North America has an obesity epidemic. They relate this to what people are eating and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. But these are not what is driving the issue. These are symptoms. Food is being used for other than nutrition. Companies make processed foods and serve excess portions because of demand. They’re not “causing” the problem.
Repressed emotions are often the deeper issue. Subconsciously, we’re trying to fill the void that expansive emotions would otherwise fill. Or we’re trying to dull out our emotions.
Drug and alcohol abuse, obsessive or extreme activities, avoidance behaviours, and so forth can have similar origins.
(A brief diversion is natural and helps balance. The issue is with excess and extreme.)
This repression may include deep traumas but also may be simple unresolved experiences from our response to emotionally unavailable parents, bullying, and other common occurrences.
Our culture has not developed a healthy relationship with emotions. This means our parents rarely had good skills to model. Rather, we learned to repress and avoid. Now we can learn new skills and let go of the unhealthy ones.
This can be challenging as many around us will encourage poor energy hygiene and we can have ingrained, long-held habits. This can affect our sense of safety, too. ie: it’s not felt safe to feel. We’re immersed in a collective pulling us back.
A recent re-watching of the Tom Hanks film, A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood reminded me of this. This is a story based on the friendship between Mr. Rogers and investigative journalist Tom Junod. Mr. Rogers and a few other children’s shows actively modelled better emotional awareness. Brené Brown researches this territory, writing books to help people have the courage to become more emotionally aware. Byron Katie’s The Work focuses on the related mental stories, driven by our unresolved emotions.
Long-repressed emotions eventually lead to other health problems. For health and quality of life, it’s very useful to become emotionally aware again, to get in touch with how we feel, and to allow what is arising so we can heal.
Shadow work on what’s been repressed and stored in the subconscious and spiritual work to access and download higher superconsicous dimensions go together – the higher energies require a deeper foundation. Unlike many traditional societies we’ve lost touch with the grounding that nature and community/family provide and forgotten the rituals that support this connection. These are well known assertions in the self-help literature. Interestingly, my own focus seems to be shifting away from shadow work and the related forms of therapy towards surrendering to the direct experience of Being without seeking. Its certainly is not an “either-or”. I’ve been deeply into both domains for most of my adult life. Perhaps this is another step towards letting go of concepts, expectations and seeking and being with or wittnessing what wants to be seen and included as it emerges and resolves.
Yes, you make good points. Eastern cultures tend to be much more emotional open and family-connected (though that’s been changing).
Right – but surrendering isn’t really possible until some of that shadow work has been done. There has to be a sense of safety and enough clarity for that step.
Yes, it’s a learning to be with life as it is. That’s a much larger upgrade than most people realize.
Wow your blog coincided today with the Washington Post obesity article. Maybe mother nature is telling us something.
David, I love this post. My question is – if twice a day meditation gives you access to the unbounded paired with regular “correction of the intellect”, why isn’t this enough to heal repressed emotions? Or is it? Thankyou.
Thanks. Broadly, a good practice can be enough for a %. However, we live in a culture that models emotional repression. We sit to meditate, let go, then when we step into activity, step back into habits of resistance. Two steps forward, one step back. Most are not aware of their energy state and we’re surrounded by people who model resistance energetically.
Further, a lot of us have some hard nuts/ traumas in there to clear that are harder to get to with just routine practice. But we don’t have the time or means for an extended retreat. This is the householders alternative.
The foundation is the meditation but supplementary things can help move things along and improve quality of life.
Thanks David, I tend to agree. My own experience has been that therapy and shadow work has been crucial, despite a 12 year TM practice, as well as having the benefit of a teacher.
Do you have an opinion on the impact of a Siddhis practice as taught by MMY, on repressed emotions?
I’ve not pursued formal techniques but yes, emotional healing has been crucial here too – and that’s with a 40+ year practice.
The siddhis can surface repressions but it’s not what they’re designed for. It’s for opening the various energy channels in the subtle physiology. That helps with embodiment further along. The key as usual is effortlessness. I’ve seen some tendency for the mind to get into manipulating the practice or for it to become japa-like.
One other point to the above is how much “resistance to what is” does seem to be a factor in any unfolding. I am noticing how strong that resistance can be as if it has some kind of will to survive of its own. There are those parts that seem pretty much “unspiritual” that demand their place and want their voices heard despite any attempt to hold on to a more ego-free way of being. Perhaps its just more stuff to be noticed from the place of Being without any effort to fix or forget.
Yes, you’ll find the ego has several layers, what Adyashanti called head, heart, gut. Core identity is still very much there after awakening. It’s still driving some of the subconscious bus and resisting what is seen as a threat to its control. This is eventually seen and cleared. Ideally, with the Unity shift but I’ve seen it sustained well after.
Also in there are the laws of nature of this physiology. They have their place and roles and remain. What we may expect to fall away and remain post-awakening can differ quite a bit. These are about balance and responsibility. So yeah, not to be fixed but to be conscious of. Being human remains. 🙂
It’s useful to take care with the approaches we use for healing. There are a gazillion approaches out there. I’ve seen good techniques used badly that just make someones drama more real and solid for them. I’ve seen bad techniques too. The trick is in being able to see and release what is rising but not engage it, not step into the stories and drama.
The latter is much helped by a good meditation practice. Established in being (presence), we’re not so easily drawn in to our stories.
“energy hygiene” Love it. -hope that catches on.
🙂 It’s used in some circles.
Impressive that your 3 am egos article was written in 2007. I appreciate more these days a thinning out of the ego’s grip on my sense of reality. My experience of this thinning is more sense of spaciousness and light and less interest in my usual stories about myself and others. There’s still a few hard nuts of stress in the inner field/s but they are residing in that expansiveness rather than obscuring it with their own importance or centraility. Perhaps this is Shankara’s Crest Jewel of Discrimination in knowing what is real and what is not…?
That’s the year the first 3 shifts happened and I started blogging. A lot flowed out, especially in 2008.
And yes, our relationship with them makes a lot of difference. Much easier to see and let go when we’re not in them, they’re in us.
I’d say it’s the beginning of that. The resolute intellect and Unity shift add a lot on that front.