Feeling Sad Isn’t All Bad - Grasshopper
It can lead to peace of mind through peace of body.
I played football in the 8th grade. We had a coach who was famous for the expression, "Walk it off!" No matter what hurt, you received the same prescription, "Walk it off!"
Player: "Coach, I think I broke my arm." Coach: "Walk it off!"
Player: "Coach, I think I have leprosy." Coach: "Walk it off!"
That's how one portion of society deals with sadness. "Tough it out," "Stop being so sensitive," "Into each life a little rain must fall" are the pearls of wisdom they cast that swine wouldn't swallow or follow. Their fun house mirror logic goes like this: Somehow ignoring the situation will make it disappear.
The other side urges you to use an outside agent of change to alleviate your emotional state – a pill, a jug of wine, positive thinking, a good movie or something else to chase away the blues. As well intentioned as this advice is, it's a stop gap measure that can only stem the tide for awhile.
Feeling sadness is the middle ground that few people gravitate to simply because they are unaware of its existence and magic.
I think all parties agree there is something worthwhile on the other side of sadness. The successful strategy to get there seems to be what the debate is about. Experience ends all debate. You can theorize your entire life what it feels like to be happy, yet one dose of the experience will get you out of your head.
Sadness will visit us throughout life. You can choose to ignore your visitor or chase them away with a broom. Both strategies result in sweeping sadness under the rug. It will stay on your doorstep or come back more quickly unless you invite it in for tea.
Feeling sadness is something we avoid because of conditioning. We have been trained to either ignore or temporarily alleviate the pain. We should all learn from dogs. Have you ever witnessed a sick dog wanting to play one more game of fetch? No, they go lie in a corner until they feel better. They don't put on a Louis Armstrong record or read Norman Vincent Peale. They allow their body to work its magic.
The first step in feeling sadness is to get out of your head. Telling yourself and others stories about why you are sad just adds to the longevity of the emotion and creates the glue of high drama which keeps you stuck.
The next step is to notice the actual sensation of sadness in your body. It's an actual feeling that will usually register somewhere along the midline from your throat to your bowels. Give your attention to that feeling. Is it heavy, tingling, a pressure, pulsating, etc? Allow your body to feel the feeling. I won't lie and tell you it's a pleasant sensation; it's just a necessary one.
The actual practice of feeling that feeling without commentary will move you through your sadness to what's on the other side. You'll know you have succeeded when you have peace of body which always leads to peace of mind.
The transformative practice of actually feeling the sensations that go along with your emotions is worth experiencing. It goes way past theory and gets you into the only laboratory that matters – your body.
All the best,
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