Emotions Experienced in the Body

Written by: Marni Levitt

I remember my body dropping several flights in a split second on the ride at Disney World. The ride was called ‘The Drop’ or something like that, and simulated an extremely sharp elevator drop. My stomach was up, several meters higher than the rest of my body, which dropped down sharply – all of a sudden. A thrill, an unpleasant feeling, scary – all depending on how you perceived it. For me, it was both scary and unpleasant. I have felt that feeling in my stomach many times – but not on a Disney World ride – rather, in daily life situations that feel scary or stressful. I feel like my stomach is dropping down – almost right out of my body. (The opposite of my body dropping down, and stomach in the air, but similar feeling nonetheless). I have felt like that many times at work, in stressful moments.

I am sure many people experience similar physical experiences of emotions. ‘I have butterflies in my stomach’; ‘I have cold feet’; ‘my heart is broken’, ‘you make me sick’, ‘I am listening to my gut, and something just doesn’t feel right’. If you resonate with any of these expressions, or feelings, you may have a sense that our language reflects our lived experience and reality.

With the recent scientific validation of mindfulness and yoga, through studies and neuroscience, it is easy to start believing that emotions and feelings happen between your ears, in your head (ie. in your brain). In Eastern thought (where yoga and mindfulness originate), the mind is considered a mystery. Who is the one who is knowing and experiencing? Western science takes this ‘self’ for granted, Eastern traditions question and wonder about it.

I wonder how many people experience their emotional reality inside of their heads? Through my years of mindfulness meditation experience, and practise of yoga, in addition to work with a psychotherapist – I have learned to be aware of, and identify the feelings in my body; in this way, my body has become my emotional compass, leading me to wellness. For example, when my chest and throat start to feel tight, it is likely that I am experiencing sadness or grief. When I tune into this experience (either through mindfulness meditation, or just being aware as I go about my day), I can then work with it, be present with it, and that is when it often starts to transform, or loosen, and I get some relief from the pain. Identifying my physical experience of emotions – or physical processing of emotions, has made a world difference for me, on a practical, daily basis.

I have been able to navigate life and work, and improve my mental health and wellness in leaps and bounds.

According to Wikipedia, Pali (Pāli) is a Prakrit language native to the Indian subcontinent. It is widely studied because it is the language of many of the earliest extant literature of Buddhism. The Pali-English Dictionary suggests citta is heart / mind, and emphasizing it is more the emotive side of mind as opposed to manas, as the intellect or mind-sense in the sense of what grasps mental objects (dhammas). From the cultures that gave birth to mindfulness practices now transforming the West, there is a different understanding of mind than that assumed by modern, Western, scientific concepts. The heart is in the body, the body experiences emotions. The more traditional (and time-tested) practices such as mindfulness and yoga have an understanding of mind that includes the heart. This conception certainly resonates with my life experience – and being in touch with my body (and therefore emotions) has only improved my life and relationships. Being aware of the body, and of feelings, is the first step to working with those feelings – and often, mitigating or limiting a fight-or-flight stress response.

There are scientific studies on just about everything now – which is great, as it helps give a certain validity to fields or practices previously considered marginal (in modern Western context). More and more people are turning to these types of supports, in search of practical solutions to exponentially-increasing stress and distractions modern life. People are flocking to yoga and mindfulness meditation retreats in droves. Parents are finding help for issues that previously seemed unsolvable for their kids. I know that I have made a scientific study of my own life: about 99.9% of the time, when I am feeling a great deal of stress about something, after a yoga class, whatever problem seemed insurmountable before class, suddenly feels workable – and often I feel at peace. Wow.

Just like magic. My mind (and emotions) became calm because of actions I did with my body and breath. Hopefully with the logic of science, and the art of being aware of feelings – we can start to connect with a broader canvas of human experience: one that includes the head, the heart, the body, and therefore our entire being. I believe that’s where we will find long-term solutions for the pervasive ailments of modern living.

Move-N-Music is offering ‘mind-FUN-ness’ customized small group coaching sessions to introduce the concept of mindfulness in a fun, hands-on, engaging way.  For more information, please email [email protected]
Every Sunday Morning near St.Clair and Oakwood in Toronto

April 3, 10, 17, 24, May 1, 8, 2016
9:30am – 10:30am
For ages: 5-8

Find out more about Marni’s programs by checking out her website; www.move-n-music.com

Marni Levitt B.A.(Hons.), OCT, RYT
Founder Move-N-Music
Arts & Wellness Educator,
Animator, Speaker

Skype: Marni.Levitt1
[email protected]

Photo in article from Move-N-Music Family mind-FUN-ness day in Toronto – Feb.2016.

25 Ways to be Kind

From DoYouYoga, by Silvia Mordini

You don’t need a reason to help people. Let’s remember to be kind to one another, as it isn’t always apparent on the outside what the struggles we may be facing are on the inside. After all, when this is all over, all that will really matter is how we treated each other.

When we enter this world, our Kindness IQ is intact. We can keep it that way through our actions. Kindness is like a muscle; it gets stronger the more you use it, or atrophies if you don’t.

You don’t need a reason to be kind to people. Instead, here are 25 suggestions and ideas of ways to be kind.

1. Smile and make someone’s day a little sweeter.

2. Look for ways you can promote peace.

3. Just listen.

4. Offer a hug or embrace.

5. Invite someone new into your friend tribe.

6. Send out a kind email or card.

7. Give someone a genuine compliment.

8. Help clean up, without being asked, help someone out in a practical way.

9. Hold open the door for the person behind you.

10. Encourage a friend or family member when they are uncertain or

11. Make peace with someone that has hurt you.

12. Strike up a conversation with a stranger.

13. Let someone into your lane while driving.

14. Pay for the person behind you in line.

15. Give your time to a friend or someone who needs it.

16. Say Thank You and Please everyday without fail.

17. Meditate on loving kindness: “May you be happy, healthy, peaceful, and free from suffering, and may my actions in some way contribute to the happiness, health, peace, and freedom for all.

18. Say “I love you” a little more often to your family and friends.

19. Pause before you speak, and choose words with positive intention.

20. Help someone get some rest (watch their kids, run an errand, bring them dinner, etc).

21. Pick up litter you see thrown about even if its not yours.

22. Remove complaints and curses for one week.

23. Gift something meaningful to someone: loan a book, bring flowers, drop off cookies, whatever suits your fancy.

24. Make a donation.

25. Give up your seat, or for that matter, move your yoga mat in class, with positive intent.

I am dedicating myself to inspire everyone to bring kindness to the forefront. Let’s be more active in our efforts not because we have to, but because we want to. And not even because others have been kind to us but because being nice is the way of the heart.

Kindness is always a choice. The more conditioned we are to respond with kindness, the more natural it becomes. It is on purpose with purpose. Today, join me in starting a kindness movement, and together we can raise our global Kindness IQ!

Which ways do you try to show kindness every day? Share your tips and tricks with us below!

Yoga for Word Nerds: 14 Favorite Yoga Quotes and Sayings

From DoYouYoga, by Kathy Kruger


I’m a fully fledged word nerd. And a yoga nut. So I bring my love of language to the mat.

To me, Sanskrit feels like the soul softly whispering wisdom, and I never fail to appreciate the unfamiliar, yet familiar sounds that roll off the tongues of teachers.

And since becoming a teacher myself, I’m enjoying learning a language that it somehow feels I’ve spoken before.

Chaturanga Dandasana sounds so much better than plank, Malasana somehow more inspiring than squatting. Parivrtta Prasarita Padottanasana sounds as complicated as ‘rotated separate leg forward fold’, not to mention Triang Mukha Ekapada Paschimottanasana’ or ‘three faced forward bend’.

While I love the sound of Sanskrit, I really appreciate teachers who dig deep to find meaning, who have delved into the ancient Vedic texts, who reflect on the lessons of the Buddha and Rumi, the Dalai Lama and modern gurus.

Elegant poses might inspire, but I love eloquent phrases, meditative monologues.

My favorite teachers don’t just instruct, they enlighten.~Kathy Kruger

From pithy pearls, to the practical and sometimes profound, I come to class for lessons in mastering life, as much as asana. Sometimes I hear the wisdom speak to me from within, other times I’m struck by something that’s said.


Here are a few of my favorite yoga quotes and sayings:

1. “It’s yoga practice, not yoga perfect.”

I’m not sure who coined this, but it’s a common one with my yoga teachers.

2. “Yoga does not remove us from the reality or responsibilities of everyday life, but rather places our feet firmly and resolutely in the practical ground of experience. We don’t transcend our lives; we return to the life we left behind in the hopes of something better.” ~ Donna Farhi

3. “Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.” ~ B.K.S. Iyengar

4. “The yoga pose you avoid the most, you need the most.” ~ Unknown

5. “Yoga is an internal practice. The rest is just a circus.” ~ Sri Pattabhi Jois

6. “That nature of yoga is to shine the light of awareness into the darkest corners of the body.” ~ Jason Crandell

7. “In any pose, the breakthrough comes not when you learn what to tighten, but when you learn what to relax.” ~ Bikram

8. “Remember, it doesn’t matter how deep into a posture you go – what does matter is who you are when you get there.” ~ Max Strom

9. “A mind free from all disturbances is Yoga.” ~ Patanjali

10. “The attitude of gratitude is the highest yoga.” ~ Yogi Bhajan

11. “You cannot do yoga. Yoga is your natural state. What you can do are yoga exercises, which may reveal to you where you are resisting your natural state.” ~ Sharon Gannon

12. “Undisturbed calmness of mind is attained by cultivating friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and indifference toward the wicked.” ~ Yoga Sutras

13. “Don’t move the way fear makes you move. Move the way love makes you move. Move the way joy makes you move.” ~ Osho

14. “Don’t just do something—sit there!” ~ Unknown

What is your favorite yoga saying? Share with us in the comments below!

5 Things the Year of the Monkey has in Store for YOU



In many meditation practices, “monkey mind”—that restlessness, scattered, can’t-shut-off-your-thoughts feeling—is something you strive to avoid.

So it could sound scary that when the Lunar New Year (or Chinese New Year—a day that in Asian cultures is more important than January 1 for letting go of the old and ushering in the new) begins on Monday, it will be the Year of the Monkey.

Birth year plays an important role in Chinese astrology, and each year (on a 12-year cycle) is associated with an animal sign. As with Western star signs, each animal sign is believed to have certain character traits. Monkeys—which include such luminaries as Leonardo da Vinci and Harry Houdini, and more recently anyone born in 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, or 2004—are said to be ambitious, persistent, confident, and quick-witted. Think of them as the erratic geniuses of the cycle.

But the ruling sign of the present moment—that would be Mr. Monkey—affects everyone. So, how is 2016 going to affect you?

Well, “we do a lot to cultivate a grounded element in our busy and sometimes frenetic lives. We meditate and find quiet times, but the Monkey—for all its good—can make that really difficult,” warns Noah Rubinstein, clinic director of the YinOva Center, acupuncturist, and former teacher of Chinese medicine.

Should you be buckling up for a turbulent year of high-energy multitasking and frenzy that takes you out of the stillness you’ve been striving for? Are you headed toward the Eastern equivalent of Mercury going retrograde? Rubinstein says no—as long as you don’t rest on your mindfulness laurels. As he puts it, “The adventures of the coming year should be tempered with steps to preserve balance.” Gotcha.

Here’s what Rubinstein says you can expect for the Year of the Monkey:

1. Accept that this year will be a bit unpredictable.
Here’s where Chinese medicine gets complicated: Each animal sign is associated with one of the Five Elements (Air, Fire, Water, Wood and Metal), and each year is governed by one of them—on a five-year rotation, meaning they don’t line up. The Monkey is associated with Metal, and this year will be a Fire year. “Fire puts Metal and its very identity to the test,” says Rubinstein. “And so it will be for us, as even the Monkey’s character will be challenged and on a bit of a rollercoaster.”

2. Let loose and get wild.
Make no mistake, this year is going to have a lot of highs, in part because Monkeys are serious party animals. “They play games, they’re curious, creative, and agile—they’re great multitaskers,” Rubinstein notes. If that doesn’t sound like you, for the next 12 months try shedding your Wednesday Addams persona. “A light heart is the name of the game, so make sure there is lots of laughter and heartfelt communication.”

3. But bring awareness to everything you do (yes, even partying).
Monkeys are also very symbolic of life’s duality, and the other side to them is that they can bring instability to work, home, relationships, health, even your bank account. That mindfulness you’ve been honing will be key. “We risk undermining ourselves if we spend too much energy swinging around from one thing to another,” Rubinstein says. So bring an awareness to what you’re doing—even if it’s downing tequila shots at your best friend’s bachelorette party. (Not that we ever…)

4. Move outside your comfort zone.
“This is going to be a year when we cultivate our ability to adapt to change without losing our heads,” says Rubinstein. Embrace unexpected challenges and be okay with those moments you’re pushed outside your comfort zone (rather than fighting it). After all, it’s what the Monkey does best: “They aren’t easily daunted—they love challenges like taking classes or learning new crafts.” Yoga teacher training, anyone? And yes, bumps along the way are to be expected; but this is the year that you can definitely roll with it. “Don’t be discouraged if this doesn’t work at first; there is always another approach,” he notes.

5. Keep that ego in check.
Rubinstein warns that there will be some “Monkey drama” in this fast-paced, sometimes random year. “Don’t let your ability to keep your head in the storm over-inflate your confidence,” he adds. Confidence is good… until it’s not. There’s a reason it’s called monkey business, after all. —Ann Abel