Serious question. Where do you feel your feelings?
Are they in your heart, your chest, your feet, or, perhaps, just hanging around in your head with the shopping lists and conversations you haven’t had yet?
Of course the really big emotions – grief, shock, in-loveness – are physical, very physical. And when you’re in the grip of them, the sensation is all you can think of.
But what about the lesser stuff? Here’s what I now know (after five years of tinkering with mindfulness).
An emotion is a thought that shows up as a sensation in your body.
That’s it. So every emotion, is an actual feeling if you pause to work out what and where. How interesting.
Test it out. Try to find a quiet moment in the noise to see what you feel and where. All day there are twinges and tingles, prickles and heat as my body and brain go through their daily motions of considering and processing my world.
Obviously, this isn’t a total surprise. When you consider the language of emotions, it’s all there. Things stick in the throat, people are sick to their stomach, they have heartache, butterflies and shivers down their spine.
It’s just I hadn’t thought of it for even the inconsequential. The tiny panic when traffic causes a delay, the minor sadness as a cup gets smashed, a fleeting shame of broken promises years ago or the infinitesimal joy at the perfection of buttered toast.
I haven’t a clue what good will come of knowing this, but I’m pretty sure good will come…
Meantime, here’s a poem by Jelaluddin Rumi a 13th century Persian Muslim poet.
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes,
because it has been sent
as a guide from beyond.