My breathwork practice right now is a lot about feeling. Feeling emotions, bodily sensations, feeling into the body to connect with different energies (such as the energy of plants)… Considering that I was pretty dissociated from feeling anything in my body for possibly the first thirty years of my life, feeling the feelings is pretty important on my spiritual and healing path. I wanted to share this for all the people who have no clue about what feeling the feelings is, who have tried and don’t feel they succeeded, who want to know what the fuss is about… It is possible, little step by little step to actually connect to our bodies, understand what’s going on. It took me well over ten years, of accidental meeting, things I read, things I understood, and finally, things I felt.

My understanding of bodily feelings/felt sense/ somatic experience was virtually non existent during my childhood and teenage years. As a child my thought processes were very image based and talking about the felt sense was confusing to me. When my mother would ask if I had a headache I would say, I don’t know, I never had a headache so I don’t know how it feels like. I did not understand how someone would know if they had a headache or tummy ache because no one could explain and how would you know if you didn’t know?

This evolved into quite extreme situations when I was a teenager. I started to train in Jiu Jitsu and at some point I was thrown on the floor and dislocated my collar bone. It felt funny but I didn’t clock there was something wrong and the next round I broke my collar bone. I definitely felt that! A few years later at 16 I signed up for yoga, the teacher said it was not important to get the poses perfect and that we shouldn’t force ourselves. It was tricky for me to understand when something was too much and subsequently I got a herniated disk which still troubles me 21 years later. Not feeling can have consequences.

It seems that all other problems I had with my health were usually very painful. Migraines, a bone tumour, gallstones, all described as extremely painful by people who experience them. Only quite recently on my feeling the feelings journey I have become aware of more subtle pains, like joint pain, menstruation pain and gut pain. It is my theory that I didn’t feel a lot of the more subtle pain and that pain had to be quite extreme for me to react to it. On a body level I still struggle with certain sensations, the skin of my chest and tummy feels numb, when my muscles are tense I don’t feel them very much either.

During my twenties I accidentally trained myself to be more in tune with my body, its balance and rhythm through couple dances and group dances. The non-intellectual understanding of a dance and the body memory was an important step into more connection and feeling in my body, and finally having the capacity to feel my feelings. Weirdly enough I’m actually quite good at dancing and I’ve had a lot of fun during that part of my healing journey!

I have been training myself more conciously to feel the more subtle body sensations for a while now. Tea tastings, breathwork and bodywork seem good practices for this. I realised how emotions are bodily sensations, and made the connection with the stories that our minds make of them. Since then I’ve focused primarily on these bodily sensations during breathwork and it feels so much more liberating. It is a process, I keep exploring my felt sense and feel like I am much more able to observe my emotions without being submerged by them. How odd!