The next obvious question that arises once the expression of repressed emotions becomes manageable is how can you stop bottling up emotions and learn to express them directly and in the moment?
To cease repressing, one needs to learn to detect an emotion or desire the moment it emerges. You need only one thing—to be present in whatever is happening, i.e., to be aware. Awareness is the key to breaking the habit of quelling any motions within the emotional body or the body of the mind. Unless you eliminate this habit, your transformation and non-identification become just another unattainable dream.
The simplest starting point for learning to see the emotional repression mechanism is your physical body. If you are already good at observing your body’s states, then you will have no problems identifying the moments when you repress manifestations of your energies. Any emotion seeks to express itself through the body: Anger manifests itself through yelling and fighting, and sadness through groaning and crying, while fear and anxiety cause us to curl up physically. Emotional control is impossible without the physical body’s involvement, just as data transfer is impossible in the absence of a suitable storage medium, i.e., paper to print hard copies, or USB and computer hard drives to store digital data. To a certain extent, the physical body serves as a storage medium for emotions. Thus, by observing your body, you can see its responses each time you take control of your desires and feelings. For example, as you practice awareness of your breathing, sooner or later you will notice that at certain moments it becomes shallower than normal. The reason is that for emotions to be held in, they have to be deprived of energy, weakened. This effect is achieved with shallow breathing, as reduced intake of oxygen or, if you will, prana, which secures the control process. When you begin to become aware of a change in the depth of your breathing, you will be able to see an emotion that is being repressed at the moment. Once you see it, you will have an opportunity to change your reaction.
It is not rare to encounter people with shallow or almost no breathing. Such a breathing pattern is indicative of the constant control of feelings and the self. As constant tension and abnormal breathing are harmful to the health, they eventually become ill, and mundane neuroses can be the least of their problems.
As emotions try to express themselves by means of the body, their control is predominantly routed through the muscular system. You can see them contracting involuntarily as they prevent the emotional energy from manifestation. Therefore, an individual who has a relatively high awareness of his body is able to catch the moments of involuntary muscle tension and trace it to the root cause of the repressed emotion. If one manages to perceive such tension the moment it runs through the body, one has the option to relax one’s muscles voluntarily and thus terminate the process.
Fear is repressed in the lower abdomen and partly in the legs, anxiety in the upper abdomen area, sadness in the chest muscles, and anger in the shoulders, arms, neck, and jaw muscles. This is a schematic, but still accurate, overview of the control zones in the body. I don’t believe it is worth going into the details of muscle control for each emotion. If you are interested to learn more, I welcome you to explore the subject independently.
The power and benefit of awareness lie in the fact that it allows one to come to know oneself, not based upon what others have said, but by studying the processes in all of the layers of a human being firsthand. Further, as a ray of sunlight hitting a glass of freshly served beer makes a permanent change to its flavor, so too a person never remains the same if, for once, he sees his internal reactions’ mechanical nature. Some people I used to talk with would say: I became aware of my anger and got to see my repressed fear and the cause of repression... Everything they said sounded about right, as if they were reading a book, yet some time later it became clear that it made no difference to the quality of their being—their unconscious anger continued to pour out and their fear still limited their choice of actions. It also became clear that the “revelations” were localized in their minds, nurtured by imagination, and unrelated to seeing. Sometimes people are so artful in lying to themselves that any evidence of inconsistency between their state of being and personal statements is plainly worthless: They always find a way to justify themselves.