"In this moment, with all its challenges, and all its complexity…
This is permission.
Permission to feel everything. To not know what you feel.
Permission to hold sorrow and wonder, anger and hope—everything that’s real."
From one Zoom room to another, a common theme we’ve been hearing over and over is the overwhelming avalanches of emotions and inevitably, the 2020 emotional roller coaster rides that happen #onthedaily.
As a society, we’ve been taught—sometimes through experience—that emotions can cause us to react in ways that create regret and remorse. As a result, when hit with intense emotions, we often cope through denying, suppressing, or even avoiding them altogether.
Here’s the thing:
Our emotions are, in fact, physiological (bodily) responses to internal (e.g. thoughts) and external (e.g. social media) stimuli. These responses are here for a reason; they give us data to make informed decisions, so we can take action crucial to our survival.
In other words:
It’s okay to feel the feels.
According to neuroanatomist Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, it takes 90 seconds for an emotion to finish its full biochemical reaction in our human bodies when we face a situation.
Essentially, if we allow the emotion we’re experiencing to be here—give it permission to finish its process—it will be done in 90 seconds, and then it’s gone.
How do you actually do that?
Start by understanding that an emotion is a biochemical process that happens in the body.
For example, think of something that annoys you right now. What emotion arises? Where do you feel it in your body?
Now think of a loved one giving you a hug. What emotion arises instead? Where do you feel this emotion now?
According to a Finnish neuroscience study with over 700 participants, our emotions manifest in our bodies.
Now that you’ve learned to locate your emotions in your body, let’s practice.
As you are reading this, think of something that is slightly challenging in your life right now.
What emotions are becoming present in your body?
Name them if you can.
Anger. Sadness. Fear. Etc.
For complex emotions you do not yet have words for, it’s okay to simply label them as “emotions.”
Is there one emotion that feels more prominent than the rest?
If you notice “opposing” emotions—like sadness and hope—at the same time, know that it’s normal for them to coexist.
Where is each emotion residing in your body? Checking in with your…
What physical sensation is each emotion causing in your body? It could be...
Coldness in the feet….
Sinking in the belly…
Buzzing in the chest…
Tension in the shoulders…
Tightness in the head…
Notice and report.
When we lead our clients and their teams through this exercise at our workshops, they realize that simply by naming their emotions and noticing the physical sensations in the body—instead of resisting their emotions—they already feel lighter and more relaxed.
Most of them naturally took a deeper breath and noticed their bodies shift into a calmer state, all within—you guessed it—90 seconds.
So go ahead and take a deeper inhale.
Exhale gently, longer than the inhale.
How do you feel now?
If there are still a lot of emotions in your body, that’s okay. We’re not trying to finish feeling all the feels in one practice.
Go ahead, inhale and clench your fists as tightly as you can. On your exhale, release your fists, along with the residual emotions.
It’s okay to feel the feels.
Give yourself permission to do so.
In collaboration with:
TAY & VAL
CO-FOUNDERS OF M MEDITATION
Access a special guided meditation to help you clear out stress, keep calm while navigating uncertainty, and stay centered amidst chaos here.