166: Junk in the Trunk

freeJunk in the trunk, issues in the tissues, static in the attic, all affectionate ways used by yoga teachers  to describe how we trap emotions in our body. Do you have tight hips, shoulders or neck? Maybe it’s time to look at little more closely at what you do with what you feel?

We all want to feel happy free and light so what happens when we suddenly don’t feel that way?  Our natural instinct is to shove any undesirable feeling, be that shame, anxiety, guilt or disappointment into the junk drawers of our body. Our bodies are very intelligent and when we feel something that we don’t like it sends emotional feedback to us in the form of a sensation or feeling in the body. This can be felt as a gnawing, tightening or contraction somewhere inside us, usually in our gut as this place is considered to be our second brain. We could be sitting in a cafe on a lovely day with our loved one and then suddenly they say something that makes the hairs on our back arch up. This is a signal  that you have some unprocessed feelings you have been storing. The physical sensation you feel, like a physical slap, is asking you to pay attention

The only way out is through- Robert Frost

When we feel these gripping sensations we have a choice. Bypass the wake up call by ignoring the sensation/feeling or look at it more closely. Except no one really wants to look at our darker side more closely. We want the sugary sweet experiences in life, we don’t necessarily want to look at our shadows and also our brain’s natural response is to block bristly sensations or feelings from our Limbic system. ( The area of our brain that controls feelings and emotions)

The second choice is to roll up our sleeves and stay one step ahead of ourselves. Here are my guidelines to a mindfulness practice that may save you having an argument with yourself or those around you.

  • Realise that someone has just done something that has fired you up.
  • Acknowledge that what they said or did is not really firing you up it is just activating some unmet need or hidden cave within you be that  grief, abandonment, guilt or any other emotion.
  • Feel where the sensation is coming from in your body and realise it is the body telling you it is time to acknowledge this response within you
  • Move away from the person or situation if you can’t control your response. Or take a breath to calm yourself. Remember space before reaction is the best way to be fair to that person.
  • Once you see have the problem is actually something within you that has been triggered by someone else as opposed to that person being the problem practice compassion to how you feel.
  • If you are able to in a non-hurtful way you can tell your friend what emotion you are working on or journal it.

Practice for today: Start with the simple stuff. If you feel bristling today or heckles rise just see if you can feel it in your body. You can move onto the other steps when you are ready. By going through your emotions you will weaken the grip they have on you. By ignoring them you will reinforce them.

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