Why emoting can be good for you, and how to let feelings go – consciously and responsibly.
Trying to control emotions in order to stay calm can itself create stress. Release is often needed as part of the healing process in an otherwise healthy organism. Think of a physical wound: pus naturally accumulates at the site of an infection. But if it is blocked instead of being released it can create a more serious problem in the form of an abscess.
In Finding calm on an emotional rollercoaster we saw how we can observe physical sensations, thoughts, and feelings mindfully, from a place of self-remembering. And how we can recognise them as being transient, peripheral to our essential selves. Otherwise, we may become identified with all that passes by and that’s when the trouble starts….
A man, away in another city on business, was informed that his house was on fire. Anxiously he made his way home only to watch in horror as vicious-tongued flames greedily consumed the remains of the house. It had been a beautiful house: the family had grown up in it; it had cost a lot.
One of his sons, seeing how upset his father was, consoled him, saying, ‘Don’t worry; I sold it yesterday! I’d heard you saying it was now too big for you and mum, and I met a wealthy foreigner who was willing to give anything for it!’ His father’s face broke into a broad smile, and he clapped his son on his back, relieved.
Nothing had changed: the house was still burning. But it didn’t belong to him anymore, so who cared?
As the man was congratulating his son, his eldest daughter joined them, her face creased with worry. ‘This is a disaster!’ she commented. ‘I was in on the deal with the prospective buyer,’ she said to her father, ‘but it wasn’t signed and sealed. And now we’ve got nothing to sell!’ The man gazed at her, speechless with dismay.
The situation was the same; the house was still on fire. Only the idea had changed. When the house was his, he was distraught. When it wasn’t, he was without a worry.
Just then, the man who had wanted to buy the house drove up. ‘Look, this is really bad luck for you – having your house burned down,’ he said. ‘But, I really want this piece of land anyway. I’m willing to give you the amount we agreed on yesterday.’
The man’s anxiety was instantly replaced with relief and gratitude. With the house no longer his there was no problem (regardless of whether the house was in good condition or a pile of ashes).
Remembering ourselves as the observer of our emotions is an effective key in staying calm. Yet, sometimes feelings run so high that being mindful of them seems impossible.
Impassively observing anger, for example, can be like trying to keep the cork on a partly opened bottle of champagne: sooner or later all the ‘fizz’ will have to find an outlet. So before any unstoppable explosion takes you over, it can be helpful to let such feelings have an airing – but not by randomly letting rip and dumping them on others.
When we’re stressed, overwhelmed by the enormity of the situation and trying to keep it together, it can be challenging not to be provoked by a comment or request, and then to unthinkingly unleash a torrent of emotion. By allowing our feelings to be expressed in a responsible, conscious way, we minimise the chance of hurting those around us.
Getting it out can be good for you
The root of the word emotion is emovere: movere meaning ‘to move’ and e, ‘out.’ That is: ‘to move out.’
The key to resilience is the ability to balance stress and emotion. Being able to recognize our emotions and express them appropriately helps us avoid getting stuck in depression, anxiety, or other negative mood states.
Look at the various comments from some experts in their field who see emotional release as the healthy option.
According to American psychiatrist, Dr. Jerome Liss, ‘We need to move when we are threatened or under perceived stress; otherwise the whole body goes out of kilter. In medical terms, this is called a parasympathetic knot. I call it the action-rest botch-up. This also explains why, after a deep, emotional turmoil that we do not express, we often fall into a state of depression.’ 
Not only that: expressing our emotions helps them to become integrated, says Dr Candace Pert . According to Charles Darwin, expression is needed for flexibility. He noted: ‘He who remains passive when overwhelmed with grief loses his best chance of recovering elasticity of mind.’ 
Dr. Jeanne Segal, involved in research to find out if emotions play a role in the healing process, writes:
‘The one factor survivors and potential survivors [of cancer] shared was their ability to experience a full range of intense emotions, including fear, rage, sadness, joy and love.
‘We also followed a group of healthy persons who reported a favourable relationship with their intense emotions, and found that they had a better chance of remaining healthy than those who ignored or feared their emotions.’ 
The mystic, Osho, points out that life itself is expression …
‘If you do not allow life, then you are creating, accumulating, explosive forces. They will explode and you will go to bits. Every man is schizophrenic, divided – divided against himself. He cannot be at ease; he cannot be silent; he cannot be blissful. Hell is always there, and unless you become whole, you cannot be freed from this hell.’ 
So, in order to chill, sometimes we need first to deliberately turn the heat up. How can we do that? The optimal choice is a radical and very active method. OSHO Dynamic Meditation takes you from intense movement and expression through to a state of silent watching and from there into dance.
In addition, any very active form of sport – such as running, tennis, squash, cycling or swimming – or very vigorous dancing can also be helpful in releasing emotions. If your state of health means that such an active method is not feasible, you might want to try beating a cushion – putting all your emotions and frustrations into the cushion. Or find a place where you can just let your feelings out – roar/scream/cry – perhaps in a remote place or even just into a pillow – it doesn’t matter, just let it out!
We recall one client who had terminal cancer. She had mostly come to terms with that; yet there were days when she was full of frustration or rage. That’s when she would take herself off into the nearby forest, where she’d vent all her fury – through shouting and screaming, stamping her feet and beating the air with her fists.
When none of those strategies are possible for you – for example, if you have very low energy, are in pain, or are confined to bed – a meditative form of verbal release known as Gibberish is very effective.
After using any of the above, just as when a fire is dying out, if there is any residual feeling left you have a better chance of being able to calmly observe it.
The Australian poet, Leunig, has an amusing take on a socially accessible form of release….
A clever creature is the snake,
Who spends his winter not awake;
He snuggles on his long thin bed
And brews up venom in his head.
The human is a different sort;
He spends the winter watching sport;
He yells abuse in concrete stands
And empties out his poison glands. 
- ‘Osho Times International’ Dr Jerome Liss
- The Molecules of Emotion Candace Pert M.D. (Pub.: Pocket Books)
- The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals Charles Darwin Pub.: John Murray)
- Raising your Emotional Intelligence Jeanne Segal M.D. (Pub. Holt Paperbacks) Raising your Emotional Intelligence
- Meditation: The Art of Ecstasy Osho (Pub. Osho International]
- Ramming the Shears Leunig (Pub: Penguin Books)