Do We Really Feel? By Katie Ashley

How do you feel right now?

Most of us are pretty good at glossing over our feelings, or avoiding checking in with how we really feel in any meaningful way.

We have a few go-to feelings such as “good,”  “stressed,” “busy,” “fine” or “hanging in there,” but we don’t usually go much deeper until something big happens. When life throws us a massive curve ball – good or bad – all of a sudden we are feeling major feelings. We get overjoyed or super excited or we get majorly sad or depressed. In some cases, we’ve numbed ourselves so deeply and so regularly that even the curve balls leave us feeling a little blank and wondering why we aren’t feeling more.

And that, my friend, is where the biggest danger lives.

We can’t selectively numb our feelings.

We can’t tune out our pain and still experience bliss.

In meditation, we learn to sit with our feelings. When I meditate for 5 minutes, I am likely to experience: relief, discomfort, happiness, fear, sadness, craving, gratitude, overwhelm and at least a handful of other feelings I miss noticing because my mind wanders to my to-do list. I have a feeling that you may experience the same type of thing. Many people tell me that they can’t meditate because they can’t stop thinking. We aren’t trying to stop thinking. We are trying to stop following the thoughts. Often, in order to give ourselves a focus point we will use a mantra or a prayer that we can silently say over and over again. If we find our mind wandering we come back to the breath or mantra.

That is meditating.

We don’t practice so that we can get really good at sitting on a cushion in a room watching our breath or repeating “Let Go.”  We practice so that we can take it out into the world.

We practice tuning in. When we are in tune with ourselves, we are more in tune with others and are more effective in our lives. One of the biggest disconnects most of us have is with our own bodies. We don’t actually feel our feelings – we think about them.

We have shut down our awareness of our feelings or we have placed so much judgment on ourselves about how we feel that we don’t want to look at our feelings or be honest about them. We power through or tone it down. 

We ignore the feelings in our body by talking ourselves out of them in our heads.

Please, stop.

Get brave and feel your feelings. 

No more numbing out.

The thing is, for most of us our feelings won’t overwhelm us if we allow them to come.

The danger is when we don’t allow them to come and they build up like a raging river behind a patchwork dam. Eventually they break through.

Try this practice that you can do anywhere at anytime:

  • Notice Your Body. Sit comfortably. Ask yourself:
  • How do I feel?
  • Where do you feel the feeling in your body? (It may be emotional, mental or physical.)
  • Does the feeling change?
  • Does it have layers?
  • Is it familiar?
  • Are you avoiding it or trying to hold on to it?
  • Does it have a color, a sound, or a vibration?
  • What messages are you telling yourself about that feeling?
  • Do you give yourself permission to feel it?
  • If not, why not?
  • Sit with your feeling. Notice it ebb and flow or notice the stuckness of it.
  • Don’t try to push it away or make it last, just sit with it.
  • Now let go. Both the pleasant and difficult, let it go.
  • Just be present for a moment.
  • Ask yourself: How am I going to respond to this feeling. *Note that responding is different from reacting. 
  • Create one action step that feels like taking amazing care of YOU, first.
  • Then go do it.

Katie AshleyKatie Ashley is a positive body image and Self love activist. She offers yoga therapy based mentoring to clients worldwide from her studio in Charleston, SC. Through her writing, speaking, live workshops and online programs she offers her vast array of tools, insights and experiences to those who want to fall unconditionally in love with their bodies, find their voices, and connect with their pasts in useful and inspiring ways. She believes that every person is capable of unlimited healing and inspired personal evolution and it is her calling to help guide those who desire it, and are ready, on their journey towards experiencing it for themselves. She writes often as a regular blogger for Recovery Warriors, Women Enough, and Charleston Grit and contributes occasionally to Yoganonymous, BaliniSports and Elephant Journal. She is a Gather Yoga emissary and Jade Yoga ambassador.

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