E- motion ~ energy in motion
“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency, and vibration.” Nikola Tesla
What is emotion
The word “Emotion” has its roots in Latin and originally was written as - emovere, from e- (variant of ex-) ‘out’ + movere ‘move’, which literally meant original “to move out”. The nature of our emotions and feelings are sensations, they are felt and experienced in our bodies. Therefore, emotion is something that moves in us and from us - an energy that is in constant motion.
Emotions and the energy that they produce are, by nature, neutral. As we receive information from our outer or inner world, it begins its course through our bodies, shaping our behavior accordingly. In turn, our brain responds by sending impulses to our body and provokes a physical expression or action. As an effect, we start to behave in a certain mode as now we are feeling: anger, sadness, discomfort, joy, peace or excitement. It is the feeling that we experience as an outcome of this biochemical reaction - the ‘movement’ - that makes a specific emotion uplifting or difficult (all emotion is useful so it's helpful to move away from the traditional categorization of “positive” and “negative” feelings).
Nature of our feelings
In our society, expressing our feelings is seen as something negative. As we grow older, we are taught that our emotions are inappropriate, messy and unprofessional. Whereas, in reality, a healthy human being has full access to his or her feelings, allowing a free flow of emotional energy in his/her body. As we participate in this movement and become aware of it, we are able to understand how we are processing the information we take in from the outside world, or how that particular information affected our inner world. It's hiding, denying, and submerging our feelings that negatively contribute to our wellbeing.
“When emotions are expressed…all systems are united and made whole. When emotions are repressed, denied, not allowed to be whatever they may be, our network pathways get blocked, stopping the flow of the vital feel-good, unifying chemicals that run both our biology and our behavior.” 'Molecules of Emotion' by Candace Pert
When we try to turn down the volume on our emotional experience, we also turn down the volume on our vitality and the possibility to express ourselves freely and authentically. This, contrary to what we might think, costs us a tremendous amount of energy. Nature would never construct anything unnecessarily - being able to feel emotions and feelings is part of our biology. Emotional expression is a mechanism just as any other part of our complex bodily nature. Just as pain receptors respond when we touch fire - signaling our senses to stay away from danger as our survival is at risk - emotion arises to give us feedback about the outside as well as our inner world. We have to listen to it. If we do not, it will remain in our bodies until we give our attention and resolve the situation. For example, we may experience continuous back pain or stiff shoulders. What happens here is that we translated a stimuli or information from the outside world as a ‘load to sustain’ and if we continue to act this way, our muscles will respond accordingly and stay contracted.
If instead, uplifting feelings show up, in our modern society we should practice to allow the sensations to flow freely, to receive - those feelings can bring us tremendous energy and provide the fuel for us to transform and grow. There are no wrong or right emotions, each energetical movement in our bodies is a piece of important information to know what to repeat, know what to avoid and, most importantly, to discover who we are.
The Neuroscience of Emotion
Neuroscience is a fascinating field of study, and every day they are discoveries made by scientists about how our brain works. This field gives us enormous insight into why we are the way we are. Many recent discoveries significantly changed our understanding of the relationship between the emotional brain and the analytical brain.
Our emotional brain (Limbic system) responds faster to incoming information and stimuli than our analytical (neocortex) brain does.
The emotional brain has more neural circuits connecting to the analytical brain than the analytical brain has connected to the emotional brain.
The emotional brain is connected to every area of the brain, whereas the analytical brain is not.
Primarily as organisms, our main aim is to survive, therefore our emotional brain plays an important role in this as well. It tends to fire stronger neural connections when we encounter danger so we can remember ‘what to avoid’. That is why feelings like fear or anger take priority over feelings of happiness and peace of mind.
Giving these all new discoveries we can see that our emotional brain has a significant influence on our decision making, thought processes, and memories. The emotional brain translates the experiences we are subjected to into an energetic, embodied feeling. Therefore, developing our emotional intelligence is crucial and equally important to our well being.
Emotional first aid
Psychologist Guy Winch believes we should take care of our emotional state the same way that we treat a physical injury. If we stay at home to recover from physical pain, why not use a first aid cure when it comes to our emotional wounds? By taking care of our emotional health and giving it time and attention, we can transform our lives and improve our own well being.
You can try this emotional first aid approach immediately: take a moment and be present with what is, allow the free flow of energy surfacing and listen to it. Start to take seriously what your emotional self is telling you about you and the world around you.
If what is surfacing is a difficult feeling, start to breathe and collocate that sensation in your body, by placing attention and relaxing it from the inside. If it becomes too much - take a break, and try to name what you are sensing. A study conducted by UCLA professor of psychology Matthew D. Liebermanour found that naming what we feel decreases the response in the amygdala, a part of the limbic system within the brain that is responsible for emotions associated with fight or flight response. At the same time, it increases the activity in the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, the part of our brain involved in inhibiting behavior and processing emotions. Therefore, by labeling our emotions, we hit the ‘brake’ and become calmer and respond less reactively and more responsively.
If what you are feeling, on the other hand, is an uplifting feeling, stay with it, allow yourself to receive and feel. Take a moment and acknowledge the feeling and map in your body. Identify how it makes you feel, how your posture changes, and how you have changed after being struck by this feeling. By doing so, you create a memory and strengthen neural connections that, in the future, will allow you to access that state by default.
In short, to facilitate the nature of our emotions:
Become aware of the flux of the energy that arises in your body.
For difficult feelings - BE PRESENT with what is and release the contraction or pressure through movement, breath or sound.
For uplifting feelings - BE PRESENT with what is and allow it to flow, allow it to spread through your body, make a mental map on how does it feel and where in your body.
Try to name and describe your emotions and what lead you to feel it if you would like to gather a deeper insight and understanding.
...and be compassionate towards yourself for what you feel and for what it may cause in your life, as personal growth comes with failing and taking lessons, in order to discover what is best for us.