The gift of detachment
By Nancy B. Loughlin
Published in News Press on December 23, 2014. Posted with permission.
You know when your emotions get the better of you.
When you’re about to snap, there are two competing threads running through your mind. Thread A is your default emotion. You lash out in anger. You withdraw into depression. Or, you take off into flights of panic.
These knee-jerk emotional responses can have disastrous consequences for your professional and personal relationships.
Thread B is your intellect, detached from your emotions. Your intellect knows how this drama is going to end. It’s telling you to calm down and not to do anything you will regret.
The ideal is not to silence or repress your emotions but to raise the volume of your intellect. You and your emotions are not the same; use them as Know Thyself tools.
The key practice is to separate from your thoughts and allow yourself to be a witness to the chaos of your mind. Orchestrating this split and becoming an observer of your emotions rather than a participant can be the most challenging practice in yoga.
You don’t begin this practice in your mind. You begin in your body.
A Yin Yoga class does not offer vigorous flow. Instead, poses are held for extended periods to access deeper connective tissues and the trauma and memory stored in them.
As an experiment, hold Cow Face Pose and Fire Log for five minutes each.
Cow Face: Sit cross-legged and slide the back of your left hand up your spine in between your shoulder blades. Bend your right arm over your shoulder and attempt to grab your left hand behind you. Open your elbows wide. If your hands don’t meet, use a strap to modify. If you choose to add the hip opener, slide your bent legs closer together, and stack your left knee on top of your right knee. You may need a bolster under your seat to keep your spine straight.
Fire Log: While sitting cross-legged, stack your right shin on top of your left shin. Your right knee is on top of your left ankle, and your right ankle is on top of your left knee.
Both of these challenging poses will access the deep tension in the hips and shoulders and will usually prompt one of three reactions: anger, misery or panic. Why? You’re being triggered. And you will feel it.
Be still. Try not to bolt from the room in body or mind. Set a timer for five minutes. Close your eyes, sit in your stuff and breathe.
When distress looms in any situation – a job, a relationship, a marriage, a conversation or a yoga pose – your default emotion attacks.
Now let the movie roll, and it may be a sordid cast of characters. Which memories surface? Who from your past or present steps to the stage?
Simply acknowledge all images, and allow them to pass.
After five minutes each in Fire Log or Cow Face, journal your memories. Write in third person like an impartial witness.
When someone agitates you, your emotions are not always responding to the trigger in front of you. Your emotions are time travelers, revisiting wounds in the energy body.