The fear of feeling in my opinion is paralyzing for people. Our feelings are as much a part of our being as breathing is, sleeping is, thinking is, yet many of us spend an outrageous amount of time and effort avoiding our emotions. Similar to some of my clients who on some level are fearful of the feelings that lie underneath, which makes perfect sense to the degree that I am asking them to head straight on to the pain and discomfort of their experiences. But week after week they continue to show up in all their bravery, courage, and determination to change and better their lives. The sense of transformation as they announce after feeling that there is great movement within them that is signified by relief, calmness, insight, and peace. Yes – just what we are going for in terms of transformation. I refer to this process as to what I have called the healing trio – emotional, physical, mental wholeness and connection.
The healing trio begins with our body’s sensations and emotions. Our emotions then evoke our frontal cortex in forms of thoughts to the emotions and the situation which in turn arises the opportunity for us to physically and/or behaviourally respond. When we deny the emotional expression of ourselves we throw off the normal regulation of the other two parts in terms of our thoughts and behaviours. We basically end up suppressing our emotions only to have the rational part of ourselves (mental) take over resulting in our bodies retaliating in various forms of minor to serious physical ailments. When we do the opposite and listen carefully, gently, and non-judgmentally to our body and emotions we keep the healing trio in sync and create personal growth and connection to ourselves, others, and the world around us. The ability to be completely present in the moment in all the joy, wonder, beauty, and pleasantness that can be experienced on a daily basis when we matter and care about ourselves.
My heart is heavy, similarly to many other Vancouverites after the tragedy, destruction, and violence that happened after the final Stanley Cup game between the Vancouver Cunucks and the Boston Bruins. Although I am aware that much of what happened began at the premeditated hands of a small few, I cannot help feeling so shocked and alarmed at the group mentality that grasped many others to destroy and steal with no sense of regard for others’ safety and the repercussions of engaging in such behaviour. The embarrassment and taintedness that these acts have put upon our beautiful city worldwide is so very reprehensible. As I reflect upon the last few months and the joyous tone and the surmountable heartbeat of our city each game night I feel warmth. Groups of people cheering in complete unison. A little boy dangling over a restaurant balcony insisting people high five him (not one person ignored his request). Strangers talking with one another and being just a little bit nicer all because of this commonality that has been bestowed upon us. I will admit that I normally am not a regular hockey fan but on the night of the seventh game even I was rushing home after work to be with people I love and to cheer on our boys while being ever so proud of them and ever so proud to be a Vancouverite. This felt sense of proudness was stolen from over a million of us as I sat in disbelief in front of the television watching as the riot broke out after the game with tears streaming down my face and my voice was softly saying inside of me “stop this, please stop”. My sense of redemption happened the next day as I had to be downtown and my heart was filled with gratitude as I walked past The Bay and witnessed all the hundreds of people who had volunteered to clean up the streets of the downtown core. They were diligently and with true commitment working to erase the events of the previous night and working to restore what Vancouver is all about in all her glory and beauty. Tears began again for me as I read some of the thousands and thousands of notes that people had written on the boards that were put up over the broke windows all over downtown. The messages were all about the love we have for this city and that the prior night’s events not being representative of who we truly are as a city and not condoned by us. And on and on it went. Redemption has been found in the hearts of the majority through the pain caused by a minority. This is community. This is compassion and caring. This is our love for our home city Vancouver.
Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend my neighbourhood annual celebration. It was a beautiful sunny day. The festivities managed to hold enough people to fill the approximate equivalent of the ten block street radius that was closed off to traffic for most of the day. There was popcorn, hotdogs, cotton candy, face painting, a fountain of bubbles, and so much more. Children running with smiles and laughter beaming throughout their whole little beings as the balloons they held bounced in tune with every step they took. People everywhere walking proudly with their dogs that appeared to come in all shapes and sizes everywhere I looked. As we where walking and walking up and down the ten blocks of our neighbourhood in the middle of the streets, I could not help to notice the kinship as neighbours that illuminated from everyone. We were all waving to people we know (and to really get into the spirit, people we didn’t know). A lot of these people we see on a fairly regular basis as neighbours and merchants. A warm feeling came over me as I thought – yes – this is what it is about. In essence a neighbourhood ‘hanging out’ with each other and sharing with each other and being on our best behaviour in order to enjoy the day. A true sense of community and brother/sisterhood. I thought about how we were all regulating ourselves with such pleasant emotions and how the energy was moving through each of us and exhaling back out onto the streets and being picked up again in a continuous cycle. It was moving for me. This moment was what we had and we were all being in the moment and enjoying the moment. That is really what I teach my clients and try to maintain for myself because in reality that is all we really have. The past cannot be changed and the future holds too many possibilities, but what we want to focus on and cherish is this very moment in order to nurture ourselves and to be in this life. That is experiencing and truly being.