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Emotions: A Human Mystery?
by Arline Rowden, Reiki Master Teacher © 2010
Have you ever wondered where do emotions really come from, and what are they good for anyway? Has anyone ever accused you of being a Drama Queen or King or of being “COLD” emotionally? Have you ever started to cry, felt afraid or experienced another strong emotion when watching a movie even though you knew it was not “REAL”? Have you ever started to feel emotionally upset about something that happened years ago? So many questions, but are there some answers?
For most of my life, I’ve been puzzled by my emotional nature. When I was growing up, I would cry at the drop of a hat. I was told that I was too sensitive. When I got into the business world, I didn’t feel that crying was acceptable. So I tried to suck it up and if I couldn’t stop myself from crying at work I’d go cry in the rest room. Anger would pop up, too, throughout my life. Even though it was more acceptable for men to be angry in the business world, it definitely wasn’t okay for women back then.
Over the years that I spent in the business world, I managed to suppress many of what “they” considered to be “unacceptable” feelings. After awhile, I became so stressed, anxious and unable to get enough sleep many nights that I decided to try meditation for stress relief. I remember thinking that I not only wanted to feel less stress but I wondered if this was all there was to life. So I also went into therapy to try to discover why I was so unhappy. I was in my early 30’s then.
I did a lot of emoting about past issues. Therapists and books said I was releasing my emotions. And when I emoted over and over about the same issues, it was explained as more layers of the emotional onion being released. After awhile, I began to wonder if I’d ever get to the core of the onion and complete my emotional healing. Needless to say, my emotional issues spilled out into my relationships and created more issues. It seemed that I was experiencing never ending grief, guilt and fear. I felt like a MESS!
Even though I began to meditate to release stress, it wasn’t long before I began to use meditation as a way to focus on my spiritual life which I had ignored for years. My family and I attended a church when I was growing up and I believed that God was this old man in the sky that would punish you if you did something naughty. At 21 years old, I decided that God was a myth that the establishment made up to keep the masses in line and I was having none of that. It was the 60s!
With the help of meditation, spiritual study, and after awhile Reiki, I began to develop a new theory for myself about the Divine. Now I feel that the Divine is an intelligent energy that is within everyone and everything. I feel a connection to the Divine when I meditate and while running Reiki energy for myself and others. I feel that this intelligent energy is impersonal and accepts all equally. To me free will choice means that we are all allowed to experience life in our own way. There are consequences to our actions but we are free to experience as we choose.
Spiritual practices and study and life style changes made a huge difference in my life. And even though I started to have some success with identifying my feelings, I was still mostly confused about my mysterious emotional nature. I would often look back on a situation where I became upset and realized that I had not been thinking about what to say or do during that time. At other times, I would wonder why I was so upset by something that when I thought about it later I realized that it wasn’t such a big deal. There was something going on that I didn’t understand.
Then in 2004, I began to take a series of classes from my spiritual teacher, Michael Strelcheck, called the Emotional Processing Technique (EPT). Over the course of the 10 class days (over several months) in the two levels of EPT, we learned about emotional patterns and why we react without thinking. And we were taught processes to discover how emotions served us and how to identify defensive patterns in ourselves and others. It was so helpful but so much information to absorb, so I took the two EPT series twice.
Finally with EPT, my emotional nature began to make some sense to me. But most importantly, I began to be able to actually release some emotions rather than just emoting about the same issues over and over and over again. There was one session where I released a ton of suppressed grief. I actually felt physically lighter after that session. In another session, I realized a defensive pattern where I refused to acknowledge failure and how that had adversely affected my life.
So I began to share the EPT info with others and offer EPT sessions, too. I had struggled emotionally for so long and I wanted to pass along what I learned to others. Then in 2010, Michael wrote a 12 part series about healing and evolving the emotional nature and identifying and working with emotional behaviors which he presented to a group in Madison. After studying this series, I felt drawn to teach a summarization of this series.
In this body of work, feelings are considered to be sensations in the body and they are called emotions when the mind names them. Feelings in the body are messages from the body to the mind. These messages are the way the body lets the mind know how it’s doing. When the mind receives these messages, it can then decide if some action needs to be taken and direct the needed action. But if the mind ignores the feelings in the body, then they stay in the nervous system of the body. Over time these messages can create stress and even pain in the body. That helped to explain why I became so stressed when I was not acknowledging and understanding my feelings.
I discovered that it takes some quiet time each day for me to become aware of the sensations and feelings in the body. Then I can notice how my body feels about what it is experiencing in life. I began to realize when I needed more rest and relaxation or more play time or more exercise or needed to take time to discover what I had learned from a life experience, etc. I also learned that it takes an attitude of acceptance and a willingness to not judge any feeling as right or wrong. Some words or actions based on feelings might not be appropriate but the feeling is always okay and we’ll want to recognize it.
So after years of being submerged in the emotional patterns in my life, I began to come up for air out of the watery emotional nature. I slowly developed an ability to think in many situations where I would have just reacted in the past. I still have times that I am caught in the spin of a pattern but it doesn’t happen as often anymore and I recognize what’s happening much sooner. I’ve been working hard towards emotional stability which could be thought of as the ability to roll with the punches of life. In other words, I might get a little wobbly at times from life experiences, but I can come back to a stable place more easily now. I’m beginning to solve the mystery of my emotional nature.