Our emotional arc. A story:
Last night, Audrey just had a complete and total meltdown. We are talking chest heaving, tears pouring, can’t catch your breath, uncontrollable sobbing. It began because she watched something tonight where the character thought of themself back when he was a baby. She kept saying “I wanted it to stay at that part” over and over again. Then all of a sudden she started saying through her tears that she wished she was still a baby. She didn’t want to turn 6 or 7 or 8. She just wants to stay a baby.
As her mom, I would be lying if I didn’t say that I often have those thoughts and moments. I absolutely LOVE her growing and getting bigger, but as any parent can attest, it sure does go by awfully fast. But as I was holding her in my arms tonight and supporting her in crying it out, I had another thought come over me. This feeling that she is having right now. This experience that her own body is giving her, that her emotional self is catalyzing, it’s so wise and wonderful. I’m not saying that I love to watch my child cry or relish her sadness. But as someone who studies and teaches emotional well-being, I couldn’t help but be in awe of the immense freedom and courage of vulnerability within her to let herself pour it all out. And as she lay there in my arms, I could feel how much of this was in her physically and how beautifully her body was working to help move it all through her and not let it get trapped.
Emotions have a beginning, middle and end. Often we are most aware of the middle. Sometimes we feel it beginning to come on, but most often we just kind of notice one day, “hey, I’m really sad”. What happens to many of us is that we can’t even get that far, we just notice that something is off. Where we are the least unaware, tends to be the end. It’s a rare occurrence that we actually experience and feel the ending of an emotion. Most likely because we move on to whatever comes next. But sometimes, the reason we don’t feel the end is because we didn’t let ourselves feel it in the first place. In those middle moments, when we actually notice that we are feeling something, we usually work hard to close it up. To move on despite it. Our bodies tense up and the energy of that emotion has nowhere to go really but to be internalized. We get quite good at this kind of compartmentalization. Perhaps even master the ability to move on without any kind of closure whatsoever, multiple times a day.
As Audrey moved deeper and deeper into her emotion, she verbalized everything that was happening. It started off with the recognition of “I’m so sad”. This is so good. Recognition is vital to having an honest experience. As she got towards the middle, she kept saying out loud “I don’t think this is ever going to stop. I want it to stop”. This too is so amazing to me because while I of course advocate for feeling all feelings, I also would never deny that some are just harder and more unpleasant than others. And we often do want them to stop. We often do think they will never end and it will in fact last forever. I, of course, assured her that it won’t stay this way. She cried and cried and her body kept trembling while her breath took hold and let go over and over again. Then, as things calmed down she said, and I quote: “That feels so much better.” and rolled herself over to fall asleep.
And there I lay, fascinated and proud. I have created an entire class around this exact experience. This idea that our emotions have arc and story and energy. They inform so much of what we do and yet so often we don’t pay them any attention. But in eMOTION, our only job is to move our body and breathe our breath in connection with any feeling that arises. We listen to the story, we follow it’s arc and we utilize and nurture its energy. Basically, it’s a way for adults to do exactly what my 5 year old so willingly did for herself tonight. What her body and breath did for her. All of it unabashedly and without any shame or thought of what it looked like or could be judged as. It was beautiful. And it’s what I want for me and every other person who comes to eMOTION.
Today at 11am we will do just this. We will, as the adults we are, give ourselves the permission to feel the arc of emotions. To listen to the stories that they weave and we will move the energy of it all with love and care so that we don’t get stuck in the middle.
Whatever you are feeling, it is welcome. My daughter tonight was feeling the grief of time and how quickly it moves. I have felt that myself, many times. But just like time, our emotions move too and so must we with them.
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is a Mama, Wife, Yoga and Meditation Teacher, Coach, Writer and Activist. You can read more about her here.