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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Depression and the stories we tell ourselves

Written by Amie on June 6, 2011 – 10:52 pm -

You will not believe this…let me tell you

I was just thinking tonight that if we are not aware of our thoughts,  it is so easy to convince ourselves of just about anything. For example, if you are hoping that a friend will call because you miss them and really want to see them, but then they don’t call, the stories begin in the mind. “I bet she just doesn’t want to see me”, or “gosh, I wonder what I did to make her mad”, or “I hope she wasn’t in a terrible car accident and nobody told me.” Have you ever found yourself doing this? I would venture to say that everyone has done this, and most likely on a daily basis. All of these thoughts have a few things in common. They are very likely not true, they bring us out of the present moment, and they try to make us at fault for something that isn’t even true. The mind likes to bring us out of the present moment. It is the habit of the mind. It is also very common in people with depression to go to the worst case scenario in most situations with the blame being on themselves.

Here comes that feeling of blackness again

I wanted to mention the above because I thought it would resonate with most people. I want to take it one step further and point out the stories we tell ourselves about our depression. When I was feeling horrible my first thought was usually,” here it comes again, I will never get rid of this.” And I believed it. I believed it completely. I believed the stories in my head. They had been there for so long, I didn’t know to question them. I see that this has to be the first step on the path to getting through depression. We have to become aware of what we tell ourselves, and then we must give depression a voice. We have to learn to watch the mind and the crazy untrue messages it tells us.

How to do this?

Even if you are convinced that your depression has nothing to do with your thoughts and beliefs or that you don’t say mean things to yourself, try paying close attention for just one hour today. Write down everything that goes through your mind. The key is not to judge yourself. Just look and watch and observe and record. You may be shocked at what you write down. Most of us have an endless loop of negative thoughts and comments going through the mind. So many messages we picked up along the way. The majority, if not all of them, are false! If you don’t believe me, take one of the thoughts you wrote down and prove it’s truth. Prove to yourself it is true. It doesn’t count to say something like, “I can prove that I am stupid because I failed that test.” So you failed a test, how would that prove you are stupid? It doesn’t. There has to be 100% solid evidence that your thoughts are actually true. Good luck proving any of it.

A place of familiarity

Once I became aware that my thoughts are beliefs were not true, I felt a new freedom and excitement! I felt as thought i could start my life again. I learned to question every single thing that went through my mind. I threw them away if they weren’t true. Was it easy? No! Do I still struggle at times? Absolutely! But the difference is awareness. I am aware of my thoughts, and this makes all the difference in the world. Awareness is the first step. Awareness leads to presence. The present moment is all you have for sure, so why not learn to stay in it? The things you are telling yourself about tomorrow or last week or the things you are saying about why your friend hasn’t called-these are ALL just stories your mind is making up to keep you in the place of fear and a place of familiarity. That’s all. A story, just like in a book. Once you can step back and watch your mind telling you stories, you begin to view them as just that. Healing from depression can be hard work, but it is so worth it! If you allow yourself to become aware without judgment, you will begin to open yourself up to the truth of what is inside you. Pure awareness and pure beauty and love. I hope this doesn’t sound to “frou-frou”, as I know what it feels like to be in the bottomless pit. However, I do want to give you tools and give you hope that it can and will get better if you are willing to dig inside yourself to become aware of what is really being said.


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