Our emotions are always guiding our experience in some way, coloring the way we relate to others, create, and manifest. It is not enough to simply have a goal and lay out the steps to achieve it, we should also be aware of the feelings that are driving our desires. When we are disconnected from or in denial of our emotional experience, it becomes easy to create from a place of lack, fear, or anxiety and those emotions are absorbed by our creations.
This is not always a bad thing. Depending on what we are seeking, it can be appropriate to move with caution or to let unpleasant emotions like sadness or anger influence our work. The point is to be aware of these emotions so that we can work with them instead of being controlled by them.
In this ritual, we will consciously move through various emotions to take note of how they take up space in our bodies and guide our experiences. This ritual can also be done in a group setting to observe how your emotions interact with others and to receive feedback on how you project your emotions.
Time commitment: 30-45 minutes
This ritual is best done in a room where you have a fair amount of space and freedom to move. It will consist of several parts, so it may be helpful to set a recurring five minute timer so that you can be alerted when to move onto the next phase.
First you will embody curiosity by crawling around your space. Drop to your hands and knees and begin to notice how it feels to be closer to the ground. What do you see now that you normally might not be aware of because of your higher vantage point? Tune into the energy of an infant who is just beginning to discover the world. Imagine that you are encountering objects for the first time and introduce yourself to them just as a baby would, by touching them and taking in their texture, looking at them closely, smelling them, or even putting them in your mouth. As you do, consider how you embody curiosity in your day to day life. Do you approach your intrigue eagerly or are you cautious? Are you willing to get face-to-face with the unknown or do you avoid it?
Rise to your feet and begin to tune into your sensuality. To be sensual is to feel, to let your five senses guide you and to find pleasure in that experience. For you sensuality might be soft caresses against your skin, it might be a languid yoga flow, or dancing to the rhythm of your breath. You can tune into the energy of an adolescent, when everything feels more intense, hormones are accelerating, and sexual identity is being formed. How do you interact with sensuality in your everyday life? Is it something that you give yourself or that you primarily share with others? How do you experience the senses and which ones do you feel closest to or most disconnected from?
Next you will cycle through several emotions to understand how they translate in your body. Begin to move around the room while intentionally embodying happiness. You might skip, dance, smile, carry your head high, or laugh; whatever feels like happiness to you. As you do so, think about how often you radiate happiness and if these movements feel familiar or foreign. When you walk in your day to day life is it with a smile behind your eyes? Are your eyes normally open and eager to drink in the world around you? Pay attention to the thoughts and movements that elicit happiness.
Begin to slow down and tune into the emotion of sadness. Your shoulders might slump, perhaps your feet will drag, and maybe your gaze will lower to the floor. Tears might come and if they do, let them flow. Think about the last time you felt truly sad and how often this emotion surfaces in your life. This is not a moment to judge yourself, only to notice how this emotion defines your day to day experience. Do you feel that you have a healthy relationship with sadness? Perhaps you often feel numb and sadness is difficult to experience. Or maybe it is the opposite and you find sadness very easy to access. If that is the case, this could be a good time to pay attention to what triggers that emotion in you and how it occupies space in your body.
Next, begin to tune into the feeling of fear. Maybe it has already come up for you in this exercise and if that is the case, you can make a note of that. For example, maybe it feels scary or elicits fear to experience true happiness or to open yourself up to your senses or to be curious. Notice how fear contorts your posture: perhaps your shoulders will cave in, your steps might become more hurried or frantic, your eyes darting from one place to another. Consider the role that fear plays in your life and if you have an appropriate fear response or are unable to detect danger. What is your body’s automatic response to fear: fight, flight, or freeze?
The next emotion you will tune into is anger. Notice where you feel it in your body, if your chest gets tight, if tears of frustration start to fall, if you feel called to stomp your feet, grunt, or yell. Consider your relationship to anger and whether you were allowed to experience it as a child or even as an adult. Remind yourself that every emotion has a purpose and the potential to guide us towards self-wisdom. What has anger taught you and what does it normally come up around? How can you utilize this emotion to your benefit rather than let it take control of you?
Finally, you will sit still and be present. Observe how your body feels after embodying so many different emotions. You might feel very activated or perhaps drained. Simply notice and try not to judge. Allow yourself to come back to a balanced state of mind.
After five minutes of sitting still, grab your notebook and pen and begin to answer the questions from each phase of this ritual, taking note of which emotions are most dominant in your life and if you are leading them or being led. If you did this ritual in a group, you can sit in a circle and begin to answer the questions out loud. Which emotions were you able to occupy with ease and which were the most difficult? What is preventing you from accessing certain emotions and how can you begin to remove those barriers? Did additional feelings arise, perhaps joy, embarrassment, or shame? What do these feelings signify to you? Consider your goals and which emotions will best serve your journey moving forward.