Something I wish we all understood a little better is the importance of learning how to move our emotional experiences through our physical bodies.
Jalaluddin Rumi’s famous poem, The Guest House, gives a window into this idea…
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.
If you want to be powerful in your life and hold a belief that you can intervene in your experience—that topic I like to talk about called ‘agency’—it is vitally important that your very primal limbic system, the emotional centre of your brain, doesn’t hijack the show.
But wait, didn’t that Rumi poem just tell us we should welcome all our emotions, even difficult ones?
This is another one of those both/and truths.
For us to mediate those emotional experiences through our rational, logical filters and act intentionally, we must deal with the energy that is created through the primal response. That’s the body-based part.
How do we do that?
Let’s start by how we don’t do that:
By judging ourselves.
We must instead find healthy and productive ways to create a loving awareness around our experience and make space for it to exist. That way, the energy naturally discharges.
We don’t need to label it. We don’t need to keep asking “why?” We don’t need to be able to articulate it or have others understand it.
We just need to make space and self-validate. If you’ve never done that before, it can be hard to get started. It’s simple, not easy. This is something I support my clients with regularly and it takes some repetition to get a feel for it.
But here’s the catch…
Validation does not mean your emotional response is “right”. It’s just that: an emotional response.
Once you’ve moved the energy, then you can invite forward the logical, rational part of your ever powerful mind and decide what to do next, and how to integrate what just happened by using the experience as information. What you'll most likely find on the other side of the dense emotional energy, is a field of possibility that was not available when you were “in it”.
Getting to that field is how we have agency.
Next time you find yourself all caught up, instead of needing to act directly, take a pause. Create space to simply and literally observe the movement of energy through your body. Then, come back to the next action step once you’ve dealt responsibly with the guests in your house.
Didn’t manage this time? Congratulations, you’re human. You’ll have more opportunities to practise soon.
Be compassionate in the meantime.
Give it a try this week and see what you discover when you stop needing to react directly or to put your experience in a box, and simply focus on creating genuine awareness of it... pulling those eyeballs out the back of your head a moment and just bearing witness to you.
See yourself in all of your beautiful multidimensionality.
Let every guest be welcome. They’ll soon pass by...
Thank you for showing up.
Keep showing up.
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