Why it's not fluffy to consider your feelings
If you are like most of the modern world, you will have been conditioned to disconnect from your body and live almost exclusively in your head. From a young age, children learn to even feel ashamed about leaving a lesson to go to the toilet. Increasing numbers of office workers don't take a lunch break, but eat at their desks and keep their minds churning all day. We don't even change our habits in line with the seasons or time of day, ignoring the rhythms of nature.
Feelings are an aspect of our inner nature that we can commonly ignore. All too often, logic and reasoning are given far more credence than instinct and intuition. People are often considered 'strong' for not showing emotions. Whilst my journey as a practitioner has involved years of academia, I can honestly say that trusting my feelings give me access to much more direct and reliable information. Whole person awareness, where the mind, body and emotions are connected allow more meaningful choices to be made. One of the reasons why I love treating babies is that they haven't yet learned how to hide emotions, and are therefore much more open.
Candace Pert, the late author of 'Molecules of Emotions' wrote about how emotions travel in the body as neurotransmitters, which are found in all body tissues (not just in the brain as previously thought). Feelings of fear, anger and sadness create a very different chemical environment in the body compared with feelings of love, peace and bliss. Anger floods the brain with hormones called catecholamines, which arouse the nervous system. Eastern approaches such as chakra theories have mapped how different emotions affect the body. Stored anger can be present as right shoulder pain, referred from the liver and gall bladder. Fear can be shown in the hips, bowel and kidneys. Shock is palpable in the diaphragm. Emotions have a different 'note' in how they are expressed in the body similar to other senses such as smell or sound. Stored negative feelings can lead to imbalances, which can eventually lead to disease.
A number of conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, mental health issues, low immunity and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can be better managed by being aware of and responding to the feeling states.
Tuning into feelings can help to influence more positive behaviours. For example, recognising anger might encourage someone to use a punch-bag, or take a brisk walk, rather than ignore the emotion or contain it.
Here are a few simple steps to accessing your feelings;
- Close your eyes and take 3 deep breaths.
- Allow all of the muscles in your face, neck, shoulders, hands, buttocks legs and feet to tense and then release in turn.
- Notice any areas in your body that feel tense or uneasy.
- Encourage breath into that part of your body. Ask that area what it needs to feel comfortable.
- Respond to what your body needs.
It's not just health that can be positively influenced by recognising emotions. Emotions can also serve as a guide for discerning what you want in life. I have been profoundly moved by Danielle LaPorte's work 'The Desire Map' where she disregards conventional methods of goal-setting, and instead helps her audience to tune into their feelings first to make more connected and soulful goals. Feelings are something we can be become conscious of, and choose how we want to feel.
Further reading; There are a number of books on the topic of emotion and the body- here are some of my favourites;
Molecules of Emotion by Candace Pert
Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss
The Oxytocin Factor by Kerstin Uvnas Moberg
The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte
Your Body Speaks Your Mind: Understanding how your emotions and thoughts affect you physically, by Deb Shapiro
I would love to hear back on whether you notice feelings and how this links to symptoms.