Updated: Sep 8
Today sitting in my living room shivering from the cold, that's what living in a house built in 1898 feels like. I realized that I have gotten back into an old habit of mine. A habit that I have not consciously participated in for some years- clinching my jaw, grinding my teeth, and wearing my shoulders for earrings.
I was shivering at my computer working and scanning the internet, scrolling through all the beauty and vitriol that is social media. When I realized...
I don't think this is just cold...
When I notice reactions in my body I have a habit (thanks to the Jungian Journaling) of scanning to see what's up with me. I take a minute to find out what I'm feeling. Is it fear? Is it fear disguised as anger or vise versa? Is it sadness? Is it sadness disguised as fear or vise versa? Is it powerless? Is it powerless disguised as rage or vise versa? Is it all the above. Sometimes a body/emotion scan can take a few minutes sometimes days.
One recent scan took the whole of the holidays and through the New year. I was unconsciously body/emotion scanning for almost 2 months trying to figure out why I was so sad about something someone said to me after the elections. When I finally "really" sat with it I realized not that I was sad, but that I was VERY ANGRY and hadn't felt comfortable in the situation to feel the full extent of my anger (sometimes when we feel what we need to feel, there is an action that needs to follow and at an unconscious level I knew when I needed to follow this feeling with an action). When I finally gave myself the room to feel it, I knew what course of action I needed to take.
Luckily, I can get to my emotions these days much faster than I used to. And if I allow awareness to be present, even at a low level I can usually get to what I'm feeling in a few minutes.
Today, as I looked at my feed I became aware of deep sadness. The sadness I realized was the let down after the Women's March! The power, joy, camaraderie of marching for the rights of EVERYONE with 100,000 Oregonians, in the pouring rain. It was beautiful! Then watching the videos from marches around the world come through my feed. It is unexplainable, seeing women, men, and children from all different walks of life come together in a loving gesture of solidarity.
Today, the high ended with the realization of how far we still have to go and our tendency for those of us with privilege is to make a good show of it, but not back that show up with on the ground action. There is so much to do!
I was brought up short again with an "all lives matter" response to a Black Lives Matter post that I shared. Okay, I'm not shocked by the ignorance of this person, but again with the cold water to the face.
There is so much to do!
I know enough about feelings, to know that regardless of our comfort those feelings need to be felt.
The tears need to be shed.
The rage needs to be given a voice.
The anger needs to be felt.
The grief given room.
Those feelings unfelt, come out in all kinds of unkind ways to ourselves and the people we love the most. And usually, they don't go to where they belong. That's the way of things. We turn that pain and heartache in ourselves with old words of rejection, abandonment, isolation, and self-harm. And then when that doesn't serve us, we turn it on our safe people. We turn that rage on those that have our back. That's the power of unfelt feelings and shadow. If we saw it, if we felt it, we could better put it where it really needs to go.
How do we survive this thing we are witnessing?
This might be political, racial, sexual, old as the day we were born, or a new realization to us. Whatever its roots - It needs to be felt.
So here is my radical plan to foil the agendas mentioned above:
Find a safe place in your house, car, work, school or work bathroom, in the shower, in the woods. If you don't yet have that safe space - carve it out. In your closet, under your covers, in a bubble bath, with a dog or cat on your lap.
Once you feel safe and cozy, start breathing deeply in and out. FYI, sometimes when I breathe deeply, I try too hard. I try to breathe a certain way and it fucks up my process. Yes, it fucks it up. I worry too much about breathing right and not about relaxing. Those that know me understand this. (and if you are still concerned that I said the F word you might be missing my point).
Just breathe slowly, finding a rhythm that works for you. Getting relaxed and feeling safe is the important part.
Now you're in your safe place. You have a breathing rhythm. Now put your hand on your heart, belly, or where ever feels like your center. For me, it is usually my heart area.
Now rest there. This is where your body/emotion scan begins.
Now with your hand resting on your center, listen. You are listening to what your inner voice is saying to you. You are listening to how that voice prompts you. Sometimes it takes time to winnow it down because we are layered, sometimes it's because we feel multiple feelings at once, or we are riddled with anxiety. This is where I rely on the first thought, best thought method, it hasn't let me down. This method is trust your first thought first, especially where your feelings are concerned. This doesn't mean you go straight to who you think the perpetrator was and rip them a new one. It means you sit with that feeling and let it be felt.
Sit with the feeling and let it be felt. Sound easy? Well, it is in a way. But easy doesn't mean comfortable. Because like I said earlier, sometimes when we feel the feelings, an action is required. And as I'm sure most of you know actions can be costly! There is no use pretending they aren't. Also when we are feeling hard feelings we feel vulnerable and exposed (this is why we do the above) and feeling stuff can be hard.
If it doesn't feel clear the first time, do it again and again as your schedule allows (also a very decent meditation tool).
If you felt an action is required, you get to decide if it is safe to pursue, you need help or you can let it lay for awhile. You are in charge of you!
Why do I say this? The road ahead is long and there is so much to do! And many on the road have been fighting a generationally long time and they are tired. And if we can feel our feelings it will be easier to own our part and keep our side of the street clean. And that is the least we can do for ourselves and others.