Last week in yoga, my teacher said something that stuck with me and I can’t wait to share it with you!
She said that emotion means to move. It made so much sense, yet I never thought about it that way. “Motion” obviously means movement. This shed a bright light on understanding my experience with emotions and how I might look at emotions through a different lens.
The modern definition of words can be quite different than the original meaning. For instance, today, emotion is described as your feelings. Which is true – our emotions represent our feelings. This is how I always thought of and understand my emotions.
Though, there is another big piece in understand emotions and that is how we experience them! The origin of the word emotion is Latin and it means “to move out.”
What would your life experience look like if you allowed emotions to move through you?
When we experience positive feelings we love them and label them as “good”. We welcome in those experiences with loving arms and sometimes we try to hang on to them as long as we can. Surprisingly holding on to the “good” feelings leads to sadness or frustration.
On the other side of the experience are the “bad” feelings, such as pain, embarrassment, anger, sadness, loneliness. Even though we don’t like these feelings and want to always feel the “good” – our fear of feeling them leads to an even deeper attention on the so called “bad”. We then want to escape these feelings, deny them or push them away.
In many cases and especially my own experience, I held a tight grip on painful emotions. Without realizing it, I kept myself in the feeling because I was scared or thought it would be better to repress them. Sounds totally backwards, right? Why would we hold onto something that we don’t like feeling? It’s easier to understand why we would hold onto that amazing feeling of being on vacation but feeling horrible, that’s odd!
Yet, it’s incredibly common. We begin to identify with the emotions rather than allow them to move through us. This leads to more fear and “stuckness” because our focus is on avoiding the painful emotions instead of accepting them. Our ego minds begin repeating and analyzing trying to make sense of the bad feeling (another way of holding on) and before you know it seems like there is something horribly wrong with you, life, and all of humanity.
Does this ring a bell? Here are a few ways you can begin to allow emotions to move:
- Become aware of your emotions and what you do with them. Just simply notice how you handle emotions when they arise. Do you deny them, avoid them, or identify with them?
- Rather than saying or thinking I “am” angry or I “am” sad – say I “feel” angry or I “feel” sad.This one small shift in language allows you to lessen your attachment to the emotion creating more flow. It also reminds you that you are not your emotions. You are experiencing them but they are not you.
- Notice what it looks and feels like to move. Any practice that includes movement (my favorite is dance) can teach us about flow and letting things pass through us. Also, watching nature (the waves of the ocean) reminds us of movement.
Notice what happens when you move, even the simplest movement. How does it feel?
Understanding emotions through the lens of its original definition “to move out” as well as its current definition “strong feelings” means to allow your feelings to move. They do this naturally as everything in life is constantly changing and shifting. Which means your only job is to ALLOW IT TO FLOW.
How do you handle tough emotions? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Love and Light,