Marc Itzler talks about repression of emotions, citing Janov who says; “Tears have the power to transform our physiology, change our personality and re-fire the evolutionary engine.”
Repression kills our emotions. All of them. Our sadness, despair and abandonment are all safely locked away, out of sight and out of our conscious mind. Repression also buries our joy, our feeling of connection, of being loved, valued and accepted for who we are.
From our earliest moments of life we are compelled to control and inhibit our natural expressions of laughter and crying. We are forced to abandon the most basic and uniquely human form of language.
It is well known and understood that in order to begin to ‘feel’ again, to live with an exposed and open heart, we have to risk encountering loss, grief and loneliness. So we find ourselves trading in intimacy and emotional bonding in order to avoid the emptiness and fear, born out of our deep, hidden painful memories, our unexpressed and unheard cries for safety and security, for love and acceptance.
In his groundbreaking book The New Primal Scream, Arthur Janov describes how our brains handle extreme trauma and emotional overwhelm. He explains that the brain has a particular way of coping with more stress than the body can handle. He states…
“Ordinarily, neural information about hurt is relayed to the thalamus. When the pain is not overwhelming, information is then sent to the hypothalamus which initiates a variety of responses, including crying. That makes up the healing process. When repression exists, information and tears are rerouted away from the hypothalamus. If this did not occur, the excesses of hypothalamic activity in blood pressure, pulse, and temperature for example, would be lethal. It is therefore important that the hypothalamus does not accept all of the input. The excess neural energy of the pain is rerouted and finds its neurotic destination in the limbic system and it is because of this bifurcation that full healing cannot take place.”
Basically he is saying that, as infants and children, when we are forced to deal with more fear, trauma or pain than we can handle, the brain puts some of the emotion into deep storage where it is locked away, and so we can no longer cry and release this element of the wound. It does this to protect the organism, to keep us alive! Over time, the limbic system fills with more and more ‘censored’ pain and the effects on our bodies and lives from this emotional pool of unfinished business manifests as many dysfunctions. These can include psychological problems including self-sabotage, addictions or other types of anesthetics which allow us to function with some sense of normality. It also affects our physiology. Our bodies become sensitive and we may develop allergies, intolerance to certain foods and damage to the immune system. It can even repress diseases that can lie dormant in our systems, unable to be exposed and treated and so continue to poison us throughout our lives.
But there is an even more dramatic effect that is less well known about what happens to our bodies during a lifetime crippled by early repression. Stinted by the inhibition of our freedom to express both our pain and our joy, our evolutionary pattern or genetic code that runs our bodies during our life can actually stall in the face of deep repression! This means that we are running on a faulty code, a fundamentally dysfunctional system breakdown at the level of our DNA. Our ‘operating system’ begins to crash.
So when we begin the process of reactivating the lost pain and traumatic memories, when we begin consciously heal ourselves by allowing the limbic system to re-open and slowly release the old wounds, we are actually allowing our body’s genetic code to reboot. We are, in effect, switching ourselves off and on again! This is why it so crucial to find a way to open this portal and begin the process of revisiting and releasing this deeply buried mass of pain and sorrow.
Janov goes on to write…
“Weeping is healing. Feeling is healing. Repression is ‘antihealing’. Every process of our brain and body has an evolutionary rationale. To block weeping is to run against the sweep of evolution. That is why those who weep deeply seem to ‘restart’ the evolutionary process – beards begin to grow at age forty, wisdom teeth develop at forty five, breasts begin to grow at age thirty five.
“The genetic code can now proceed to its destination; that destination is growth, healing and health. Not a bad job for minuscule droplets of moisture. Imagine! Tears have the power to transform our physiology, change our personality and re-fire the evolutionary engine. What has seemed like weakness to so many of us turns out to be one of the most powerful forces on earth!”
First published on Marc’s blog
Marc Itzler (Divakar), a sannyasin since 1974, spent his teenage years with Osho in India from 1979–81. A father of two grown sons, a stepdaughter and granddaughter, he lives in North London and is the founder of ‘A Liberated Life’, running courses, meditation workshops, and is also a Human Potential coach. marcitzler.com – More articles by the same author published in Osho News
Cry heartfully, let the tears flow