A few weeks ago, I overheard an interaction between a mother and her child. The young boy, likely 3 or 4 years old, said to mom with a clear voice: "I want that!" I believe he was referring to the half-eaten lollipop in her hand, the one she was quickly wrapping up.
Mom, seemingly irritated and physically pulling back from the young boy, replied with a raised, shrill voice: "You DON'T want that!" The boy shrank in response, lowered his head, pushed out his lips, and whispered under his breath, "But I do."
As I walked away, I couldn't help but wonder what the boy learned from this interaction and how it might affect him in the future. What happens to us when we are told, or taught, that we do not actually want what we want? What happens to us when our wants are not heard or when they're denied?
What happens, if you will, to a want deferred?
Does it become more difficult, as we grow older, to know what we truly want? Do we start to feel confused every time we want something? Do we begin to doubt our own instincts of desire? Do we become guided by what is "good" and what we should want, rather than our own internal--be it inexplicable--gut feelings?
Just think, for a moment, how many times have you wanted something and then tried to convince yourself that you do not actually want it? Perhaps it's a chocolate chip cookie, a second cup of coffee, a new pair of shoes, a different career path, or something else, something that you felt you wanted and immediately told yourself: "You don't want that!"
But maybe, just maybe, you actually did want it (or still do).
This meditation on want is timely because it relates to the element of autumn in Chinese Medicine. As Lorie Eve Dechar explains in Five Spirits, autumn has to do with "the aspect of our unconscious that speaks to us through our desires, obsessions, psychosomatic symptoms and the wordless stories of our bodies" (p. 239).
What I understand Dechar is referring to are the sensations, feelings, and emotions that arise in us as an organic response to life. It is these very feelings that can act as guides to a deeper and more fulfilling friendship with ourselves, to psychological development, and self-realization.
But we have to hear our very own feelings first. (click "Read More" to continue reading)
We all hear or read these catchy phrases like, "feeling is healing" and "emotions are emotions." But, what do these sayings actually mean? Is there any truth to them? And, do they somehow hold the key to happiness?
The short answer is yes. Yes, feeling your feelings is the gateway to healing as well as true happiness. But if you're anything like me, this answer is not enough. You might want to know exactly why it's healing and how you can fully feel while still maintaining a sense of safety, wholeness, and sanity.
The trick lies in not only feeling but also noticing. Noticing what and how you're feeling is key. Typically, when an emotion shows up, we react. It's like we go on automatic. But when we notice an emotion showing up, and notice too our typical reaction to it, then we can choose our response. This choice is true freedom. Our birthright.
Take fear, for example. (By the way, this is the emotion associated with winter according to Chinese medicine). When fear shows up, many of us freeze in reaction. We can't think straight. We can't make a decision. We can't go on with our regular routine. Even our body, or some part of it, might feel tight and un-moveable (i.e. frozen).
But as we become aware of fear and the pattern of freezing, we get to decide: react or respond. Reacting means continuing to automatically freeze like we always do. On the other hand, responding means noticing the fear, potentially its roots, and listening deeply to what other action is possible here. What is really wanted or needed here? Is it speaking out? Doing something? Seeking professional help? The response depends strictly on the situation and what's right for each and every one of us. This is freedom.
I'm afraid (pun intended) that this topic deserves more discussion. So please consider commenting below and sharing your thoughts, joining me for the upcoming workshop "Feeling is Healing" and Other Truths about Emotions on Saturday, Jan 30, 2016, or via web/phone/in-person for a private session. There's so much more to this....
May you always exercise your freedom,
-- Shira Oz-Sinai
Whenever I share a private session or workshop and ask people which scene or image feels calming, the response is often: "The ocean." There's something about the sound and sight of waves rolling into shore and away that is very soothing to our whole being. It's repetitive in it's motion, this coming and going, and yet every single wave is different. How astounding!
Life is a lot like that. We wake up, do what we do, go to sleep, and wake up again. Repetitive, right?! And yet, every single day of our life is different. Some days feel big. Others small. Some intimidate us. Others are refreshing. Every day there's a host of intricate and delicate varying sensations that move through us. How astounding!
Indeed, there's something very calming in watching ocean waves come and go. Likewise, there's something very calming in watching waves of feelings and thoughts come and go. Because when we watch the repetitive and yet astounding movement of all these waves, we are reminded that we are the ocean.
Yes, we are this expansive, wide open, vast field. And yes, waves move through us all the time. Feelings? They come and go. Thoughts? They come and go. Hardship, pain, laughter, excitement, panic, merriment? They come and go. But we, we are always the ocean. We are always the vast space through which all of life moves through.
Herein lies the invitation to feel into your oceanic self.
-- Shira Oz-Sinai
Curious to learn more and practice feeling yourself as the ocean? Contact Shira for a private session and/or join any of her meditation offerings, especially those focused on the second chakra and its element of water. For current offerings, see Classes.
Shira Oz-Sinai is a spiritual teacher trained in iRest® Yoga Nidra meditation and Soul Lightening Acupressure®, two modalities that share the common principle of noticing what arises in awareness as the foundation to living life with ease and in deep and loving friendship with yourself. These are her musings.