What does it mean to be “natural” in yourself?
Last March I was in the healing village of Vaidyagrama. During this time I had the privilege to learn about what is “natural” from two amazing Indian Ayurveda doctors Dr. Ramadas and Dr. RamKumar. This was a very powerful process of un-learning my habits and my societal conditioning, built in me for 39 years. I got deeply in touch with my natural urges and emotions and created space for them to teach me wisdom. The ancient Indian science of life, Ayurveda, emphasizes the extreme importance of not suppressing any of these 13 biological urges:
- Flatus (gas); 2. feces; 3. urine; 4. sneezing; 5. thirst; 6. hunger; 7. sleep (Nidra); 8. coughing; 9. exertion breathing; 10. yawning; 11. crying; 12. vomiting; 13. semen.
How I suppressed my natural urges
All of my life, I was taught how to suppress natural urges, as well as my emotions and feelings. I was taught to press on a spot above my upper lip to prevent a sneeze from happening. Told to hold on to the gas in my body so it would not be offensive to others. Taught not to burp in order to be polite and proper. I was told not to be emotional and not to cry in public. It was not natural or healthy. It created a lot of discomfort in my body and emotional pain in my heart.
I didn’t know it was ok to let it all out. It was not a safe feeling for me. This continued until my 30s when I stumbled upon yoga and meditation. All my life, I thought that in order to be a “good girl” I had to suppress myself to fit into society’s standards of the “norm”.
I am thinking now how ridiculous it is to suppress our feelings and urges in order to fit into human-made standards of politeness and adequacy. The urge for crying really stood out for me when I listen to the lecture by Dr. Ramadas about 13 urges while staying at Vaidyagrama. I was taught to “be tough”, to “be strong”, to “be resilient”. I was taught to not get “too winey” or “girly” by showing my emotions or tears.
The Importance of emotions
Ayurveda talks about the physiological importance of tears. Tears create cooling for the overheated head and brain and are an urge that needs to be given the natural flow to express. I was also amazed to learn at Vaidyagrama that a physically, emotionally and spiritually healthy individual processes grief after someone’s passing within 20 days. I realized that when the energy of grief is allowed to flow, we are supposed to feel the relief within 20 days.
In my private therapy work with clients, I see so many people bottle up the feelings of grief, resentment, frustration, anger, and so many other toxic emotions because in our society we never learned how to let those feelings move through our system in a safe container and they get stuck in our bodies and turn into poisons that ruin our health and happiness.
Natural Urges and Emotions are like Waves
While I was left with myself and no distractions for a month at Vaidyagrama, I was amazed to watch how many emotions moved through me over the course of the month. When I first arrived, I was so happy to finally get to a place of purity and simplicity, I was filled with gratitude. I felt humbled by the experience of surrendering to the doctors here and experienced waves of letting go of my control and ideas of how my treatments should go and how I need to know everything that’s happening in my body and what doctors are performing.
Later, I witnessed waves of frustration, restlessness, apathy and complete loss of interest and purpose. One morning I woke up feeling a lot of anger in my belly and that feeling was followed by sadness and I cried, a lot. One morning I felt deeply touched by being alive and feeling connected to everything and tears started unexpectedly filling up my eyes and running down my cheeks as my heart softened and opened more and more. All those feelings and emotions passed through me as I became less attached to so-called “positive” emotions and continued to observe whatever was moving through me in the moment. It was liberating not to cling to any “positive” experiences and emotions and not to expect to feel a certain way all the time.
How can we be more compassionate and loving towards ourselves?
It is incredibly liberating for the mind to live in harmony with nature and natural urges. This way of being with ourselves and nature takes away mind-created pressures, restrictions and therefore suffering. We become so habituated to pep ourselves up when the body feels tired and asking for rest and sleep. We are so driven by success and behaviors that create an illusion of getting somewhere that would be better than this moment in the NOW. Pema Chodron said it beautifully and simply: “One of the deepest habitual patterns that we have is the feeling that the present moment is not good enough”.
How can we be more loving and compassionate towards ourselves when we experience physical and emotional pain? When our minds are restless and agitated? How can we be more loving and accepting of others when they are angry, agitated, frustrated or even pissed off? What can we do with those unprocessed emotions, phobias, and anxieties?
Steps to deal with difficult emotions
The first step is to pause and bring your attention to your breath. Begin feeling your body breathing, not forcing the breath, but starting to notice a natural flow of the breath without labeling your experience. Notice if there is an area in the body where the breath feels restricted or absent, or perhaps an area where the breath jumps over. Once you’ve located that area where the breath is not flowing freely, take some time concentrating your attention on that area.
As you focus on that region, see if you can maintain a sense of detachment of whether that restriction or discomfort is going to go away or stay the same. See if you can maintain an attitude that says to this discomfort or restriction:”I’m willing to be with you and feel you fully”, as if you are sitting next to a child who needs your comforting. This restriction or pain is the wisdom of nature speaking to you, asking for your attention. The nature is asking you to listen and tune-in. It is asking you to pause, get quiet and give it time to move through you, like everything does in nature.
Emotion diffusion technique
At first, you might find it difficult to feel and tune-in to this intelligence of nature.That is because the voice in your head is louder than this voice in your natural body. The voice in the head might be over-shouting the more subtle and gentle voice in your body. For many people the voice of the body needs to get as loud as the severe pain in order for us to begin to listen. At that point, people are so frustrated and angry with this voice of the body that is screaming with pain that people turn to pain killers, surgeries and other extreme measures. When we take pain killers we tell nature “shut up”, “I don’t want to listen to you”.
I invite you to begin to notice (with no judgements) times when you go against nature within your own body. Do you ignore the precious voice of your body that needs your attention and go for some unhealthy treats that don’t truly nourish you? Are you using numbing agents to disconnect from the emotional or physical pain? Stimulating agents such as coffee, are they forcing your body to work beyond its natural wishes? Going to bed late because your mind wants to be more productive and achieve something for the future? Do you spend time on social media getting upset about other people’s opinions? Do you indulge in negative self-talk that creates a feeling of tightness and disconnection from your body?
This is a two part series:
- What is Natural in Your Environment? – Part 1
- What is Natural in Yourself? – Part 2
What are your unique ways that you abuse your body?
I find the work that I do in private yoga therapy sessions to be extremely powerful for creating huge shifts in people’s relationship with their bodies. It helps to understand the unconscious ways that they abuse themselves and go against their nature.
If this sounds like you, I can help. Schedule a complimentary “The Truth of Your Heart” Discovery session where we can deeply listen to your own heart and get in touch with what your vision is for living in harmony with yourself. I promise, it is possible! The session is completely free and confidential and all you have to do is fill out an application and I will get in touch with you wishin 3 business days to let you know if you received a spot. To apply, simply click on the button below.