There is Profound Relief in Surrendering to Pain
The Reiki Method…
A few years ago, I started a therapy based on the Reiki method. It’s a palm-healing alternative medicine which is focused on the psychological sources of illness. Now I know that you’re thinking this is just another new age article, and I guess I have to admit that I will talk about emotions and energies…but ultimately, I want to take a new look at the way we experience the simple action of “feeling”, an essential part of our human condition. This therapy, which made me cry more than I could drink in three years, also made me realize that maybe we have been fighting the wrong demons.
There is profound relief in surrendering to pain. For the most part of my young life, I tried to fight what we call “negative emotions”. I did what everyone was taught to do when I felt pain. I immediately rejected it, forced myself to be in a better mood and I bottled it all up. If only I had learned sooner that surrendering to them was actually the quickest way to be rid of them.
The emotions we feel are there for a reason. They help us deal with the times in our lives when the edges of reality are a bit too sharp. Believe it or not, they help us grieve, but only if we let them. The third tome of Conversations with God sums it up perfectly when it explains the role that emotions play in our life:
“Grief is a natural emotion. It’s that part of you which allows you to say goodbye when you don’t want to say goodbye; to express–push out, propel–the sadness within you at the experience of any kind of loss. […]When you are allowed to express your grief, you get rid of it. Children who are allowed to be sad when they are sad feel very healthy about sadness when they are adults, and therefore usually move through their sadness very quickly.”
The thing is, most of the time, they aren’t allowed.
Let me start at the beginning: when a baby gets older and starts understanding the world around him, he learns to recognize the people who have authority, the ones who will provide emotional and physical safety, the ones he needs to ‘obey’ if he wants to keep his environment and his life safe. This shapes at the same time in the child’s mind, an idea that those powerful, strong care takers must be Gods and from the child’s perspective, flawless. At this point it is all about survival instinct, the fresh and malleable new conscious of a child realizes very early that it is vulnerable and highly dependent on others (the adults). It understands its need to adapt and adopt the colors of his family and this is when the training and education begins. This is where we all start.
Now imagine a toddler who has just fallen and hurt himself. In the most common scenario, the mother will dry his tears, take care of the wound, and tell him “shhh, don’t cry, it’s ok, you see ? It’s gone.” This denies the child the basic validation of what he recognizes as the truth, what his own body is telling him, that he is hurt, and he feels physical pain. By trying to comfort him, the mother smothers the child’s natural response to falling. She smothers his emotions, and accidentally shames him into feeling them as she tries to silence them. Now, if in a child’s mind his parents are Gods, their word is therefore considered gospel, pure truth that prevails all other truths, even his own, which inevitably results in an inner conflict. It becomes a disability to connect to his emotions, since he was told very early on not to trust them.
In this case, the mother not only denies her child trust in his feelings, she also takes away one of the most precious tools humanity has at its disposal: his tears. The ability to cry, as I have recently discovered, is the most efficient healing instrument that we already possess within us.
Here is the secret:
Emotions are meant to be lived as they are a natural response to pain. They’re not the problem, they only become a problem when they are ignored. They are easy to get through unless they are repressed. In that case, a tool that was supposed to help us has deviated from its primary function, and becomes a wound, an active wound.
The Reiki philosophy explains it best. They share the simple belief that absolutely everything from earth to space is energy at different frequencies, which considers physically-heavier objects as lower frequencies and the lighter object as higher frequencies. This perspective is easily connected to a scientific view on the matter, but here is where we go further:d in Reiki they believe that emotions, just like everything else, have a frequency, and the “negative” ones tend to be heavier than the “positive” emotions. Following this track of thoughts, the heavier emotions could, if they are strong enough, take a more material shape and be released in the form of tears as your body literally cleans out its emotional waste. The body is composed of at least 60% of water, so it seems natural that emotions could take a watery form.
Negative emotions are heavier by nature, and they get worse if we let them linger. When we feel joy or satisfaction, we don’t run away from these wonderful feelings. We allow them immediately in our hearts and our reality, we embrace them and live them completely in the present. It’s the water we play with that evaporates with the Sun! However, when it comes to negative emotions, we are told not to live them. By blocking our tears, we block our inner current. By refusing to experience them, we accidentally lock them in and let the dark waters stagnate.
What happens then, if you don’t let your emotions do their job and allow your body to heal itself ? The expression ‘bottle up’ rings of truth according to Reiki. The human body is used as a receptacles when it comes to ‘too-heavy’ emotions. If you don’t let the anger, sorrow, fear out, then they will stay inside of you, relocate themselves to the lower part of your abdomen, which is the house of the sacral chakra, which specifically deals with relationships, family and feelings. They will join forces with past heavy emotions that are already in your ‘bottle’ and and grow louder the longer you ignore them. Keeping heavy emotions inside of you is like holding on to them. As long as they’re here, they will follow you everywhere you go, with everyone you meet.
This is what Carl Jung meant by “When an inner situation is not made conscious, it appears outside as fate.”
I’ll always remember the day I was having one of my panic attacks in the streets, under the deadly summer sun. I couldn’t breathe, my heart was pounding too fast, and I had this uncomfortable knot in my stomach. I realized while I was sitting on the sidewalk that I was resisting it, and then decided to “let go” of my control grip and try to live the panic. I wanted to put my conscience on this uncomfortable knot. Everything immediately changed the minute I accepted to look at the pain, at the visceral fear that was turning my body upside down.
Now it wasn’t easy. Pain rarely is. Doing so, I experienced a peak of pain when it was released, but I had to let it be, I had to let myself get lost in this feeling for a few seconds, I had to give up before I could calm down naturally. I understood that my pain was like a crying baby who needed attention, and that it wouldn’t stop until it was heard, until I let it cry for its existence.
I must warn you though, once this door is open, it is not that easily closed. Embracing every feeling you have is far from being an easy task. All for the simple reason that you have a lot of them. You will cry and feel more than you could have ever imagined, but it will liberate so much space inside of you that I promise you will feel lighter and your life will take another turn. If you have ever experienced the sensation of relief and well-being you get after a good cry, you have had a glimpse of the long-term benefits this type of surrendering can bring.
When you surrender, you become the guy who has nothing to lose. Emotions don’t have a grip on you anymore because you gave up that war. They don’t scare you anymore because you have faced them, and have accepted their presence. Instead of shooting back at them you offer them freedom, and by doing so, you offer yourself closure.