How are you doing? During big shakeups, some of us find that we’re trying to get control of ourselves. Do you ever find yourself getting compulsive when you’re feeling big emotions?
With the shakeup and response around the U.S. political scene (or, if you’re in another country, the various shake-ups around politics where you are), are you…
- Watching the news or checking social media every hour or two…or even more often?
- Feeling like there’s something you should be doing…so you get busy, and then afterward worry that you haven’t accomplished anything lasting or helpful?
- Avoiding spending time with friends because you’re feeling frantic/angry/sad, and you don’t want to slow down, open up and be with them?
- Intellectualizing, and engaging in heated, conflictive conversations where all of you are stuck in ideas, theories, pros and cons, or to-do lists?
- Trying to hide that you’re having feelings?
In times of great change in our lives, especially when those changes are being felt by vast numbers of people, life can feel like a ride on a tidal wave. Are you, like me, asking how you can stop and feel your emotions? More importantly, why should you? And, what is it like to explore your deeper emotions with others?
For one thing, it’s entirely appropriate to feel intense emotions when times of great transition occur. Western culture trains us to become experts at avoiding our feelings, trying to set them aside so we can “get things done.”
But, what happens when we do things while we’re filled with blocked anger, fear, grief, or even when we’re trying to contain too much passion and enthusiasm? For one thing, blocked-up emotions can put up a wall against our ability to hear others and the gentle voice of the living world around us.
The living world speaks in the often subtle voice of feelings. Beyond specific emotions – defined arenas of feeling that have particular traits – Nature and the world move us in inexplicable ways. You are compelled to get out of the house and go see a friend. You feel an urge to apply for a certain job, take a different way home from work, cry or yell, or make a choice that just feels right, even though it’s contrary to any well-considered rationale. The mood of the living, aware world makes itself known when you step into the sunlight, stir up dust, feel the breeze move you…and when you let yourself flow with what you’re feeling.
Both you and I and our human brothers and sisters live in a sea of feeling. I find that the feelings that surround me are reverberating within. Events and interactions that affect me can point me in a direction where I need to look. Do you find that, too?
When I feel threatened, I can shut down and defend, but those walls can shield me from the opportunities around me. What would happen to you and me if we opened up and listened to each other’s feelings, even those “others” who we’ve painted as our enemies? I have a lot to learn about this, but I’m becoming increasingly aware of the importance of bridging gaps and listening first, feeling first. Then, I discover that I can respond from a deep understanding and empathy with the other.
Fire is a great facilitator of connection, emotional expression and compassion. When I light a fire and sit around it with other people, when I am open to listening to the pain and fear behind the anger that people feel on all sides, then I begin – and they begin – to see that we are all human beings, connected to each other and a common set of basic values. After that great clearing of the air, the right plans and solutions can emerge, and we can all work on them together.
Erin Everett is an initiated quiatlzques, “a person who works to establish relationship with the weather to benefit her village,” in the tradition of the Nahua people of south-central Mexico. She also works with the Sacred Fire Community. Both roles enable her to spend her time exploring and sharing ways we as modern people can discover ancient tools and perspectives to help us relate in a good way with each other, our community and our living world. Erin lives in the mountains of North Carolina, USA.