Chiu-Nan Lai, Ph.D.
Joy, anger, sadness and happiness, are communication tools used to express our emotions. Children can express a wide range of emotions within few minutes; tears, laughter can be expressed instantaneously. The emotions flow naturally. They do not repress their feelings. Children do not harbour grievances or suffer from depression. They forget their unhappiness after a good cry.
In the process of growing up, children are taught to suppress their emotions. They should not cry or throw tantrums. Negative emotions are to be controlled. In the long run, suppressed emotions slowly lead to emotional numbness – they can no longer cry or laugh. Adults can hold their grievances, anger, and sadness for years. Long term suppression of emotions does not lead to happiness, they even cause physical ailments. At that time, any small incident can trigger off a huge explosion of rage or despair.
In general, when a person loses his zest for life, joy and intuition, his life becomes a life imprisonment. He lives mechanically like a zombie. Emotional numbness results from controlling one’s breathing. The extent of emotional numbness can be determined from a person’s voice and the depth of his breathing.
Hence, to recover life’s zest and joy, it is necessary to first defrost the emotions. Deep breathing is one method. Using the mouths or nose, inhale deeply all the way to the abdomen, then exhale. It is all right to breathe out with sound, regardless of what it may sound like. To release pent-up grief, take a deep breath while softly touching the heart with a finger. If contact is made with the emotion associated with this grief, release it. Repressed emotions tend to be centred in the area below the rib cage and above the navel.
The process of releasing repressed emotions require time and space. Warn the people around you so that they will not be surprised. When the space and time are appropriate, take a deep breath. It is fine to use your vocal chords to release these emotions, whether through crying, shouting, roaring, or saying whatever words that need to be said. After the emotional release, take a saltwater bath (add one or two pounds of salt to the bathtub) or a vinegar bath (add a cup of apple cider vinegar to the bathtub); soak for twenty minutes.
Another way to release pent-up emotions, is to take an empty jar or glass, fill one-third or half of it with salt (coarse or fine), and fill up with water. Place the jar on the area between the heart and the navel, with the left hand holding the bottom of the jar, and the right hand covering it. Visualise all the unhappy emotions being absorbed by the salt water. After ten to twenty minutes, pour the salt water into the toilet. If the repressed emotions are centred below the navel, stand in a basin of salt water. Likewise, visualise the repressed emotions being sucked from the upper abdomen to the legs, and then through the sole of the feet. Finally, utter the word ‘OM’ to regulate one’s mood.
Besides releasing the emotions that have been repressed for many years, it is important to learn to open up one’s feelings; to acknowledge when one is angry, sad or afraid, and not to pretend that everything is okay. In addition, let the other party (if they are the cause) know how you feel. When we interact with each other (and in particular, with our spouses or relatives), it is important to communicate honestly in order to foster closer relationship. Hypocrisy will only increase the distance between each other.
If it is not possible to express one’s feelings at that time, then it is necessary to release these feelings through exercise or breathing, or visualising breathing in sky-blue light to every cell in one’s entire body; as a result, the body will feel relaxed and at ease.
The recovery of our emotional health and sensitivity is an important aspect of our physical and mental health. It is also an important step towards the recovery of our human nature, and the promotion of a harmonious caring society.