There are at least four types of explosions that a — let’s call it a healthy person for the time being– must be able to experience. These are: anger, joy, grief and orgasm….Now these explosions in themselves are not the meaning of life or existence. They are a kind of energy that bursts, so to say, a dam, and links up with the authentic person. So that the feeling, the ability to participate, to be emotionally involved, becomes possible. Once you’re through the explosive layer, the authentic person, the real person comes through.
~ From Gestalt therapy verbatim by Fritz Perls- hat tip.
This seems to match my experience: when I have a little weep, afterwards I often feel purified, and more Present. And yet I am not sure it is true.
If I am upset, and not aware of it, then I am not entirely present with myself and in the World. I am distracted, and not fully aware. It may be necessary for me to numb the distress out of consciousness for a bit, but that has a cost. Then if I become aware of the distress, it appears to come out of nowhere, and be overwhelming- that “explosive layer”- and then I am aware of it, and indeed I do feel more present after.
Or if I have an itch while meditating, if I try not to think of it it fills my consciousness. I think of it like a small child, tugging desperately at Mummy’s hem. If I pay it due attention, and notice it, it becomes less persistent. The emotional component of the pain has changed. So, if I use my energy to suppress the feeling, the feeling is pressing one way, my suppression the other, I am tying up my energy in the suppression.
So when I let myself become aware of it, I feel more alive. I feel authentic and present.
The alternative is to bracket the feeling. I am conscious of it, yet I choose not to show it on my face or in my bearing. This may be more appropriate when angry with a situation separate from the person I am with, especially if the person might think me angry with her. It is as if I hold the feeling in my heart. I can let it out later, when I am out of the situation.
Possibly, this is the general way of being. We suppress feelings because that was the habit in childhood, and bracketing is a different skill to learn. There is a different feeling if one suddenly stops suppressing- an explosion- from the sudden onset of feeling and being instantly aware of it.
Aged 20, I was generally not conscious of my feelings, because they were a threat to me. Now, I practise being with them, as this is liberating. In the hormonal state, I am quickly aware of them.