when to feel

one of my favorite reminders for students in a yoga class is to take time to notice how their body is feeling. often throughout the day, and even in a class, we are simply going through the motions without realizing what is happening throughout. it’s as if we are rushing this present moment so that we can arrive at another, or that we are in one place but our minds are somewhere else.

i find great value in daydreaming, really. it gives us a glimpse into the nonphysical world, and reminds us that there is more to life than what we readily see. but daydreaming constantly or detaching completely leaves us unable to value this gift of life that we currently have.

this might seem to go against the yogic concept of vairagya, or non-attachment. how do we practice both non-attachment and connection in our lives?

non-attachment, in the yogic sense, does not mean leaving your life behind; rather, it is the practice of not allowing the internal or external connections you have made to hinder your growth and ability to live well. you are not a slave to your thoughts, your feelings, your relationships — when you can step away from them, you are able to see them from an outsider’s perspective, with greater clarity and discernment.

however, i believe there is a time to feel. if we do not allow our bodies and minds to actually feel those feelings that arise in us, they don’t go away — they just get stuck. and stuck energy (especially negative energy) gives rise to imbalance, illness, and long-term issues.

so when it feels right — let GO of whatever you are holding in and allow yourself to FEEL whatever comes up. you don’t have to dwell on it longer than your body is asking (quality over quantity). cry your EYES out. punch a pillow, putting every ounce of yourself into each blow. scream as LOUD and as HARD as you can. do whatever you need to do to let it out (within the limits of not harming others, of course). this is about you, for you. focus on the feeling, and then, when you are ready, let it go (for now). rest. it’s okay. you are okay.

for me, these feelings can come up when i am alone, most often in the shower, sometimes right before bed. it’s not uncommon for these feelings to arise in certain yoga poses, such as sleeping pigeon or corpse pose. and sometimes, especially after a particularly difficult or traumatic experience, these feelings may arise at any moment throughout the day. it’s okay. your body needs release. your feelings are valid. find a safe place, and do what you need to do. let it go.

yesterday marked the one year anniversary of when my dad went into the hospital, a stay from which he never emerged; the beginning of the end. time certainly helps to heal us, but if we don’t allow ourselves to feel what our body needs to feel, it’s as if time has not passed. take the time to notice what your body needs, trusting its wisdom. feel, release, and then, let go.

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