May 29

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Ease Intense Emotions with a Somatic Practice

Intense emotions can be difficult to navigate. They feel tidal-wave big, hard to handle, and almost always call up a coping mechanism. It doesn't get any easier with the passage of time. On the contrary, the more entrenched you are with your fave escape method (whether it's emotional shutdown, random sex, drugs, booze, etc.) the harder it is to disentangle and address the root cause.

Chances are you learned how to navigate intense emotions in early childhood. Like most of the habits you've signed on to, it started at home. It's a good thing that today you make your own choices. No matter where you come from (or who you've been before), today you choose your pathway and destination.

It's not unusual to feel a lot of intense emotions when you tune into the state of the world and local events. There is a widespread increase in violence and unrest. Things feel unstable and uncertain. Watching the news can catapult you into a deep state of intense emotions that creates ongoing stress.

Your body was not meant to be in a constant state of stress. Chronic stress affects your physical and psychological well-being. Long term it can give rise to anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain, high blood pressure, and a weakened immune system.

“The salient stressors in the lives of most human beings today — at least in the industrialized world — are emotional. Just like laboratory animals unable to escape, people find themselves trapped in lifestyles and emotional patterns inimical to their health. . .We no longer sense what is happening in our bodies and cannot therefore act in self-preserving ways.”

Gabor Maté, When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress

You can’t eliminate stress, but you can learn how to minimize it and create more equilibrium in your world.

A Simple Somatic Practice to Ease Intense Emotions

Somatic exercises are any kind of practice that involves movement and helps you develop an awareness of your internal self using your mind-body connection. A somatic practice involves movement or physical activity that is completed gently and with intention. It invites you to move slowly, paying attention to your body and where you might be holding stress or tension.

In order to experience relief, notice what is happening, and then process and release the experience on a mind and body level. Take this practice for a spin the next time intense emotions are riding you like a roller coaster:

  1. Notice. Inhale and exhale. Notice what you feel in your body. Note your speed of breath, heart rate, and body temperature.
  2. Access Your Center. Think back to a recent moment you felt calm, safe, and anchored in your true self. Feel your body align to this frequency.
  3. Pinpoint. Identify at what point in time and/or which part of your body began experiencing disturbance due to intense emotions or stress.
  4. Slow Motion Review. As if you were watching a movie in slow motion, replay the scenario from calm state to stressed state. Identify people, conversations, or behaviors that may have made you stressed or uncomfortable.
  5. Tune in. Notice your body sensations and slow down. Notice if there is any shift in your body, a sensation of tingling, tightness, or numbing, or any change in body temperature. Notice any other insight or information that may arise.
  6. Activate Healing. Place your hands on the area that has experienced a shift or change. Breathe deeply and profoundly. If you're not sure where to place your hands, you can place one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly. Allow the healing force to pour through your hands and ripple throughout your body.

This is a simple practice that lends itself to immediate use. If you're in an unsafe environment, remove yourself to a room, corridor, or bathroom and put this practice into use. You have the power to heal yourself and create calm instantly.

If you feel moved to capture the experience, write down what you notice and what you now know about your intense emotions, how stress gets triggered in your body, and how you can easily and gracefully shift to a state of calm, peace, and openness.


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