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Judith Orloff MD Headshot

This Spring, Rejuvenate Your Emotional Life

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Emotions can come at you hard and fast. You must be prepared.

In a flash, negativity can spin you into a tizzy, your center blown to smithereens. There are four major components of emotions: their biology, spirituality, energetic power, and psychology. Together, these components create an elegant portrait of your emotional self. Understanding them can help you deal with every angle of emotions -- cerebral and intuitive, from earth to heaven -- revealing breakthroughs about how you operate that will lead to freedom. Here is a summary of these four secrets that I discuss in greater depth in my book, Emotional Freedom, to help you combat toxic energies and keep your peace of mind.

Secret 1: Reprogram the Biology of Your Emotions

To know thyself, you must know some basics of your biology. Biology lends piercing insights into our emotions. It is the awesome science of life that defines the laws of how living things relate, both physically and emotionally. All emotions trigger biological reactions that shape your health just as distinctly as what you choose to eat or how you choose to exercise. When you learn to change your emotional reaction to a situation, you change your biological reaction as well.

Emotional stress depletes your body and calm revives it. Finding calm is an emotionally stressed-out person's salvation, a humane timeout from turmoil when you're centered and at ease. Stress hormones wane, as spasms in your shoulders and gut loosen, heart rate and blood pressure lower, mental frenzy relents. Your body can breathe freely again and gratefully releases its guard to become more open, soft, expansive.

Applying the First Secret: Reprogram the Biology of Your Emotions

Reduce Stress With This Three-Minute Meditation

  1. Find a comfortable, quiet place. Wearing loose clothing, settle into a relaxed position in a spot where you won't be interrupted.
  2. Focus on your breath to quiet thoughts. Eyes closed, gently place your awareness on your breath. Be conscious only of breathing in and breathing out. Maintain a centered state of calm by continuing to follow the movement of your breath.
  3. Breathe in calm, breathe out stress. Let yourself feel the sensuality of inhaling and exhaling as air passes through your nostrils and chest like a cool breeze. With each slow, deep breath, feel yourself inhaling calm, sweet as the scent of summer jasmine, then exhaling stress.

This simple, stress-busting meditation is an initial action step you can take to forge a winning partnership with your biology. Practicing it, you'll become increasingly adept at upping endorphins and short-circuiting your flight-or-flight response, biological gifts of meditation.

Secret 2: Uncover the Spiritual Meaning of Your Emotions

As a psychiatrist, I'm in the sacred position of getting to hear what goes on in people's heads, from soccer moms to movie stars. Despite how externally different we may seem we all have basic emotional commonalities, and often keep getting similarly sabotaged. Everyone wants love, but negativity, our own or another's, often subverts us. So what is our suffering for? The puzzle can be solved, but it requires a spiritual perspective.

Spirituality, as I'm defining it, is a quest for meaning that goes beyond the linear mind to access a vaster force of compassion to frame everything. Spirituality is freeing because it means opening the heart and doing your darndest to see every nanosecond of existence through this aperture. Always, you must ask, "How can a situation -- any situation -- help me grow and develop loving-kindness toward myself or others?"

Applying the Second Secret: Uncover the Spiritual Meaning of Your Emotions

A Heart Centering Meditation to Counter Negative Self-Talk

  1. Settle down. In a tranquil setting, sit comfortably and close your eyes. Take a few long, deep breaths to relieve tension. Even if your negative thoughts are going a mile a minute keep concentrating on your breath as best you can.
  2. Tune into your heart. Lightly rest your palm over your heart in the mid-chest. This energy center is the entryway to compassion and spirit. In a relaxed state, inwardly request to connect with a higher power, a force greater than yourself that links you to love. Then, in your heart area, notice what you intuitively feel, not what you think. You may experience a soothing warmth, comfort, clarity, even bliss. I often get shivers, a wave of goosebumps, or am moved to tears. If negative self-talk still arises, keep your compassion flowing; the self is doing the best it can.

This meditation is a surefire antidote to negative self-talk. I've never seen anyone able to sustain a denigrating diatribe when they're centered in the heart.

Secret 3: Learn the Energetic Power of Your Emotions

In Energy Psychiatry I've learned to see emotions as a stunning expression of energy. Positive ones nurture you. Negative ones deplete you. You feel emotions internally, while their energy extends beyond your body, affecting everyone you contact. Similarly, the emotions of others can register in you. I'd like you to begin to think of emotions in terms of subtle energy, a "vibe" emanating from yourself and others, an intimate sensing. Subtle energy is right in front of you, but isn't visible. It can be felt inches or feet from the body.

I realize that it's one thing to know this, and yet another to live it. The problem is that negative emotional energy is basically louder, wilder, and more seductively grabs your attention than the positive. On an intuitive level, emotions such as grief and terror are easier to sense than the lower keyed vibes of calmness or confidence. It's important that you channel this knowledge into new behaviors so you're not the doomed moth eternally drawn to the flame.

Applying the Third Secret: Learn The Energetic Power of Your Emotions

Try An Intuitive Experiment: Sense the Difference Between Positive and Negative Emotions

In this experiment, you're going to compare two scenarios. With both observe how your words and tone affect your body and emotional state. Spend at least a few minutes trying these words on.

Scenario 1. Stand in front of a mirror and sincerely say to yourself in a loving, appreciative tone, "I look terrific and I'm a fantastic person." Stay focused on your positives. Then feel, don't think. Notice: How does your body react? Are you breathing easier? Do your shoulders relax?

Scenario 2. Stand in front of the mirror and say in your nastiest, most hateful tone, "I look horrible and I despise myself." Really mean it. Flare those negatives up. How does your body react now? Notice: Your shoulders? Your gut? Chest?

I'm so taken by this exercise because it spells out that positive and negative energy are about as opposite as you can get. No confusing them. Ask yourself: Which do you prefer?

Secret 4: Map the Psychology of Your Emotions

Why do you feel what you feel? Where do fear of commitment, alpha achieving, or looking on the bright side begin? Which emotional coping styles hinder or serve you? These urgent questions are the life-blood of psychology's study of emotions and behavior. You need to know your psychological self so unhealthy patterning doesn't stifle you. Here's a look at how psychology can liberate your heart and head. I'll focus on one principle -- "you are not your parents" -- which is so central to your emotional freedom that it can dictate how you treat yourself and everyone you love.

Applying the Fourth Secret: Map the Psychology of Your Emotions

Take An Emotional Inventory of Your Parents

To get a well-rounded picture of your parents, I'd like you to take an inventory of their top five positive and negative traits. When identifying these traits, try to see your parents as human rather than idealizing or demonizing them. Get their pluses and minuses down on paper so they can stare right back at you. When reviewing the inventory, consider ways your parents' assets or liabilities impacted you. Also, be truthful about the traits you, too, possess. If they are positive, embrace them. If they are negative, begin to work with one at a time to free yourself. You don't have to worry about turning into your parents if you take action not to parrot their dysfunction.

Self-knowledge is a most impressive oracle, crystallizing who you are and can be. As it mounts, expect to feel a coming together inside of you, a beautiful feeling of awakening. I praise consciousness so unflinchingly because it's the path to freedom.

For more by Judith Orloff, M.D., click here.

For more on emotional wellness, click here.

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