Many years ago, I hit one of the low points in my life. A long-term relationship had just ended. No drama really, but we both knew we had walked to the end of it. On top of that, I was struggling to start my own business and to stand on my own feet. I moved from a beautiful, spacious place to a tiny apartment where I shared my life with two strangers.
One lonely night I was looking at some old pictures. The memories overtook me, and I began to cry. Tears kept bubbling up from the deep well inside of me. At first I was crying because of my personal circumstances and the feelings associated with them. Then somehow I felt that I tapped into all of the sadness of the universe, from the past to the future, from everywhere, from everyone. Every separation, every illness, every death, every heartbreak, were felt at that moment – by me. It felt like a deep dark tunnel, without end.
I let myself go, feeling deeply – my breath, the bubbling, sobbing sensations throughout my body, my tears. No more stories, no more judgment, no more feeling sorry for me or for anyone, just feelings and bodily sensations. I don’t remember how long I had cried. It was a good cry for sure. People say women are made of water. I proved that to be true. So much water purged out of my body, like a flowing stream.
While I was curled up in bed, lying on my side, I saw myself. I was outside of my body, looking down at myself, watching myself cry, as if the girl lying there was a different person, detached from me. (I’m not sure if I had an out-of-body experience or not; I certainly wasn’t thinking about that at the time.) Then I felt a sweet taste of joy, a deep joy that I had never felt before.
This experience had a profound impact on me. Years later, I realized that I had allowed myself to experience the full cycle of sadness that night – the transformational quality of emotions.
I understood that the other side of sadness is joy, that they are the two sides of the same coin. That if we stop identifying our feelings with the stories and judgments chattering in our head, if we allow ourselves to simply feel them, to get in touch with them, with time, they are bound to be transformed.
Next time, when you feel emotions surging up, perhaps tell yourself, “Of course I feel this way. Let me feel it.” Welcome the emotion, let go of your identification with it, and simply feel – the raw feelings and bodily sensations. When you really feel it, you may watch it transform in front of your eyes.