Don’t Make Sense: How to Inquire Into Emotions
When taken to the mind, lots of things don’t make sense.
Recently, a friend asked me: How do I inquire into a feeling? I had suggested this as a Facebook post, that when a feeling comes up, you shouldn’t take it at its word, at first appearance; instead you should inquire into it further. And then my friend asked: How? So I am providing my answer to that question.
If you have ever done inquiry, you will have found that in and of itself, emotions are raw energy. Emotions are neither good or bad, but sensations. And a sensation is neutral, in that it’s not saying anything. It doesn’t have an opinion.
What seems to happen is that our meaning-making brain takes note of the energy and wants to immediately attach meaning onto it. The whys of this are varied, but in short it can be reduced to a desperate way to find some control. This happens innocently, and starts from an early age. In the Living Inquiries work we call this “the velcro effect.”
I noticed this play out with my 10 year old recently. There are a few bits of information I could share about her current state of affairs that might give shape to the situation, but I think that would actually be defeating my point because it’s not necessarily about the why’s and how’s and other information— it’s often about the energy underneath. And for a 10 year old, who doesn’t want to inquire into the particular thoughts arising, going straight into the energy can be the kindest route.
I listened to her as she shared what she wanted to share. Then I invited her to feel, because in the larger scheme of things she was experiencing lots of energy and emotion and instead of allowing herself to just sit with the energy, she was taking it to her brain, and her brain was fervently trying to make sense of this rather intense energy!
She came to sit on my lap and shared some more things from her mind. After she told me she was feeling sad, I asked her if she could give herself permission to feel her sadness with out her mind trying to make sense of things. She snuggled in and cried for a while. As I held her, I thought of how profound that invitation was: to give ourselves permission to not make sense! When I feel into that invitation, the energy almost instantaneously drops down out of the mind and into the body. The shift is palatable. Spacious.
I continued holding her, and the shift within her was indeed palatable. When she was done the words had faded, and the desire to understand and make sense of things was gone. The emotion of sadness had also dissipated. It isn’t always this easy- for some kids and adults, It’s very challenging to feel sensations/energy as they are in their raw state. In other words (no pun intended), thoughts and images continue to be “velcro’ed” to the energy. In such cases it takes a willingness to slow down to inquire more thoroughly.
Emotions want to be felt. When we give them permission to be felt, without judging them or demanding that they make sense, we give ourselves a tremendous gift. Give it a try. Or get support to assist you.