Over the years, I’ve come to embrace a different understanding of the meaning of true freedom. It’s been powerful and liberating for me and for others who come to share this lens, including many patients with whom I work. Instead of true freedom requiring us to find a way OUT of our current moments, feelings or experiences, I’ve discovered that it instead invites us to turn down the volume on our thinking minds and practice tuning into our own feelings, bodies, and energy IN the moment.
How many of you have experienced anxiety, illness, cancer, a job you hate or a relationship in which you’re unhappy? Or perhaps you’ve felt gripped with fear, anger, grief or overwhelm about the political climate swirling around you? Or maybe you find that when you look around, all you can notice is what’s wrong in your life or the world? The list could go on, right?
Well, I’ve experienced all these things, too. And for many years, when these experiences showed up for me, I was convinced that the way to find relief was to get myself out of those experiences so I could stop feeling whatever I was feeling and get to a different moment in my life. I was certain that once I got to a different, more right moment, I would feel better and I could REALLY start living. But you know what happened? More experiences showed up that were not the experiences I necessarily wanted. It turned out to be more difficult to reach that elusive, right moment of the future.
Things changed for me when I started playing with staying IN the present moment of the experience, sometimes for only seconds at a time in the beginning. I discovered that my mind was highly skilled in thinking about my feelings, but not gifted in actually feeling them! The more my mind tried to convince me I didn’t need to or shouldn’t feel the way I was feeling, the louder those feelings became. What a strange, counterintuitive realization that was for me!
I’ve discovered these same counterintuitive results about all the seemingly unwanted experiences that show up in my life, even cancer. The more my mind tells me all the reasons why my current situation is wrong, the more pressure I feel to hurry up and find the solution. The tricky part is that when my thinking mind is attempting to run the show on her own, oh, baby, it’s not so pretty! It’s always accompanied by a certain level of urgency and panic to find the quickest way to get myself out of the very unwanted situation I’m in and away from the very feelings that are present in me.
Who knew it would be so powerful to drop below the surface of all my thinking in the moment and turn towards the emotions to meet them rather than fight against them?! As I practiced this more, I was surprised to find that unwanted feelings like anxiety, overwhelm, confusion or even a sense of wrongness that I had commonly resisted suddenly began to ease. It was as if they had been waiting to be acknowledged and allowed and not made wrong for all these years…and it was happening:-) I discovered that they had been offering me a gift by showing up and I began to give them the gift of acknowledgment in return.
And guess what, peeps? This is universally true and applies to everyone! When we drop below the surface of our chronic thinking and tune into our body, feelings and energy IN the moment, we tap into a wisdom that’s been there all along. A peaceful center resides alongside this wisdom within and is available to us no matter what our outside circumstances. Do you see how this suddenly offers us true freedom in a way that isn’t possible when we are attempting to get out of the current moment? Isn’t that an amazing paradigm shift??!! This is exactly why I teach the simple tools to help people tap into this inner wisdom and peace by tuning in to the very moment in which they find themselves.
I invite you to join me in learning how to play with dropping below the surface of all the thinking and coming back home to your body and emotions in this moment. What if this begins to transform your experience of the very moment you are in?
Emily Colwell, MSSW, ND