Emotions are physical; so becoming an emotionally healthy person requires a little mind-body-spirit integration.
Here’s what I mean: Modern thinkers tend to make a clear distinction between body and spirit, as if your body is “merely” the container, just a hunk of meat that holds your soul. Well, there is some truth to that – but only some. Your body is actually an integral part of who you are, and will be for all eternity. I believe the body you have now is as intimately connected with the body you will have in heaven as a seed is with the plant that grows from it.
Enough philosophy. What’s my point?
The point here is that “your soul” is not separate from “your body”. And nowhere is that more clear than in the realm of emotions. Your emotions have both physical and mental components. People who are very in touch with their bodies and their physicality tend to also be very connected with their emotions. People who are disconnected from their emotions are also frequently disconnected from the well-being of their bodies, or suffer from unexplained physical ailments like aches and pains.
And if you want to learn to feel, one of the simplest starting points is to use your body.
Like the Mouk!
I’ve been sharing about the Mouk people, and how they responded emotionally to the news of the gospel brought to them by a missionary. Look at their response! Click here and watch this guy’s grandma rejoicing in his belief in Christ. She’s so happy, she just GETS UP! All alone, in front of hundreds of people, she decides, “I’m not just going to sit here and be happy. I’M GOING TO GET UP AND MOVE with my happiness!” Shortly thereafter, the entire tribe begins to celebrate and their celebration is PHYSICAL. It comes naturally to them to feel emotions with their bodies.
Grief is the same: When the Mouk grieve in the video I shared a couple posts ago, it affects their bodies: They fall down on the ground, they weep, they cry loudly, and their faces are contorted with pain.
Whatever the feeling, they bear it physically. They embody it.
But not us!
We, on the other hand, go to great lengths in our culture to make sure that what is happening on the inside stays disconnected from our bodies. We have blank faces, devoid of emotion. We are “doing just fine”. We smile when we are embarrassed; we laugh nervously when talking about something sad.
Try to notice in the next few days just how often you see this happening! People trying very hard to drive a wedge between their emotions and their bodies. I do this all the time, even against my will! I laugh in the presence of sadness, smile when I am angry, or force myself to stay calm and reserved when my heart is telling me to jump up and move. I tell my heart, “You can play with your toys in your room, but the windows have to be closed and the curtains drawn, so nobody sees.”
In the song, “Subterrainean Homesick Alien”, Thom Yorke of Radiohead sings, “Up above / aliens hover / making home movies for the folks back home / of all these weird creatures who lock up their spirits… and live for their secrets”. That’s us. That’s me. Is it you?