What feels Good? (not this)

What feels Good? (not this)

What feels Good? (not this)I recently got into a very, very bad mood that dragged on for what seemed like forever, draining all the energy I needed to be functional. The stresses in my life were magnified to the point that they eclipsed every bit of joy and wonder I had. I was very sad, to say the least, and it didn’t feel good.

I have a cherished belief: I believe that times like these are rich opportunities for transformation.  “The wound is the place the light enters you”, is my favorite quote by Rumi and a message I often share with clients and friends. However, in this case I found myself wondering if the light would ever come, and if, in fact, this cherished belief might be false. None of my tried and true self-care tricks helped much, other than to give me a few hours of emotional neutrality in contrast to the debilitating doom and gloom that had become the norm.

What was most disturbing to me was that my central spiritual practice, being mindfully aware of feelings and sensations,  which had always led me to insight, resolution, and eventually peace and happiness,  seemed to just make matters worse. No matter how long I was “with” my feelings, I was simply sinking deeper and deeper into a pit of despair and hopelessness . More and more frequently, uncontrollable crying was leaving me exhausted, sleepless and with a raging headache.

Looking back I can see how I had become inextricably trapped by all my negative thoughts. Thoughts that quite reasonably and rationally explained and justified my stress, overwhelm and, in all likelihood, looming depression. The truth is I’ve been in middle of a monumental transition since last November, when I found out I was pregnant (a miraculous wish come true!) and at the same time was facing total financial upheaval due to loss of employment in my household, my healing arts practice moving and expanding, and the uncertain and risky launch of another home-based business.

For months, I felt angry, resentful and sad that the blissful excitement of having a precious little baby growing inside me was being overshadowed by these uninvited growing pains, instability and uncertainty.  On top of all that, like many of us, I was watching in utter horror  as the political curtain was slowly drawn back, revealing the ugly corruption and hate that had been lurking just beneath the surface for so long.  Yes, I had every reason to feel as I did. But that doesn’t mean it was good for me or my baby, or that I should just stay feeling that way.

In desperation I reached out on my personal Facebook page. “What do you do when negative thinking takes over and it becomes increasingly difficult to feel or see anything positive?” I received 37 comments that day and every single one of them inspired me one step at a time until I finally had  the following thought:

Ok. I am ready to feel good now.

But then I had to figure out:

What feels good?

See, my life had been revolving around a different question, a question that always included the words should and do. What should I do about our financial situation? What should I do about morning sickness? What should I do to find more money? To find more clients? About those bills? And so on.  I had come to believe that I would feel good again when my situation changed. When my morning sickness went away, when the bills were paid, when my husband found a job, when the finances stabilized.  But the situation wasn’t changing.

I realized that I needed to stop doing what I should do to change my situation and just do what feels good. 

It didn’t take me long to figure out where to start. Since I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a mother. My early childhood was spent reading midwifery books, attending home births with my mom,  taking care of my baby brothers and day dreaming about the day I would have my own baby. By the time I finally got pregnant at age 41 I had all but given up on the possibility of my dream coming true, but here it was happening.

When I stopped doing  and started just  focusing on what was absolutely great, our new baby, I heard my inner voice say: Just stop. Stop doing anything that doesn’t feel good. So I listened. As hard as it was for me to stop trying to change my situation, I just did what felt good to me.

First I made a list of some things I could start collecting for the baby, and started clearing space for the things I would find. That led to a car load of stuff ready to go to Goodwill, which led to rearranging the house, which led to dumping the ugly old couch I’d been complaining about for months and, within a few hours, finding a really great one for almost nothing on a yard sale site. I planned a week off to to take a break from doing errands and seeing clients. What a relief.

All of this felt good. And led to more feeling good. My mood began to lift.  Over the next week I was delighted with lovely little gifts everywhere I turned. Adorable baby clothes, a rocking chair, support and cooperation from my husband, friends coming out of the woodwork to walk and talk with.

I began to feel great, despite the fact that my situation didn’t change.

And then it did! The phone began to ring. New clients scheduled.  I received a completely random check in the mail. Our new business prospects suddenly looked more promising. I got inspired by my work and by my amazing clients.

I share this with you because chances are you’ve had a similar experience at some point, or perhaps you are in one right now.  Even those of us who feel healthy in our bodies, happy in our relationships and secure in our jobs can’t help but be influenced by the constant barrage of disturbing news, if we tune in at all to the media.  And even if we unplug completely, many of us are certainly sensitive enough to be deeply affected by the chaotic energies of the current times. I’ve heard  business is booming for psychotherapists,  and many of my bodywork clients are needing treatment for acute emotional and spiritual upheaval. It is an undeniably stressful and frightening time, and there is little chance of that changing anytime soon. But that doesn’t mean we should feel terrible until it does.

I still cherish my belief that transformation often involves a period of pain and suffering, and absolutely still believe in the powerful practice of “being with what is”,  and yet at the same time I’ve learned a powerful lesson about how important it is to know what feels good and to actively choose that.

If you are currently struggling as I was, my advice to you is to begin to recognize what is beautiful and joyous in your life and use that as a catapult to feel better, if feeling better is what you want to do. Because after all, as I learned, sometimes feeling good is what will change your situation.

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Jessica Gutierrez

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  1. Very Intuitive which as you know I think is one of your strongest skills. Insightful and aware to listen to your own mind and body.
    Our intuition was built into us for a reason, we all just need to learn to slow down and listen to ourselves. From someone who has been pregnant before, find some extra flexibility in your daily life. Don’t be so hard on yourself during this time as the hormone changes going on in your body are tremendous.
    I have always been a fan of the benefits of massage, I am so grateful you have showed me the benefits of cranial sacral treatments. I think the world would be a better place if everyone did a daily inversion yoga pose (even if it was legs up the wall) each day, and took care of their mind and not just their body.


    1. Thank you Jan, for reading and responding! I fully agree – we have that inner voice built in to us, so why not use it! And as you say, slowing down is the first step to learning to hear it. I greatly value your advice and empathy. It is heart warming to know you understand and so many mothers that came before me do too. I will continue to be easier on myself and give myself a break! I am grateful too, that you have been part of my evolving healing arts practice and have taught me so much I need to know to continue in my work. Without your openness and willingness to do the work I would not be able to grow as a practitioner! Namaste

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Dad! I have wise parents, maybe that has something to do with you 😉

  2. As it happens, I am going through a tremendous amount of stress currently. I’m recovering from surgery, pre-surgery EKG was abnormal, unexpected family moved back in with their cats and I’m really trying to not flair. Your words, which frequently is the case, are right on time. I need to continue being mindful and listening and finding what feels good. Beautiful writing Jess.❤️

    1. Oh my goodness, Kris, it does sound like you are going through a lot. I completely understand how hard it can be to not let the situation overtake you (as you have just read in my story!) My heart goes out to you, my friend. May you find a glimmer of joy amidst all of this and feel better soon.

  3. I am happy you were able to get off the “wheel” and feel good again. This tricky “wheel of desire,” (buddhist reference) is a place many people live. They go around and around reaching for the next “thing” they must “have.” It took me awhile to understand it’s never about “things.” Sometimes we hop on, without realizing it. I watched a video recently called “minimalism.” It helped me. It’s on NETFLIX and I highly recommend it. Hopefully I’ll get back into your wonderful establishment for another glorious massage! Best always to you, Jessica. And congratulations on the new bambino. I don’t know if you remember, I have 9 children…lol Maybe that’s why I’m so nuts!!

    1. Hi Laura, it’s so wonderful to hear from you! I absolutely remember your children – in fact I do believe I have met at least one of them 🙂
      Thank you very much for the movie recommendation. I will look it up. I know that we are conditioned to reach for “things” and that in itself keeps us reaching, never satisfied, on the “wheel” as you say. I appreciate your response and look forward to see you soon!

  4. This is perfect, and exactly where I have been this past winter, as well… I really appreciate this different approach, as I too have been needing, well, something different! Love this! Thank you so much for sharing.

  5. Dear One, I love your written exploration and your “remembering” to see what is good around you and within you!!! It all can feel so overwhelming at times, and then add in the political climate and negativity permeates our corners of calm…yet you found your way back and in the shedding process you have received more and have found hope again!!!! I am so grateful for your shared insights as I need reminders too and patience!!!! I am so excited to meet your daughter when she arrives!!! Love you!!! Thank you! Loraine

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