Annnnnd finally, Step 5: Feel Your Feelings.

Though feeling feelings is a base for the entire program, it’s an important reminder to be present with all types of feelings – whether they’re heavy or light. 
A definition of feelings from Merriam-Webster (definitions are important):
a (1) :  the one of the basic physical senses of which the skin contains the chief end organs and of which the sensations of touch and temperature are characteristic :  touch (2) :  a sensation experienced through this senseb :  generalized bodily consciousness or sensationc :  appreciative or responsive awareness or recognition
Who doesn’t want life to be even-keel? It’s our desire to reach this state, and it causes many of our problems. But, nothing in nature works that way. There is a bit of optimism in that we can see some of the problems are headed our way. What do we do now? 
The question, again, comes up – How can we live in right relationship with the planet? Can we live in a way that doesn’t harm the natural world? How many earths are you consuming (Calculate your Ecological Footprint here)? Real power lies in mastery over consumption. Americans have to cut consumption by 85-90% to live sustainably – inevitably, this means our future economy has to be different than the present. Infinite growth cannot exist on a finite planet. Our modern human economy – our American Exceptionalism – has caused climate change, it’s caused the situations we’re in… 
What are constructive things you’re doing? 
This culture is full of distractions that numb us from our feelings. We, as a culture, have a resistance to feeling. But, it is feeling feelings that makes us who we are.Can we share with each other at an inner level? Because “what we resist, persists.” If we don’t feel — the feelings don’t go away. They get stuck.  
Check out this diagram:

The base is self-awareness – What upsets you? How do you react? Feelings come before your thoughts – what do you feel?
The middle of the pyramid is self-mastery. This is where we learn to respond (or not respond) to our feelings. Where we control the amount of chaos in our lives. It is a practice. (The grief group is a practice).
The final stage is effective relationships (who doesn’t want that?!). 
The current political climate —Engaging helps us out of numbness. Let’s try to actively trying to represent what is right – instead of resisting what is wrong. “Revolution doesn’t have to do with smashing something; it has to do with bringing something forth. If you spend all your time thinking about that which you are attacking, then you are negatively bound to it. You have to find the zeal in yourself and bring that out.”  -Joseph Campbell, “Pathways to Bliss”

Can we work to get to a place where we collectively agree what is right?

Feeling feelings is ideal (or is it?)
Sometimes, compartmentalization is important. How can we keep fighting without disconnecting a bit? Our state and federal government are shit. It’s tough to continue working for good when each day is a battle.

We also talked about how sometimes a depression can lead to an awakening. It provides an opportunity to step back and look at the world in a different way. Then, what do we do to engage? What gives life purpose?

We also entered into the discussion that many folks use the “save the future for the kids” slogan. But what about those of us who don’t have kids and don’t intend to? Isn’t it enough that we’re destroying life as we know it, right now? 


Back to feelings:

From an early age, we learn to fear our feelings.

 -They’re so big, we think we might die if we feel them. So we don’t. Adult life, in this culture, doesn’t allow us to challenge this notion. So it lives on. We have to give ourselves permission to feel. Feel it in your body, at a visceral level. Where do you feel it? What does it feel like? Identify it. Feel it. The feeling passes. Then you learn that they don’t kill you. This helps us come into balance. It helps us learn self-awareness and self-mastery.

Life’s a struggle to balance work, accumulation of things, accomplishments, fulfilling experiences. We learn that work and things don’t really mean much without balance. When we put work as the main priority in life, we become addicted to the praise from others. We disconnect from those we love and ourselves. How can we make our time worthwhile? At the end of our lives, what will matter most? Wonder, be curious, take inner trips. 

How do you view death? The death of your family and friends? Death of your garden? Of the air? water? Yourself? Can you develop an awareness of your own feelings? 

Can we measure success differently? Some in the group feel that our norms are shifting (not fast enough). So, we need to be the person who shows the way. To inspire change. There’s isn’t one way to change, there are many. Chose a path and help others change.

It’s time to consume less, bring things back into balance. Become Homo sapiens — wise beings. Because right now, we’re Homo technologus (technologas?) We’re great tool-makers but we don’t have much wisdom. It’s time to open up, to share who we are with those who are important to us. If we show up for others, others will show up for us. People cannot know you unless you show up. 

There is much more I couldn’t put into words. This meeting was moving and inspirational – full of beauty and insight. I’m grateful to all who joined.

With Love & Gratitude,

-LaUra Schmidt