ASK ABDI: HOW TO RELEASE OLD EMOTIONS?

QUESTION: I've been sitting with a deep existential crisis in “meditation” (learned TM in 1996, but try to meditate without using my mantra) for quite some time. I am not able to hear answers inside. Besides this, I am full of anger, unforgiveness, and bouts of anxiety about my situation - what has happened in the past as well as the present.

I know the only way is to look at my horror trip and try to go through it, but how can I release these brutal feelings? Seeing them, loving them, and letting them go? Why can't I free myself of this pain and blockage that I'm stuck in? I have done years of psychoanalysis, family therapy as well as group therapy.

ANSWER: It seems like you have worked with many systems already, and all very good things. What you are describing is common to many of us: feelings of pain or anger from the past that seem to go on forever. The idea of loving them sounds very nice, but it actually does not work. There are three things we generally do with emotions: repressing them and/or acting them out are the most common. Sitting with and feeling them is more rare and the way that we can heal and integrate these old pains. Sometimes they heal fully, sometimes not all, and sometimes we learn how to live side by side with them, and in time heal them more fully.

TM (Transcendental Meditation) is a wonderful and powerful tool for meditation. It, however, can also disconnect us from feelings, which can be useful at times, and not so at others. Mindfulness techniques are another way to process such emotions. Just sit and feel the pain and anger. Do not try to make them go away or any other type of manipulation. Just sit. Not so easy or much fun initially. But somehow, it does and can shift the “horror trip” as you say. By looking at things and going through them, shift happens. But this is more than a mental exercise: we have to sit and feel the shit. That is how it transforms. And we must never underestimate our attachment to the old pain, since it has been with us for a long time. It is like a toxic friendship that has long ceased to be useful, yet is hard to release due to the time we have invested. Be gentle with yourself, and be firm. Both in the right measure.