Catharsis: an emotional discharge through which one can achieve a state of moral or spiritual renewal or achieve a state of liberation from anxiety and stress.
Once when I was visiting my mom in Katy, I heard her listening to opera late one night. She had been sick with a complex of chronic autoimmune diseases for more than a decade. Her life had been constricted to the walls of her home and her backyard. She made the most of both, creating a glorious garden with something in bloom year round, and filling her house with music. That night I went out to join her and she was sitting on the couch crying, overwhelmed by the extraordinary gift of their voices.
Now, there were probably a lot of other emotions mixed in with that overwhelming sense of wonder. But the tears were like a release valve.
I’ve been moved in this way a few times in my life—blown OPEN and blown away by the magic of seeing Nina Simone from the front row singing songs from Porgy and Bess; exploding with joy at feeling the baritone of Leonard Cohen’s voice singing his exquisite lyrics. I balled my eyes out watching Eddie Vedder, and—not gonna lie, witnessing the completely out of his mind Kris Kristofferson croak out Take the Ribbons from Your Hair. (OK, now you know a lot about me, just from that list.)
We all have something that makes is feel this way. This week I invite you to go to that thing. See it, hear it, play it, cook it, eat it, touch it, do whatever it is.
As Leonard said, there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in. It’s also how the pressure gets OUT.
A little theory
You can think of that pressure as our own divine creative spark resonating. It pushes back against the oppression of our spirit. Sometimes it feels like righteous anger. Sometimes it feels like love.
In yoga shakti is the divine feminine and creative potential with which we are all endowed, and which must be EXPRESSED.
Our innate desire to create is expressed in a number of ways—one of which is kama, defined by master yogi Rod Stryker as “the desire for pleasure of all kinds, including closeness and intimacy, beauty, family, art, and friendship, as well as sex.”
It’s what Audre Lorde was describing when she spoke of the power of the erotic.
THERE ARE MANY kinds of power, used and unused, acknowledged or otherwise. The erotic is a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply female and spiritual plane, firmly rooted in the power of our unexpressed or unrecognized feeling. In order to perpetuate itself, every oppression must corrupt or distort those various sources of power within the culture of the oppressed that can provide energy for change.
In the world of science and cultivating the potential of our inherent neuroplasticity, our buddy Rick Hanson discusses the need for excitement and enthusiasm. Excitement is energy plus positive emotion. Enthusiasm is being moved by something extraordinary, even divine. You may find that this is a time where these things feel stifled, tamped down. The principles of neuroplasticity mean that we can create these FEELINGS for ourselves and help rewire our brains and bodies more conducive to these states when they’re possible.
I know it sounds a little like fake it until you make it, but it works!