emotions, truth and chinese finger traps*

The nature of emotions is flow… I heard this the other day on a book on tape. And like a song that gets stuck in your head, it keeps coming back to me again and again. The nature of emotions is flow… And so I have been noticing how this is true, that if I can allow the big emotions in and not resist them, I can also allow them out. The same mechanism allows for both.

This has been my practice this week. The tide of hurt, sadness, fear, rushes in, sometimes in a roaring, deafening wave, and then flows back out. I notice that when I am trying to hold it together, to be strong, to “pull myself together” (was anyone else told this as a child?) the monster only gets bigger. It hardens and changes form. Instead of being like water it becomes more like sap, corrosive and sticky- and the flow is lost. This is when I become grumpy with the people I love… not soft or gentle, but pent up and anxious.

Earlier this year, I had a session with an extraordinary body worker. She is also an intuitive and gets most of her information from working on your body. This means that while you’re getting a wonderful massage, she simultaneously gives you the download on your life. More importantly, on what your spiritual work is at that time.

When I saw her months ago, she told me that my work is about honesty. I was surprised, thinking, “I’m honest. What gives?” but then she explained. “I mean emotional honesty. I mean telling the truth to people you love even when you’re afraid, even when they might not like it or disagree. It’s allowing your feelings to be valid, to matter. It’s standing in your truth even if someone pushes back. You need to learn that in holding someone else’s truth, you don’t have to abandon your own.”

And since I didn’t get it the first time, my therapist alerted me to this last week as well. Almost verbatim.
One of the things that moved me most about Jen Lee’s voice course is the part where you explore voice injuries. We all have them, but since I am fairly self-expressed in my creative life and able to be vulnerable in my emotional life, this showed up as a blind spot for me.

How much of our truth are we willing to tell? Especially if it’s bad news? Is there a way to tell your truth with fierce love in your heart?

I feel like I’m being handed my mission from the Universe and I have been trying to wrestle it to the ground. I see how I want to quit instead, forfeit, avoid, hide, talk myself out of how I feel.. and because this is old wound territory, it feels like my survival is at stake. I suppose in a way it’s true. There is some part I am ready to let go of. Some way I have always been that might not survive, but (hopefully) I will. Something new might be born. It is a risk to grow, but I am reminding myself that it is a risk worth taking.

Jen and I always joke that we can’t escape being students in the class we are offering. We are immersed in the content of each course whether we like it or not. This Dream Lab is no exception- it is about clearings, about making space and letting go of what no longer serves us. It is no accident that I am being called to do this work now. As scary as it feels though, I know that on the other side lives deeper connection, truth and real power.

I have had insomnia on and off for weeks now. The image that continues to find me in those wee hours, (literally sitting right behind my eyelids) is of one of those chinese finger traps. Do you remember those? You put an index finger into each end and the more you pull and pull, the more you get stuck. There is no way out except to do the most counter intuitive thing — you push your fingers further in, thereby loosening the grip of the toy. Only then can you take your fingers out.

I suppose the message is clear. Relax, allow… let go. There are gifts on the other side.



  1. Posted April 25, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Your courage inspires me. I thought I’d learned how not to get my fingers stuck in the trap – but here I am again! Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Posted April 25, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Relax, allow… let go. There are gifts on the other side.
    Ah! So need to release into this!

  3. Posted April 25, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Wow – this speaks so profoundly and directly to where I am right now. For me so much of the work is about efforting less about trusting (my word of the year), about letting go (the necklace I wear around my neck says that).
    Thanks for being such a continued source of inspiration.

  4. Posted April 25, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    Wow. The Chinese finger traps. Perfect example.
    (Thanks for the great post.)

  5. Posted April 25, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    So well put – I think we are all told so much in our childhood that plays into who we communicate (or not) in our adult lives. A few I heard growing up:
    – “If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all”
    – “He was just mean to you because he likes you” (Gosh has that put a bad expectation in our heads as women)
    – “Sometimes we all have to do things we have to do, not because we want to do it”
    I am sure we all have our list. I am glad you have people connecting you to you as an adult!

  6. Posted April 25, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    Yes. Yes, yes, yes. Yes. Let it in, and let it go.
    My teacher told me recently, “The thing about practice is that it opens the back door so that we can let everything in the front door without having to keep it all.” I’m still working on opening that back door-and the front one too, I think.

  7. Marloes
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 3:41 am | Permalink

    There is love in being in scared. There is love in being angry. There is love in being happy. There is love in being sad. Because that what happens right now, (fear, anger, or else), is you. It’s not neccessary to avoid it, because then you avoid your self, then you avoid what God or the Universe wants you to be. You can relax in your fear. Just be scared then. That’s faith (great trust). (And you’ll see, you won’t die. ;)
    You won’t even need to let it go. It will let go of itself.
    With thanks to my beloved zenteacher, who’s name is (also) Nico.

  8. Posted April 26, 2011 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    yes, allowing emotions to flow, the tsunamis of pain and the tidal waves of ecstasy. accepting,embracing, surrendering and letting go. to hide/dim less (protection) and be seen/heard more (vulnerability). thank you, andrea for lighting the way and being on the journey with us.

  9. kristy
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 8:04 am | Permalink


  10. Posted April 26, 2011 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    as always … just what I needed… wishing I had time for meditation or other self care, but this post will do… thanks!

  11. sara
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Yes…and, I thought of you reading a beautiful book this past week, “Hope Will Find You,” by Naomi Levy. My hunch is that you’ll love it. And, I love you!

  12. nina
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    Yes. Yes. Yes. I so get all this. Truth is my word this year. There are times when I remember with longing the year when my word was shine — it seemed easier, lighter. But I have to admit that standing by my truth this year has been a lifesaver. I really think I was about to drown in all the muck that I hid behind a smile. The only thing is controlling the tidal wave — there are times when I think I’m really freaking out my family. There is light at the end of this, I just know it. Thanks again and again, Andrea!

  13. Posted April 26, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    someone told me once, “the only way out is through”. Ain’t that the truth. xxx

  14. Posted April 26, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Pienso que no sois derecho. Lo discutiremos. Escriban en PM, hablaremos.

  15. Posted April 27, 2011 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    I don’t know. I can’t be a cheerleader for bravery all the time. You’re afraid. I’m afraid. Terrified, in fact. For you. For me. For Eli. For Ben. For my soldier brother. For my old dad. For my stupid, beloved dog who barks at pit bulls. For every mere mortal.
    Let’s go hiking. Sundays are best for me and Eli. Maybe we’ll get lucky and face down a rattler or a mountain lion, and feel brave and smart and powerful, and sleep well for just one night. Or maybe not. Maybe we’ll just watch ducks.
    Speaking of watching ducks, have you read The Wind in the Willows to Ben yet? You might like it. Such a sweet story, full of love, tenderness and loyalty, as well as foolishness and peril!

  16. Debora
    Posted April 27, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much for this post. It is extremely useful to me at this very second.

  17. izzi
    Posted April 29, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    your courage inspires me so much. and may i ask who your body worker was?

  18. Jo Finney
    Posted May 4, 2011 at 5:36 am | Permalink

    Yet again you’ve told me what i most need to hear. Thank you so much.

  19. ellie
    Posted May 4, 2011 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    wow, so many things you wrote are things i have been learning, forgetting, and relearning… and need to be reminded of again & again, daily it seems. Thankyou

  20. Posted May 13, 2011 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    Wow, that?s a raelly clever way of thinking about it!

  21. Posted May 14, 2011 at 1:43 am | Permalink

    Very true! Makes a change to see somonee spell it out like that. :)

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