If you feel tight, sick or stressed and you don't know why, it may be because you're suppressing some feelings. Read on to find out how to shift them. Do you know the main reason why people get tight, overweight, stressed and ill?
For sure, the high-sugar, high-alcohol and low-quality diets don't help.
Nor do the hours of sitting in front of our computers, televisions or car wheels.
But what is often overlooked in most fitness and health articles is the importance of feeling - and fully expressing - our feelings.
Because it's good for your health. In fact, it's a crucial part of living a healthy life, losing weight and allowing your inner spark to shine!
Feelings are natural
In her book Maps of Ecstasy, Gabrielle Roth, the creator of 5 Rhythms, a movement and dancing meditation class, tells us that feelings are very real, and cannot be turned off.
They are intense surges of energy that need to “flow like the blood circulating the body”.
Feelings are a completely natural part of your physical make-up and are there to allow your emotions to move through and out of the body effectively.
When you laugh for example, your natural response is to generate a feeling that moves up from your entire body and out via the diaphragm and the vocal chords.
And when you hurt yourself, you may experience a flash of anger before cursing out loud - instinctively.
The thing is, we tend to willingly experience what we perceive as “positive” emotions, i.e. joy, compassion, humour or courage.
However “negative” emotions are not so welcome: many of us try and suppress any sadness, anger, loneliness or despair within us.
This is when imbalances can occur, as we resist emotions and their natural path through the body and they get trapped in body tissue.
Without release, the energy becomes toxic and surfaces in all kinds of ailments and physical distress.
Studies even show that people who are more prone to repressing their feelings are also more prone to disease.
How to fully feel them
It’s pretty common to experience a release of these emotions in a yoga class or during a massage (look out for anyone crying during a Downward Dog).
However, I would invite you to try a few of the practices below to start acknowledge and moving whatever emotions and feelings are within you.
1. Tune into your body
Take a few minutes each day to sit in silence and to acknowledge what you’re feeling. Feel into your body and sense what is going on on the inside. Sadness? Fear? Anger? Joy? Give the feelings a name and see how they shift as you acknowledge them and give them some attention.
You can also inquire and see what lies beneath each feeling: if you practice this, you'll see how you pass down layers, through sadness, fear and despair, and back into a deep feeling of joy and love.
2. Use your imagination
The best way to shift your feelings? Use your imagination: if you need to release some anger, get angry! Hit some pillows, scream, curse – whatever it takes to bring emotions and feelings out. You may wish to imagine yourself directing these towards someone. This may bring up sadness, tears or more anger. Just allow it to move through your body, and express them through sound and movement.
3. Dance it out
Dancing and moving is a fantastic way to let the feelings flow. Learn to listen out to the impulses from the body and connecting to the rhythms from within. This takes a little practice: stand still with the music on and listen out for impulses to move. Follow these impulses and keep listening to how your body wants to move. You may find yourself cycling through a variety of feelings: allow them to surface and let them go. If thoughts come up, gently bring them into the body and express them through movement too.
4. Express them as they come up
A healthy approach is to allow the feelings to be expressed as they come through. Observe children: they express their anger or sadness to its full extent, using the entirety of their bodies, until nothing is left within and they can return to being their normal, joyful self.
Of course, you have to be considerate of who is around you, as expressing your feelings can often be seen as unusual behaviour in our society. Expression of anger is common in Mediterranean cultures for example, whereas in the UK we tend to be more controlled and may frown on someone showing their anger or sadness.
Either way, by learning to acknowledge your feelings and allow them to take their natural path through the body, you'll soon be able to connect to your deeper layers of joy, love and compassion - and shine!
Just remember not to take any thoughts and feelings personally, but to treat them as waves of energetic tension running through the body, triggered by deeper held beliefs.
Now it's up to you: spend some time tuning in to your body and noticing what feelings are present, and how they evolve once you give them attention. Then leave a comment below with what you experienced!
Love & Health,