Dealing with Difficult Emotions

I know death can be a difficult topic, but death is a part of the natural life cycle.  Pain is a part of the natural life cycle.  Grief is a part of the natural life cycle.  When we can feel, experience and be with the difficult parts of the natural life cycle, we become better acquainted with our own truth and THE Truth.  

I know some of you are struggling with the difficult emotions associated with death, and some of you are struggling with difficult emotions associated with other challenging parts of life.  I want so much to offer words of wisdom as I experience my own range of emotions.   And in hopes that it’s helpful to even one of you, I offer a thought, an experience that was helpful to me.  Please note: I’m not a spiritual leader, nor do I claim any expertise in this field.  I just don’t believe these difficult emotions should be hushed up, brushed over or ignored.  And I believe that Grace is everywhere if we look, listen and learn. 

My moment of Grace happened the day after learning about the death.   

For more than a year now I’ve struggled as teachers and leaders of meditation, religion, psychology, philosophy, astrology, etc. talk about “letting go” of things we don’t need, of people, of circumstances, or beliefs, etc.

Intellectually, I understand what “letting go” means, but how does one “let go” of a loved one, a bad habit, a belief, a circumstance, etc.?  I’ve spent more hours than I probably care to admit trying to figure out how to “let go.”  I was stuck in that well-worn thought pattern again Saturday afternoon when I heard a woman at the table next to me in the coffee shop tell her toddler companion “Let it be.”  

The child was trying to hold a cup that was too hot.  The woman smiled as the child clearly tried to figure out another way to grab the cup, then said gently, “If you let it be — do nothing except enjoy the smell and our time together — the hot chocolate will cool and you can drink it.  There is nothing to do but let it be until it’s ready.”

Perhaps she was my guardian angel in disguise.  Perhaps it was simply serendipity and kismet.  It definitely was Grace.  

“Letting go” implies action of some sort that creates some sort of change, whereas “Let it be” is a passive acceptance of what is.  Everyone has their own way, and for me, I could see the way forward was to Let it be and focus on the action of honoring my emotions without letting them take control of my well-being.  Emotions, afterall, are nothing more than YOUR TRUTH; they are your “E”nergy in “motion”.  And Qigong offers a range of tools to help.

So if my words weren’t helpful, maybe a few Qigong practices might.  When you face difficult emotions, try one or a few or all of these to see if they can help you honor and be curious about your emotions:

  • Six Healing Sounds
  • Qigong shaking
  • Qigong tapping — especially on the Lungs (up near where the clavicle nears the armpit), the Liver (the soft part of your torso just under your bottom-most right rib), and the Stomach and Spleen (the soft part of your torso just under your bottom-most left rib).  Aftwards, you can gently rub the kidneys (on your back just below your last rib) and/or your Lower Dantien (just below your belly button) for support and comfort.
  • Pulling Down the Heavens (on the inhale, arms circle out to the sides and up to the sky; on the exhale, palms turn down toward Earth and gently press/float down with elbows out to the sides)
  • Cloudy Hands (with left arm bent palm facing the heart and the right arm extended down to the Earth palm facing the left, turn your waist and hips to the left until you can’t turn any farther.  Switch hands and turn to the right.  With this move, breathe deeply and naturally, or inhale to the center and exhale to the sides.  You can envision scooping up support from Mother Earth and bringing it to you heart as you switch hands if that helps you.)
  • Pick any movement that allows you to feel your emotions without trying to solve them or judge them or silence them.  Relax into feeling and Let it Be.  
  • With all of these, if the feeling becomes too intense, simply breathe in deeply through your nose and out deeply (on whatever scale of gentle to forceful feels right to you) through your mouth.