One of the things I have used to great relief over the past 20 years is what I call a “conscious meltdown.” It is a way of moving anxiety and “upset” types of emotions that leads to an increase in consciousness as a side (or perhaps main) benefit.
When we experience large waves of anger, disappointment, fear, etc. there is a tendency to think this should not be happening, especially if you were somehow better [more evolved, more in charge, less sensitive, etc.]. This early attempt to rationalize poses as a way of gaining control. It leads to doing things to suppress the feelings. You have probably discovered your favorite mechanisms by now, and, you may be adding to your repertoire as old tricks lose their ability to suppress the discomfort.
That time when the suppression efforts fail and you are left with the inescapable suffering is your pivot point of power. The failure of the escape is your opportunity to create a space for the emotions to bubble up and move on out. By doing this consciously, you assert your authority at the beginning and it grows with you throughout the process. By the end, you feel incredible relief, instead of shame for having “gone off” on someone or some place.
It’s Simple. It’s Powerful.
Set aside a time and a place.
I’ve had conscious meltdowns that lasted only a few minutes and some that have lasted hours. Those long ones were in the beginning, when I was moving really big (and very old) stuff out of my life. Many of you may not have that big stuff to begin with. Since mine typically involve crying, and even loud sobbing and occasionally some wailing, I like to have places where my noise won’t get in the way. This can be a car, in the shower, under water in a pool or the ocean, or my own home when I can be alone with some variation of white noise in the environment. Closets with pillows can work also. In the beginning I found that playing music helped bring emotions to the surface that I was so conditioned to repress. Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings works well for me.
It may be tempting to have someone with you. That complicates things though. Others can have a hard time witnessing another person’s pain without taking it on themselves or trying to squelch yours. The freedom to be yourself without worrying about anyone else makes the process easier and far less complicated, even when thinking about logistics not to mention the emotional impact.
Set up the parameters in your mind.
Your adult self is in charge of this conscious meltdown. Adult you picks the place, the time, etc. and then begins the dialog with your emotions, with your kid self. Throughout the experience, as kid you is moaning, and complaining, and expressing the full range of [fill in your thoughts and emotions here], adult you maintains the physical boundaries. Adult you also talks to kid you, repeating something like this:
I hear you. The details are not as important as just letting these feelings up – stay focused on how you are feeling. I am here to handle the situation now. I know it feels [overwhelming, pisses you off, is frightening] etc. Remember, I am handling it now. I have resources. We are safe.
There is no need to dialog too much; this is about bringing up the feelings not about settling the feud. The more your adult self can let the inner kid just wail, just release, you will find actually that your adult self will start gathering insights and ideas along the way. This can handle issues taking place in present time, not just the past. Please read The Three Yous to understand how we have this “kid energy” running inside us.
The Main Goal
We are moving energy here, primarily. Energy that is stuck or that is earning compound interest, and blocking you from your self. Secondly, we are re-educating the kid self. We are not commiserating like a friend might: no “yeah, that was really horrible what s/he did to you! You should be mad, you should get back!” That kind of talk turns a Conscious Meltdown into just a meltdown or a temper tantrum. This is structured. It is managed by your adult self. It is safe. It is private. It is liberating. And it works. I first taught this back in the late nineties at Rancho la Puerta Spa when I was a guest instructor there.
I still use it – in fact I did this morning while swimming in the pool. My frustration level was maxed out with so many undone to do items. Just getting over a cold, I was physically tired too. Those are perfect conditions for kid me to be up and roaming around in my brain. So I hopped in the pool, I turned on the jets to high (I am fortunate to have an Endless Pool), I donned my mask and snorkel, and I let her rip. Sure enough, I emerged realizing yet another area where adult me can step forward that I had not seen before.
Wait! There’s More! A Bonus Gift
Most of the time I experience a conscious meltdown, it is followed very shortly thereafter by a significant leap forward in the direction of my dreams. I won’t say a meltdown is a pre-requisite, but I will say that when you clear out the crap lurking in your subconscious, you literally make space for downloads of insight and you unleash energy (and courage) for new pursuits. So now, when I feel one coming on, I just assume there is a big gift out there waiting for me and the house-cleaning becomes something I want to do, rather than avoid.
I would love to work with a mindfulness group in a company environment who would like to share this technique and keep data on the results. Please contact me if you want to discuss how something like this could work in your organization. Please also join my email list to learn about future opportunities to go deeper into consciousness and mindfulness.