Can you feel your heart beating when you are scared? How about the blood coursing through your veins after exertion? Do you sense the movements in your gut when you are anxious or excited? Where do you ache when you feel sad? And the soaring sense of elevation when joy takes hold of each cell?
Feeling is sensory, and emotion is the rationale of the feeling, a way to explain a bodily reaction to an external stimulus. So how are you feeling today about the world around you?
There are so many things that can affect how we feel, and yet, we spend very little of our time exploring the feelings and these emotions with those around us; it is a great pity, as there is a huge need for us to process and sometimes shift these physical experiences. We know that the expression of vulnerability can connect us, and that enhancing relationships leads to happier, healthier lives, but many of us struggle to make meaningful connections with those closest, let alone our friends who we tell ourselves are far too busy, or have enough to worry about, and as for the neighbours, how many of us know the names of our immediate community? Rather than meeting strong or uncomfortable feelings, many opt for avoidance and exclusivity, which leads to what we are least equipped to deal with as humans; loneliness and isolation.
We have incredible bodies that can walk across expanses, see beyond the stars, climb mountains, enjoy physical intimacy, sing passionate arias, write literature that spans centuries, give warm embraces, think the impossible into existence, create great works of art (they don’t have to be hanging in galleries to be great!), save lives through heroic acts, create life and sustain it, and so much more...yet we find ourselves only talking about the doing, and then the planning to do more, filling up our time with stuff and leaving no space to reflect and share the wonder of our experience.
When was the last time you told your partner how you felt in your body, when they walked into the room?
How often do you tell your children how you feel inside when they write you a love note or paint you a portrait that looks nothing like you but you adore it?
How do you express to your parents what happens for you in your stomach when you hear they are unwell? And how do you tell a friend how much they mean to you, because you can feel joy in your heart when you hear their voice?
Finding words to express ourselves can be difficult; some of us haven’t been given a volumous emotional lexicon, or we may feel discomfort when sharing emotions having never been given permission or good example. But with massive increases in the diagnosis of mental health issues, and numbers in young people rising to epidemic proportions, can we afford not to consider how we may connect with our inner landscapes, to then be aware of how to cope with our emotional responses in an increasingly stressful and demanding world? This may not be the easiest of routes to take, but it’s pretty productive and offers huge benefits.
If we are unable to connect with our experiences, and with others, how does this affect how we meet the demands of parenthood and raising humans? How do we help our children to connect to themselves, to nature, and to the living world around them so they can build resilience and meet their future, which will undoubtedly be more complex than the present, with courage, with compassion and creativity? We can’t risk the ill effects of ‘virtual’ connection through social media, where usage is proven to link with addiction, loss of memory and an inhibitor to knowing where you are in the world.*
Einstein said "Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution."
We reach imaginative states by being with our physical feelings and contemplating the corresponding emotions, by noticing the space in which we move, our brains are expanded, not by the harvesting of data, but by the listening to sound of the wind in the tress and its touch on our skin. We can find ourselves as we try to make meaning of the strange occurrences we encounter in each day and in the echo of silence. It’s becoming harder to imagine, when we immerse ourselves in the plans and actions of doing and the blue lure of screen time. Does this mean we are thwarting our own evolution? Considering the damage we are causing to the environment through consumption, it seems that we are.
We need more positive discourse about our bodies, our incredible barometers of experience, as well as celebrating our minds, the information we can hold and the feats we can achieve, so as to engage us more with humanity. If we can have more conscious awareness of our place in existence, we can become more responsible for our part in a bigger picture, and support our children to find their own.
UMEUS Foundation offers parents sharing groups, counselling, psychotherapy, yoga, movement and somatic therapy, meditation, nutritional support, touch therapies and an online community waiting to include you. Find out more email@example.com
Sam McCarthy, UMEUS co-founder, psychotherapeutic counsellor, mother, creative producer, wrangler of words.