So often we let ourselves be completely taken over by emotion. Or, maybe we deny ourselves to truly be with our emotions. Yoga has taught me a powerful truth, which has allowed me to be able to sit with my emotions, rather than react to them.
1) Breath Deeply. When we feel an intense emotion such as loss, anger, or sadness, it may be helpful to focus our awareness on our breath. Allow our breath to create space in places that may be tight and restricted, such as our diaphragm or heart. By focusing on our breath, we begin to feel into the subtle pranic energy running through us. Focusing on prana helps us to slow down. Diaphragmatic breathing moves us into the parasympathetic nervous system and helps us to move away from fight or flight responses.
2) Sukka is the next stage of surfing the emotional wave. Sukkha is the Sanskrit word for opening and expansion. By allowing ourselves to relax and to feel into different sensations in the body, we move more deeply into a state of acceptance and equanimity. When we experience an intense emotion, often our bodies becomes tense, and move into the sympathetic nervous system which activates our fight or flight response. Relaxation helps us to cultivate new patterns and allows us to be present with our emotions. The breath will help us bring expansion into areas of restriction. By creating space in the body, we in turn create space in the mind.
3)Witness your experience. Instead of remaining in the head and thinking about the situation, focus on the feelings. Richard Miller once shared with me that the greatest journey we will ever make in life is the 10 inches from our head to our heart. Allow yourself to drop into your body and feel the sensations that are present. Instead of attaching to thoughts and sensations, watch them as though you are looking into the situation from the outside.
4) Allow and Accept. This is the most important step and one that will lead us into new and more effective ways to handle our emotions. Accept this process and our emotions and instead of trying to control it, allow it to happen gracefully. We don’t need to be o.k with the situation, just allow ourselves to accept how the emotions feel in our bodies.
Each time I surf the wave of emotion, I find it easier to stand up and be with my feelings. And each time I ride the wave, the wake seems to roll in softer and softer with every wave that follows. What you resist persists, so try something new and create new patterns for healing and evolving. To truly be with yourself, is to bring awareness and accept what you find. Welcome everything in and notice how this feels in your heart.