So what exactly is emotional meditation?
To really understand emotional meditation we will need to understand the way in which our emotions serve us.
Our emotions are an extraordinary gift; they are the ultimate relational tool. They are ultra-responsive and very immediate. Like an internal satnav system they literally give us minute-by-minute information, all of the time. If you think about it, the way that we feel can change in an instant, and this is actually one of the ways in which our emotions serve us.
Everything that we feel is valuable and important to us. Even when we experience something that is intensely difficult, our feelings are actually telling us something... and it's good information. It may be uncomfortable... Sometimes confusing... Sometimes even overwhelming... But when our emotions speak to us... it's good information. Even when we experience something that is particularly challenging, our emotions are giving us the heads up that something's not okay and that something needs to change.
So how do we experience our emotions? When we feel an emotion, we will experience it physically, we feel it in our body. If we are anxious we may get short of breath and our heart rate increases... When we are stressed, our body feels tense. So our emotions are experienced through our physical body... The task of our mind, our extraordinary mind, is to listen to this information, and to process and make sense of our experience. This then enables us to consciously formulate our desires, our intentions and our choices. This is the way that our mind and our emotions can work in harmony together... They're a team.
Our emotions then help to generate the power and the energy that we need to move forwards and fuel us into action. Motivation, assertiveness, passion and pride, are all highly emotionally charged states of being. Likewise when we are unhappy, anxious or fearful, these are also highly charged emotional states of being and the difference is clear... One feels powerful and enabling whilst the other leaves us feeling drained and exhausted. So our emotions can power us up or power us down. However you look at it the quality of our experience of ourselves in every aspect of our lives is influenced and colored by our emotions.
Now most of us at some point in our lives will experience times when we struggle to move forwards... we feel blocked. We tend to think of blocks as existing in our mind and whilst this can be the case in reality the substance of our blocks will also involve some kind of emotional energy or emotional residue that is still held within us.
Science has shown us that our individual cells carry a form of genetic memory. Experiments have shown that trauma can be passed down genetically through several generations without specific events ever being spoken about or consciously known. So what does this mean for us?
It means that we can carry highly emotionally charged memory without any conscious knowledge of where it comes from and what it's about. So if we find ourselves feeling blocked or emotionally reactive, whilst we may be able to identify what this is about and relate it to a specific event... sometimes we may not.
Now in my experience, whilst it can be profoundly helpful to be able to identify exactly where our blocks come from, it isn't always absolutely essential. We can still release emotional content from our system whether we know where it's come from or not and our emotions are the vehicle that enable us to do this. Our emotions enable us to release tension from our physical body. They are a vehicle for emotional release and emotional expression. This is another vital way in which our emotions serve us.
When we talk about working through something, it isn't simply a process of creating some kind of mental or intellectual understanding. We are talking about our capacity to use our emotions to process an experience. Grieving is a good example of this. When we grieve, we all understand this is not an intellectual process, it's an emotional process. A process that enables both emotional release and emotional transformation. And this process of release and transformation enables us to grow through an experience, and to grow beyond that experience.
In a conversation with Alan Holmes, Deepak Chopra and Dr. Rudi Tanzi discuss their latest book, Super Genes. Their research in the field of epigenetics has shown that although a proportion of the genes passed down from our parents, are unchangeable, a greater proportion are actually programmed by our lifestyle, which means that through conscious choice, we have the potential to create genetic change.
Even if our here and now experience is being coloured in some way by the past, either our own experiences, or indeed experiences inherited from previous generations, by developing a fluent relationship between our mind and our emotions we develop the capacity to process experience, and make changes in our lives... Changes that will influence not only the quality of our own lives right now, but potentially the quality of the lives of future generations ahead of us.
Emotional meditation is specifically designed to deepen emotional awareness, expand emotional vocabulary and strengthen the relationship between our mind and our emotions, combined with emotional release through meditation.
Each day I talk about a different aspect of emotional understanding in a language that is straightforward and accessible, without jargon, before we then move into a meditation together. In the first part of the meditation we create a space for a more immediate relationship with ourselves, a time of gentle holding where emotions can be mindfully released without any form of judgement or criticism and with thoughtful awareness of any emotional tension held in our physical body, literally clearing and creating space within ourselves so that we can move into a place of calm, a place of stillness, a place of simply being, with connection and relationship to a deeper and greater experience.
In part two of this blog, I share my own personal journey that led me to create this experience of emotional awareness and emotional release through meditation.