Just a few minutes ago, in finishing up a conversation with a friend of mine, I said:
"Life is meant to move through us. I think that's fundamentally why so much of our society doesn't make sense to me - turning people into little Lego-men and Lego-women saying:
"How are you?"
"OK, see you tomorrow."
Life is meant move into and out of us - roared out, shouted out, danced out, whispered out, oozed out."
I think this idea is worth looking into.
To begin, let's examine the idea that the experience of life is meant to move through us. It seems to me that 100% of any health issues I have, any physical or mental discomfort, can be traced back to an experienced that has not been authentically, appropriately expressed and received.
If something happens and I get angry, and in that moment I allow myself to experience the fullness of that state and then allow 100% of that energy to move through me and out of me, doing nothing more than maintaining an awareness of this process and lightly directing that energy into an expression that is not feeding back into the cycle of anger but that instead is consciously directed towards resolution, then the anger has moved through me and I am no longer experiencing it. On the deepest level of my being, I have allowed it to be - I have accepted it, embraced it, and invited it into my awareness, and then moved it through me - from it's mysterious point of origin - up into my physical body and my physiology - up into my conscious mind and my awareness - further up and finally out in the form of movement, gesture, facial expression, vocalization, etc.
One of the most important things I have learned in maintaining this understanding is that the key word here is "appropriate." We feel such a wide variety of things, many of them quite strongly. If on some level we believe that any of these feelings indicates a need for a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g other than expression, we are most likely going to make someone or something else the object of our desire in order to satisfy the "need" we think needs to be satisfied. Unfortunately, that's the epitome of inappropriate expression. Appropriate expression involves maintaining an understanding of oneself as complete unto oneself, needing nothing, yet experiencing so so much.
All of our experiences are energy, energy which wants to move. To allow it to be, to strive to open those energetic pathways that facilitate appropriate expression and to strive to starve those energetic pathways that reinforce inappropriate expression is to surrender to the voice of creation itself and allow it's song to be sung through you. To think you ARE the song is ego-maniacal: to think you ARE the anger you feel is absurd. You are not. Nor are you the love, nor the grief, nor the ecstasy. You are not any of it. You are nothing, all of it put together, pan-fried, eaten, digested, expelled and composted beyond recognition into the yearning seedling. Don't even bother trying to understand that, I don't.
The point is, you're not the anger. Nor the love. You are the backdrop upon which these things are projected, you are the channel through which those particular energies of life may pass.
Everyone will, of course, be the channel for different energies. Depending on the choices we've made, what energetic pathways we've opened and what experiences we've sought out, the nature of the energy that will want to come and move through us, to express itself through us, will be different. None of it is any better than any other, although it's easy to label the different kinds of energy 'higher' and 'lower' energy. While there is a massive difference between the eager greediness of a sugar-addict and the carefully cultivated desire of a meditation-addict, one isn't better than the other. They have different qualities, and so they have different effects when experienced and expressed. I would argue that a desire for meditation is preferable to a desire for sugar, because of the effect on the physical body. In this case, an 'appropriate' expression to the experience of a strong desire for sugar (assuming that one's intention is overall health and wellbeing) would be feel the neediness, invite it in, and express it in some way that doesn't involve a chocolate bar. If the desire is simply the natural feeling of hunger being misunderstood, then eating a healthy food option is an appropriate expression. If the desire does not involve hunger at all but is simply the addiction talking, then I find that talking to oneself and doing a bit of dramatic self narration can be a helpful appropriate expression.
"Oh man do I want chocolate... Damn. It's right there, I could totally eat it, oh how good would that taste. Am I going to? Nope. Why not? Because this feeling will pass and the more consistent desire to be healthy will come back eventually but DAMNIT I WANNA EAT THAT CANDY."
It's fun, it's silly, and eventually all of the energy of that desire has been expressed and I'm no longer experiencing that desire.
In the case of a desire to sit still and meditate, most of the time it's probably appropriate to do just that. However, meditation can also be used to avoid dealing with problems in relationships, or to reinforce the idea that one is spiritually superior to others. If, for example, the desire to go and sit still by yourself shows up when you're in the middle of a difficult conversation with a loved one, it can be tricky to determine the underlying motivation. Is the desire to meditate, in that context, emerging from a clear feeling of love and respect for the other person, a feeling which motivates one to find clarity within oneself so that the conflict can be resolved? If so, meditate away! But what if the desire to step away from the conversation is emerging from a feeling of being afraid of really looking at whatever issues that conversation is bringing up? In that case, meditation is being used as an escape, and one should stay with the conversation and go into those places one is afraid to look at.
In my personal experience, I feel an absurd amount of things in any given day, many of them quite strongly. If I don't express them, I feel the energy get stuck in my body and in my mind, and I keep feeling it over and over until I express it, or until it forces itself into expression in the form of a physical problem or psychological neuroses. (Of which I have many.)
Also in my personal experience, I do not feel supported in finding appropriate expressions for these feelings by many of the public spaces and organizations of our society. Much of mainstream society has pathologized feeling itself, reducing the spectrum of human experience to a narrow spectrum of individual economic and social ambition, exclusive and conditional friend/family affection, possessive romantic love, and vicarious catharsis. This is the most utterly bogus load of crap ever.
We need shouting-spaces. We need crying-parks. We need running-lanes on the sidewalk and screaming-comes in the middle of public plazas. Throw away the prozac and put a bunch of punching bags in the middle of times square. NUMB IS NOT THE ANSWER. To numb oneself merely renders one unaware of the energy of life, it doesn't 'fix' anything. And lying on the couch while somebody asks you questions about your childhood may not be the appropriate expression for you. It may be, who knows? But that's just one option. The other option is to stick you head underwater and scream, or turn on music and dance, or stand utterly still with your arms upraised and tears streaming down your face.
Why are these things not ok? Why can't we do them in public? I feel these kinds of thing in public, and then someone asks me how I am and I feel like I have to say: "Fine." FUCK THAT. I'm not fine. I may be heartbroken, tickled pink, exuberant, contemplative or inquisitive, but chances are pretty good I am not fucking fine. I'm only "fine" like, 1% of the time.
If you feel the same way, please share this post. Or write your own, about how YOU feel. Let's allow ourselves to feel what it to be alive, and share that with each other. I don't enjoy walking around enacting a performance of neutrality because that's been deemed appropriate while in other places men are beating women because that's deemed appropriate and people are killing each other because that's deemed appropriate. We are not our feelings, but we do need to express them.
Life is meant to move through us. Don't hold onto it, it's not you and it's not yours. Let yourself feel it, whatever it is, fully and completely. Then let it steam, fizzle, slink or yodel it's way out of you in whatever way is appropriate for the health and well-being and you and everyone around you. And if it makes some people uncomfortable, well... I think that's ok. The definition of "health and well-being" is dynamic and ever-changing, and it's not always synonymous with 'comfort.'