I recently had the opportunity to hear Dr. Eben Alexander share the extraordinary story of his near death experience at Sofia University in Palo Alto. He spent 7 days in a coma and wrote about what he experienced in his best-selling book, “Proof of Heaven.” It is an amazing, compelling story of consciousness and healing that resonates with many as it has been on the NY Times Bestseller List since the first week of it’s release. I highly recommend it.
Eben used the term Soul School to describe the human experience. I LOVE this! We ask to be here to learn, practice, integrate, play and experience love and joy in our physical bodies…to live “in joy.”
As Eben spoke, my body responded in the space of being. It laughed and smiled. It sat in wonder. My hand reached out to hold the hand of a friend. My body leaned forward to catch the eye of my husband. A constant buzzing sensation moved through me.
Soul School is so very cool.
If you’ve been taking a heavy course load in Soul School, this past year was likely packed full of challenges and the feelings and emotions to go with it. What Eben shared, and I completely agree, is that we learn the lessons in this life by feeling them. We entered our bodies to feel and we feel in the present moment. As a collective, we are ready to listen and connect with our hearts to reach higher levels of consciousness.
Some emotions for many of us feel painful and scary and we use patterns of control and suppression as a method of protection. This sets us up like a pressure cooker. The emotions under pressure eventually get expressed with a hiss, moan and screech igniting reaction and that just gets messy.
If you’re done with the mess, I offer below a different way to feel emotion that I learned from Dr. Rick Hanson and the intention for this practice is to provide a method to respond rather than react to emotions that come up in any given moment. You do this by feeling them move through your body rather than act them out or react to the emotion.
PRACTICE TO FEEL EMOTIONS: GET STILL AND FEEL
1. Settle into a comfortable meditation posture. Sitting or lying down, whatever is most comfortable.
2. Breathe normally and bring your attention to your emotions and ask yourself “What am I feeling?” Answer may be “I am ….(fill in whatever emotion comes up)” Stay just with the emotion and don’t go into the why and the reasons.
3. Find the emotion somatically. Once you detect an emotion, see if you can find its expression in your body. Maybe there is a feeling of tension, gripping, tightening, burning, twisting, throbbing, pressure, lightness, openness, etc. Notice the physical sensations in your body. Example: I feel a tightness in my belly that is uncomfortable, the tightness has a burning sensation, there is heat and I notice my heart beating faster and my breath is shallow like I can’t get a full breath and my lungs feel a squeezing sensation.
4. The cause of the emotion is irrelevant. The practice is to feel the physical expression of the emotion as completely as possible. Each time you detect an emotional body sensation, try to feel the sensation as completely as possible.
5. With each breath, now consciously breathe space into the areas of your body where you feel the sensations.
6. Let go of any ideas you have about why the emotion is arising. Return to the body sensation and feel the sensations that come up in your body without judgment. Continue until you feel the body sensation dimming.
Meditating on emotions is a traditional part of Vipassana practice in Buddhism. Rick Hanson references the above practice by American Buddhist teacher Shinzen Young.
If you try the steps above, I invite you to please share what you notice in the comments. Or if you have another method that works for you, please share in the comments too. I love learning from you.