Releasing Difficult Feelings
The Buddha said "Carrying anger is like holding a hot rock that you intend to throw at someone else….in the end though, the only person it burns is you".
Often we carry emotion and feelings unconsciously. We feel a feeling and we feel that we are at the mercy of that feeling and have no choice about whether we carry it or not. Actually though if we look deeper we do have a choice. Consider for instance how some people grieve for things for years and others move on quickly. What is it that pulls a person out of grieving? There comes a time when a person says to themselves "I can't go on grieving like this" and a conscious decision is made that it's time to stop grieving. Effectively a person chooses to "let it go now" and a concerted effort begins to re-engage with life fully. We "choose" to start finding the brightness again.
Similarly with anger, we often feel justified to feel anger. This is fine of course because often our anger IS justified, but for some people that anger becomes a huge weight which is carried around long after its usefulness has ceased. We've all had the experience of recognising that we need to let go of something emotional because it's hurting us more than it's helping us.
Remember that your unconscious emotional mind, being a non-deliberating, non-rational mind, responds to your conscious intent and conclusions about things. If you conclude for instance that "I will not rest until they know how much I suffered" (as purely an example) then that is one sure way of ensuring you stay angry. In fact it becomes a contract. Consider what other kind of contracts you make with yourself? How do these contracts, assumptions, conclusions lock you into negative feelings? One method of "releasing" such blocked, held, or trapped feelings is simply by using your conscious intention to "release". It's important NOT to analyse how or why it works, but simply to do it (sincerely) and then return to the feeling and see how it has changed. The formula is simple:
You sit quietly, close your eyes, and focus on the feeling (usually stored somewhere in your body…so locate where the tension/feeling is in the body) which you would like to release (or even simply the feeling which is troubling you). It could be any feeling from rage to grief, from confusion to boredom. Notice what you are feeling. Where do you feel it? Stomach? Chest? If the feeling could speak what would it say? I feel afraid? I feel angry? I feel threatened? Ask yourself whether experiencing that feeling is really helping you? Imagine for a moment how the situation would look and feel if you were calm. Is the outcome better? If so, then ask yourself “Would it be okay to release this feeling?” If you can get a full or partial “yes” to that question remaining with your eyes closed take a nice slow deep breath into the place where you are holding that feeling and imagine the feeling dissolving into your breath as you inhale. Then, with intent you simply “choose” to exhale the stress in that single breath and let it go...nice and slow. Bring your attention back to where you were holding the stress and now how does it feel? Better? Less? Notice that the situation looks/feels better too doesn’t it? Do it as many times as you want or need.
It may well be that the feeling is still there but you will almost certainly be able to sense that it is different in some way. Sometimes it will be completely released. Sometimes a percentage will remain. Sometimes it will feel different. For instance, we might release anger and discover that behind the anger is a layer of sadness. Be open to whatever remains. Now you can repeat the process with whatever remains. We begin the process with whatever remains as a new feeling in its own right. Even if the first feeling was "fear" and the second feeling is also "fear", we still approach the new feeling as a feeling in its own right. This stops us getting into confusion about whether "anything is happening?" Often emotional discomfort is created by a number of different feelings and it is helpful to think of this releasing process as releasing "layers"…one by one. You may not always feel an immediate difference but it may be that you are releasing only 1% of a layer at any one time. Stay with it. It DOES help. You can continue releasing for as long as it feels right to do so. As a practical guide, it's a good idea to do this little and often. Perhaps 10-20 minutes a day. Don't expect miraculous overnight transformations. You are working with feelings that may have been held for years and they release in their own good time, but do consider that the releases that take place are real releases…..You are literally releasing blocks from your psyche. Over time these small releases add up to shedding a whole bunch of emotional weight from your shoulders!
Disclaimer: This article is given for information purposes only. The author cannot be held responsible for any effects arising from the use of the information contained herein, and any use of the information in this article is used entirely at the risk of the user. Persons with poor mental health should not consider using these exercises but should refer themselves to their GP for assistance.
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