gets amalgamated with other memories until it’s an epic movie of pain and trauma. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were taught how to deal with this stuff in primary school!
So, where do we begin? In the present moment with what’s here now. If what is being presented now has roots in the past then that will either surface by itself or with a bit of digging/questioning we can go deeper. I would only recommend that if you are both comfortable with dealing with distress and know how to navigate through the process of going as deep as possible. In the meantime though I will describe a process similar to what I used all those years ago and still use in essence, though it’s been added to over the years through other training and experience so that the process I use now has evolved into quite a deep one that brings a more significant level of transformation.
At the foot of this post I have included a short audio version of this instruction as I think most of us find it easier to be guided through something rather than the drier version of reading a set of instructions. The process is as follows:
- Take a deep breath in and out, bringing your attention into the body.
- Ask yourself, “what am I feeling right now?”
- Continue breathing deeply as you name or acknowledge what you notice.
- As you name what is there then say, “Whatever I’m feeling is perfectly ok”, “It’s ok that I am feeling this, I’m ok”. Or words to that effect.
- Continue breathing more fully in and out of whatever is there, tracking any changes that occur and continuing to accept yourself and what you are feeling until you feel calm or at least neutral.
There are three elements to this, each one important on it’s own but combined,very powerful, first is breathwork. When we feel an unpleasant feeling we tend to tighten around it therefore trapping the feeling inside, this is partly how we end up with so many issues and physical tension. There are many other reasons but I’m trying to keep this short! The second element is in the naming or at least acknowledgement of what’s there, you don’t even have to be clear, you may notice a clear emotion, a state of being, a sensation or perceived sensation or even pain in the body in relation to whatever is going on, you may not be able to name what’s there and that’s fine. The important thing is that if you can’t, within a couple of breaths, name what’s there then just acknowledge the sense of it, or perhaps you need to make a sound. Try not to get caught up in a dialogue about what you notice, it actually really doesn’t matter. If it’s important thoughts will simplyarise that give you clear insight, if that doesn’t happen then insight is not needed. The third element is self acceptance, this part cannot be underestimated. Our upbringing, culture, peer group, schooling and so on has made the display of emotion uncomfortable for most, so accepting that emotion, perfectly normal feelings which we all have, is there is key to easier and faster release.
A word of caution; if you suspect that something you may not be able to handle may get triggered by doing this work but you really want to experience some relief then I suggest you seek help, perhaps a trusted friend who would do this process with you or find a therapist online while we are still in lockdown. I am still offering discounted sessions online whilst the country is in lockdown mode.