Freedom to feel

cappuccino (2)I always wonder how those who've signed up for our five-day co-counselling course will react when they turn up on the first day, looking forward to a nice cup of coffee or tea to get them started - and find nothing stronger than 'Caro' or other caffeine-free coffee substitute or herbal tea and, rather than biscuits or cake, some (rather juicy, admittedly) clementines or a tangerine.If truth be told, they usually react quite well - 'this Caro stuff is really rather nice!' - particularly when I explain why I'm doing it.The thing is, with co-counselling and some of the other disciplines we teach at Little White Feather, we're doing what we can to start to unpeel some of the layers of conditioning, look at some of the masks we've been using to keep us 'safe' (though, we discover, they don't really work like that, but actually prevent us from experiencing life fully)  and starting to uncover more of our authentic selves. Part of this is doing what we can to acknowledge, experience and express any authentic emotion we're feeling.Now, in a society in which we're often encouraged to suppress emotion ('Big boys don't cry!', 'Man up!' 'Children should be seen not heard!' 'That's just not ladylike' - that kind of thing), this is a tall order at the best of times - and especially when we're tanked up with caffeine and artificial stimulants (in fact, many of us actually use these substances to avoid our emotion, especially when it's intense).So I often ask participants on our courses, when they're on walkabouts at lunchtime and catch a whiff of freshly roasted coffee beans wafting out at them from some coffee house somewhere, shrieking, 'Drink me!' like Alice in Wonderland's bottle, to ask some questions of themselves before they decide to consummate the relationship. Where is the area of 'tightness', the 'must-have-ness'? Where is the attachment? Is there an uncomfortable emotion that they're feeling - and want to avoid - and drinking that coffee, say, would help them escape it for a while?We'll be exploring our relationship with food and drink on our annual Little White Feather 'conscious cleanse' in the Spring. And if you're interested in learning the invaluable tool of co-counselling, there are still four places left on our next training course (starts December 3rd).