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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A retreat, a mantra, and who I know I am

Written by Amie on November 14, 2011 – 1:54 am -

My new mantra: “Be Who You Know You Are”

Before I get to the part about creating my new mantra, I want to share my weekend experience with you. I’ve been digging deep for the past three days, focusing on inner growth. I went on a retreat called, “the art of living”. Writing, creating art, singing, and movement were all included. Even though this is something I chose to do, I arrived with feelings of resistance. This is pretty typical for me though. It is an interesting process. So many times when I know I will be doing deep processing, I feel resistant to it. I know it is fear based. I think it is normal to be afraid of what I might find when I start digging around! In the past, I have often chosen to run from the experience, but for the past few years I have chosen to push myself past my comfort zone. As long as it is *my* choice to push myself, I am able to do it. If someone else tries to push me, that is never a good thing. Growth has to be a personal choice. Each individual knows when and if they feel ready to look within, and if they feel safe enough to share with others. For me, safety is a very important detail. I completely shut down emotionally if I don’t feel safe. It is the way I protect myself from being too vulnerable with someone I don’t trust. We all have things we do to protect ourselves, and this is a very good thing.

I made too many choices based on the conditioned belief that I should please others before considering my own truth

The nice thing about the retreat was that we always had the option of not participating. I suppose I could sit on the sidelines and never participate, but then what would be the point of going? It is so incredible to be in the company of others who are on a similar journey of self discovery. When others share what is true for them, there is always someone who is helped by their sharing. What a gift! I participated in some of the exercises on Friday and Saturday. I also chose not to share during a few of the exercises. It was interesting to notice how empowered I felt by knowing it was *my* choice whether or not to share. That, in itself felt great. I think this is a very important part of the healing process. I have to know *for sure* that it is my right to make choices and decisions for myself. This did not come easy for me in the past. I made too many choices based on the conditioned belief that I should please others before considering my own truth. I can say this is definitely no longer the case! Step by step, I have learned to speak up for myself and to put my foot down when something doesn’t feel right to me. It took me a very long time to trust my inner voice and to follow it. It was scary at first for sure! As I have said so many times before, depression will stay with you as long as you keep choosing to drown out your true voice. It is a process, so be gentle on yourself!

More about the retreat

Singing in a circle of women is so incredibly powerful! It is amazing to me how beautiful all of the voices sound together. Many of the women have been afraid to sing in the past. It was something new to them to hear their singing voice. I was always a bit shy about singing. In the past year, I have been focusing on my throat chakra, which has steadily helped me gain confidence in my singing voice. Feeling the vibration of my own voice is just amazing! Feeling 20 other voices along with mine was just beyond words. It felt wonderful! I really encourage you to use your voice as much as possible! Sing in your car, sing in the shower, sing whenever you can! It really is a healing tool. The more you sing, the easier it becomes to use your voice to speak your truth.

This has always been one of my favorite body movement videos. Always listen to your body, as it will tell you exactly how it wants to move. The key is to notice the judgments going on in your mind if there are any, but don’t believe them.

The people that bug us the most are our biggest teachers

Another part of the retreat was movement. I have talked on here quite a bit about how moving my body helps me release emotional energy. This happened again for me at the retreat. As I said at the beginning of this post, I was feeling resistant at first. I finally broke through it on the morning of the last day. We did a meditation/movement exercise, and the flood gates opened! I cried and moved and then cried some more. It felt so good to release a bunch of stuff I had been holding onto this whole week. Without going into too much detail because other people are involved, I will just say I lost trust in one person this week, and two people did things that triggered one of my biggest wounds. Each situation seemed insignificant at the time. However, after reacting to 3 different scenarios with the same core feeling, I knew it was a healing opportunity for me. One of my core wounds is that of feeling disregarded. In the past, I felt as though my voice, my opinion, and my true self were not heard or considered. Because the Universe is so amazing, it keeps giving me chances to heal this wound. People are in my life to help me heal. I know that sounds weird, but it is true! The people that bug us the most are our biggest teachers! Really, I promise you.

Helpful tools used in my journey through depression

All of the exercises we did at the retreat are tools I have used on my journey through depression. The retreat gave me the opportunity to go deeper in my healing. I am grateful for this. Now I will finally get to the  part about my mantra. I want to share this experience because I want to encourage you to make one for yourself. I have had many different mantras in the past few years. They are so comforting, empowering, and nurturing. It always amazes me to hear what others come up with for their mantras.  The process requires you to really listen to your inner knowing. When you ask yourself what your mantra should be, your body will respond. You may have to listen closely, and you may have to change it around a few times before you feel it is the right one. I had to play around with mine for awhile before I knew it was right. Also, we were asked to put a rhythm to the words. Some people even put body movements with theirs. I knew in my body when I found the exact words needed for my mantra. After the events from this week, I knew my mantra had something to do with being who I am and not being afraid to be that 100%. So, my new mantra is, “Be Who You Know You Are”.

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