20. Releasing emotions – Laugh, Dance, Draw

September 25, 2015
Barbara Cook

On Tuesday I was talking about releasing the emotional energy that’s locked in my body.

Happy couple watching comedy in movie theater, laughing.

Sometimes it’s happened through the gift of humour. Comedians provide a wonderful therapy service for us all, as we get to see our human foibles up there on stage, with a shared sense from the audience that, “We’re all like that underneath it all. We know that feeling too!”

There’s a lightening release of energy when I share belly laughs with someone over some nonsense or another. Laughter is a release of stored energy.

Do you remember the Mr. Bean sketch where he’s anticipating a Christmas bereft of Christmas cards or friends? He goes out and sneakily buys a whole stack of cards, writes to himself from various people, and posts them to himself over the next few days. At home he enjoys the surprise of opening lots of season’s greetings from his many friends. I’m laughing not at him, but with him. I know the feeling behind that.

Imagine going through a terrible time at work, being bullied or undermined, taking on board bad behaviour from someone, losing sleep, trying to find the courage to stand up to that person, not recognizing the worthless, powerless feelings underneath it all. Then watch that Monty Python sketch ‘The Argument Sketch’ and see the part where he accidentally goes into Mr. Barnard’s office. “Oh, you came here for an argument? This is ABUSE. You need the next office.” – and Bang!   With the laughter, there’s an instant internal realization of how ridiculous this person is, how ridiculous the whole situation is, there is instantly a different perspective, the whole issue is put firmly back on that person where it belongs, and the feelings of worthlessness and powerlessness are brought to consciousness, then quickly gone, released.

And what happens with the work situation? The very necessary assertive action can now be taken easily, but with a sense of calm and from a position of strength.

Sometimes I might see a play or a stage show, and suddenly I’m quietly crying tears of recognition, or joy, or thinking, ”Yes, that’s it.” Often I don’t even know what the feeling is; I just know something has let go in me. Think of the opening scene of The Lion King.

Sometimes it’s through dance – maybe just going out to a social dance, or when I used to do Authentic Movement sessions with my friend years ago (this is currently called lounge-room dancing), or once during my Dance Therapy training when I unexpectedly danced out a big load of anger, and knew that I’d probably saved myself from an angry acting-out incident with someone in the coming week. I’d rather not do that unconscious acting-out stuff if I can help it.

Sometimes it’s through drawing or painting. And here I’m not talking still life. These paintings can be swirls of colour, or symbols or shapes, but at the end I’m left with something I stick up on the wall and say, “Yes, that’s it.”

However we do it, surrendering to feelings is really about bringing them out of the dark into the light of consciousness.

I’m not at all afraid of this now; in fact I welcome it. When I’m in a challenging life situation now I’m like a detective, excitedly looking forward to what mystery I will uncover.

You see, I’m seduced by the freedom that follows.

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