Before I left for Brazil, I was dealing with unexpected and super untimely car issues. Not really having time for something like this in the days leading up to my departure, I spontaneously and outwardly expressed my frustration over this inconvenience, and a friend of mine who was present interjected with: “Okay, well, we’re all yogis here so let’s relax about it.”
For me, this is a perfect example of how spiritual rhetoric often casts shame or guilt on the feminine. I’m not saying this was an act of feminine shame because he was a man and I am a woman. But, rather, because it was a direct rejection and belittlement of the feminine dimensions of our psyche and human experience. It was a message that having and expressing human emotions is incompatible with being a yogi, meditative, or spiritual. That a spiritual person would be unaffected, or untouched by the circumstance. That the spiritual way (and right way) to respond is with masculine witness consciousness, or detachment.
This kind of shit kills me when I hear it because it is so subtle, and, although it actually does invalidate and gut people, it usually passes under the radar due to its spiritual disguise.
So I feel it’s important to say a few things in regards to this topic:
1). Emotions are natural. They are human. And, for that reason, according to Tantra, they are an expression of the divine. They are what enables us to connect with and channel the divine. Even our fierce, edgy, less-esteemed emotions. The best way to rid our emotional experience of shame is to make the shift from personal to transpersonal. To realize that our emotions do not, and will never, say anything ABOUT us, but, rather, say some really important and valuable stuff TO us.
2). You cannot be vitally alive and available to life — your creative passions, your inner being, your intimate relationships — while you are simultaneously programming yourself to be emotionally detached and unavailable to them. In Tantra, we experience the joy and ecstasy of divine embodiment by awakening THROUGH our senses.👇
Our emotions and the aliveness of our body become our window into the divine reality. If you’re not allowing yourself to be there, how are you going to unguardedly receive life + participate fully?
3). Emotional dexterity is key. In regards to our emotions, we have far more choices than just reaction or detachment. Sometimes being present with yourself means suspending a response, bearing unconditional witness, and giving it space. Sometimes being present with yourself means allowing yourself to go all in with complete catharsis — unrestrained, feeling the fullness your emotions with intensity. But you should not be habituated either way. Our needs are ever-shifting. So it’s important that we are awake, alive, and responsive to them. Mindfulness is a valuable tool and can become a supportive practice. But I, personally, even as a yoga teacher, do not encourage it to become a habit. There IS wisdom in your first response. There IS wisdom in your natural desires and impulses. But if you engage a formal, regular practice of immediately drawing back into observation and suspending your trust of it — you may lose touch in your intuitive abilities to know what is natural and true for you entirely.
What I feel is most important to say is this:
The way we relate to emotions (others, or our own) reveals the health of our relationship to our own inner feminine. How suppressed she is. How expressed she is. How enraged she is. How silenced she is. How safe she is. It’s only when the feminine has been repeatedly ignored, violated, and demeaned that her wrath erupts upon those around her. Similarly, it’s only when we don’t allow ourselves to feel and express fully — when we interrupt our feelings with guilt and shame so they remain only partially felt — that our emotions become toxic and turn on us. 👇
🔻 Do you try to exert control over your emotions, or only allow your emotions to release in controlled or contained ways?
🔻 Does the presence of other people’s emotions cause you extreme discomfort or aversion? Do you label other people’s strong feelings as “crazy” or “overly-sensitive”?
🔻 Do you tend to belittle, deny, or reject your emotions as invalid, un-spiritual, or unreal?
Wanna explore your relationship to your inner feminine a little further? Join me for my upcoming workshop: Embodying Feminine Power: Inner Tantric Yoga for Women at Yoga Fever on Saturday, February 23rd from 1-3pm. Space is limited so be sure to sign up early to reserve your spot!