When navigating negative emotions, what takes over? Body or mind? Which came first? Where does all of our intelligence lie? I’m pondering these questions on my EmbodiYoga journey and I’d love for you to come along. I’m ashamed at how much I’ve ignored my body over the years — even still. I live in my mind more than I’d like but I’m thankful to be on this path, learning and directing my attention in ways I never have before. All emotion can be felt in the body but we almost never go there. Instead we … attach to thoughts, avoid or self soothe.
Consider these five negative emotions. Take a deep breath. Read each one. Notice what each one feels like in your body.
Worry is a future-projected thought pattern that traps us in a never-ending cycle. It asks what if? What then? Why? How can I make it stop? If left uncontrolled we begin to feel insane and out of control. Our minds make up scenarios that almost never happen. Stop. What does worry FEEL like in the body?
Anger begins in the mind. We can choose to be angry or not. Injustice is everywhere. Do you let it control you? Stop. What does anger FEEL like in the body?
Fear stands for false evidence appearing real. It, like worry, is a future-projected mind pattern. We fear the unknown, an unwelcome outcome of a situation, or we imagine the worst happening and attach to it with our minds. Stop. What does fear FEEL like in the body?
Sadness is a real emotion that often cannot be controlled, but we’re so accustomed to filling ourselves up or numbing the pain that we don’t even know what it actually feels like — besides the general labeling we give of bad or empty. Stop. What does sadness FEEL like in the body?
Anxiety is also a future-projected emotion associated closely to worry. I feel anxiety most acutely and it’s a hard one to stop. Try. What does anxiety FEEL like in the body?
So, what’s the point of getting out of the mind and into the body? Should we care how our body feels? Can we control it? Does it matter anyway? In my opinion, yes. When we only operate from our mind without regard for the body we cause damage to ourselves at the cellular level. We can learn ways to manage these emotions — and we should teach ourselves to feel them so we can work more effectively with them.
The body never lies. The mind often does.
I could tell you to take deep long breaths for all of the emotions listed. Deep breathing works. Physiologically all of these negative emotions automatically cause a shortening of breath, a constriction, a shutting down. But deep breathing alone is often not enough. And if we only take deep breaths but don’t really feel what is going on inside, how much are we helping ourselves? We all feel these negative emotions often, yet we are too attached to our minds to really feel what they feel like.
Embodiment is a direct knowing of the body without the filter of the mind, and I’m simply suggesting that we PAY ATTENTION to how we FEEL instead of constantly identifying with our thoughts. It’s a practice I’m working with every day.
Get out of your mind. Drop attention into your body.
You might learn a little about yourself and you might find that in doing so you have a lot more choice than you ever thought possible.
Aziz Acharki vis Unsplash