This past week, I’ve felt like a surfer as a storm kicks up. Clouds gathering. Wind whipping. Enormous rogue waves approaching at strange angles.
Riding the waves, I often feel awake, alive, focused and fiercely empowered.
Then, another news headline, another political conversation on Facebook, and BOOM! My stomach clenches. My emotional body fills with disbelief, outrage and doubt. I lose my center and fear crashes over me.
From the perspective of traditional Chinese medicine, these waves of emotion arise from the movement of qi – the life force – as it courses through my body. Like waves that wear away the contours of a coastline, emotional waves can help to dissolve outmoded psychic structures and rigid behavior patterns if we learn to let them flow through us without resistance.
These same waves of emotion can also energize actions that can help to affect positive change in the world.
This process is not easy. At the center of the storms of change familiar landmarks dissolve, up becomes down and down up. We feel out of control, out of our depth. There is no way of knowing if we will make it safely back to shore or be pulled out to sea by a rip tide.
One of my patients put it this way, “I’m trying to find a new ground but the ground I once knew keeps slipping out from under me. I don’t know where to turn to feel safe.”
In the face of the fear, our instinct is to tense up, defend against our emotions, deny, suppress, or do anything we can to resist the undertow.
But resisting the waves is one sure way to fall off a surf board.
Over 2,000 years ago, during a time of great instability and violence in China, the Taoist poet and philosopher, Chuang Tzu, wrote:
If a man can swim under water, he may never have seen a boat before and still he’ll know how to handle it – that’s because he sees water as so much dry land, and regards the capsizing of a boat as he would the overturning of a cart. The ten thousand things may all be capsizing and turning over at the same time right in front of him but it can’t get at him and affect what’s inside – so where could he go and not be at ease.
The wisdom of Water teaches us to move beyond the need to control. It teaches us to let go of needing things to be as they were or as we think they should be. If we can cultivate a consciousness that recognizes that the whirling chaos of Water is no different from the stable dry land on the shoreline, we will be at ease no matter where we find ourselves.
As Alchemical Healers, we can help ourselves, our patients, and our friends become more comfortable with the fear that is so much a part of change. We can help people understand that these energies have a purpose that needs to be honored rather than suppressed. In this way, we can help people begin to appreciate the power of emotion to initiate both inner and outer change. Here are some helpful considerations:
- Remember that according to Chinese medical philosophy, the emotion of Fear is related to the Water Element – to contraction, dormancy and darkness. The Element of Water gives birth to the Element of Wood. The emotion of Wood is Anger – in its healthy state, not necessarily the destructive aggression we know as anger, but the directional energy that directs a sprouting plant, gives rise to new possibilities, and calls us to action.
- There is a paradox inherent to Water. At the deepest place of stillness – extreme yin – we observe a reversal of energy and a movement upward toward yang. Make space for your feelings – be still – and trust that this listening will give birth to right action.
- Care for your emotional experiences. Set aside a few minutes to sit quietly and breathe. If an emotion comes, say, “Here is fear.” “Here is upset.” “Here is anger.” Say, “Yes!” to whatever comes . Sit next to the feeling as if it is a friend who is having a hard time. Get curious about what the feeling needs but don’t identify with it. Remember, the feeling is qi moving through you but it is not you!
- Consider Flower Essences. Bach Flower Rock Rose immediately calms the heart and clears panic and upset. Use it when you feel you are “losing it” or are overwhelmed by the scope of your emotional response.
- Use Essential Oils. A drop of Black Spruce Essential Oil at the center of the sole of the foot calms the nervous system, gives a sense of rootedness and stability and protects us from toxic influences.
- Next time you find yourself riding a wave of Fear, don’t lean back or hide out waiting for the storm to hit. Surrender to the wave. Ask what you might be angry about and invite the wave to carry you forward into an action. Get out and do something practical and real to promote the change you want to see! You will feel better and the whole world will benefit.
Our Facebook Page is a source of information for practical action you can take in the direction of healing. Like us there to stay in connection or join our conversation at our Alchemical Healing Global Community Facebook Group.