Don’t massage one emotion. Let them flow.



I sat down this month with local artist Seija Halonen for a story that will come out in the forthcoming Mountain Life. Seija lives at Lillooet Lake Estates, and one of these days, I hope, she’ll take up an invitation to do a Wellness Almanac takeover! She inspired me utterly with her exuberance and positive vibe and commitment to self-expression…

One thing that stayed with me after our conversation was something she learned in theatre school – a caution from their professors not to “massage the emotion” – meaning don’t let yourself get stuck in deep feeling, because it’s powerful.

Seija explained that, as an actor, it can feel pretty addictive when you manage to hit into some store of real feeling in yourself, and access it, for a scene. Instead of moving through the normal, healthy cycle of emotion – allowing it to move through you, and growing as a person – it can be tempting to stay there. Wallowing slash revelling in that depth of feeling.

“You don’t want to massage the emotion,” Seija explained to me. “That means you’re hanging on to it. You did a really good job in the scene, you’re crying real tears,” – there can be a tendency to want to stay there, it kind of rewards the actor’s ego. The faculty, though, would coach the students: move through the cycle of emotion, don’t sit there, it’s not a natural human thing to do.

My word for this year is Revelling and I’m having so much fun asking myself, how can I revel in this moment. The flipside is that I realize I’ve challenged myself to revel in the shitty parts too… when my kid is having a tantrum, or I’m feeling cabin fever, or the power goes out… revel in those moments and sensations and experiences, as much as I revel in the ski day with a friend, or the spontaneous dinner party, or my little family snuggled on the couch watching a movie together…

I’m thinking that part of revelling is being fluid, not fixed. Is allowing things to move. Disappointment: Hello? Come in. And pass through, out.  Next feeling. 

It’s more intense and exhilarating and frightening, to try this revelling experiment, than it was to be more fixed in my sense of myself and my approach to the word (ie I am creative, and so I’m either inspired or stressed. I am a mom, so I’m either laughing or yelling. I was heartbroken by Person X and so I am hurt or trying to be forgiving.) It feels much more expansive and generous, to let things cycle, peak, be a spectrum, flow… but also unpredictable.

I think that’s why this quote spoke to me so deeply when a friend shared it. Amazing. Awful. Everything in between. Keep breathing. Revel in it. As best you can.

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