You Can’t Escape your Feelings – (Trust me I tried): The Practice of Feeling
Updated: Aug 19, 2020
My first trip to Bali was an escape. An escape from a struggling marriage, an escape from past pain I was too scared to face – an escape filled with unfulfilled expectations. This escape was the beginning of a painful awakening. A head on collision with all I had been running from. An awakening to the dark that resided in me, an awakening to my pain, an awakening to my fears, an awakening I did not see coming.
One year later, mid-divorce I returned to Bali for a different kind of escape. An escape with more awareness, an escape with intention. Self-care travel I called it - what at the time sounded like a fun, less messy way to help heal my pain. No sense in dwelling on my pain - might as well enjoy it, I figured. But as you probably guessed, that fucker pain packed his heavy bag and crashed my self-care escape. And while this trip, like the first one, ended up being exactly what I needed, it was nothing like expected.
Today, I return to Bali, not looking to escape or distract, equipped with a deeper understanding of the danger of creating expectations. Today, I return to the place where I first understood the importance of connecting to feelings, armed with an ever-growing book of lessons gained through my experiences.
This time, I return with a newfound knowing that no amount of travel, healthy food, yoga, hiking, plant medicine, possessions, certifications, business success, sex or new relationships alone will heal my pain. Having realized that there are no quick fixes when it comes to healing (yup, I tried them all) – the only way to truly heal is to feel. Feel it all. Not just when it’s convenient to feel (damn), on my time line (okay, 1 year focused on healing and I’ll be great), but to truly allow the feelings to flow as they arise, honoring them for all that they are, without judgement, resistance, or hurry.
This time, I return with a blossoming relationship to my all feelings, understanding the more I allow myself to feel the tough stuff, the more I’m able to feel & share the love within. Having experienced, new depths of love, moments of true bliss - glimpses of the gifts beyond pain.
This time, I return with a deeper understanding, that this pain I’m learning to feel, is a pain shared by all humanity, feeling more connected to the world around me. Having felt shared pain, understanding a small part of the struggle we all face, resulting in a deeper sense of compassion for myself and all those around me.
This time, I return with an open heart, open mind and a deep trust that whatever teachings I’m meant to absorb, will resonate when the time in right, just as they have in the past. Having seen how with time, seeds of wisdom planted months before, offer beautiful bounties of insight, in the moments they are meant to.
I am so damn grateful for the opportunity to return to this sacred place. These past few years have been one hell of a ride, filled with major life changes and moments of “ahh everything is as it should be”, mixed with moments of “holy shit, what the fuck am I doing?”
And as much as my struggles have taught me how strong I am, I have also come to accept how sensitive I am to this crazy world. And to be honest, at times, it’s been a struggle to not become overwhelmed by all this ever-growing awareness - because it just doesn’t stop. It’s everywhere. There is a lot of fucked up shit going on in this world. Add that to the ever-growing ability to see how I have been contributing to all of my struggle - and shit - let’s just say, it’s been a lot to process.
So much to process that at times I still dream of the days of ignorant bliss – even though, deep down I know, I cannot return to this old strategy of avoiding all that makes me uncomfortable - because ignorant bliss is false bliss. Deep down, we all know the potential that lies beneath our fear, and conditioning. Deep down I know it is both a privilege and my responsibility to continue working through my fear of pain and continue facing the tough stuff, preventing it from festering & spreading. So I continue to practice.
Practice welcoming in whatever emotion arises – no matter how fucking uncomfortable it is. Practice surrendering to those moments, I just want to run or fight. Practice sharing my feelings and all that I am, with those around me, without shame, guilt or fear. Practice honoring my feelings, without allowing them to define me.
And while it seems a bit odd to have to practice how to feel, this is my reality – and the reality of so many others in the world today. We live in a time where it’s easy to lose that precious, child-like connection to our emotions. Disconnecting from our emotions has become a common coping mechanism for many. Often, we have been taught from a young age to turn away from our emotions – to suck it up, be tough and just keep going.
Often, we don’t have the time or energy to deal with these pesky emotions. The pressure to succeed, the need to keep up and the fear of missing out are real. Real forces that impact our minds. Real pressures that drive so many of our behaviors. Yup, the world is overfuckingwhelming, so we disconnect, numb and medicate ourselves, to deal.
But this disconnection from our emotions and failure to honor our entire selves is making us sick. So many of us are sick and medicating in all the wrong ways. Medicating with temporary, artificial, quick fixes that quickly become compulsions, attachments & addictions.
Compulsions, attachments and addictions, that ultimate imprison us, tying our happiness and sense of self to external stimulus. Trapping us in destructive cycles of dependency, taking us further away from the power of our emotions & our true selves.
But as I’m seeing, with time, patience and dedication, we can re-learn, re-connect, and re-engage in life. We truly have everything we need to face our shit, build awareness and increase our capacity to handle whatever life throws our way - we just need to commit. Commit to healing ourselves through practice.
And while this practice of creating new relationships to our feelings is hard (hands down the most challenging practice I’ve committed to), like anything we want to learn, it simply takes time. Yes, you guessed it, patience is another bitch of a practice too.
No matter how bad we want to fast forward through the struggle and get to the good stuff, we cannot rush our journey. We cannot force ourselves to be anywhere but here, as we are, in this moment. All we can do is continue to practice. Practice, extracting the goodness from all the piles of shits we are handed. Practice, taking the time to slow down and celebrate the, “everything is exactly as it should be” moments and subtle shifts along the way. Practice accepting all parts of ourselves – including those tougher emotions, developing a greater compassion for ourselves and others along the way.
So while I’m sorry to report, we can’t escape or rush through our feelings, I’m stoked to share we can learn to create healthier relationships with them, resulting in a richer, more united existence . Life really is one big practice.- a constant evolution filled with beautiful moments - even amidst the chaos and pain. And so I continue to practice…. <3