To be alive is to feel. Travis, a veteran of the war in Iraq who was in my research study on yogic breathing for post-traumatic stress, shared with me at the beginning of the study that he was unable to feel emotions. He told me there had been a suicide in his family and that he had felt no emotions during the tragedy. After the study was over and his trauma symptoms eased, he came to share with me: “It’s incredible. I have feelings. I feel good, I feel bad, I feel!”
He was grateful to have all his feelings back the good and the bad. Trauma had numbed him from experiencing any feelings at all. He had lived in a sort of dead zone. Alive yet unable to feel.
Yet, we often prefer not to feel. Especially when it comes to negative emotions. Let’s face it, they can range from uncomfortable to outright painful. We know, for example, that loneliness registers similarly to physical pain in the brain.
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