I don’t want to feel it.

Whatever the fuck it is, I don’t want to get close to it – that feeling lurking inside. Because I know it changes everything.

The feeling is me.

The feeling is my actual experience of the universe, in this moment, as I let the tingles creep over the outsides of my hands, and my spine starts to uncoil of its own accord, and the buried grief from a lifetime ago yells to be acknowledged.

The feeling is everything. The unfiltered phenomena of life in this skin on this earth, under these stars.

And encoded within the feeling is everything I am. And everything I don’t want to face.

You don’t want to feel it

It is understandable. Life is a shockingly visceral affair. There’s a lot of it, and not very much of you. It plants itself inside your body, pulls on your nerves, weighs down on your shoulders, plucks at your heart strings, squeezes at your guts.

It’s understandable you don’t want to feel it. Because if you choose feeling, the result is non-consensual. Once you peel off the hardness and shake out the stuckness, you are then plunged into feeling itself. All of it.

You don’t get to choose what you feel, and what you don’t. You can’t let in the nice stuff and keep out the painful. It’s all or nothing.

Easier to stay numb. Safer to veg out. Simpler to maintain that you are nothing more than the ideas in your mind, and the job that you perform, and the identity you’ve been given.

Much better not to feel.

There are two fundamental ways to do this.

One. You can rise above it

Rise above the feeling.

You can do this through calming breaths, positive mantras, or simply arguing with the utility of feeling in the first place.

You can seek out the holiest of holy spiritual ideals, and float above yourself on a cloud of love and unicorns.

You can drink five espressos a day, and drown out the feeling with a heroically full schedule.

You can craft a superior and grandiose throne for yourself from which you can condemn and banish this feeling.

You can do many of these at once! You may even be able to do it for years, decades. Some do it right until the bitter end. But bitter then you will be, for you will have spent your entire life in evasion.

Because the feeling is none other than experience itself, which is none other than God, who is none other than you.

And so as you rise above yourself, you ascend to a plane unearned, and thus pull rank on God himself, and claim that you know better than he, what should be felt, and what should not.

You will not find yourself this way.

Two. You can sink into it

There is another way to wriggle out of this inconvenient problem of feeling. The relief of the full bodied collapse.

Fall. Fall so fully into the feeling that you become it. Let it consume you and pull you down into its dark and warm embrace.

Let the feeling becomes so full that the line between you and it dissolves as you become One.

When you emerge once more, you may feel grateful. You might call it catharsis. You might even have paid workshop leaders to take you into this experience so you can feel like you’re making good progress toward finally healing yourself.

You can spend a very long time looking for yourself in the intensity of the feeling. But it will not provide what you seek.

For while you may believe you have honoured the feeling by communing with it so fully, what you have actually done is to have merged with it.

You have unplugged your consciousness from awareness, and relieved yourself of the responsibility of experiencing the feeling. You have collapsed the boundaries and returned to the infancy in which there is no difference.

You cannot feel the feeing if you are the feeling.

You will not find yourself this way either.

The movement of the centre

First, drawing in the fullness of breath, to fill your chest and dilute the dry nameless pain. Bringing to life what you don’t want to feel.

Then, slowly releasing the fullness of breath, to empty yourself and return to the silence. Reminding yourself that you are more than what you can feel.

First, expanding up and outward, giving you a higher perspective so you can lead the chaos of life as it happens.

Then, hunkering down and inward, bringing you into contact, so you can surrender to life as it happens.

Up and out. Down and in.

And in this moment it all comes together.

The heart, held in the centre, delicately moving back and forth, regulating the flow of life.

It is in this feeling that you reside.

This is where you live. All of you.

This is where you’re closest to God.

This is where you find yourself.

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Ewan Townhead

I hope you enjoyed the article. If you're interested further in my work, you can find out more about me here, and my coaching here.

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  1. Avatar

    This is really rich and it made me stop and check in with myself.

    How am I sidestepping and repressing still? Am I up to my eyes in busy and working to avoid the raw potent place within?

    Penetrating and Insightful brother.

    Thank you

    • Ewan Townhead

      You’re so welcome man. That it made you ‘stop and check yourself’ feels particularly satisfying for some reason 🙂

  2. Avatar

    So much wisdom here Ewan. This is a nuanced approach that few seem to grok. And it’s taken me a long time to arrive here myself. Years spent swinging back and forth between getting lost in it, and then distancing from it. Using spiritual practice to justify it. And I still get lost for a bit now and then, til I remember (or a friend reminds me) to breathe and allow. Ah then there is no problem, just, as you say, Life, flow, ahhhh.

    I have known your name from Waking up the Workplace, and now that I am living here in the NLs, your name popped up and I have been absolutely delighting in your writing here. Thank you for the ways you are allowing your own life to illuminate the human experience.


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