The Collective Denial of Feelings
Yes, there is trauma, but even deeper than that we are in a collective denial of a whole range of feelings.
We love: confidence, happiness, joy, gratitude, peace, inspiration, awe, hope and love. We love success. We love having it together.
We don’t love: shame, paranoia, jealousy, sadness, anxiety, need, hatred, rage, guilt, depression, dissociation, worry, doubt and lethargy … to name a few.
There are so many feelings we don’t want to feel. Not only within ourselves, but reflected in nearly every aspect of the world around us: our spiritual traditions, therapies, education, culture and parenting.
It’s so pervasive, we don’t even notice it. We have a feeling and before it even hits our conscious awareness, we’re resisting it. Judging it. Hating it. Blaming ourselves. Projecting it. The goal of most of our therapies and spiritual traditions is to heal it, rise above it and not feel it.
How to Recognise the Presence of Unconscious Feelings
A really simple way to express my work is to say: I’m an activist for collectively exiled feelings!
It’s bizarre, really, that regardless of the fact that these energies are constantly changing and moving through us, we fear them!
We’ll pretty much do anything to not feel them:
- We drink, smoke, medicate, over-work, distract and even “think” so that we don’t have to feel
- We demand that our partners and friends behave in particular ways, so our feelings don’t get unleashed
- We project them onto others and blame others for our feelings
- We demonise those who display our own disowned feelings
And in even more unconscious and seemingly involuntary ways, our bodies have developed well-worn grooves to move away from this unconscious sensations. Habits that we are continuously, unconsciously repeating.
This is a very large aspect of complex trauma. But beyond that label, there is nearly a universal resistance to a LOT of feelings.
Whenever we get a hint of judgment or potential pain, an established, predictive system is set in motion:
- We fight: we blame others
- We flee: we distract or leave
- We freeze: we contract, stop breathing, dissociate and numb
The stories these movements create feel so solid and real. They have become our personalities, our characters, our protective strategies, and the universes in which we live.
The Habit of Our Attention
Somatic practices connect us back to the very fabric of our being. Our true essence, our energy, our fundamental consciousness is unbounded and pervades our being. But rather than live and rest into the full expansiveness of our interconnected being, we cut off from it and have trained our awareness to reside within the restricted envelop of our skin.
This way in which we restrict our attention creates separation and dis-ease. When energy moves through us, we’ve so habitually MIS-perceived it, that we clench and resist it. We unwittingly lock our energy and attention inside the body, which increases the intensity of our feelings.
We’re then terrified to feel them. They feel overwhelming and undigestible and that their very presence confirms that we are wrong, unsafe, unlovable and not free.
Relaxation & Ease
As we learn to relax and place our attention into the energy that is safe, open, expansive, warm, undulating and shimmering inside and outside of our bodies, our breath immediately relaxes. Within moments, we can go from constriction to down-regulation, by just looking for and resting into these pleasant sensations.
But the habit is deep. Without training to open, relax and reside into it, our attention is pulled back into fragmented, rejected feelings. Within milli-seconds, we’re back in a universe of suffering and dis-ease.
In order to welcome all our trauma-based contractions and unwanted feelings, we have to learn expand our awareness and connect to this essence. This natural state is a unified, embodied field … only when we rest here do we have the capacity to turn towards everything we have feared.
But this is an embodied experience and training. We can’t do it with or from the mind.
Somatic practices not only help us shift this habit of attention into the luminosity of our being, but it helps us learn what welcoming a feeling actually means. We often hear that we need to love ourselves, welcome ourselves or welcome our feelings, but without knowing how to actually navigate that direct, embodied experience, we keep using our well-known groove of looking too directly into a feeling.
It’s like Medusa … if we look at it directly, it will solidify!
I have developed a series of embodied practices to help clients meet feelings. This includes:
- How to notice and rest into space and luminosity
- How to welcome and start to relate to emotions & feelings (two very different things)
- How to soothe overwhelming states of distress
- How to help unclench tension and energetic blocks in the centre of our being
- How to enjoy being in your body and establishing effortless practicing
- How to learn to touch and soothe your feelings with true presence
- How to relate to the super-exiled feelings
- How to meet feelings without clarity (very important!!!)
Maps of Buddhism
I am eternally grateful for the maps of Buddhism that, when taught experientially, became exquisite and intricate maps of the unconscious and inner realms. Stunning! Without these maps there was no way that I would have learnt to welcome and start to integrate my unconscious feelings.
Navigating the unconscious is paradoxical and is such delicate, dark terrain. Without these maps we just can’t feel that level of refined specificity.
Embodied Feeling Being
My work is a combination of embodiment practices, illustrated maps and one-on-one training to help you navigate the unconscious and see more deeply into your experience.