Mothering and nurturing myself; discovering self-love and kindness

Written by Amie on November 1, 2013 – 1:45 am -

“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”~Buddha

Why is it that it is so much easier to be kind to others when they are suffering, but that kindness does not come as easily when we are the ones suffering? I am getting better at this. I was going through a very intense emotional experience last week. I discovered the most helpful way through it was to mother and nurture myself as I felt my emotions and experienced my body sensations. I felt nurturing kindness for myself. Many years ago, I would not have done this. Instead I would have tried to avoid feeling my emotions, while at the same time berating myself for getting so upset. I would have *known* there was something wrong with me. When I think about how unkind I was to myself, I feel sad. I feel so grateful that my self compassion has grown, and my response is now self-love and kindness. It was the most wonderful feeling. I truly felt loved, and I *knew* I was not alone, even though physically I was alone.

It was painful emotionally

I want to share my process with you because I want you to know that it is very possible to be alone and not feel lonely. It is possible to be alone with your grief but yet feel nurtured and mothered and loved. I want to share this with you because I want to spread the joy of discovering that when we allow ourselves to truly *feel*, without going into the story, or the drama, or the details, it really is possible to move through the emotions, to truly get through them to the other side. And on the other side of them is an incredible feeling of peace.I felt so peaceful in fact, that I asked myself if that was truly possible. And since I am a doubter at heart, I even questioned if I was just in denial. So far, I don’t think I am in denial, but I suppose time will tell. I want to clarify that I went through days of crying and feeling and moments I had to remind myself to breathe. I don’t want this to sound as though it was a party and a celebration, it wasn’t. It was painful emotionally. But I truly suffered if I allowed myself to get caught in listening to the story that tried to play out in my mind.When I listen to the story, I am distracted from my emotions and my bodily sensations. When I get distracted, the emotions get caught in my body, which means they will come back in other situations until I fully allow them to flow and be felt.

Anger is a “catch all” for emotions

Becoming aware of emotions is the starting point. It took me years to really *get this*. I thought “feeling my emotions” meant telling the story of what happened, becoming angry and often blaming someone, and usually staying in the anger without feeling what was under the anger. Anger is a sign that something is off, but it isn’t the actual emotion. It covers up the true emotions, the ones we might be afraid to feel. For example, we might be feeling grief or disappointment, sadness or loneliness, etc. Anger is a “catch all” for emotions. It feels powerful because it is a warning sign to us. But all too often, we stay in anger rather than dig beneath it. Often times, the anger is aimed at ourselves. We may shame ourselves by telling ourselves how stupid we were to not “see” what someone was doing to us, we may beat ourselves up with words. All of these things distract us from feeling our truth in the moment. In order to really feel emotions, we must stay present with our body sensations and our breath.

What am I feeling in my body?

I noticed that when I was crying and feeling sick in my stomach, I also felt a strong pain in my neck going down to my shoulder. I have had this in the past, and I did finally link it to old emotional pain that has been stuck there for a very long time. Once I became aware of this, I was able to talk to the pain, talk to myself. I was able to “mother” myself and nurture myself. I told my pain, “its ok, I have you, you are safe. Let it out, release this hurt now, you are safe.” I held my hand gently on my neck where the pain was, and I kept saying over and over, “you are safe, its okay to let go of this now.” I reminded myself to breathe, this is very important. It was incredible observing what happened. The pain would subside, and I would have some relief. I would cry more. The pain would return, and I would repeat the same process until it mostly went away. I knew instinctively that it was grief I was dealing with. Grief for many emotions that had been stuck in my body. Years of emotions, as well as past traumas being held in my body. Speaking kindly to myself was like talking to a scared child, reassuring her that it is safe to feel now. I was taking care of that little girl so that she was finally able to let go of the past that was holding her in fear.

“mothering” voice made me feel safe

I realize this process is not easy, especially when you might be accustomed to berating and being unkind to yourself like I used to be. But please give this a try. It feels so much better than the judgmental, mean, conditioned voice I had in the past. This loving, kind, gentle, “mothering” voice made me feel safe. I felt safe enough to let go of things that were holding me back. I felt completely nurtured and held in the arms of a divine loving energy, which is also myself.

 

 

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Posted in Awareness, Depression, Healing & personal growth, healing from depression, Help with depression, Nurture yourself, Self-love | 2 Comments »

Stop thinking, just *feel*; using movement to release emotions

Written by Amie on November 16, 2011 – 2:13 am -

Learn to become “the observer” of the one having the negative thoughts

I want to talk more about releasing emotions through body movement. Many people e-mailed to ask what this process looks like for me, so I thought it would be helpful to write about it here in case others have the same question. When I first started using movement to release emotions, I was pretty judgmental of myself. Even though I locked myself in a room and turned the lights down, I was still self-conscious. If I could go back and give myself encouragement, I would tell myself that the mean voices in my head are not true, and more importantly, they are not who I am. They are conditioned beliefs that have nothing to do with who I am. They are the dysfunctional messages passed on by dysfunctional people and systems. So, to begin with, using movement to release emotions is also a practice in meditation. By this I mean you must learn to become “the observer” of the one having the negative thoughts. Keep moving your body while just noticing the thoughts. Don’t buy into them. Remember you are *not* your thoughts, you are the watcher of your thoughts. There is a *very* big difference. It takes diligent practice to make this become real in our bodies. The more you remember it, the easier it gets. This is about becoming aware. Awareness of what you are telling yourself.

Stop thinking, and FEEL

I always know when I need to move. It is usually when I am “trying to process” some feelings that have come up. I know if I am thinking too much or trying to figure something out, it is better for me to start moving. I know the main thing to remember is to *feel*. When I stay with my thinking too much, it is usually because I don’t want to feel. This is a very common protective response. I internalized the message, “if I feel, it will hurt”. I know this is not a true statement any longer. Sure, there are painful emotions, no doubt. But, we hurt when we start telling ourselves stories *about* those feelings. Feelings and emotions are energy. If thinking didn’t exist, we would just notice sensations in our bodies when we have a reaction to something. It is the added stories we start telling ourselves that make the experience painful. We believe these stories. Again, this takes some “re-training” of the brain. Our brains are trained to react a certain way, and they will continue to do that unless we decide to change it. It takes practice.  When I start feeling restless and I am focusing too much on “why” or “how” or obsessing over a detail, I  *know*, or rather my body knows, it is time to move!

90 second rule

I want to share this from Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor’s book called My Stroke Of Insight (a great book, btw!). “When a person has a reaction to something in their environment, there’s a 90 second chemical process that happens in the body; after that, any remaining emotional response is just the person choosing to stay in that emotional loop. Something happens in the external world and chemicals are flushed through your body which puts it on full alert. For those chemicals to totally flush out of the body it takes less than 90 seconds.

This means that for 90 seconds you can watch the process happening, you can feel it happening, and then you can watch it go away. After that, if you continue to feel fear, anger, and so on, you need to look at the thoughts that you’re thinking that are re-stimulating the circuitry that is resulting in you having this physiological response over and over again.”

Lock the door, light some candles, dim the lights, and shake shake shake!!!

Sounds like an interesting title, don’t you think?! That is a shortened version of  my routine. I must also mention that I have a punching bag which is sometimes part of my routine. I absolutely love it! It is so helpful when I am feeling strong anger in my body. The important thing is to always stay in touch with your body and your body sensations. I hold most of my emotions in my stomach. My stomach feels tight or it feels as though someone is squeezing it when I have strong emotions. . I hold my breath as well. Another learned response. Just wanted to point that out because it is very common to hold your breath when you are trying to hold back strong emotions. So, a reminder to breathe is always very important. Hanging reminders around the house is a great idea! Seems simple, but it is incredibly helpful! I use an iPod to move to. I have a very wide range of music. I almost always start with hip hop and very upbeat fast music. This may not work for some people, but it is what works for me. It is fun to experiment with different kinds of music to see what your body loves. Listen to your body, you will *feel* a difference when you like a certain type of music and when you don’t.

Stay in your body

I have noticed there are times when I just need to shake every body part. If my body feels tense and I feel as though I may explode with emotion, I shake each limb and each body part. I continue doing that until I feel the intensity lessen. Then I move move move. I usually move fast for at least 30 minutes, but do what feels right for you. After that, I move slower, more like the video in my last post. Honestly, it really depends on my body, so it is key to pay attention to your body, and to follow what it tells you. There have been numerous times when I just have to stop moving and allow myself to sob. This is a good thing! My body is releasing unprocessed, stuck emotions. Sometimes I go back and forth between dancing/moving and punching the punching bag. It feels so good! It is all about staying with yourself; staying in your body. Just feel the sensations, and breathe. It can be helpful to journal after moving if that feels good to you. Hopefully this was helpful. Please feel free to comment, ask more questions, or tell me about your practice. It is always helpful if we share with each other. I am grateful you are here reading, and I really hope this was helpful for you. Happy dancing and moving!!!! Also, if you want a guided body movement, I strongly recommend Gabrielle Roth’s song “Body Parts” on her CD called “Endless Wave”

 

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