A beautiful sunny day in Dublin inspired me to share some thoughts, on the importance of expanding our capacity to feel goodness, pleasure, joy, delight, love… all of the good stuff!
> Scroll down the page for my video on it….
Recently I’ve been feeling grateful for being able to really appreciate it whenever things are calm, enjoyable or fun in my life, and to fully soak up any experiences of delight, or positive surprises.
In the past I might have shut down my heart or body to these experiences, and mistrusted them. But, having committed to an ongoing journey of healing, presence and embodiment, nowadays I feel a beautiful sense of childlike delight, whenever positive or beautiful experiences come to grace my day. I do not take it for granted, and really relish it.
‘An Eternal Sunshine in my Heart’
And even when things are more challenging or frustrating, I am much more able to return to a sense of inner grounding, stability and reassurance, by coming home to embodied presence. This can happen in nature, through things like movement, meditation, writing, or dancing to my favourite tracks. And it feels like a gift, that after all these years, I know what it takes for me to come home, to the sanctuary within.
At these times, the sensation and phrase, ‘I have en eternal sunshine in my heart’ always seems to surface, my own little conflation of the film title and the Camus quote! This is like having a wonderful superpower, to be able to access feelings of love and nourishment within, even when the weather is grey or external circumstances are challenging.
“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.” ~ Albert Camus
Becoming whole: learning to contain all our experiences.
As a psychotherapist and coach, a lot of my work involves helping people feel into their experiences of stuckness, loss, sadness, loneliness, frustration, anger, grief, confusion… everything from ongoing discomfort, to deep, soul-searing pain.
While this work is so vital, and often does not find a safe place in our families or society today, I believe it is also really important to develop our comfort levels when it comes to pleasure, and goodness.
In recent times, I have realised that it’s an equally important aspect of my own personal journey and my work, to honour mine and others’ moments of positive realisation, achievement, and happiness. To mirror back to clients all of their positive actions or traits, and to bring conscious awareness to enjoyable, nourishing feelings and experiences as these arise.
When we can grow our ‘tolerance levels’ in our bodies and nervous systems, for pleasant feelings as well as unpleasant, we become a safe container for all our experiences. We become more whole, more able to allow the full spectrum experience of what it is to be an embodied human on this planet.
And the more we can allow difficult feelings to move through us, the more we can really enjoy the good ones and allow them in deeply.
Working through our shadows enables us to access the light, and soaking up the light helps us to hold and heal our shadows.
Being at home in yourself is a radical thing!
Something as seemingly simple as reclaiming the full experience of feeling all our feelings, and being more comfortable in our own bodies, is actually quite radical and empowering.
When you are at home in yourself, you are much less easily manipulated by fear-based politics, or convinced into making decisions that are misaligned with your true needs. When you know who you are, and how you feel, this is a much more solid foundation for relating to others, working, creating, expressing yourself.
This is particularly important for our healing and evolution as women, as owning our own pleasure and desires, and our intuitive capacities, has been so policed and politicised, historically.
So, it’s not about moving through all the dark stuff to ‘arrive’ at all the good stuff, nor is it about only focusing on the positive and glossing over very real difficulties or frustrations. It’s more about allowing both, creating a spaciousness for all of it, and recognising that growing our ability to soak up good sensations has an important place in our healing and evolution.
It happens in the body…
This is about a conscious decision and mindset, of course, but most of it happens at the embodied, somatic level. Feelings happen in our bodies, so growing a capacity to recognise feel all your feelings, at a sensory level, requires ‘dropping down’ out of your thoughts and head, to gradually inhabit your body more.
It also relates to being able to calm your own nervous system, and can require working through some developmental or event-related trauma. Doing this with support is really helpful, as we originally develop these capacities via our relationships with caregivers, so we are wired and primed to soak up healing via other people, if they are helpful and well-attuned to us.
Consciously growing our ability to feel the good stuff: some practices
There are so many ways to do this, whether it’s in everyday life, or supported and witnessed by a benevolent ally in conscious embodiment work. Everyone is different, and the more ways we approach this soaking up of the sunshine-goodness, the better!
Here are two suggestions, to get started:
Next time you realise you actually feel good – calm, happy, light, relieved, hopeful, whatever it may be, consciously pause and tune in to how that feels in your body, how you are experiencing it. Breathe into the goodness, and really soak it up.
You can even deepen into the sensation and expand it, bask in it, relish it, fully soak it up. Notice if it feels ok, or gets overwhelming at any point, or if you ‘check out’ and get distracted or dissociate yourself from it at any point.
If you feel like it, you can also explore the texture, sensation, or feelings a little more closely. See if any associated images come up, like I mention in the video below. For example, my experience of the sunshine today felt light, expansive, spacious…
I noticed a softening of my muscles and dropping of my shoulders with the sun’s warmth, as well as a bubbling energy of hope and possibility. And in my mind’s eye I saw the associated colours yellow and orange, which deepened my experience – full synaesthesia!
You can also support yourself to open up to more goodness, by consciously bringing to mind positive experiences, places, memories or people about whom you have positive, nourishing feelings. For example, a baby or toddler in your life, a loved-one, a favourite holiday place, your favourite food, a very positive memory.
Bring it to mind and notice what impact it has on you. Take a few breaths as you imagine it; notice if anything shifts in your body, when you’re having this nourishing experience. What’s it like to hang out there, to really allow it in? To allow these moments to expand and deepen?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic, and any ways you have of soaking up the goodness, as well as suppporting yourself to manage difficult experiences.