I broke my “no media” rule this morning. No TV. No emails. No internet. These rules are usually non-negotiable. Mornings are my sacred “me time” exclusively reserved for affairs of the heart and soul. The energy I harness from my mornings carry me through until night and act as a resource that I can tap into throughout the day when I need a “happy boost.”
But today, even though I knew who won the election before I climbed out of bed, I consciously broke my rule. I couldn’t help it. The emotions inside me were too much, gnawing at me, compelling me to see what the world thinks and feels.
I knew it wasn’t going to do me any good, but I did it anyway. I went on Facebook. Then after the first post I saw in my feed, I did a facepalm, and sunk deeper into my couch.
My heart felt heavy. My chest pressed in. My stomach churned. Reading comments sucked me in even more, made me feel darker and heavier. Even the ones who claim to stand for love and peace are angrily slinging vile and hate. And fear. So much fear. Rage. Anger. Disgust. At one another.
I felt the heaviness of the country’s pain collapse in on me and I immediately did my TreeBreath technique. I needed to anchor. I hadn’t yet grounded myself before going online. Opening Facebook first thing in the morning, on THIS day of all days? What was I thinking? Why didn’t I at least anchor myself before throwing myself into the storm?
I knew there would be more anger, cruelty, fear and disgust than love, grace, beauty and hope.
Yet I threw myself into it anyway.
My TreeBreath technique calmed me and brought me back to the light. I teach this in my Emotional Resilience course, but given the emotional state of today, I’ve decided to give it away free here.
The TreeBreath Technique
This is a 6 step technique that can be done in less than 2 minutes, anytime, anywhere. We dive deeper into this technique in my course, it takes up an entire module with 5 different videos to dig further into the process. But here’s a condensed Cliff’s Notes version that will help you start today whenever you feel stressed, anxious or emotional. It also works when your mind chatters at 100 miles an hour and you can’t seem to stop it.
The first thing you do when you become aware of the emotional stress is BREATHE. Take a deep, full, long breath in.
Consciously taking a breath is a form of mental distraction. The mind can’t fully focus on more than one thing at the exact same time, so when you intentionally stop and breathe, you turn the mind’s focus to breathing instead of the millions of scattered thoughts or emotions that are consuming you. And biologically, you also get a good rush of oxygen to your brain so you’re more alert to handle it.
If you were to demand of yourself that your mind stop yakking, it would revolt and get even louder. Just like when you tell a kid NO, they often want to do it even more. So you distract your mental chatter by giving your mind a physical action to focus on.
While breathing helped you shift into a mental state of focus, releasing will get you into a physical state of flow. Notice the parts of your body that are feeling discord. Are your shoulders tight? Is your chest heavy? Is your stomach knotted? As you continue breathing, do a mental sweep down your body starting at the top of your head, down to the tips of your toes. What’s going on in there? Notice where you’re holding your emotion. Is your anger in the pit of your stomach? Is your sadness in your heart? Is your pain trapped in your throat because you’re holding back from crying?
If you’re feeling heart palpitations, imagine yourself breathing in to your heart and breathing the palpitation out. If it’s tightness in your stomach, breathe into your stomach and breathe out the tightness. The inhale focuses the intention onto the physical part of your body and the exhale releases it, moves it out of your body. Do it as many times as you need.
Many of us have learned to disconnect from our bodies because at some point it was just too overwhelming and we wanted to numb out. If you’re having a difficult time tuning into your body, physically contract the part of you that you think is tight or might be holding on to emotional stress. Hold it for 5 seconds, squeezing as tight as you can. Then release with an exhale.
Breathe. And Release.
Not only will you be more clear and focused mentally, but you’ll also start feeling a physical calm wash over you. Your body will relax a little, loosen up and release the tension it was previously gripping.
When you are emotionally overdrawn, when you’re overwhelmed, exhausted and on the verge of an actual viable emotional breakdown, you need more than mental calm from breathing and physical shifts from releasing.
You need an emotional overhaul.
And that starts by recognizing your emotions are simply energy. We are all vibrating beings, and emotions are nothing more than vibrating fluctuations in energy moving through an already vibrating body of energy.
So when you see that your emotions – anger, fear, rage, sadness, joy, happiness – are just energy, much like the electricity that runs through your walls, they lose the power they have over you.
When you don’t have a relationship with electricity, you don’t judge it, you don’t label it as good or bad, you don’t feel guilty about it, ashamed, angry… you don’t even try to lasso it so it doesn’t get away. It simply is. And you accept that.
If you can release your relationship with your emotions, in the same way that you have no relationship with electricity, your emotions will come and go and will move through you quickly and openly. You may become enraged because of something that just happened, like someone becoming President or the backlash on each side because of it, but if you let go of your judgement and relationship to rage, and accept that it’s nothing more than energy, it will pass as quickly as it came.
You’re no longer holding on to emotions, you’re no longer resisting and fighting them, which only makes them stronger. And you no longer have to sit for hours (or years) trying to work through them in therapy or getting stuck in your mental stories about them.
So the third step is recognizing that emotions are just ENERGY. No judgement on you for feeling them and no judgement on the emotions for being. We can let go of our need to label them as good or bad or mad or sad. It’s just energy. All of it.
In this recognition, your emotion softens, loosening from your tight grip of judgment.
The next 2 steps are my favorites because they call for surrender. And surrender is by far the most liberating and empowering tool you could activate in your spiritual arsenal.
I’m not a religious person, I don’t follow any one particular organized religion, but I believe in God. Whether it’s a Universal Force or a Source of all things or a Mystical Deity, it doesn’t matter to me. All that matters is I know there’s a Power greater than what I’m consciously aware of and it’s bigger than the Universe.
When I let go of my small sense of self, this flawed, imperfect, mortal human ego self, and I tap into soul, spirit, immortality, life, love, peace, order, I KNOW all is well. REALLY well. Not just well because I have extra money in the bank, or a loving family or a nice house or even my health. But well because I exist. Because I’m alive. Because I’m loved. Deeply. Beyond comprehension.
Once I recognize that my emotions are energy, I move on to the next step and ALLOW. I allow them to flow. I let them be. Without judgment.
How you usually feel about something is often made worse by how you feel about feeling it.
This deserves repeating because it’s so important.
How you usually feel about something is often made worse by how you feel about feeling it.
Ever get so angry with someone that you actually want to hurt them?
And how do you feel about the fact that you want to hurt someone else? YOU, specifically, who ache for a kinder, more loving world.
Usually you feel bad about it, at least after the anger has subsided. You may feel guilty or ashamed that you acted mean or unkind or had hurtful thoughts toward another living soul.
These are all judgements upon ourselves and our own feelings that tend to create more havoc than the initial hurtful feelings.
Look, we’re human. We get angry. We say and do hurtful things sometimes.
Release your judgement on what you’re feeling right now and simply allow the feeling to flow. This doesn’t mean go attack someone because you’re angry. This means sit or stand where you are and let the anger flow through your body, not directed at anyone else but internally recognized and externally released on your own. It may be a shudder that rolls through your chest and arms. It may be a short loud scream from your gut, through your throat and out of your mouth. It may be jumping jacks. It may be a deep, long, quiet breath. Whatever it is, let it flow.
This is about you and your emotion now, no one else. Not the President. Not the policies. Not the people.
This is an exercise for YOU to help you deal with the emotions YOU are feeling. Release all the stories around the emotions and simply ALLOW them to flow through.
When you start allowing your emotions to flow in a healthy way, you’ll notice they don’t stick around as long. It’s the stories we’ve attached to the emotions that stick around. The emotion itself, like anger, will just come and go if you let yourself feel it without resistance, attachment or judgment. It will pass through like a wave in an ocean. Gone, just like that, in minutes, even seconds.
And in doing this over and over again, you’ll come to know that you can TRUST that not only can you survive THROUGH the emotional pain but that you can be FREE of it. It can no longer grip you and take a hold of you and thrash you around like a rabid dog with a ragdoll.
You can get through this. You can get over it.
It’s a matter of getting back to your CORE. To re-centering yourself when you’ve gone off kilter. When you sit with the fourth step – ALLOW – and keep breathing as you do this – allowing the emotions to come and go, ebb and flow, you’ll begin to TRUST again. You’ll get back in touch with that Bigger You, the one who knows all is well. The one who understands there’s a reason for everything and it’s always towards everyone’s greater good, despite how it appears.
It’s as if you sit back into the seat of your soul and watch – merely observing – unattached – as all these emotions and thoughts and craziness rise up before you.
You just sit back, allow it to happen and trust, knowing all is well.
Of course, if you’re not there yet, it’s not that easy.
But this fifth step of Trust takes care of itself. It’s not something that can be forced or pushed. It’s something that just washes over you with practice and surrender. It’s like trying so hard to relax. You don’t have to TRY to relax, you just have to relax.
The more you do the first 4 steps, the more you learn to trust. At first, while you’re new at this, this step serves as a mental reminder to trust. To release any little knots of limiting beliefs, lack, doom and gloom. It reminds you that it’s OK to trust in something good, something beautiful and loving and pure. It’s OK to trust that your emotions are simply energy. It’s OK to trust that the world is going to be OK. And it’s OK to not understand how that could possibly be.
Don’t try to force this step. Just know what it stands for and allow it to be what it is, trusting that the Universe has your back. Things are happening outside your realm of understanding and consciousness that’s working toward all that is good.
This last step also takes care of itself. Like the step before, you don’t have to do anything with this step other than to know what it stands for and allow it to be what it is. If you move through the TreeBreath technique, you’ll heal. It’s automatic.
When you start practicing this technique, you’ll notice that it takes effort and focus. You have to be present and aware enough to recognize when you’re starting to stress (so you can BREATHE), you have to listen to your body (and start to RELEASE), you have to let go of your judgment over your emotions (recognizing it’s just ENERGY), and you have to surrender to an invisible power (ALLOW & TRUST).
That’s quite a bit of work.
Fortunately the last step requires no work, effort, energy or attention on your part. You don’t have to do anything about this one. The last step is HEAL and it takes care of itself when you do the other steps. You’ll automatically heal from whatever emotional trauma or upset or stress you may be going through. You’re healed of it in the exact moment that you do these steps fully.
Life might grab you by the throat 2 days from now when something out of your control happens and you’ll have to repeat the steps but the more you do them, the less you’ll have to do them. The less you’ll find yourself stressed out, even in situations that previously turned you into an uptight geyser ready to erupt.
You’ll find that you’ll get better and better at it. It doesn’t take long to go through the steps. You can nail it in less than 10 seconds and be on with your super self. You can turn a frenetic, stressful mind into one of calm, relaxed confidence immediately.
Sometimes you might have to stop on one step and spend a little more time on it, and sometimes you can cycle through them quickly. Just remember to keep breathing deeply throughout the whole cycle. Once you’ve got this down, it will take less than 2 minutes every time to get back to your peaceful center.
You can use this technique when you’re feeling sad, for stress relief, when you’re overwhelmed at work with too many things to do, or you can use it when you’re experiencing heavy emotional trauma and about to have a meltdown.
Despite when you use it, it will help you center yourself, to get back to your spiritual basecamp, to re-energize, regain your footing, your calm, clear space so that you can move forward from it without being stuck in it.
And that’s the problem with stress and overwhelm and emotional turmoil. We feel stuck. We think it’s never going to end. We don’t know how to get out of it. It’s like we’re stuck in quicksand and the more we struggle to try to get out, the deeper we get pulled into it.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. We’re not stuck. We just have to utilize the right tools to move forward from it.