by Dr. Rita Louise –
A warm breeze blows across an open field. The tall blades of green grass and brightly colored wildflowers that fill this open space bow their heads gingerly, allowing the heated air to rush by. Then as if orchestrated, these precious gems one by one return to their original position, standing proudly, basking in the afternoon sun. They have returned to their center and are maintaining the delicate balance between their internal needs and the environment. They are living in their wholeness.
We as humans also must bend and flow to the demands placed upon us by our environment. On a physical level, this is referred to as homeostasis. Homeostasis is defined as the body’s ability to maintain an inner balance in the face of changing conditions of our environment. This is a very important concept to understand if we are to understand the true nature of our being. We are constantly responding to external stimuli. The temperature of our bodies, for example, must be held within a narrow temperature band. If our environment is significantly heated, the body automatically responds, and we begin to perspire.
When we don’t treat our bodies as we should, when we ignore its telltale signs of aches and pains, our body tries to compensate. Internally, we are like a teeter-totter, where the many systems of our bodies are players in a perpetual dance, moving tête-à-tête with a mutual goal, to maintain balance. When we continually ignore the warnings our bodies give us and we push our delicate systems to their outer limits, the body breaks down and we experience disease. Our bodies have now become compromised and it will require much work to assist it in getting back into balance. That is, if it is not too late.
It is as if that very same wind, as it blows across the open field, the tall green grass and wildflowers that once moved and swayed in the warm breeze now lay down on their sides, then struggle to raise their heads to the sun.
But we are more than just a body. We are Spirit that has chosen to exist within the physical, filled with thoughts, feelings and emotions. How are we as unique individual affected by our environment on these levels?
When we are in balance, we are able to have, feel and experience emotions. To want, to need, to laugh, to cry, to hope, to desire, to despair, to pity, the ability to know love or joy from the depths of our hearts and souls. These feelings are a direct response to external stimuli. When we see a awe-inspiring vista, hear a good joke, or receive a tender kiss from someone we love. How do we respond? For many of us, we own these feelings. We feel breathless as we look at the stunning view, we laugh deeply and whole-heartily at the joke or we feel the warmth, love and caring of our partner.
But what about the other emotions that we experience, emotions such as fear, anger, loneliness, jealousy or pain. What do we do with these feelings? As a society, we have been taught what feelings are good or appropriate to express. We have been trained from an early age to repress, suppress and deny feelings of anger, sadness or pain as if they are bad. While it is ok to express emotions of happiness, joy and love, there is no permission for us to express emotions that are perceived as being negative. But aren’t these “negative” feelings your feelings also?
Instead, what do we choose to do with these feelings? We stuff them. We invalidate them. We get busy. We try to take our mind off our problems. We fight ourselves so that we don’t have to experience these feelings. We shove them deep into our being, pushing them deeper and deeper into ourselves, until after a while we can no longer see them. We think “Well, I’m over that one”. But are we really? Did we actually release the emotions or did we just hide them from ourselves?
When we suppress vs. experiencing and releasing our emotions, we go into resistance. Resistance puts unnecessary stress and strain on the body. It takes enormous amounts of physical energy to maintain the dam that we have created in order to hold back our emotions. Then we don’t have to look at them, feel them or experience them. We add bricks to an energetic wall that surrounds us until we have no feelings, good or bad, negative or positive at all. It is not that we have stopped the flow of our “negative” emotions, it is because we have stopped the flow of our emotional energy altogether.
When we give ourselves permission to express all our feelings (both positive and negative ones), when we allow them to run their course, we always feel lighter, fresher and more centered. When our emotions are balanced, we can experience all of them to their fullest. It is easier for us to own them and then process them quickly and effortlessly. They are allowed to flow through us. We breath them in, we experience them and we let them go. It is the beauty of our existence.
In the words of Oscar Wilde, “Find expression for a sorrow, and it will become dear to you. Find expression of joy, and you will intensify its ecstasy”. My friends, this is emotional homeostasis.