What do feelings have to do with the practice of Medicine? What is the importance of feelings in the healing process? Many of you may have heard the saying, “You can’t heal what you can’t feel.” There is great truth to this statement. But how is one to feel in a culture where authentic feeling is not valued? How can we feel safe with one another when we are conditioned to substitute sentimentality for true feeling?
We all know what sentimental statements sound like. When a person is hurting or grieving a loss, we are conditioned to say, “I’m sorry,” even without thinking or feeling into what they must be feeling. When we project what we think the other person is feeling, based on what we think we would feel if the tables were turned, we are not coming from our heart or empathy, but projection. Projection lacks true feeling. It is a perception or a mental construct created by the ego that has less to do with empathy and more to do with the story we tell ourselves about what we are conditioned to say in the face of suffering. But there is no way to know what another is feeling, unless we connect through our heart and our feeling function. When seen through the lens of projection, sentimental statements don’t truly help the other during a difficult time, they don’t connect with what they are feeling, and this doesn’t really help them heal.
Over the past 30 years of medical practice, I have seen tens of thousands of patients, many whom have suffered greatly and have apologized for crying in my presence or for feeling intense emotional pain. I am always amazed at the apology and it saddens me to feel that they feel alone in their suffering. It makes me wonder why we are ashamed of feeling deeply.
One answer to this question is that we live in a society where feelings are seen as a weakness. When we dig a bit deeper into the roots of this, we can follow the thread to the foundational roots of our society. Here, the Feminine Principle is not valued. Feelings are at the heart of the Feminine Principle and rejecting, pathologizing or shaming ourselves for feeling is a symptom of our collective and personal rejection of the feminine qualities we all carry. Feelings make us genuine, real, trustworthy, and validated. If we feel grief, fear or sadness, we must honor our vulnerability as sign of strength rather than weakness. Feelings remind us of our humanity. Our Emotional Body is a conduit to the deeper wisdom that lies within us and connects us to our intuition and instinct. This is our inner guidance system that keeps us safe. Without it, we lose our discernment and cannot navigate safely through life.
When men and women enter their fourth decade of life, the biological shift that occurs from hormonal changes brings forth a greater intensity of feelings. It is as if forty years of conditioned repression of the feeling function begins to break down to assist in the alignment with the authentic, unconditioned, uncontaminated Self. This is our True Nature, the Self that is beneath our conditioning and adaptations, undistorted by family imprints or shame. This organic process of reorientation can cause anxiety and fear as it does not comply with familial or societal ‘rules’. The Authentic Self rises up at this time of life through feeling function and wants us to experience meaning and add value to our life. This process has been written about for thousands of years as sacred yet it is discounted by our society.
In order to align with our authenticity, we must accept our feeling function as a ‘normal’ and sacred part of who we are. Often, when hormones are imbalanced at this stage of life, it can be confusing to navigate through this reorientation process. Our biology effects our emotions and neuropeptides are the molecules of emotion which are impacted by hormonal changes. Hormone balancing can greatly assist in this process of individuation. Hormone balance assists in bringing clarity to the process. I have witnessed this time and time again.
I have seen thousands of patients replace sentimentality with True feeling in midlife and for all of them, this results in a deeper experience of meaning and more authentic relationships.
I am always in awe of the human body, its precision and the delicate web within that connects us to empathy, intuition, inner wisdom and, of course, to one another. I see the body as a responder to the thoughts we think, the food we eat, the intentions we live from, and the feelings we express. When we live from our truth, our body feels aligned and healing is supported. This is indeed a spiritual practice, as we have to reorient ourselves to live this way in contrast to how we were conditioned to live, by family of origin and society.
We are all witnessing a world that is hurting with a level of suffering that is unprecedented. It is difficult to feel deeply in the midst of it, but we must. We must muster the courage to keep our hearts open, and stay true to the authentic way of being. It is the only way we can add true value to our lives, our community and the world at large.
©Feb2020 Kalpana (Rose) M. Kumar M.D., CEO and Medical Director, The Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine, Pewaukee, WI. www.ommanicenter.com Author of 2nd Edition – Becoming Real: Reclaiming Your Health in Midlife 2014, Medial Press. Dr. Kumar is happy to accept new patients; call 262.695.5311 to schedule an appointment.