Once in a while I am lucky enough to babysit my friend, little Bodhi. Last week on our play date he had a “sensitive moment” from being away from his mom, so I turned on Yo Gabba Gabba. I love the dancing, the weird famous guests, and in general what they are teaching kids. In this particular episode, all the lights went out and one of the space monsters became frightened of the dark. Another space monster friend began consoling him with a song called, “Don’t Be Afraid.” This is an example of how, from birth, we are taught that feeling negative emotions is wrong. It’s like telling someone who’s having a panic attack to calm down. We cannot intellectualize our way into a better feeling.
I would like to draw a distinction between “being” afraid, and “feeling” afraid. Anytime that we over-identify ourselves with an emotion, we allow it to consume us and push us off our equilibrium. But to feel fear, to feel any emotion that is possible for a human to experience is our born right. The challenge is to create a sturdy enough container to hold everything we feel. With a functioning container we can experience our feelings not just in the singular, but are able to feel them simultaneously. Especially when we feel a strongly negative emotion we won’t become consumed with that one feeling. If our container supports us properly we can feel fear and joy, grief and titillation, anger and humbleness all together. We can remain present with whatever arises because we are balanced. Yoga is the adaption to that balance. We physically manifest everything we think so if we become conscious of our habitual leaks in energy and thought, we will create a more solid container to experience the beauty of the full spectrum of our humanity.