“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.” -Sigmund Freud
It’s a rare occurrence when you’ll find me quoting Sigmund Freud… to be honest, this might be the first time ever. But, on this very statement of Freud’s, I wholeheartedly agree and wanted to speak to this briefly here.
For those involved in the healing arts, particularly in energy work and most especially with Reiki, there is this overarching notion that the practitioner must maintain utmost decorum. I’d even venture to say that this notion has bled into the greater “New Age” movement. Anger and other “negative” emotions aren’t to be entertained because notions that we are in control of our own happiness and that we can affirm ourselves to a happier, more fulfilling life are prevalent (lest our negative moods lead us to a dismal life!).
In Reiki it is explicit, as one of the principles that we are to adhere to is, “Just for today I will not be angry.” Of course, “just for today” means any and every day that one may perform Reiki, which translates to a general daily affirmation of “I will not be angry”.
Photo by justDONQUE.images
I took a workshop with a man named Patrick Zeigler last year. He facilitates teachings of a particular type of energy healing that is very centered on connecting to our emotions. The workshop was very deep and powerful in how it had us reach deep-seated emotions often held in the subconscious mind and allowed us to release those in the process of further opening our hearts.
Patrick mentioned from his observation that a number of the great and renowned Reiki masters in the world died prematurely of heart disease. (This is hearsay, of course, as I have not done in depth research on the lives of famous Reiki masters). He contends that this is a reflection of suppression of the so-called “negative” emotions such as anger. As Freud says, unexpressed emotions do not die. They live on within us, sometimes coming out emotionally in different forms and sometimes literally eating us up inside.
It’s important to acknowledge our feelings, acknowledge why we’re feeling that way, and most importantly it’s imperative to express the feelings. Of course, it’s important to channel emotions in a healthy way. Throwing plates against a wall in rage is probably not the most healthy way to express anger. Going out for a run to cool off and pounding a pillow might be safer and more ideal ways to let that energy flow.
The key is, however, not to swallow those emotions and bury them deep down. It is okay to feel. We live in a challenging world nowadays filled with stress, complicated social and family lives, and are disconnected from nature and energies that sustain our wellbeing. The havock on our nervous systems is immense. Of course, if these emotions are chronic, there may be some underlying causes that need to be explored with a therapist. That said, I am just going to serve here as a voice to caution you against burying emotions.
Of course, when you’re entering into a session with a client (or entering into a business meeting or any other sort of situation where it is necessary to maintain your decorum), you’ll want to practice “bracketing” your emotions. Bear in mind, however, that bracketing means setting them aside temporarily, so that you can be fully present for your client. It assumes that you will return to pick up your baggage right after and take a deep look at it and let out what needs letting out rather than affirming day by day that you will not let the fury loose.