In Chinese it's just seven characters/syllables and this is the first time I translated it into English and boy does it sounds messed up. Who the hell teaches such a concept to their daughters? And you know what? Not knowing any better, I accepted this concept. I don't know why, but I've always wanted to be the most virtuous person I can be, so I practiced forbearance a lot. I practiced suppressing my feelings, thinking that emotions are totally irrational. Anger is bad. Shyness is bad. It frustrates me that I don't have a good grip on my emotions. That I could suppress my anger towards an action or a person I don't like for awhile, and when my patience runs out, I would explode. I hated that about myself. My family suggested that I don't try hard enough, that I must practice even more restraint to prevent exploding anger. This actually makes me even more unpredictable. Practically anything my family says can make me spazz at them, and it's gotten to so bad that I don't even have to meet my family face to face. The mere thought of my mother and some family members can trigger angry feelings. I feel like I need to check myself into a psychiatry unit.
It wasn't until I started taking yoga classes that I learned that when you suppress a negative feeling, it doesn't just disappear into nothingness. It gets stored as tension somewhere in your body. I don't usually believe a statement like that without any evidence, but I don't know how else to explain the fact that I would tear up in the middle of an asana practice. When this happened, the pose I was holding was usually not especially challenging, nor was I recounting a piece of a sad memory. Supposedly asana practice works out energy channels in the body, relieving physical and emotional tensions (knots) in the body, Deep tissue massage can also achieve similar effects sometimes.
It seems to me that a feeling is not a single thought or a single item. It's a combination of a bunch of stuff happening in my body. The stomach tightens, the heart pumps harder, the skin pores widen, major muscles tighten a little bit. Instead of me being aware of 20 things happening at once in my body, my brain interpretes these 20 events as one single feeling. Combo ABCDEFG = anxiousness; HIJKLMN = fearfulness; OPQRSTU = anger, etc. When I order myself to suppress a feeling, what happens is I'm ordering my conscious brain to ignore all these signals in the body. Well, the body is actually trying to communicate something to the rational mind. Instead of making the feeling go away (which I can't, because it's not one single thing), the brain simply ignores all the signals. The next time an emotional trigger happens, the signals become stronger, but again, I say "suppress these bad feelings", my brain tries to ignore the signals, and I become oblivious to all the change in my pulse, the muscle tensions, the inflammation, etc. Over time my brain learns to ignore all the signals/alarms in my body, which means I become oblivious to my feelings. Then one day the alarms reach above a threshold, bypass the rational brain, and I snap at some innocent person like a bitch.
Step 1 is getting in touch with my feelings. Step 1.1 is to take deeper breaths. I totally thought I'd get this down after 2 years of yoga practice, but it seems like I've still got a lot of work to do to improve my breathing skills!