Allowing yourself to feel

Steps on the Pathway of Sorrow.

Fracking. Aside from it sounding like a variation on a dirty word, the facts of this technology for extracting fossil fuel send shivers down my spine.

After drilling a hole in the ground, explosives are used to make cracks in the shale rock. Thousands of litres of water mixed with chemicals is then forced down into the earth, fracturing the rock even further. This releases the gas. The dirty water, with its chemicals and other substances from the rock layer come back up to the surface as well. Some of this is radioactive.

This description has a visceral effect on me. Somehow, I identify with the earth, and I feel those words: forced, fractured. And it feels bad. Wrong. It is all I need to know to realise that this is something humans should not be doing to the earth.

A fracking tower: fractrures are made in the earth to release gas

A fracking tower: fractrures are made in the earth to release gas

This feeling has motivated me to find out more, though. And to stay involved with a group of friends who are spreading information about it and its dangers through the Pagan community. Following this feeling, I have done some things I never thought I’d do, most notably visiting the protest camp at Barton Moss.

There are other issues that touch me like this, that I can feel in my body. The very idea of there being no polar bears or tigers one day fills me with sadness. You probably already know what some of these issues are for you.

Feeling this sorrow for our world is normal and natural. It is Nature’s way of telling us something is not right, something needs to be done. So don’t be afraid of the feelings.

The first thing to do is to acknowledge and allow the feeling, as in the practice below.

When you have worked with the feeling, and feel more comfortable with it, you can let it lead you into action. There will be other people who are concerned about this issue. Find them – they very likely already have a presence online – and join them. Find out what you can do to help. Doing something positive is the best medicine for your sorrow, as well as for its cause.

Feeling the flow

To start with, it is good to practise in a safe space. Ideally, go to the place where you usually do your inner work. Choose somewhere where you can be safe and undisturbed for a while.

If you know how, set up a sacred space by casting a circle. Alternatively, just sit down in meditation and become aware of your breathing. Just watch your breath coming and going. Let yourself relax into the floor or into your seat with each out breath.

When you feel calm and relaxed, let your breath create a bubble around you. Let it slowly extend, with each out breath, from the centre of your body. Don’t strain, just let it lightly expand until you are contained comfortably within it. If it feels right, let it expand to fill most of the room you are in.

This space is safe and protected. Here, you can explore your own inner world without fear of intrusion.

When you feel centred and settled, let an issue come to mind that brings up difficult feelings for you. Just allow yourself to think about it. As you do, notice how your body feels. Notice your breathing – it may become shallower. Notice any tightness in your muscles or in your heart area. Don’t pull away from these feelings. Just notice them and allow them to be.

Explore the feeling in your body. Find its edges, its texture. When it feels really clear to you, mentally poke it. I like to imagine actually poking it with a finger. For me, this causes the feeling to start moving, to start flowing, like liquid, through my body and then dissipate. Try it. Experiment until you find a way to make the feeling flow.

Keep working with this. Keep touching the feeling and making it flow until you feel a lot lighter.

As you work, images may come up. Just notice them. Don’t get too involvedĀ  with them. Notice and let them flow with the feeling.

When you have had enough, become aware of your breathing again. Breathe into your body. Feel it sitting in your room. Become aware of sounds, scents, and textures around you. Breathe gently, and with each in breath, bring the bubble you have created closer to you, to a distance where it feels normal for you. If you cast a circle, close it now.

You may want to make some notes about any images or impressions that came up.

This doesn’t make the feeling go away. It does give you space to allow the feeling to flow, so it doesn’t become stuck in your muscles or other body parts. It also means you can now work with this feeling more constructively, letting it flow as it comes up, and following it to right action.

If you try this exercise, do let me know how it goes. If you know any other ways of working with feelings, do please share them below. We all need to learn from each other.

Other resources

Working with your emotions. A treasure trove of ways to accept and work with your emotions as a valuable resource for life. I don’t particularly like the way it’s framed around ‘success’ and gender (and don’t get me started on robot emotions), but if you can live with that, there is much here to explore.

How to understand, identify, release your emotions. Another great resource for getting to know your inner world and let your emotions flow.

Difficult emotions. The Buddhist way of observing, accepting and releasing emotion.

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