I love the word "cathartic." It is so perfectly specific.  I like a word that doesn't have a good synonym; a word that when I need it, I need it.

Catharsis is cleansing and purging and emotional and relief and breathing again. It is overwhelming, like drowning in healing. It is intense and vulnerable and freeing. It grounds me, centers me, rebirths me, makes me new.

"Purgative" just doesn't carry those same connotations.

I was thinking yesterday about the things that are the most reliably cathartic for me.  The things that make me feel something so deeply that it reboots everything inside of me that has gone off-kilter or cynical or self-piteous or numb.

I believe that the following are my top 4, in no particular order.

-Hard rain.  Driving, hurts-when-you-stand-in-it, overflows-the-rivers rain.  And hard wind.  Wind strong enough to press your weight into, and were it to stop short, you'd fall flat on your face.  Wind that whooshes and rushes and howls.  I like weather that makes me feel small; I like to be overwhelmed.  It makes me feel like even my biggest, scariest, deepest, most out-of-control emotions will get carried away with the tide.

-Giving things away.  Or throwing things away.  Things I thought I wanted or even thought I needed.  Things "everyone" has or "should have."  Books I thought I'd read or re-read.  Clothes I thought I'd wear.  Candles I thought I'd burn, coasters I thought I'd use, frames I thought I'd hang, kitchen gadgets I thought I'd use - all of which ended up being things to clean around and live around.  When I practice the discipline of letting things go, I give myself room to feel.  I can breathe in the space and freedom of their absence.

-Driving.  Driving someplace far enough away from my every-day routine to let my hair down for a minute.  A highway or a back road:  all the windows down, music that suits me, head tilted back, my hand out the window, making waves.  Feeling the notes and the air and the nature on my skin and just - breathing.

-Running.  Running until it hurts everywhere.

What experiences or sensations are cathartic to you?  What provides you with psychological relief through the expressing of strong emotions?