What is Emotional Healing
Why do you need to heal? Each of us, in our own ways, may need to repair wounds, whether we realize it or not (1).
Emotional wounds, often from our past., may not seem to hurt us, but they make us behave in unhealthy ways. Even a broken heart can predispose us to suffering; emotional scars from past relationships complicate future relationships – as we all know too well.
The loss of someone you love, or of something precious (health, financial security) carries emotional consequences for all of us, but many of the popularly prescribed remedies sound and read like glib cliches: acceptance, self-love, and patience may ‘work’ but how?
Your Body Hears What Your Mind Says
You may be surprised to see that all the tools to heal are within your reach.
People are creatures of habit. We usually walk down the same street and use the same words. Some of us tell the same story over and over without realizing it.
The brain does exactly the same thing. Repetition is often helpful for learning, but it can also put you in a vicious cycle – particularly when you are telling yourself the same story over and over, overlaid with the same interpretations.
Naturally, you want to identify that vicious cycle and get out of it as soon as possible.
Let’s Get Physical
Your body is the best messenger. A series of signals are continuously recorded in your nervous system that contain clues you can recognize and ‘read’ (this is how lie detectors work as well). Recognize the tension in your muscles and how it changes at a thought, a person, or an action.
Assess your breathing and try to feel your heartbeat. Learn to perceive how the smallest muscles of the face tense before joy, nostalgia, and other feelings.
In doing so, stop judging yourself and just perceive.
Your body is like a child that will hide from you if you start to judge it. The idea is to understand how you react, little by little. If you do it with curiosity, you will end up knowing what triggers which feelings and little by little finding out why.
Many people are afraid of their own mind. But it is because they have been caught in those vicious cycles. They have not known how to get out of them. But like a child, your mind can learn to sit still, listening instead of talking. Mindfulness serves to train your mind and lovingly bring it back to a state of mindfulness over and over again.
Re-mapping your Mind: Mindful Emotion Awareness Meditation
Once in that open space, it will be possible to learn from your own mind. But not only that. You can also ‘record’ or inscribe new messages on it, achieving a true healing with the mind. This healing is compared to other types of psychological therapy and can even have a similar effect to pharmacological treatments. You can use:
- Messages of self-affirmation and hope, realizing and assessing your points in favor.
- Messages of empathy and forgiveness that will recover the quality of your relationships.
- Messages of calm and security, which will make you realize what you have instead of longing for what you lack.
- If we can paraphrase the yogis in their language, you must realize that in every mental effort You–the “I”–are behind it. You bid the mind work, and it obeys your will. You are the master, and not the slave of your mind. You are the driver, not the driven. Shake yourself loose from the tyranny of the mind: assert yourself, and be free! 🙂
Indeed, a central tenet of mindfulness is to work on controlling what you can control. Worry might be natural and inevitable, but we want to try to contain it, by coping better with ourselves. You can explore more here:
Thankfulness: the Science of Gratitude
- One of the most powerful tools is gratitude. It is an essential step in achieving your healing, and it is especially effective in healing a loss.. When we lose someone or something precious, it is normal to feel a whole range of emotions and feelings. When that happens, don’t try to force gratitude to be positive. Use the tools we have described above to understand where the feeling is coming from.
- Hug yourself like a baby in need of attention and have compassion for what you are living and feeling, but be careful not to get stuck in self-compassion (6).
- Once you’ve expressed your predominant emotion and it feels more natural, take some time to say thank you.
- Be grateful for what you do have. Life, the senses, food. Thank the people who support you, since you now know who to trust at times like this. Be grateful for the moments lived and the joyful memories. Thank the world for moving on. To the birds that keep trilling, the grass that keeps growing, your pets that keep waiting for you to get home.
During the practice of yoga, moments of emotional discovery are certainly common; but its self-revelatory powers are not typically front and center when considering the hallmarks of the practice itself. Yoga is usually undertaken as a form of exercise.
Many practioners, however, view the uncovering and releasing of emotional baggage as a central benefit of practicing yoga. If you have been through something intensely traumatic or as ‘insignificant’ as a stressful work interaction at work, many believe yoga can be a central part of the healing process.
Indeed, yoga and meditation of course can go hand-in-hand
“By healing the parts of ourselves that are frozen in the past, we are able to bring them back into the present – and each time we do this we become less fragmented, and more whole.” ― Jessica Moore
Is it easy? Not really. Applying the theory can be seem difficult and taxing. Be patient and above all, look at the world with the eyes of a learner.
- Take small steps / make micro-changes. Doing too much at once will backfire – you could become overwhelmed and feel like a failure. That’s not a good idea!
- Be willing to process your feelings. Yep, you can shut the door. Let’s not pretend that’s not an option. The problem is those memories / feelings tend to stick around and haunt you in ways large and small./li>
- Set realistic expectations. It’s not all smooth sailing. 2 steps forward 1 step back is fine! But if you approach everything with a bounce in your step and open mind and heart, you will reap long term benefits.
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Aviezer, H., Trope, Y., & Todorov, A. (2012). Body cues, not facial expressions, discriminate between intense positive and negative emotions. Science, 338(6111), 1225-1229.
Beilock, S. (2015). How the body knows its mind: The surprising power of the physical environment to influence how you think and feel. Simon and Schuster.
Khoury, B., Lecomte, T., Fortin, G., Masse, M., Therien, P., Bouchard, V., … & Hofmann, S. G. (2013). Mindfulness-based therapy: a comprehensive meta-analysis. Clinical psychology review, 33(6), 763-771.
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