Expressing Emotions with Awareness

Feeling emotions and expressing emotions are two different things. Some of us get angry but don’t say anything about it. We just feel the anger. Others of us say something about it. Some of us do something about it.

My usual response to emotional situations is to hold back from expressing myself directly. This is a survival tactic I developed from being in a highly emotionally charged family and work environment.

There were so many people around me with emotional turmoil, it seemed harmful for me to blab about my own emotions.

This backfired, to say the least. I grew up with a lot of repressed feelings. I got through work situations with a “professional attitude” but had to let the feelings burn inside of me. In my mid-twenties I was a field of blackened tree stumps, a wasteland of a forest fire.

I learned from my mistakes, but it was too late for me to recover in the same environments in which I had died. The roots were charred, seeds were turned to dust. There was no springing of life where I was. So I left.

I traveled for four months to get out of the ashes of my life. I had cultivated enough positive mentality and nutritional practice to get myself healthy and moving again before I left. Travel freed me from the stagnant waters of anxiety and allowed me time and space to meditate, rediscover myself, and stretch out in a spiritual and physical sense.

I met new people, took part in new cultures, and grew in love. My wife and I, through the constant adventure of finding our way, expanded our hearts and built courage. We lived our dream of seeing, learning, sleeping, and waking in new worlds. And now even home is a new world.

Meditation was key to my awakening to my misery and grasping an optimistic view of myself. It helped me in several areas of life. Strength training, sleep, and fear were a few areas of growth through meditation. Recently, through meditation I reached a breakthrough in how I express emotions.

I noticed a difference in my awareness of emotions and expression after several days of meditation. My sessions were two times per day, 5-15 min each time. Nothing big.

However, when a recent emotional argument broke out between me and someone close, I noticed a difference inside. I expressed myself through my emotions, but I was fully aware of myself. I could hear myself talk, see what I was feeling, and feel what the other person was feeling. This was very unlike other times, where I would have gone blank in the head.

The awareness allowed me to process what was going on, during and after the argument. It also allowed me to start the forgiveness process. Since I was “there” while it was happening, I remembered how I felt, and why, and what triggered it all.

The reason this happened was that during meditation leading up to this day, I had been focusing on how I felt. As I breathed and came into a centered disposition, I let my feelings float up into my awareness. Whatever I felt, I let my mind rest on it. I breathed, identified the emotion, felt it plainly and deeply for what it was, and sometimes even visualized the root. Then I breathed again and let it go.

This built awareness of my emotions. It made me feel okay with what I was feeling. I used to get uncomfortable with the fact that I was emotional. It felt like a weakness. But this awareness practice was facing reality. I accepted myself as an emotional being.

I still felt upset after the argument, I still dealt with the residual emotions, and all of that. But I was in a place where I could build on the experience. Rather than wallowing in confusion, I learned about myself. I thought forward to the next time I would be in that sort of situation. And instead of feeling apprehensive, I felt excited. I wanted to grow!

I’m not saying I’m a saint and we should have a day for me because of this one incident. But I hit a definite pivot point in my emotional life. This is an area of discomfort for me. I’m not used to getting deep into my emotions, and evaluating them, let alone talking about them.

But I’ve been trying within that past few months to dig into this and grow. And I’m learning the importance of expressing versus simply feeling emotions. The key is awareness.

Live powerfully,


Studies on Meditation and Emotion Regulation and Mindfulness


Teaching is Learning

Learning gets categorized. We turn it into something that happens in school. Or we look for it from a designated teacher person. But learning happens more in the day to day that anywhere else.

I find some of my greatest lessons in the casual interactions with people near me. I was talking with a friend about squat technique. We got to a difficult question about the feel of the bottom position. It’s one thing to say do this and that with your legs and butt and knees. It’s another to actually be under the bar and do them.

His questions challenged me. What does it feel like? I dug deep to bring out how I process it. The inner mind workings are really a different thing from the mechanics of the body. Instead of thinking that I’m lowering down with the weight, and bouncing out of the bottom, I’m actually feeling it all happen. So how it feels is going to be different for everyone.

As I walked through my mental cues with my friend, he rephrased certain parts, and broke them down with me to make sense of them. I realized his genius in being able to verbalize some of the concepts of body mechanics. Regardless of how long I’ve studied the squat, there were ways of describing it that my friend had that I would never have come to myself.

I came to an even better understanding of the squat after our talk. Although I was the one in the “coach” position, I was also in a learning situation. It struck me that any meaningful teaching interaction becomes a learning interaction. The only way to teach someone is to learn the workings of their mind and to format what is known to that person’s mind. This is fundamentally a learning experience for the teacher. Almost more so than for the supposed student.

To teach is to place oneself in the position of learning. It’s more than simply verbalizing information. That is not teaching. It’s sharing knowledge. Teaching goes beyond recitation, to piece knowledge together in a manner that is comprehensible to a specific someone. This requires an understanding of that person.

Teaching is learning. It’s an exchange of the workings of each other’s minds. You can learn by venturing to teach, and you can teach best by preparing yourself to learn.

Live powerfully,