By Foster Gamble
When difficulties arise, our emotions are affected. It is common to resist our feelings, especially the uncomfortable ones, because they can hurt and it can seem that if we let ourselves really feel the fear, or sadness or anger…it might never stop.
But the truth is just the opposite. Feeling our feelings skillfully and responsibly is an absolutely vital part of liberating our selves and truly connecting with others.
Check out the video below to learn more about how you can support emotional well-being, and feel free to share any reflections at the bottom of the page.
Read a transcript of the audio (to translate the transcript, choose your language at the top of this page)
Emotion is a key aspect of the life force — that which motivates us. Looking at emotional dynamics through the lens of aikido energy awareness, I learned that while emotions can alert us to situations that need our immediate attention and action, they are often triggered by some inaccurate belief like “I’m worthless” or “I’m unlovable”. When we are centered emotionally, as well as physically, life energy pours effortlessly though our bodies. Then, when we’re alerted to a potential danger, it releases extra energy to prepare for potential fleeing, fighting, or other high performance requirement.
If we contract against it, it’s like squeezing on a balloon or a hose and we feel an over-stimulation in the belly that we call fear. We are conditioned to think fear is the problem — that it’s bad — and so we fight against it as if it were an enemy. Practicing aikido showed me that resistance to a force, in this case an alert, starts the problem. Look at how so many of the so-called “world leaders” seem to be struggling to suppress their own fear and then taking that same strategy of deception and domination into critical international situations. Fighting against the stimulation we call fear seems to further contract the energy system, moving the over-stimulation up into the chest where we experience it as sadness and a sense of loss. Many modern cultures discourage the free expression of sadness, especially for men. We’re supposed to keep a stiff upper lip, be strong, be a man. Yet, if we resist this experience, it further stifles the flow of motive energy, squeezing it up into the head where it creates the vibration we call anger. We can experience anger without having to take it out irresponsibly on anyone. If, instead, we repress it, our vital energy is contracted right out the top of our heads and our energy body starts to disconnect from our physical body as apathy, which can lead to depression — literally, the depressing of our vital force.
So, what’s the key to unlocking this process? As in aikido, blending with the force. People, generally, come out of depression, not into joy, but into the anger that was their last connection to their body. Allowing the vibration of anger without force or inappropriate action allows it to disappear. Then, the sadness will tend to re-emerge. And, if we can stay centered in the experience of sadness, it, too, can dissipate, like a completed yawn, into the original feeling of fear. As we learn to let go of tightening against what we call fear, it, too, can evaporate, restoring the center of our emotional vortex to its natural alignment with the center of our being. This can be not only a relief, but a profound opportunity, often unveiling the initial triggering thought. This can be a moment for revising some skewed belief and better aligning it with our true nature. Then, our emotional energy can rise up once again up the spine, this time as vitalizing expansion rather than destructive contraction. Our centered torus field can expand to amplify the energy in the belly as excitement. Then, including the heart area as enthusiasm and on to the throat and face as radiant joy. Finally, transcending the boundaries of the physical and infusing the whole body with transcendent bliss.
Such a state may not be ideal for driving or usual social interactions, but it’s magnificent for healing and for intuitive insight. Understanding this functioning of emotion can encourage us to be more open to experience our feelings responsibly, to relax our bodies, and to free our minds, returning our energy to a centered state, allowing the natural breathing of our organism to fuel its energy and creativity.