EMOTIONAL EXPERIENCING PROCESS - Teal Swan Articles - Teal Swan Jump to content


Despite the fact that we experience emotions every day, as people, we are very ignorant about emotions. And it doesn’t help that the fields of science, medicine and psychology are still in the dark ages about emotions. As a result of this, we don’t deal with emotions correctly when they arise. Today, I’m going to offer you a process for correctly dealing with your emotions. A process which will prevent emotions associated with traumatic felt-experiences from getting stuck in your body and being, becoming triggers. And a process which will help you release emotions and traumas from your body and being.     

When it comes to emotions, we do things like ignore, suppress, deny, reject, fix, turn against, try to control, minimize, distract ourselves from, disguise, dissociate from, numb out and violently act out emotions. There are so many different ways that we do these things and there are so many different ways that this harms us and the people, places and things around us. But one of the ways that it harms us, is that it causes emotions and traumas to become stuck in our body and stuck in our being. You can think of it metaphorically like this, when we do not fully go through the way we feel and allow the emotions to pass fully through us, gaining the valuable information that is contained in our emotions (and emotions carry lots of information), that emotional sensation, emotional content and emotional information is stored in packages in the body/being until we release it. Our traumas become trapped within us in this way. It may be interesting for you to know that one of the reasons people start suppressing emotion, is because emotion carries truths. And they don’t want to see those truths that are painful to acknowledge about themselves, or about other people or about life. 

For this not to happen, we have to let emotions fully pass through our being when they occur, without resisting them. And when we go through something that is traumatizing or that stirs up strong negative emotion, we need to place our attention on it so as to give it our full presence. We need to fully experience it. We need to let it pass fully through our body and energy field. And we need to learn the information contained in it. Doing so, will increase our capacity to feel as well as our capacity to process emotions. It’s like building an emotional muscle. And this, in turn will make it so we feel we can deal with anything life throws our way, rather than spending every day in panic because down deep, we feel we can’t handle painful things happening, because we can’t handle the emotions that those things will cause us to feel.

People fear that when you focus on an emotion, it will simply amplify. It won’t ever go away and it may even kill them. This represents a huge amount of disempowerment that people feel relative to their own emotions. And this is not true at all when it comes to emotions. First of all, emotions are fluid, they move through you if you let them. On top of this, your truth and therefore your emotions don’t just disappear by focusing on something else. The picture of what causes emotions is more complicated than just what you are focused on in the moment. And most people use these tools designed to avoid negative emotion as a tool of resistance to their emotions. So, their emotions get stuck in the being. Their emotions get sequestered into the subconscious. They start to see their own emotions as the enemy. Your emotions are not against you. They are powerfully for you. Emotions are feedback about what is happening in any given circumstance. When you pay attention to your emotions, you are listening and responding to this feedback. It’s like listening to radar on a submarine.  

Also, emotions speak. They sing. They want to be listened to. When you bring your presence to emotions, you bring the frequency of presence to the frequency of whatever emotion you are focused on. This changes the overall frequency. And you listen to the emotions. You are meeting the need of the emotion. And therefore, you will register an improvement in your own system when you do this. It is profound self-care. Think of a baby. A baby isn’t thinking its way out of the emotion it is feeling. They are purely with their emotions. There is a truth behind that emotion, such as: “I am afraid, this is a no for me.” Or “I feel lonely, I want togetherness.” Or “I feel insecure, I need reassurance.” Or “my tummy hurts. I am uncomfortable. And I feel powerless to do anything about it”. If a baby has an emotion, it is for some reason. Adults are no different. Just like when you are caretaking a baby, and in order to do the right thing, you need to listen to your emotions. You need to notice them, you need to feel them, you need to hear them. You need to respond to them. Arguing that if you focus on a negative emotion, all you get is more stuff that matches that negative emotion, is like arguing that if you focus on a baby’s discomfort, all that will happen is they get more uncomfortable. When you resist an emotion, that is when an emotion amplifies.      

Without further ado, let’s just jump into the process. When emotional pain arises, sit or lie somewhere comfortable, so that you will not be distracted. Close your eyes and place all of your attention on the sensations that are occurring wherever they might be in your body. For example, you might feel buzzing or extreme constriction or heaviness or aching or hot flashes or cold emptiness etc. And you might feel it in your heart area or in your lower back or in your head and jaws or radiating down your arms, or consuming your whole body. Your intent is to experience the emotional experience fully. To feel, hear, see and understand it completely. Therefore, you are not going to do anything with the sensations you are feeling and observing. You’re not going to fight them or fix them or soothe them or anything else. Pay very slow and very deep attention to them. And as an anchor for keeping yourself with your emotions, you’re going to keep asking yourself, “How does this feel?” or “what does that feel like?”. If your mind gives you an answer like: It feels empty, you will mentally ask yourself “what does empty feel like?” Or if your mind throws up a metaphor like: it feels like mud. You’re going to mentally ask yourself “What does mud feel like?” The reason you do this, is so that the mind stays with the feeling, rather than pulling you out of the feeling by telling stories about the feeling. If your mind is hijacking the process, it will feel like the content of your mind is pulling you OUT and AWAY from the emotion, causing the intensity of the emotion to dissipate. 

As you are fully present with, observing and feeling the emotional experience occurring within you, you are likely to get images, sounds, insights and potentially even memories as well. Remember how I said that these emotional experiences and the information they contain are stored in the body, like little trauma packages? These images, sounds, insights and memories are inside these packages. And so, when you place your attention on them fully and willingly experience the totality of what is inside them, these things stored inside the packages release and float to your conscious awareness. They simply appear in your awareness. For example, you may see a specific color where the emotion is in your chest or you might see swirls of specific colors consuming your whole body. Those colors might come with patterns and textures. You may get an image of a substance, like sand or mud. Or an object or a food or a person’s face. Or a place. You may hear someone’s voice or the sound of wind or screaming. You may suddenly be able to taste a certain flavor in your mouth. You may instantly feel like you are inside of a memory of yours, like a whole scene has come up for replay. You might hear an insight, such as “This is why I have such intense issues trusting people”. Or experience a deep knowing like “I need to choose to let go of people who don’t put any effort or energy into the relationship with me.” 

Again, you’re not going to fight them or fix them or soothe them or anything else. you are going to notice them, observe them, feel them, pay very slow and very deep attention to them. When any of the content of the emotional experience you are focused on comes up, you are going to continue to feel the emotion. Like when you watch a movie. Those colors and textures and images and insights and memories are there to enhance the experience and ADD to the experience, not take you out and away from it. Which is why you want to keep using your anchor question of: “And what does that feel like?” And be willing to be present for a very slow, time-consuming process, rather than to rush the process. This process tends to get faster over time by the way.    

By fully experiencing an emotion or an emotional package that is stuck in the body, by letting it completely consume your body and being, you are giving it space to move. And as you do so, it will move and change. For example, the color black, might start changing to the color blue, and this might coincide with a change from the feeling of an aching, charged, stuck hatred to something like a cold, sinking, sore sadness. The images might move and change. For example, from the image of a rain storm to the image of sitting in your living room as a child all alone in a silent house. What is important is that you are not “doing” any of these changes. Instead, they happen to you, and you are just experiencing them happen as a result of being totally, unconditionally present to fully experience them. 

Some of these emotions need more presence than others. Some move and change very quickly, whereas others hold for a long time as they are, causing you to worry if they will ever change or ever end. This should simply show you how resistant you are to experiencing that specific feeling. And how conditional you are with yourself, because the message you are sending yourself is: “I’ll be with you, so that you go away.” Essentially, as a part of this process, you are likely to experience your own resistance to feeling emotions or to a specific emotional experience. And you will experience your own resistance, the same way you do any other part of this process. With sensations and images and sounds etc. You are going to keep using your anchor, even on the way the resistance itself feels… “What does that feel like?”   

I’m going to give you another analogy to spin off of the last one, which will help you immensely as you go through this process. Imagine that inside every emotional package, was a singing bowl. And imagine that the specific feeling you experience when you experience that specific package, is the unique tone of that specific singing bowl. Some are far more unpleasant than others. When you place your attention on the way you feel, or when something happens in your life to trigger a specific emotional package, it is like that specific singing bowl was struck. And it needs to sing through your entire body and being. It needs to be able to vibrate out completely, to the point where it no longer vibrates. This is true if you feel any emotion. It’s smart to address any emotion, as if it is a singing bowl that has been struck and that needs to sing itself out in order to de-materialize. But if you have a trigger, what has happened is that when the painful experience originally occurred, that singing bowl was not allowed to sing. It stayed stuck and un-played in the being. And you have most likely spent your whole life trying to shut its singing down, should it ever get touched by something you experience in the world. More than that, you’ve most likely spent your whole life trying to avoid anything that might cause that package with that singing bowl to be touched. For so many of us, our entire lives are spent in a perpetual state of avoidance. Our life is nothing more than us trying to avoiding feeling certain ways. And this is no way to live.  

When you are doing this process and you feel the emotion, like a feeling tone in your body, remind yourself to let it sing through your whole being, like a singling bowl that has been struck. 

It is here that you have options. Because it is so important to fully experience your emotions and be present with yourself in that way, building up the emotional muscle to do this, might be something that you choose to do in increments. Metaphorically speaking, you might choose to dip a toe in first. And then an ankle. And then a leg. If you do this, you are going to do this process until you feel a slight release, maybe a 10-20% reduction in tension within your body. The reason for this tension release is that your own being registers your presence. It is a soothing force because you are indicating that you are changing your pattern of self-abandonment. And you are going to simply increase your presence from there. Maybe the next time, you will do it until an emotion you are experiencing moves and changes to a totally different emotion and you experience that new emotion for a time. When you do this process that way, just make sure that you exit the process by giving yourself some reassuring message, that is the opposite of self-abandonment, such as saying to the specific emotion you are processing, “You can stay with me as we go through the day.” Or affirming to yourself, “I will not leave myself here like this, I’m coming back to this on Saturday.” Or by internally explaining to yourself why you are choosing to stop there, and caringly addressing and resolving any fears you may feel crop up in response to that.  

The other option is to go all the way through. When you go all the way through an emotion, you are with it unconditionally and completely as it changes and changes and changes, until the improvement happens on its own and to you. You are simply experiencing the improvement as it naturally occurs. For example, this might look like palpable relief. Or it might look like deep grounded-ness or it might look like experiencing the opposite of the original pain. This is the master’s class of emotional experiencing. And depending on the specific emotional experience that you are experiencing, it can take a really long time. When you do this, you are likely to experience a turning point.  For example, you may have been triggered by someone de-valuing you. And you might be sitting in a part of the process with an excruciating white, hot pain and it may consume your whole body, you might get images of your body falling apart, being dissolved by that white hot pain. Only to suddenly start experiencing your body coming back together again, and that white hot pain turning to a technicolor tapestry and the feeling changing from excruciating pain to solidness and strength and fullness. And suddenly receiving insights like “everything in the universe is inside of you, so it is impossible not to have value.” And you will get to a point where intuitively, it feels like you have reached “completion” with that specific package and with that specific singing bowl. You may also choose to do anything in between these two options.  

So that you can understand this process better, here is an example: Jaxson received a rejection letter from a college he was desperate to get into. He got a towel and laid it out on the floor to lie down on it. He closed his eyes and turned all of his attention inward towards the sensations. He noticed extreme tightness in his throat first and a sharp, gripping, pulsing, throbbing pain in his chest. He spent around 25 minutes just feeling that sensation, letting it spread out across his whole body. Whenever he felt his mind trying to go elsewhere, he just asked himself “What does this feel like?” And re-attuned to the sensations. At first, he saw flashes of red associated with this sensation. But soon, that red turned to an experience of white light. And when it did, he felt like he was up against an immovable stone wall. He felt desperation. When he asked himself, what does desperation feel like, it was things like frantic, static energy, a crushing sinking feeling and an aching so deep in the heart, the ache itself felt like it was screaming. An insight popped into his awareness… “I feel powerless. Powerless to get the people in charge of admission to decide to admit me, like there is nothing I can do or will ever be able to do.” He felt a tiny breeze of relief because he was on top of the actual pain. The perception of utter powerlessness.

He asked himself “what does that feel like” meaning the powerlessness. He focused fully on the sensation… breathlessness, stuck-ness and aching in his chest. Wobbliness in his limbs. He watched it and felt it and listened to see if it had any sounds for what felt like a long time before the image of a big, red, rubber ball took over his entire vision. He did not understand it. The image felt intrusive. But he let himself feel intruded upon. He let the big, red ball intrude on him. And asked himself “what does this ball feel like?” The sensations he felt of powerlessness simply intensified. The image of the ball and the powerlessness stayed as is. He felt himself go into resistance to it. The thought “Oh my god, this is never going to end” came up. So, he felt the powerlessness and also the resistance he was feeling to the experience. He allowed the feeling of himself pushing against what is happening and clenching against it to take over his body, as if he was totally surrendering to that internal fight between the experience and his resistance to the experience. He heard his own internal voice pipe up and say “Ok then.. let it never end then.” This caused a relaxation in his body. Then Jaxson saw a memory of being in his middle school gymnasium. The smell of the place was so real, it was as if he was there again. And he asked himself “what does this feel like?” Extreme frustration in the form of constriction and heat and rushing and electric currents coursed through his being. With bright red again. For a time, it was like he saw in the memory while at the same time feeling totally engulfed by red a red fire. He was totally with it. He let his whole body feel it. And eventually, that red turned to a white light, similar to in the beginning of the process. And the memory of him not being chosen for a dodgeball team he was desperate to join, on account of a group of older boys popped up.

Jaxson experienced the memory as if what was happening emotionally at that time, were happening to him right here and now. He let the breathlessness, stuck-ness and aching in his chest spread all through his body. The white light intensified and intensified. He had been fully with the process for over an hour at this point. He thought about the singing bowl that needs to sing and this helped him to let that feeling experience completely ring through his whole body for as long as it needed to. Then, he felt himself stop fighting against the boys in the memory. He felt himself give up as if he just couldn’t fight anymore. This felt like relief. The white light disappeared and turned to a dark, blue. A heavy, sinking sadness. He saw the image of himself lying on his side on the gym floor and the lights being turned off. A knowing appeared… that he needed to accept the rejection and to accept he was not going to keep trying to change it. Tiredness took over his body. A palpable fatigue. But he was surprised by how relieving that felt. Not good. Just much better than the powerlessness and fight to try to be accepted. He fully surrendered to the feeling of that let down. And to the smell of the gymnasium floor. 

Soon, the image of the gymnasium faded on its own. He was just completely in and of that blue, tiredness and sinking. That sensation and experience stayed for quite some time before he smelled coffee, despite there being no coffee in his house. So, he breathed that smell in. Fully feeling it. He asked himself “what does coffee feel like?” Three times he asked himself this. And felt the feeling of that sadness, while also being willing to feel the coffee that had appeared to his senses. He started to feel some warm, cozy, lightness in his underarms and down the sides of his ribcage. And he put his attention on that. Took deep breaths to better feel it. And it expanded and expanded until he was seeing swirls of blue with swirls of yellow. And the texture of smooth candy. An image flashed and then disappeared. The image was of him sitting at a coffee shop with one of his friends, Maggie. He didn’t chase the image. He didn’t “try” to understand it. He just kept feeling what was there. The swirls of blue and yellow, the sadness mixed with the warm, coziness. And after about fifteen minutes of the feeling being allowed to completely play out within him, he had a huge insight come to his awareness. “I don’t try to get accepted by Maggie. I can just sit there at coffee with her and feel this incredible relief because I can just be me… I associate coffee with acceptance. HAHA. I don’t need to be part of the cool club to have what I want. Oh god. What if this is the real reason I’m trying to go to Stanford? That’s bullshit.” 

Jaxson felt himself being sucked into this awareness, away from how he felt. So, he placed his attention back on the feeling sensation that was occurring in his body exactly at that minute. The swirls of blue had gone away. All that was there was the feeling of solidness, almost grounded-ness and a sharp, warm, opening feeling. He invited that feeling to take over his entire being. He saw flashes of his friend Maggie and they intensified this feeling. He loved that feeling. He let it seep into every fiber of his being until he felt this intuitive feeling that it was enough for that time. He checked internally to “feel” for if opening his eyes and going about his day would be ok for all of him. And he felt an internal “yes”. So, he took three deep breaths and thanked the feeling in his body and got up and drank a full glass of water and went about the rest of his day.           

     This process is as close to a medicine journey as you will get without actually taking shamanic medicines. Like shamanic medicine journey work, it is simply a process that happens to you and you are simply experiencing it. You are going along for the ride rather than proactively doing anything to bring it about. You are… experiencing.  

You may feel exhausted after you do this process. That is totally normal. Building emotional muscle can be tiring at first. On top of this, it is exhausting to keep emotions stored in the being and to live your life trying to avoid them being triggered. So, there is often a huge exhaustion to be experienced when you stop doing that.

You can do this process with what you might judge as positive, feel-good emotions too. It’s not like you are limited to doing this only with what you would judge as negative, uncomfortable and painful emotions. It’s just that those are the ones we tend to resist, rather than let ourselves fully experience. 

Another powerful element of this process is that it de-activates the nervous system. Often, when triggers are activated, you will register threat and danger. But when you do this process, you are directing your attention inwards. And this signals to the nervous system that you are not in danger, not only because you are really there with yourself, but also because you are focused inside, whereas, if you were really in danger, you would be focusing externally. And this allows the vulnerable emotions to come through, past protective elements of the being that might be suppressing that emotion. 

Having become aware of the information carried by the emotion, you can then make better decisions and take better actions in your day-to-day life. Using our previous example, Jaxson’s experience caused him to release the trauma of rejection he suffered as a middle school student. And caused him to become aware of how much of his life is ruled by the desperation to not feel rejected and therefore desperation to be part of the cool crowd. He decided that is not a good enough reason for him to go to an Ivy League college. So, he decided to prioritize applying to a college that was near Maggie and near the people who have never treated him like he needs accolades for them to want to spend time with him.     

 By using this process, you can move through painful experiences that happen in your life, and let the emotions that arise move through you, rather than accumulating trauma that prevents you from truly living. So, all that’s left, is to give it a try!     


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