In a previous topic I presented ways to work with feeling more grounded and more sense of purpose. Big feelings can really flood us and cause us to lose our ground and sense of purpose. These feelings might be anger, hurt, fear, sadness, grief, loneliness, regret, guilt, shame or something else. Don’t try any of my suggestions if it doesn’t feel right to you or is counter to the advice of your health practitioner.
One thing about feelings is that they can seem really big, sometimes completely swamping our boat so to speak.
I do not ever recommend putting our feelings in the “trash compactor”. We don’t need to squash them. That doesn’t work anyway. We can instead face them, acknowledge them, feel them and remind ourselves that they are big but we are bigger. The feelings are not all of who we are. Get help if you feel the feelings are too big for you to work with. Find someone you trust to support you. If you have real fear, take note if you are in actual danger and get to safety and get help.
Here’s something I do with big feelings:
I AM THE BEACH EXERCISE: Sit down either alone or with a supportive friend or loved one, and let yourself notice what feelings are really present for you right now. You can name them and also notice any body sensations you are having. Now recite out loud this mantra. “I’m having this __________ feeling and it’s like a wave coming over me and I’m like the beach. After the feeling washes over me I’ll still be here. I am the beach”.
Hang out with it for a moment of time. See if you notice the feelings start to subside a bit. Notice any body sensations you are having. You can share your experience with your supportive friend or loved one. This is an exercise that one might need to use many many times to gradually gain a sense of confidence and mastery in working with the feelings.
I remember I used to feel powerless sometimes when big feelings or grief hit me. The beach image helped me to learn to stay anchored or grounded even in the middle of big feelings and to trust that the feelings would pass.
Whenever you feel discouraged, alone and not grounded, bring your awareness back to your body and feel your feet and keep setting your purpose every morning and doing your prayer/meditation, whatever works for you, as I described in a previous post. Don’t worry if it takes a while to get used to doing this. Keep at it and you’ll get better at it. When you feel more grounded, notice whatever else you feel in your body. Share that with a friend or loved one.
Sometimes it can be of real help when dealing with feelings of grief and loss, to find a support group of others going through similar feelings, such as having lost a loved one. There can be power in sharing with people who know what we’re going through. Also grief rituals can have healing power. Some of our medicine people are involved in those. You can email us if you are interested in that.
There are many strategies for working with big feelings and grief. We can also draw strength and support from Mother Earth to be able to handle our feelings and our grief. In a future post I’ll talk about Infusing Ourselves with Mother Earth’s Healing Power.
© Jerry Allen 2016
About the author – Jerry Allen
I hold a masters in public health education from UC Berkeley and a masters in counseling psychology from California Institute of Integral Studies. I’ve been a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist since 1991, and am certified in Somatic Experiencing. I began my medicine man training in my first vision quest in 1973. I was initiated as a medicine man under the training and supervision of Theresa Dintino. I studied Aikido for 30 years and received 3 black belts. I live and practice in Oregon and Sebastopol, and enjoy playing music, tending our apple orchard, and spending time with my two wonderful children.