I have been feeling a lot of emotions these last few days. In the past, I would have immediately thought "I'm anxious" and expended a lot of energy attempting to negate my 'anxiety'. With time, though, I am learning that my anxiety is a symptom of a deeper emotional & physiological process. Now, when the anxiety appears I take it as an invitation to be curious, to stay present with the feelings. Can I stay curious and not shut down and 'go up into my head'?
My mentor studied Somatic Experiencing for many years along with various wisdom traditions. He has taught me to place my hand on my heart to offer myself comfort. While holding my heart, I ask myself as if I were asking a frightened child, "What do I need right now?"
You and I, we human animals, are beautifully complex beings with the capacity to feel a wild & holy breadth of primal emotions. Our emotions are our life force. They are our vitality. Emotions have evolved to guide our lives. The emotion of fear is an essential emotion designed to keep us from danger. Fear is an 'organizing' principle for all animals. We have fear and we also have feelings that bring a positive affect - curiosity, kindness, interest, love, & excitement- to help guide us towards fulfillment, purpose & growth. The problem, though, is that we learn to shut down our feelings at a very young age. When we shut down our feelings we shut down our life force.
In Classical Chinese Medicine 'anxiety' and 'depression' arise when we - consciously or unconsciously- suppress the flow of emotions. Over time, these bound up feelings generate stagnation, heat & physical tension in the bodymind. This heat, in turn, agitates the heart & causes anxiety, heart palpitations, insomnia, racing thoughts, lack of joy and/or a withdrawl from life.
As corny as it sounds it's true: the more you feel, the more you heal. The next time 'anxiety' knocks at the door of your heart take a moment to say 'Hello'. Understand it as the silent level of your being communicating with you. Can you be curious? Take a breath?
Place your hand upon your heart and ask, "What do you need right now, sweetheart?"