What do Emotions Have to do With Flow?
What do emotions have to do with flow? EVERYTHING. I will illustrate with the most powerful flow story of my life.
One night a guy I was crazy about didn’t show up. I wasn’t used to being as vulnerable as I felt in that moment; I hadn’t felt that kind of wrench in my gut in a long time. Too long.
I cracked. A part of me was “watching” myself from the edge of the room and remarking, “wow, if this was a real storm I’d be boarding up the windows right now.” I sobbed like I hadn’t in the longest time. I wailed. It was as if every abandonment that had ever happened was happening again in that moment.
When I woke up the next morning, I felt beyond AMAZING. I felt a level of freedom I had never known. I was SO full of love. My heart felt SO HUGE that from the middle of the room I was sure I would hit the wall if I moved an inch.
The first thing I wanted to do was plant a garden. I made my way to the nursery, beaming and walking on air. The woman in charge, who was normally a grump, followed me around the yard giving me things for free. Then two cashiers stopped what they were doing and turned very slowly to ask if I’d found everything I needed. They were beaming at me. It was as if everyone in the place was in a love trance!
Once home I saw a neighbor I’d barely talked to in years. I just HAD to know how she was doing. I was intensely curious about her life and her art; nothing seemed more important in that moment. I bounded up her stairs and spent a lovely afternoon getting to know all about her. It was an amazing feeling to care so much and connect that way with her.
I’ve realized that our emotions are like weather patterns. They are meant to move, not be stuffed down. When we don’t express them they gum up the plumbing of our vitality and it becomes harder and harder to breathe. We go “dormant,” physically, emotionally and spiritually, until we find a way to get unstuck and back to flow.
Culturally there is not a lot of approval for strong emotions. We put stock into learning how to think, but we don’t place much importance on feeling.
Feeling our feelings, expressing them fully and sharing them with others opens up our life. Sharing our joys, fears and vulnerabilities is how we open our hearts, connect with others, tap our creativity, and even heal our bodies.
Today when you feel intensity arise in your body, put some attention on it. Where is it? What is the sensation in your body? Is it changing as you notice it? Current neuroscience has shown that it takes 60-90 seconds of focused attention to allow the “weather” of our feelings to shift and begin to release.
The ego will resist this process. It resists strong feelings to “protect” us, which makes sense. If we felt our feelings, we might panic and be eaten by the lion versus act. The problem comes when we don’t “re-set” the survival response.
To relax the ego, express gratitude for it’s intent. We all have voices of judgment in our heads. “I should be better at this.” What’s wrong with me that I can’t connect with my feelings.” Find compassion and forgiveness for all of it as if you’re talking with a younger part of yourself that just doesn’t understand.
There are two short videos below that provide wonderful guidance to assist you with this process. I’d love to hear how it goes!
”All emotions are neutral. They have no meaning other than the meanings we assign to them.”
- Dr. Kim D’Eramo
Teal Swan, an brilliant an insightful young woman who brought herself out of suicidality, explains the basics of processing emotions from a spiritual perspective: