HARNESSING THE EMOTIONAL BRAIN – Why Some Emotions Can Make You Sick and others can make you Healthy
NIHA BLOG #2 from November 2015
Emotions, our internal FEELINGS, arise at the boundary between body and mind. They are here to be felt (as energy) and to be expressed (as movement). In the English word “EMOTION” comes from the Latin word “e-movere” translating into moving away from something and towards something else.
So, the meaning of this word itself is bland, neither “good” nor “bad”. Without emotion there is stagnation. The word infers that the purpose of an emotion is to be “getting us going” in life. Emotions tell us to go towards something or move away from something. Emotions also are necessary to communicate our INTERNAL STATES and RELATED ACTIONS – to ourselves (= “I feel angry and want to ….”) AND to others (= “He looks angry and I am afraid he will…”). Thus, they function similar to the sensors in a thermostat. They are meant to keep us in balance.
EMOTIONS ARE DIFFERENT THAN NEGATIVE INTENTIONS
When we experience trauma, a predictable, specific BIOLOGICAL survival response is triggered. It is related to the FLIGHT-FIGHT-FREEZE mechanism that we talked about in an earlier blog. At this junction, the emotion is also translated into a primitive negative mental stance towards life. It becomes a constrictive (= yes, you actually contract muscles) and self-liming defense pattern (= mental beliefs such as “ all men are….”) that results in a “NO TO LIFE” – or at least certain aspects of it.
MIND-BODY EXAMPLES SELF LIMITING BELIEFS AND ARMORING
Here are some examples of the self-limiting sentences that you may hear from someone who is stuck in such a defense. Notice your body reaction when you “receive” the meaning of them:
• I WILL BE “SPLIT.”
• I WON’T EMBRACE REAL LIFE.
• I WON’T NEED OR ASK.
• I’LL MAKE YOU GIVE IT TO ME.
• I WILL STAY NEGATIVE AND SPITEFUL.
• I WILL CONTROL EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING.
• I WON’T SURRENDER.
• I WON’T TRUST.
• I WON’T GIVE UP CONTROL.
• I INTEND TO WITHHOLD FROM LIFE.
As you can sense from the literal meaning and the energy that emanates from these sentences, such statements will have the effect on mind AND body. On the body level, we find contraction, separation, suppression, etc. in form of segmental ring bands of muscular contraction. We call this emotional ARMORING.
IF NOT PROPERLY RELEASED, “segmental armoring” will also translate into physiological events within the body. That may affect related organ systems & glands, and so, sooner or later, will lead to physical manifestations and chronic dis-ease states. Illness arises.
FOR EXAMPLE: ANGER
The EMOTION of Anger in itself is not ALL BAD! Anger is an important tool in your “SURVIVAL KIT”. It helps you to defend yourself in dangerous situations.
As part of your FIGHT-FLIGHT-FREEZE mechanism, anger originates in the oldest aspects of your brain as a defense against overwhelming experiences of powerlessness, hopelessness, helplessness, fear & pain. You may have noticed it: Some people get angry when they are scared or overwhelmed. That fact may be extremely helpful for someone who seeks to regulate their emotions.
In my practice I don’t necessarily dwell on the manifestations of my client’s anger to “reign it in”, but I deeply explore the powerful, unconscious feelings of being out of control, helpless, or powerless that are defended against by the anger expression.
Anger is an aspect of Aggression. To fend off enemies and to defend your territory, we need aggression, but it also is necessary to “go for it” when we have to reach for essential things in life that we may need. Obviously, and frequently, you may find that anger, rage (= its more violent sibling) and unbridled aggression, can have negative social consequences. There is a strong societal need to regulate it in order not to hurt someone, or yourself. That often may be the moment when one considers to undergo psychotherapy, joins an anger management group, and/or gets court ordered to go to a defensive driving class.
Our intention is to help people not merely to “manage” their emotions (which is to me like re-arranging the deck chairs on the sinking Titanic), but to “transform” these powerful energies into a viable source of energy and a power-tool for personal evolution!
STEPS IN EMOTIONAL REGULATION
Body Psychotherapy methods, such as my discipline Core Energetics, may offer new and radical approaches that are based on the latest brain science. We offer methods for expressing bottled-up energies by leading them out through the body. By using certain body-based release exercises, we allow clients to completely feel the underlying existential vulnerability and accept “un-feelable” emotional pain.
With techniques for inter-personal connection (= affective neurobiology) and self-awareness (meditation & higher choice) we learn to “in-corporate” aspects that are governed by higher brain centers (= limbic system & fore brain). These brain centers are actually built-in to regulate and override the more primitive survival aspects in us. They allow us to have CHOICE! They help us to go from being reactive (“acting out”) to being conscious (“mindful”). This is one of the reasons why you may hear a lot more about self-regulation and mindfulness in the media these days and why we offer it here at NIHA.
Instead of “managing” behavior such as anger, our clients learn to become Masters of Emotions by….
1) giving them tools and a space to allow their strong emotions to flow freely and safely within and through their body (= “grounding” & “containment”), then
2) get to a inner place where they can dare to feel any underlying existential terror, helplessness, etc., then
3) actively embrace the challenging situation by bringing connection, awareness, and conscious choice to it. This new choice may contribute to wide ranging life altering changes in what you do, where you live, what you eat, and who you hang out with.
More about Emotions & Health, next time!
ABOUT THIS EVENT:
In this experiential event you will learn about the connection between body, energy, and consciousness and how to utilize powerful MIND-BODY tools to become a Master of your Emotions.