Medical research has shown that holding back emotions may be a precursor for many illnesses. Cancer studies have shown that laughter, as well as crying, heightens the cure rate. Let’s become more aware of how a good belly laugh or a deep cry from our hearts makes us feel better. In order to do so, we will have to lift some veils of conditioning.
About 12 years ago, I was lucky enough to be part of an intense emotional meditative therapy group that proceeded non-verbally. A large group of over 50 people were guided daily for three hours through the process of laughing without taking a break. This went on for seven days. The following seven days were about crying and the atmosphere of sadness. Again, the whole group spent three hours daily simply wailing. The last seven days led to silent sitting and observing our emotions.
This experience was truly transformative and changed my life. I experienced that my emotional body is something else than I thought it was. I thought an emotion would be linked to something that happens. For example, when something wonderful happens, I might smile or laugh. When something horrible happens, I feel bad or cry. But now I realized this was not so. Our mind always tries to interpret and manifest meaning. The emotional body has its own rhythm and truth independent of the reasons and interpretations of our minds.
The emotional body has its own rhythm and truth independent of the reasons and interpretations of our minds.
Laughter can be present and waiting to happen no matter what I experience. Similarly, no matter whether there may be a reason in my outer life or not, my tears might like to flow. What a tremendous insight! I made contact with a very powerful aspect of my emotional body. Emotions have a dimension within themselves that are not necessarily dependent on circumstances and not necessarily connected to my interpretations! This helped me tremendously to stop judging my feelings and allow any emotion more mindfully.
For example, now when I feel a strong pressure on the place above my heart rather than spending too much time trying to analyze what particularly triggered it, I may go to my girlfriend and ask if I can cry for a few moments. She already knows and understands. Some sweet moments of sobbing happen, maybe accompanied by some words, or maybe not, while she holds my hands. The event ends with a smile as both of us enjoy this release and healing.
This process can also be understood by following the impulses the brain sends to the muscles and glands. When we feel moody or unhappy, what happens in our neuro-physiology is that an impulse is sent from our brain but not translated into action. For example, if I feel angry, adrenaline needs to be released. Moving in a way that releases the adrenaline will create balance and feeling good. But if I don’t release the adrenaline, my emotions are likely to be blocked.
There is a need for endorphins to travel through the body. Laughing and crying are the avenues for this to occur; they are the conscious solutions for our endorphins! Expressing emotions is deeply cleansing and necessary for dealing with compulsive/addictive behaviours, co-dependency and many other destructive or limiting patterns in a respectful and successful way.
Think of some creative ways you can allow and embrace the emotions you may not have been aware of before. How can you express them in new ways? Wouldn’t it be nice to learn how to scream in the car or hit a cushion rather than to eat when feeling angry? Finding many situations daily that call for humour, as a non-sense response, is often the most intelligent answer and approach in many areas of life.
Let's summarize some steps to consciously and intelligently address any of our emotions:
- Practice identifying hidden emotional responses.
- Acknowledge and embrace any upcoming emotion.
- Take some distance from the emotion and know it is not you, it is not the world, and it is not all.
- Observing your emotions is a powerful tool.
- Allow acceptance and this healthy distance to guide you in finding creative ways to express and release the emotion in a way that is respectful to yourself and all others involved.
- Experience your new choice – when to express emotion and when not to – and enjoy your new, more mature way of practising emotional intelligence.
Give yourself credit for your courage and the new steps you have taken, and thank yourself.