How To Come Up When You Feel Down
Sometimes we feel so juicy, alive, radiant in our bodies and beings. We are flowing with abundant, joyful energy. Sometimes we feel dead, shut down, cut off and blue. This is normal. It is part of the ebb and flow of Life that flows through us and dances us. Life is made of emotion. Emotion, like water, is meant to flow. It’s not personal. It’s not your “fault.” There is nothing wrong with you. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy when you don’t feel good. So, how can we come up when we feel down?
I Struggled With Emotions for Years
As a person who feels emotions strongly and can get easily swamped by them, I have had to learn how to have a healthy relationship with my emotions. I have had to learn how to keep my feelings flowing, not stagnating, so I don’t get depressed or overwhelmed. Not shutting them off or trying to ignore them—I can’t anyway—and not letting them run my whole life either. I have learned through studying many profound modalities, trying many tools and simply living in a body and a heart. I have practiced through trial and error. Today I share a core life skill and practice, plus a lovely meditation, that can both work wonders.
No matter what you are feeling now, there are ways to help you return to the vibrant, flowing energy that allows you to open and enjoy life fully.
Feel Your Feelings, But Don’t Get Lost in the Story
This has become one of the guiding principles of my life and teaching. It was a big revelation for me when I first began to really understand it. There are two aspects to it. First, we have to honor and feel how we are feeling in this moment. This may seem counter-intuitive. You just want to get away from those bad feelings as quickly as possible. But, if you try to skip this step, you tend to try to suppress the feelings, which gives them more power, by shoving them down and resisting them. You have to feel it to heal it. And I’m not talking about wallowing in your feelings. I’ve done that plenty, and it’s awful.
What we do when we wallow is we actually wallow in the thoughts around the feelings, rather than just feeling the feelings. And subconsciously or consciously we hold onto those thoughts, not wanting to give them up. It is the thoughts, the story in your head, that keep the feelings stuck. So, the second part of this equation is letting the thoughts go and letting the feelings move. You have to give up the story about why you feel the way you do. Let it go. You will feel so much better.
How do you do this?
Your Body is an Amazing, Wise, Healing Vehicle
Breath into your body. Feel the sensations fully and drop the story about them. Let yourself fully feel the sensations of your emotions, how they are occurring in your body right now, where and how you feel them. Get specific about it. Tune into the sensations as if you were a curious scientist discovering them for the first time, with no judgment about them. Let go now of the story of why you are sad or angry or scared. Don’t keep replaying what happened in the past or what you are afraid of in the future. Just feel and get curious about the sensations.
Let go even of the label of “sad,” “angry,” “scared”—as if you were an explorer in a strange land, discovering something miraculous. You are! If at all possible, let those feelings actually move your body and make sounds, even just audible breathing and moving your hands and arms. This is so helpful for getting the emotions to flow and not get stuck!
Places to Move and Sound Emotion
I sometimes do this in the shower, where I can have more privacy. The running water also helps emotions to move. Sometimes I get on the mini-trampoline we have. Jumping and shouting and moving my arms. If I’m scared, nervous or angry, the mini-trampoline can be great for moving a lot of energy. Sometimes I put on loud music and dance intensely to it and scream or cry. I love Melissa Etheridge for this because she sings with great intensity. Try going for a run if you feel really depressed or angry. Just get out your front door and go! This gets a lot of energy moving.
Let Yourself Be a Curious Scientist or Explorer
How do those feelings want to move and express?
What gifts do they have for you?
What amazing surprises if you let them move and move you?
You may be quite surprised.
Move and sound and remember to keep letting go of the story that wants to play in your head. If the story arises, just drop it and come back to focusing on sensation and movement and making sounds. We love our stories and can get quite attached to them, feeling so justified. But the story will keep you stuck. So, let it go. Don’t replay it. Feeling the sensations, moving and sounding the feelings as they want to move will bring you into a beautiful sense of immediacy and aliveness, a powerful flow of energy. It might be uncomfortable and scary at first if the feelings are very strong or you don’t usually let yourself feel them. Just keep moving and sounding. Keep opening to what is with compassionate awareness.
Then comes the aliveness, the being here in your body, the energy flowing again. Ah! Often good ideas may come too, clarity, insight, understanding, compassion. But you aren’t seeking that or insisting on that. You aren’t trying to make the feelings go away quickly either. This is important. Because if you are waiting for them to go away by doing this, they will resist you, push back, hunker down. You need to honor, acknowledge, feel and move them first. Then, they will move on. You are just being and feeling and moving, allowing, opening to what is, to the miraculous now. Curious and present. That brings you back to your body and being alive here now. And it will bring healing, flow, and release in its own time and way.
Clouds and Sky Meditation
If you are feeling very stressed and worried or preoccupied, you might want to try a favorite mediation of mine—the clouds and sky meditation. Picture a beautiful blue sky with some fluffy clouds in it. Your mind is the sky, vast and empty and blue and bright. The clouds are your thoughts, worries, preoccupations. See them floating by in that big blue sky. Notice your story, the thoughts flowing by, nod to them, but let them just float by like clouds, as harmless as white clouds in a big blue sky.
Now, bring your attention to one of the clouds troubling you. See it, feel it, hear what is troubling you. Now, shift your focus and notice the sky behind the clouds, the infinite blue sky, the spaciousness that is always present here now, untroubled by any thoughts. Shift back to the cloud, the painful thought and/or feeling. Let your awareness dwell there a few moments, honoring, feeling, noticing.
Then, come back to the sky, the spaciousness, the peace, and emptiness that holds all clouds, all sensations, thoughts, and emotions without judgment, and into which all clouds ultimately dissolve. Keep shifting back and forth between clouds and sky, focusing on one cloud, one troubling thought or problem, resting there a moment, and then focusing on the vast blue sky. Not valuing one over the other, just being with each and noticing, welcoming what sensations, images, sounds come with each. Shifting back and forth, perhaps more rapidly as you go. Pretty soon, the clouds will begin to dissolve or soften. The sky and clouds will become one, or the clouds will seem less and less important and troubling, less meaningful.
And you will remember the infinite Presence and Peace that you are, the blue sky that is your true nature, always available here and now.
What Helps You?
What helps you to come up when you feel down? Is it listening to your favorite music? Going out in nature? Talking with a friend? Writing in your journal? Taking a bath? It’s helpful to make a list of these things and post it on your fridge or desk, where you will see it when you need it most. When we are down, we can forget these things and need a handy reminder. And it’s helpful to have options to choose from, so when one thing isn’t working, you can try something else. Share your favorite ways of lifting your spirits here. That way we can all feel better when we need a little boost.
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