What Are You Feeling?: The Journey to Self Awareness

What we feel and where we feel has the potential to provide us with deeper insight into ourselves and hopefully provide keys to unlock some of the doors on our path of healing and growth.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

The question of what we feel and where we feel it may seem simultaneously complex and vague, however, it has the potential to provide us with deeper insight into ourselves. There is obviously no right answer. It's an example of the type of questioning and inquiry that can lead to a more profound perspective on our state of being, and hopefully provide keys to unlock some of the doors on our path of healing and growth.

It's a way to examine how, what and where we feel, from a broader outlook which can serve as the foundation of our experience and help to guide our journey. We can begin to raise awareness in our being that provides a more complete view of our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual reality. For example, if you have pain in your upper right abdomen, is the pain coming from there, or from the sensory part of your brain? If it's from the liver, the organ located in the same area, what emotions are related to it? In traditional Chinese medicine and many of the ancient medical systems, each organ relates to a specific emotion. Are the emotions coming from the pain, from the organ affected, from our perception of and identification with the experience, or all of the above? Is the pain triggered by a present issue, or is it reflecting a surfacing or resurfacing past issue? How is the current pain projecting into the future?

When we feel something, we can feel it at different levels:

Physical: sensations such as pain, temperature, pleasure, etc.

Emotional: feelings of various emotions, such as love, anger, fear, sadness, etc.

Psychological and mental: insight, intellect, beliefs, understanding, etc.

Spiritual: a change in our perception of space and time, in our experience of reality, in our connection to the universe, to our true nature and a broader connection to life.

All of these sensations can take place in different parts of our body and at different layers of our being, and can affect many other layers of our being in different places. This leads to a tree-like branching effect in the creation of further sensations, feelings and awareness throughout the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of our selves. For example, if we feel sadness in our chest, what are we feeling in our abdomen at the same time? When anger rises to our head, what is happening in our feet, or to our center of gravity? Can we change our emotions by working on our physical sensation? Or can we change our physical sensation by working on our emotions? And just imagine: what would our experience be like if we could simultaneously touch all levels, first with effort, and with practice, one day effortlessly?

A profound way to connect many of these levels and layers is through breathing. There is the breath of air and oxygen, the breath of our interstitial fluids (similar to craniosacral fluids) and the breath of life, the breath of our being. Focused breathing allows for openness, expansion, removal of obstructions and better flow of our subtle energies. It will allow us to release blockages that may cause pain, and to allow our love and our healing intentions to flow effortlessly.

Now let's look at the deeper energetic process of breathing. When we inhale, we are taking information and nourishment from the universe. The moment of connection between the outside air and our internal system is a moment of connection with the universe. If we breathe through the nose, the air gets filtered and moisturized in the nasal passages before it hits the lungs. It is more suitable for use, but at the same time, the information from the universe has been filtered -- it has been altered. When we breathe through the mouth, although not as healthy, there is a more immediate connection between us and the universe. Therefore both nose breathing as well as mouth breathing can be used in different meditation practices, based on the specific technique and the purpose of the practice.

From the lungs the oxygenated air gets to the left atrium and chamber. Now our heart is connected with the outside world. Our breath, through the arterial blood, is then distributed throughout the body and the implications of the timing of when the air gets to different tissues is profound and important. When we exhale, we are releasing our old information to the universe. The carbon dioxide and other byproducts released by the cells and tissues are absorbed into the capillaries, veins, right atrium and chamber of the heart, and then to the lungs where they are exhaled to the outside world. The atoms making the carbon dioxide, and the other waste products that were released, could have been in the body for a short time, or for a very long time. So what we are breathing out to the world can represent something given to us, and digested by us just recently, making it closer to the present, or can be very old information that we received from the outside world a long time ago and held in our system. This provides an energetic and physiological explanation as to the power of letting go of the past through exhalation. This release can bring to the surface deep insights that are a result of a digestive processing of information from the outside world, from the universe -- a process which took place in us on a cellular level. We can see it in people who are undergoing detoxification and losing weight. Occasionally, this process of digesting and releasing is accompanied by "spiritual and mystical experience," and more often the process includes a letting go of old afflictive emotions, as the realization of deep insights and our innate healing energies arise from within. The breathing process is an integral and vital part of this unfolding. The potential for increased awareness, just through breathing, is profound.

These days I am learning to surf for the first time in my life. It's easy to fake meditation, but you can't fake surfing. Lying on the warm sand and simply feeling is a healing experience. The place and location, the connection with nature, the sound of water, etc, help energize and integrate the many aspects of our being.

Try it yourself. Find a quiet spot, either in nature or at home. It is preferable to do this exercise outside in a quiet place. Being out in nature makes it easier to connect our own perception and experience of ourselves, to our perception of the outside world. Lie down and simply feel. You can start by directing and following your feelings consciously and deliberately. Then you can let go and let things unfold on their own. First observing and then, hopefully becoming a part of the feeling, a part of the journey. The longer you allow the process to unfold, the more meaningful it becomes. You can watch how it affects your thinking, your sense of your body, and your sense of yourself. Remember to use your breathing as a way to enhance this process.

You can then open up to sensations and feelings of the outside world, the world outside of our physical boundaries. Open up to all sensations, to what you see, hear, smell and touch. Eventually through this practice you may experience a blending of the outside and inside worlds, leading hopefully to the weakening of our dualistic perception. This is one of the keys to accessing the deeper, more authentic, more profound aspect of ourselves, and it is from this place that healing can take a quantum leap.

Remember, there is no right or wrong. Feeling with awareness can simply and profoundly help us switch from doing to being. And when you are done taking your journey in time and space, you can ask yourself one last question: Who is feeling?

Well, that's a whole new journey...

Before You Go