Feeling is in the body, not in the mind

Written by Amie on May 25, 2013 – 1:39 am -

I was completely numb emotionally; I believed that “saying” I was angry meant I was feeling my emotions

It has taken me years to trust feeling my emotions. When I first started down the path to healing depression, I had no idea that I was completely numb emotionally. When I say completely, I truly mean 1,000,000,000%. I was like a steel trap. But I didn’t know I was doing this. I didn’t realize that ignoring my body signals, overlooking stomach pains, and feeling like I want to smash my head against a wall wasn’t “normal”. I thought “saying” I was angry, or talking about someone who made me want to smash my head against the wall meant I was “feeling” my feelings. I thought that if I said I was angry that meant I was feeling my emotions. Boy, was I in for a big awakening! It all makes sense to me now. I understand why I ended up in severe depression mode. I understand why I used to beat myself up. I understand why I thought I was responsible for everyone else’s emotions. I never felt safe to feel my truth. I understand now that I learned from a very young age to shut off from my emotional body. I learned that I didn’t have time to feel anything, I was supposed to be good so that the dysfunction around me could continue on. (i.e. make it easier for those around me) And if I did express an emotion, it was quickly shut down by some chaotic event going on around me.

I was terrified to speak

I began learning how to feel my feelings a few years ago. Talk about baby steps! When my therapist asked me what I was feeling, I looked at her like she was from Mars! I had no clue! Not one answer came to me, for months! Many of our sessions were spent in silence because I was terrified to speak. I want to say that here because I want to reassure you if this is also true for you. It does get easier if you are gentle with yourself and have compassion for yourself. I had been numb for years, so I had to be patient with myself.  I’m going to jump a few years forward to now and say that even though I am much better at allowing myself to have feelings and with getting in touch with them, I am still working on this process. Learning to feel your emotions is a process, especially if you learned that having them wasn’t safe.

my stomach was in severe pain

I was tested this past week when someone close to me said some really mean things about me to someone I love deeply. This person was speaking from a very emotionally unconscious place, which helps me have compassion for them. Since I have grown and changed, it made their life different. I know now that when one or more people in a close knit group change, it may cause the other group members to get very angry. And that it did! So, even though I knew this person was coming from a place of deep emotional pain and certainly frustration that things are no longer the same, I was also deeply hurt that they would say hateful things about me. This is when I learned how far I have really come in my process of learning to feel. Within a few hours of hearing about what this person said about me, my stomach was in severe pain. I became sick. My head ached and I felt deeply deeply sad. I cried deeply for long periods of time. In years past, I may have mistaken these sensations for the flu or some other issue. This time, the truth really clicked. I am feeling a deep sense of loss, and my body is responding. Very deep hurts from my past were triggered by this event. Hurts that have been buried for many many years. The things this person said about me validated how I had felt all along in reference to how this person really feels about me. I had buried these feelings because it would have been too painful in the past to feel this truth. Since I feel safe enough to feel my emotions now, my body allowed these past hurts to bubble up to the surface to be healed. I didn’t have to do anything except notice the sensations in my body. I didn’t have to “figure anything out” so to speak. I just let myself feel what was happening in my body.

It isn’t a story in your head, it is a feeling in your body

This is truly what feeling emotions feels like. It isn’t a story in your head, it is a feeling in your body. I never knew this! I was always terrified to feel anything. I would clench my stomach, hold my breath, and try to distract myself from whatever was going on. After years of doing this, my body shut down from allowing me to feel. My body is amazing! It was protecting me from feelings that may have been too huge to handle when I was younger. My body only allowed so much to be noticed. Only what I could handle at the time. For this, I am incredibly grateful for my awesome body! Little by little, my body knows how much to allow me to feel. It has been very patient with me, letting me go as slow as need be. Lately I have been feeling more than ever before. After this last experience, I know for sure I am grieving on a very deep level. It is beyond sadness, it is grief. And it is so interesting because I really didn’t understand what grief felt like until my brother died 6 years ago. Honestly, I didn’t know what to call what I was feeling after he died. Since I am more aware now than I was then, I am able to look back and see that it was similar to what I am feeling now. A very hollow feeling in my stomach, nauseated, and a headache, with bouts of deep crying. It is difficult to describe the grief itself. But I instinctively know what it is. I also attended a grief ritual retreat a few months back. I wasn’t even looking for this type of retreat, but it “coincidentally” came across my path and I knew I needed to go.

Grief Ritual;  “stay out of my head”

It was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. Little did I know it would help me through this process I am dealing with currently. I could probably write a whole post about the retreat. It was amazing! Here is a link if you are interested: Sobonfu But I will save that one for another time. The really cool thing I discovered during this experience is that I got through this much quicker and with less suffering than I would have in the past. I firmly believe it is because I FELT it as it was happening. I didn’t try to make it go away, I didn’t try to ignore my body sensations, and I didn’t deny my truth. Talking about it helped as well, but just being with my body sensations helped tremendously. I am not saying it was easy work, because it certainly wasn’t. It was difficult at times, to be sure!  But, I felt empowered because I knew I was strong enough to handle it. It has helped me really acknowledge how shut down I was in the past. I knew I was shut down, but I didn’t know to what degree I was shut down. This experience has taught me to have even more compassion for myself and to be patient and gentle with my process. I was also able to “stay out of my head”. When we add commentary to the process of feeling emotions, it distracts us from actually feeling what is happening in our body. This is how emotions get stuck in the body, and may begin to cause physical symptoms. (Again, a whole other post on this! Physical issues are almost always related to unprocessed emotions).

feeling is in the body, not in the mind

I have come to a place of feeling grateful for this experience. Even though it was painful to realize certain things, I feel grateful because it showed me how much I have healed and how much I have grown.  I have released so much negative energy from my body, and it feels great! I am able to feel my feelings, and express my truth, even when others may not be happy about this truth. I know that if I want depression to stay in my past and not come back to my present, I have to live in my truth. I must feel my emotions. I live in the present, and I heal past experiences if and when they arise. I love my life and where I am today. I feel proud of myself for having the courage to change what wasn’t working for me. I try to come from a place of understanding that everyone does the best they can with the knowledge they have in each moment. I also realize that we are all on a different path and we all have a different timeline for healing. I respect everyone and their path. However, this does not mean I will stand by while someone says hateful things to me and about me. I can respectfully move away and allow them their process. This is how I love myself and how I take good care of myself. I allow myself to feel the sadness that flows through my body while I let go of someone because of their unhealthy behavior towards me.  Feeling is in the body, not in the mind.


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Posted in Awareness, Depression, healing from depression, Help with depression | 2 Comments »

Accepting each moment as it comes

Written by Amie on December 29, 2012 – 3:29 am -

 Feeling good happens in each moment, it isn’t something that happens in the future

I want to write about this because I think it may help at least one person. It is another one of those things that I really didn’t understand for quite a few years. I read so many books talking about staying present, or being “in the moment”. I thought I understood what that meant. I found out that I really didn’t know how to put it into practice. I was still too much “in my head”. When you are in your head, it is almost impossible to be in the moment. I would find myself thinking about the future when my depression would be all better. Little did I know, thinking about this was a distraction from being where I was right in that moment. I was “in the future” in my mind, so there was no way to be fully in the moment. Feeling good happens in each moment, it isn’t something that happens in the future. Distractions keep us from feeling. Thinking too much keeps us from really being with how we feel in any given moment. In truth, all situations are neutral. It is when we add our stories, our commentary to a situation that makes it into something other than neutral. (This would be a different conversation if a person is in physical danger. Thinking needs to happen so as to keep a person safe) When we start labeling a situation, we are immediately taken out of the moment, which means we are not present.

this shuts down the human process

We have been conditioned to think too much. We have been conditioned to label every single thing that happens to us. For most people, it is nearly impossible to allow emotions to flow freely through their body and just feel. This is the reason so many people feel so down and depressed. All of those unexpressed emotions are stuck in the body. Trapped, causing anxiety and depression. For many people, the minute an emotion starts in the body, they shut it down. They distract themselves with tasks or thoughts about things that need to get done or reasons why they “shouldn’t” feel the way they feel. This shuts down the human process. We are emotional beings. However, we have evolved into humans who stuff their emotions and who feel bad about their emotions. We have been conditioned to ignore our emotions and sensations, therefore taking us away from accepting what “is” in each moment. A moment is just a moment, it is the thoughts about the moment that make us feel miserable. I am not saying there is no such thing as a sad event or a time to feel discouraged or frustrated etc….but staying with the labels and thoughts about the situation  create a distraction so that your true feelings about the moment can’t be processed. Emotions are truly sensations in the body. The next time you feel angry or sad, see if you can notice your body. When I feel angry, I feel my stomach tighten, I feel my legs start shaking if I am really angry, etc. If we can allow ourselves to just feel these sensations without adding a story about them, they will flow through the body, which allows us to be in a place to process our options, if an action needs to be taken.

I continued to sit with my uncomfortable feelings

I will give some examples of what I mean, hoping that it will help you understand what I am talking about. One example would be when I sat down to meditate the other day. I sat down, and about two seconds after I sat down my mind said “ugh, I really don’t want to do this, I don’t feel like sitting here, what is going on, my mind is racing….” So, I could have distracted myself by getting back up and cleaning the kitchen instead. Instead, I continued to sit with my uncomfortable feelings. I told myself,” gosh, I really don’t want to sit here”, and then I just let that thought be there instead of trying to “fix it” or run away from it. In the past when I felt this way, I would have said, “gosh,what is going on here. yesterday I was able to sit in silence, why not today?” And my mind would have been off to the races so to speak. My mind would have stayed focused on these thoughts, and I would have been sitting there analyzing why I didn’t feel like meditating. So, it is more of an observation. It is like saying, “hmmm, my legs are wiggling around, I am uncomfortable, hmmm….” and then just be with that. No stories, no judging, no analyzing, no trying to find a solution.

you get closer to your truth

Once I learned to just be with what comes, things that were labeled as “problems” are no longer problems. They are just situations, they are neutral. It really is about learning a new way of being. Awareness is key. Watching your thoughts, and then watching the progression of those thoughts. Most people with severe depression are stuck in an endless loop in their mind. I remember a time when I didn’t even recognize that. I had no idea how hard I was on myself. Becoming aware of my thoughts was the beginning of my healing journey. Once I became aware, I was able to begin the process of changing it. The more I was able to stay in the moment and watch my thoughts, the more “awake” I became. I began to see that most of the thoughts going through my head had nothing to do with the present moment. They were either about the past or about the future. Again, thinking about the past or the future is a distraction from how you feel in the moment. One very important detail, however, is that the more you become aware of each moment, you will start to see things about your life that need to be processed and released from your body. Things that happened in the past that you were not able to feel or process for various reasons. I needed help with this. I needed a therapist to help guide me along the path. Doing this does not mean living in the past or  staying out of the present moment. When things from our past affect our present, they need to be processed and released. Processing feelings that come up is very healthy, and each time you do this , you get closer to your truth. Staying in the moment is not always easy. It takes a lot of practice. Most of us have spent our whole lives doing everything except living in the moment. So, be very gentle on yourself as you learn this new way of being. Soon it will start to feel natural. You get as many do-overs as you need.












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Posted in Awareness, Depression, healing from depression, Help with depression, Meditation, Self hate | 1 Comment »