My friends who know me best like to make fun of me for what has basically become my catch phrase: How do you feel about it?
But I can never tire of asking it, mostly because the answers, if they’re honest, are fascinating. Often, people appear surprised to be asked. It seems we tend to not ask each other this question, I suppose because it can feel quite vulnerable, on both sides. There is an intimacy to it, an intimacy I miss, when I forget to cultivate it. Because when we don’t know how someone feels, we really don’t know much about them at all.
This is most severely felt when it comes to our relationship to ourselves. If we aren’t turning our attention to how we are feeling in the present moment, then we become quite ignorant about who we are. I think this is at the heart of feeling lost.
To compensate, we grasp at rigid identities or groups to have some sense of what satisfies us or what we should desire. But what if the secret to who you truly are as simple as asking yourself the question, how do I feel right here, right now?
When we don’t ask this question of ourselves, when we don’t make room in our lives to feel the way we deeply feel, then we lose the ability to be truly honest. Because when someone asks us what we feel—someone who really deserves an honest answer—we can’t provide one if we don’t ourselves know. Or, for those that feel overwhelmed by their feelings, desperate to escape them–I’d dare to suggest what you are being overwhelmed by aren’t actually feelings at all, but the side effects of avoiding or denying them.
Because there is one thing I am sure of, allowing yourself to deeply feel the truth of what you are is never too much—even when it’s incredibly scary, or painful, or shameful–it’s still precious and what makes you whole.
I’m not sure this whole feeling thing ever really becomes easy. It hasn’t for me yet. I feel like I am still, every single day, working on allowing myself to feel freely. Venturing towards a feeling that I know is hard reminds me of standing at the edge of the sea, considering a swim. Even when I know the water isn’t that bad, it always feels so terrible as it splashes upon my feet. Even when I know just jumping in I will be comfortable almost instantly—I still linger just half way at the shore, letting the water lap up on my legs. Each time the water comes it stings a little, and I think about how nice it would be to just stay on the beach, lying on my towel.
Many days, I stay on the beach, satisfied to simply watch the ocean. But the sea always calls me back. Now, more and more often, I find myself drawn deeper, the water folding over me like a palm clasped, fingers pointing towards their heart.
I’ve come to believe that this work of feeling is an infinite task. I don’t think there is a limit to how deeply I can permit myself to experience the present moment. This reality is as exhilarating as it is terrifying. In this sense I think I will always, at times, experience the process as a struggle. Struggle isn’t in itself a problem. But being stuck is. I don’t believe in ultimate enlightenment—in fact I hope it never happens! But I do think we can capture the ultimate, the eternal, the infinite, for a moment—or at least gesture towards it. And that is always a miracle, and something worth doing.
To put it another way, there’s something of the infinite in each and every feeling that you have, and it’s up to you to feel it. It’s not to say feelings are the only thing that matters. It’s just to say that they matter at all. Society trains us to deny this. I want to live in a world where the right to our feelings is reclaimed.
There are certainly times when feelings need to be suppressed in order for the individual to survive, or simply to be as kind as possible. It can be a useful skill to be able to control and dictate your emotional responses. But it can be as destructive as it is practical. It can tear relationships apart, ruin families, make children feel as if they are unloved. It can prevent dreams from being realized, laws from being changed, rivers from being cleansed. The extent to which we consider our feelings liabilities we rob the world of the blessing of our being.
So I guess in sum—feel more! Feel more than is comfortable! Talk about it. Keep talking, even if you think you are boring them or making them uncomfortable! Be there for yourself, in the ways that you wish others were there for you. Then feel some more. Trust it. Go with your feeling and follow it down a rabbit hole. Then crawl you way back up towards the light. Feel into yourself again. Bless this feeling. You are doing the impossible again. You are allowing yourself to be. Hallelujah!
P.S. –You know natural healing tool that is SUPER good at helping you feel and understand the source of your feelings? That’s right, YOUR DREAMS! If you have one on your mind or that you are curious about, hop on over here and consider ordering a dream reading today! It’s an awesome way to get started in the world of dreaming.