How to Release Your Emotional Baggage? Feel Your Feelings in the Body

Emotions are your gateway to the soul. Dive into the core of any emotion, let it overwhelm you and go right into the heart of it, opening and surrendering to it. — Brandon Bays

As discussed in Moving From the Head to the Heart: Let Emotional Energy Flow, every time we do not allow an emotion to flow freely through us, by either grasping at it or pushing it away, we unconsciously store its energy in our body. This can have serious consequences for our health. Moreover, we are not really free to live our lives, because we constantly try to avoid situations and people that activate the pain we carry inside. How can we release these energies in a safe way and liberate ourselves? 🙂

First of all it is important to note that this cannot be done only at a mental level, by analyzing and rationalizing what happened to us. In fact, thinking obsessively about the past, desperately wanting to understand why we are feeling the way we do, will only fuel the emotion, keeping us stuck in the loop of living again and again the same experience. The only way out is to feel the emotions we are desperately trying to avoid and let them go. 

To be able to do this, it is fundamental to get out of our judging minds and be present, feeling the emotions in the body. Would you like to try it now? 🙂 Close your eyes and bring to mind a situation where you felt mild anger. What sensations arise in your body? Do you contract some muscles? Do you feel some heat? Where? Maybe in your chest? Or in your jaw?

If you find this exercise difficult, do not worry. When we are caught up in our thoughts we disconnect very easily from our body, so it might take some time before we are able to notice again its sensationsFortunately this is a skill that can be cultivated with a little bit of patience 🙂 A very good training consists in practicing regularly body scan meditations. If you are not familiar with this technique, you can find a description and an example in How To Get Started with Mindfulness Meditation: Some Ideas to Help You Establish Your Own Practice. More generally, practicing any activity that brings your full attention to physical movements can also be very helpful. Some examples are walking and eating mindfully, yoga and Social Presencing Theater. If you feel numb, start applying regularly any of these techniques and soon you will become naturally aware of your body sensations 🙂

What happens when something outside ourselves activates the pain hidden inside? How do we naturally react? Normally we try as much as possible to avoid feeling the hurt, by being aggressive or defensive. What if, instead, we would use this situation to release what’s stuck in us? How can we do it? 🙂

The process consists of two steps. First of all we need to consciously choose to feel the old emotion coming up. We name it, for example shame, fear, anger, anxiety, and so on, and locate it in the body. What are the sensations that arise? We pause an observe them with curiosity. Then, as a second step, we let the emotion go, namely we avoid judgmental and obsessive thoughts that would keep it stuck. By repeating this process over and over, the energies we carry inside will be progressively released 🙂

If we learn to be aware of feelings without grasping or aversion, then they can move through us like changing weather, and we can be free to feel them and move on like the wind. […] “Free” is not free from feelings, but free to feel each one and let it move on, unafraid of the movement of life. — Jack Kornfield

Always keep in mind that releasing emotional energies cannot be done all at once. In fact, it is a process that requires time, commitment and the willingness to feel discomfort. Be patient and gentle with yourself while going through it 🙂

This is very important: If you had deep trauma in your past, it is better not to do the work alone. Look for a meditation teacher or a therapist that can guide you and help you release the emotions in a safe way.

Do you feel particularly stuck in a certain area of your life? Is there an emotion inside of you that wants to be felt? Are you ready to release it? 🙂

Until you heal the wounds of your past, you are going to bleed. You can bandage the bleeding with food, with alcohol, with drugs, with work, with cigarettes, with sex; But eventually, it will all ooze through and stain your life. You must find the strength to open the wounds, stick your hands inside, pull out the core of the pain that is holding you in your past, the memories and make peace with them. — Iyanla Vanzant

Dealing with painful emotions can be particularly challenging. In How to Deal with Difficult Emotions? Say Yes to What Is you can find a specific mindfulness practice that can guide you through the process 🙂

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