The Art of Giving: Emotions are Meant to Flow Freely
by Trent Deerhorn
Giving is a curious thing. We give to others in a number of different ways. We give gifts to show others that we care. We give support to show others they are not alone. We give our time to show others that they are important. But even with all of this, so many forget to give with their emotions.
We are taught in our culture to keep a stiff upper lip. An open display of emotion can lead us to utter humiliation and destruction as a result of the “weakness” it portrays. Is there any wonder that there are so many marriages in turmoil? If we are unable to show emotion openly, then how can the one person in our lives whom we should be able to trust beyond all doubt be able to understand what is going on inside? To withhold our emotions is an ultimate form of relationship sabotage.
The Medicine Wheel teaches us that we need to learn how to give with our emotions. On the Wheel the emotions land in the direction of the element of water. Like water, emotions can run very deep. And like water, if we dam up our emotions we become stagnant. Emotions are meant to be able to flow, like clear running water, and that is why laughter ripples and tears flow. It has been scientifically proven that there are actually five kinds of tears, all of which can be analyzed and will reveal what the person felt when the tears were shed. There are tears of sorrow, regret, joy, fear, and allergic reactions. Each type holds a different chemical makeup. I would suspect that if science put its focus into laughter, they would also perhaps discover that there are at least as many types of laughter, each creating a different chemical or metabolic response within the physical body. This is why laughter can heal.
When we give with our emotions we are able to develop and learn a variety of aspects of love and trust, thus allowing ourselves to grow. Whenever we are dealing with emotions such as love and trust, we are definitely bound to get hurt. And we are also bound to expand our lives in wonderful ways. When we are able to take the hurtful moments in our experiences and transform them into medicines which we can carry with us, then we are able to ensure that we don’t get hurt in the same way again. That way we are able to let go of patterns of behaviour in relationships that are toxic while at the same time not holding present and future relationships hostage to the past. If we don’t learn to transmute toxic energies into positive energies, we will continue to repeat the same hurtful patterns over and over again.
Sometimes people are taught early in their lives to hold onto their emotions. But by holding onto our emotions we are, once again, not allowing them to flow freely. We bury them inside ourselves and the energy they create forms into illnesses and disharmony within. We become obsessive about past events and past hurts, and hang onto them rather than freeing ourselves to live the rest of our lives in a joyous way. We also become overly sentimental and nostalgic. Sentiment and nostalgia are both traps that don’t allow us to grow. Instead they trap us into what always was or what should have, would have, or could have been. Thus we become unavailable to the present moment. When we are unavailable to the present moment, we miss opportunities that are presented to us that would allow us to make informed decisions in our lives which could create positive ripples for years to come.
So what do we hold with, if not with our emotions? We hold with our bodies. From the time we are born until the time we die, no matter how long a period this may be, we all need to be held. We all heal from a hug, a gentle touch, and a caress. These things feed our skin hunger. They nourish us on a physical level, as well as on an emotional level. Touch is sacred. Even sex is sacred. All of it can nourish us and heal us.
As we learn how to hold with our bodies, we become more aware of the needs involved in keeping our physical temple clean and healthy. The body is the temple in which the soul dwells and through which our spirit expresses itself. So it is ultimately important to keep this temple alive, clean, and healthy. Some do this through diet, some through exercise, some through healing treatments. All of these benefit the individual on a multitude of levels. As we learn to hold with our bodies we begin to experience three things. The first is introspection. This is the ability to find answers within ourselves as a result of looking deep within. The second is transformation. This is both the ability to process change in our lives, as well as the ability to go into a trans state, or meditative state. This state allows us to more easily experience introspection. The third is the development of strength, which helps us to walk through whatever it is that our life has in store for us.
The physical state of well-being and the emotional state of well-being are intrinsically linked, one to the other. We cannot address one without also addressing the other, and we do need to address both along the way. One of the best ways to begin is a gratitude journal. This is a daily log of all the things for which we are grateful in our lives. We are also able to give gratitude prayers. The most powerful prayer in the universe, according to shamanic teachings, is one that says, “Thank you!” And then we begin the challenge of slowly, but surely, giving with our emotions.
Trent Deerhorn has been a Shaman for over 20 years and currently practices his craft from a home-based office at Deerhorn Shamanic Services, Saskatoon. He believes we can incorporate the ancient teachings from many cultures to better enhance this life’s journey, and that shamanism is the birthright of all who walk the earth. He can be contacted at (306) 978-5300 or by visiting www.deerhornshamanic.com. Also see display ad on page 24 of the 13.1 May/June
issue of the WHOLifE Journal.