Painful emotions are a part of life. Since most of us have not been taught how to successfully integrate our emotions (good or bad), we need to prioritize teaching ourselves. When we repress and ignore our emotional experiences, they can become trapped within our body and energetic field. In yoga, we call this trapped emotion a Samskara.
Samskaras are subtle blockages that can eventually manifest into physical pain or disease. We create new samskaras every day through our undigested emotional experiences.
It takes about 90 seconds to integrate an emotion and an emotion is integrated through truly feeling it. This means we need to drop the thoughts and the stories around our emotions and choose to really experience them sensationally. We have the potential to process both fresh and old emotions in this same way.
One of my favorite techniques in doing this is called BRFWA, from Kripalu Yoga.
When you encounter a challenging emotion, use the following steps to help process and integrate it:
B: Breathe. Notice your breath. Take a soft, slow, and gentle breath in and out the nose.
R: Relax. What muscles are you clenching right now? Can you allow them to soften and relax? Scan through your body, releasing any residual tension.
F: Feel. Open up to feeling whatever is present sensationally. Emotion comes hand in hand with somatic sensation. Do you feel tightness in your chest? Butterflies in your belly? Heaviness or lightness? Hot or cold? Relax and breathe around the feeling.
W: Watch. Release any thoughts or stories running through your mind about the experience. Take a step back and become an accepting witness to your experience. See if you can observe the experience with non-judgemental awareness.
A: Allow. Take a moment of surrender. Allow whatever is present to be there. Affirm to yourself that you are right where you should be in this moment, and there is nothing you need to change or fix. Even if it currently feels unbearable hard, trust that you will make it through to the other side stronger, braver, and more alive.
This process is like a muscle that strengthens are grows over time. The more you use it every day for mild or moderate emotions, the easier it is to flex when things feel more severe.
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