This past weekend, my business sista, Kellye, and I traveled to Whidbey Island for an all day silent meditation retreat. I had no idea what to expect. I was meeting new meditation teachers and meditating in a new space with a new group of people. The excitement and curiosity of the day ended with me in tears. These tears don’t signify I had an awful experience, instead, they signify the raw emotions that were alive inside of me.
Oh man, I have not cried like that in so long. Slowing down to sit in silence, to connect deeper to myself and to the world, unleashed pain and sadness that I didn’t realize resided so deep within me still. As mindful as I try to be and as often as I meditate, I had never experienced such a rush of emotions. One of the principals of meditation is to maintain a beginner’s mind—to be curious in the moment and not assume or judge. So, as emotionally mindful as I thought I was, I re-learned that coming back to my meditation practice always gets to open up new messages or signs. Each time I experience pain, sadness, joy or love, I get to be curious with it. Investigate and make space to explore it.
This Saturday, the sadness and heartache of missing my mom showed its face loud and clear. I know this pain will never disappear, but I realized that I don’t let myself cry for her often. I realized, when I am moved to cry for her, I quickly try to “shut up” my tears so that I can be strong and keep going and get shit done because that is the American way. But if I don’t recognize my emotions when they come up, they get stuck in my body. They take up space and energy that could be used for more supportive resources.
It’s interesting because its something I see in my clients all of the time. They are so busy and goal-oriented that they don’t create the space in their day or week to feel what they are feeling and release it. Out of habit, they often choose to numb themselves and push the emotions deeper into their body. It can be easy to have a few glasses of wine, overindulge in food, stay occupied by social media or schedule so tightly so as to not have “time” to acknowledge emotions and properly release them. Going to yoga weekly may help; running might be a quick release, but being curious about the emotion is necessary to understand, process and eventually release it.
For both my clients and myself, I enforce the practice of emotional hygiene because I recognize it is key to de-cluttering life so there is more energy for the things we love. Some of my favorite ways to practice emotional hygiene are to journal, talk to a support system like a coach or therapist, meditate or have a creative outlet. My current personal declaration of emotional hygiene is to give my self-permission to cry without forcing myself to stop. And when I say cry, I mean big, ugly tears that might leave my eyes puffy and red. The idea of letting myself feel sad doesn’t sound like the most fun thing in the world, but I know I will be stronger for it. Otherwise, that tightness in my chest and sorrow in my heart will always linger and hold me down.
What aspect of emotional hygiene do you want to practice? What can you give yourself permission to do? If you want more support creating an emotional hygiene practice, reach out to me here to schedule a time to connect. This is one of the most important tasks of self-care we can practice.