Have we forgotten how to feel?

“Have we forgotten how to feel?

Living in a fast paced world, under the weight of tremendous pressure to meet deadlines, targets and expectations, I find myself rushing from one place to the next, one project to another and from one thought to the next, so quickly, that I never seem to have time to stop, digest and process.  Sitting still and just allowing myself to be, to soften and surrender, fills me with a sense of dread, as it feels so counterproductive.  In a world where the expectation always seems to be to rush to get everything done on time, giving myself permission to stop and take my time makes me feel guilty because I feel like I should be doing something, being something and achieving something more than stillness.  To switch off my brain from the outside world and take my focus into myself, what I want, how I feel and how it feels to be in my own skin, feels completely alien to me.  It’s almost like through the process of having to play so many roles in life; the teacher, the colleague, the friend, the daughter that I have forgotten what it is really like to be myself.

Having being born incredibly sensitive and able to pick up so easily on other peoples’ emotions throughout my life, it has become so confusing to differentiate them from my own. I guess I never really know how I feel because I spend so much time working in context that revolve around supporting, guiding and leading others to discover, understand and support their own emotions.  I spend so much of my time asking other people how they feel but I never really ask myself how I do, and when I do, I experience emotions that I don’t always know how to differentiate between my own and other peoples’.

I’ve gotten used to living life pretty much in the fast lane but when you are driving so fast, you don’t really feel the ground beneath your feet or see or appreciate any of the beautiful things that grow around you.  Then I wake up in the morning, it’s normally to jump quickly out of bed.  When I eat my food at lunch time, I don’t take my time to savour and experience any of the flavours and when I’m talking to people sometimes my mind is distracted by all the things I have not done yet, that I don’t always hear the whole of the conversation.

The same goes for my yoga practice, perhaps sometimes it has been so rushed because it acts as a reflection of my chaotic life.  When I have been asked about why I do yoga before, I have more often than not said that it’s the only time my brain switches off and I don’t think about anything.  When I flow from one posture to another without space, without time to stop and align myself and to feel, its almost like I am trying to run faster and faster in a race to escape myself, my history, my worries and fears and sometimes this works and is good for me in that moment.  In the long run though it’s a short term fix as when my practice is over and the adrenaline has worn off, I am still left with all the same fears and insecurities that existed before that one blissful moment.

What I am learning through Teach Yoga so far is how difficult I find it to just be still and feel to stay in the pose for more than just a moment to listen and discover what goes on beneath the surface.  Being still makes me feel vulnerable as it brings up pain and because I equate stillness with pain, I try to avoid it completely.  I guess what I’m learning though is that in order to truly go beneath the surface, you have to be prepared to close your eyes, take a deep breath and actually experience that moment and allow the water (your emotions) to build up around you, breath into them, listen and learn that being afraid, being sad and feeling vulnerable doesn’t make you any less of a teacher, student or human, instead it makes you that much braver by learning to embrace who you are.

Through learning to be with our body, we can learn to peel back the layers of old emotions, trauma and past conditioning.  It isn’t an easy journey as you have to be prepared to decondition and move backwards before you can go forwards.  However, in this situation I have two choices, I can either numb the pain by racing on forward and refusing to feel anything, or I can stop and allow myself to feel, embrace, learn from and heal myself and share this journey with others.  We are what we teach yet before we can truly teach others, we must firstly start with ourselves and like any student, we can only ever learn if we allow ourselves to stop, be receptive and truly listen.”

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By Beckie Hannah

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