Reaching the balance
We are taught to think about and evaluate everything but rarely are we encouraged to feel the feelings arising in our bodies or listen to our inner bodily knowing. This intuition or inner knowing arising from the body is closely connected to the energies of the natural world. But the body also is where we experience emotions - both positive and negative. In order to protect ourselves from feeling the painful emotions we sometimes create a separation between the mind and the body so we don't feel the pain. We literally disassociate our hearts from our minds.
The consequences of this self-protecting strategy are enormous. Once we can't feel the painful emotions we also can't feel the positive ones. We simply can't feel and are no longer in touch with the innate wisdom of the body. Once we've disconnected from our body we are also disconnected from the Earth because our body is our direct connection to the nonverbal energies of nature.
Once we have lost our attunement to our bodies and the cycles of Nature, a sense of exile grows within our souls. We feel alienated and empty and often act out various forms of violence and abuse against ourselves, each other and the Earth. Cutting down acres of irreplaceable virgin forest is a violent act but we can no longer consciously feel the effects of our violence.
We want to remove our suffering and anxiety from our awareness and try to fill up the emptiness with substances and experiences including material goods, relationships and power. These things can temporarily distract us but are not a lasting solution.
As we consciously make the decision to heal the separation between our hearts and our minds and release the blocked energies in our bodies we are returning our souls to our bodies. We will then be able to feel the harmony and natural laws of the Universe in the very marrow of our bones. We will no longer abuse ourselves, each other or the environment. We will remember our intimate connection to the intricate web of life.
What is intelligence?
Spearman found that the same people who did well in a variety of mental tests tended to use a part in their brains that he termed 'g'. This 'g' laid the foundation for the notion of a single intelligence, which enables us to undertake everyday mental tasks.
A recent study seems to endorse Spearman's theory. Research has found that a part of the brain called the 'lateral prefrontal cortex' is the only area of the brain to increase in blood flow when volunteers tackle complicated puzzles.
Spearman's concept, however, is still highly controversial with many people questioning both the statistical process and the simplistic nature of 'g'. There is also a body of research that states that our mental ability is a function of social factors such as education and not one's inherent biological make-up.
Intelligence and the brain
The purpose of thought
No one can use his intellect too much. It is such a great force, with
so much potential, that you cannot use it too much. Not only do you not
use it too much, but you never even use it totally. Ordinarily, you do
not use more than ten to fifteen percent of your total intellectual potential.
Don’t be afraid of using the intellect too much. Only when intelligence is used do you touch the depths; only there is your potential stimulated. Intellectual work does not mean that your intelligence is being used. Intellectual work is merely superficial; no depth is touched, nothing is challenged. That gives rise to boredom; it creates work that is without enjoyment. Enjoyment always comes when your individuality is challenged and you have to prove yourself and respond to the challenge. When challenged, intelligence or emotion both create their own bliss.
The Delicate Balance
Almost all self-help books tell you to get in touch with your emotions. Why is this so important? Because our emotions enable us to experience life. Our emotions are the most powerful factors in determining how we act, make decisions, set personal boundaries, and communicate with others. Therefore, it is reasoned that if we understand and control our emotions, we can improve the quality of our lives.
Emotions are Energy
Emotions are energies that are created within our bodies in response to physical experiences we have and thoughts we think. As energy, emotions are our source of life force. They animate us and provide us with motivation, passion and the richness in life's experiences.
Emotions are like electricity. They flow through our bodies like electricity flows through a wire. You cannot see emotions but you can feel them. Emotions, like electricity, never stay still. They are always moving.
The amount of electricity flowing through a light globe determines how brightly it glows. In a similar way the degree of openness we have in allowing our emotions to move through us determines the intensity of aliveness we feel.
In his Number 1 best seller 'Emotional Intelligence - Why it can matter more than IQ' Dr Daniel Goleman states that:
'What really matters for success, character, happiness and life long
achievements is a definable set of emotional skills - your EQ - not just
purely cognitive abilities that are measured by conventional IQ tests."'
What is Emotional Mastery?
Emotional Mastery is about getting our emotions to serve us - to empower us in getting what we want from life. This requires gaining an understanding of how our emotions affect us and how we can use them to improve the quality of our lives.
I often find that it is an emotion that has not been recognised and responded to in an appropriate way that is the cause of poor performances and stress in peoples lives.
Most of us are uneducated in the roles and functioning of our emotions. When I teach this information, I am often asked why we are not taught about our emotions as we grew up? Our emotional aspect is a very significant part of our lives which we know very little about.
Due to our lack of emotional understanding, we are often slaves to the particular irks and quirks of emotional whims. We may be either emotionally out of control or control addicts. Very few of us know how to use our emotions in healthy and creative ways.
Emotional Mastery is about regaining control of our lives by developing a strong, healthy and stable emotional core. It means bringing our emotions into balance. For some people emotions are so intense that they fear being overwhelmed by them. Others spend much of their lives feeling very little and struggle to connect with and express their emotions.
Emotional Mastery happens when we become capable of allowing ourselves to feel our emotions and still to do what we want to do. We often avoid doing things that may bring up emotions (particularly fear, anger and sadness) because we do not know how to handle them in ourselves or in others.
For example, many times we let our fears stop us from taking action that we know would be in our best interest. We may avoid, going to the dentist, facing a looming problem we don't want to look at, standing up for ourselves at work or stating what we want in our relationships. In this way our fear has mastered us, preventing us from doing what we want to do. We have become the slave of our emotions.
Four Bodies = One Human Being
As human beings we have four bodies:
Physical - called our body.
Emotional - this body has no name*.
Spiritual - called our soul.
How can we know
factual reality when
Our physical and mental aspects tend to be associated with 'masculine' qualities being tangible, logical, finite and understandable. Our emotional and spiritual aspects tend to be associated with 'feminine' qualities being esoteric, nonlinear, not necessarily understandable or logical, infinite and mystical.
We have lain such heavy emphasises on our thinking capacities that we are out of balance with our feeling instincts. Our patriarchal Western culture, has emphasised our physical and mental aspects to the detriment of our emotional and spiritual aspects. One of the founders of our culture, Descartes, proposed that "I think, therefore I am". His premise is that our existence has validity because we think. I say: "I think, therefore I am confused".
Our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual bodies are not separate from each other. They are dynamically interwoven. Think for a moment about how your physical body feels and the kind of thoughts you have when you are happy compared to when you are sad. Health studies are showing clear links between emotional traumas and physical illness. The question these days is not whether our emotions affect our health, the question is 'How much they affect our health?'.
Clearly we are reaching the limits of the bias toward the physical and mental. Unemployment rages and pollution threatens our forests, rivers, oceans and our health. Youth suicide and discontentment are a real concern. The health care system is labouring under an overload of a burden that requires more and more money to keep it going. Marriage breakdowns are running at 50 per cent. Many people are feeling lost, empty uninspired and unfulfilled in their lives.
Humanity desperately needs to wake up to the neglected emotional (and spiritual) aspects of being human. We need to embrace our full nature: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Our physical body, emotional body and soul provide us with great sources of wisdom, but many of us have come to rely on only the wisdom accessible through our intellects.
Emotions are Real, Valid and Important
We live in a culture that tends to deny the reality of our emotional aspect. This is reflected in the fact that there is no name for our emotional body. A large number of personal, social and environmental problems have arisen because Western culture does not recognise or validate our emotions as real.
Emotions are often shamed and ridiculed. For example, when we are sad we are told to 'grow up', 'cheer up', 'look on the bright side', 'think of how lucky we are'. Boys are told that they are 'sissies', 'wimps', 'sooks' or 'girls' if they cry. Girls are told that they are 'bitches', 'nasty' or 'unladylike' if they express anger. We are told not to be 'so emotional', not to be 'so sensitive', not to 'take it personally', 'take a broader perspective', 'forgive and forget' - anything but acknowledge that we are actually having a real experience called 'an emotion'. Unfortunately emotions do not just 'go away' if we deny or ignore them. Instead they cause disruption to our inner state of well-being and affect our outer actions which in turn affects others which in turn affects the health of the planet.
During a 'Breathwork' session I had in 1992 I suddenly recognised my emotional body. I realised that this was a major part of me that I had not known existed before. I raced down to a large alternative bookstore in the city and asked for a book on emotions. The woman behind the counter looked at me blankly, scratched her head and said she didn't think that she could help me. As we looked through the shelves on personal development we saw plenty of books about how to use your mind power but nothing on how to use your emotional power! Only recently have books such as Dr Daniel Goleman's 'Emotional Intelligence' started to appear. This is clearly a pioneering frontier!
Our emotions are real, valid and an important part of being human. We need to be emotionally proficient if we are to lead fulfilling lives in harmony with the planet. Emotional well being leads to satisfying relationships, inner happiness, personal power and harmony with all life.
Keys to Emotional Mastery
Shutting Down Our Life Force - Suppressing Emotion
For most of us, growing up involved learning to shut down the expression of our emotions. As babies we expressed our emotions spontaneously, freely and fully. As young children controlling and suppressing our emotions was often a good idea: It meant that we were more likely to be acceptable and less likely to get into trouble. Young children are told to 'be quiet', 'don't answer back', 'not to shout' and that 'children should be seen and not heard'. They often get ridiculed and reprimanded for their expressing emotions. When in trouble they dare not answer back for fear of getting punished more. Eventually they learn that it is sensible not to express their feelings.
It is important to realise that because we did not feel or express any emotional energy outwardly, does not mean that emotional energy was not created. Often as adults we are not in touch with our emotions. We have difficulty feeling the full force of emotion that naturally arises in our lives. Sometimes an event will happen that triggers an emotion that relates to another event that happened a long time ago. For instance, when my friend's kitten died, it triggered an outpouring of unexpressed grief over his father's death, even though his father had passed away 8 years earlier.
The Price we pay
The price we pay when we shut down our emotional expression includes;
1. Loss of energy and passion for life - feelings of tiredness and fatigue
2. Diminished experience of all emotions
3. Loss of feelings of self confidence and self love
4. Loss of touch with inner wisdom, knowing what is right for us.
5. Pain, Inner turmoil - loss of inner peace
6. Poor health - disease
7. Relationship breakdowns, including diminished capacity for intimacy
8. Diminished concentration span
9. Stiffness in our bodies
Our Emotions are our friends.
When in proper balance each emotion contributes to our ability to live a healthy and successful life. Our fear is present to raise our alertness in times of potential danger, our anger arises to assist us to stand up for ourselves when we feel powerless, grieving our sadness allows us to let go of our losses and move forward and our joy is present to lift us towards the ultimate experience of life. Expressing any emotion opens our heart to greater experiences of love and aliveness.
Emotional intelligence means knowing what you and others are feeling
and acting ethically, with a social conscience. In other words, book
smarts and people smarts may be of equal value but emotional intelligence
is what makes certain people stand out. These people seem to have "it" together;
they are a graceful balance of intellect and emotion. They inspire, lead,
and make others feel good about themselves while maintaining their own
integrity and sense of personal worth. No one is diminished by being
in his or her presence. On the contrary, we all wish we could be more
People with emotional intelligence have an unshakable confidence in themselves, which comes from self-knowledge and self-honesty. They know that their personal happiness is up to them and no one else. Instead of labeling other people and their actions, they check their emotions first. People with emotional intelligence look out for their well being as well as that of others. They understand that life is not just about them; it's about balance.
How Can You Improve Your Emotional Intelligence?
1.Take responsibility for your emotions and your happiness.
2. Examine your own feelings rather than the actions or motives of other people.
3. Develop constructive coping skills for specific moods. Learn
4. Make hunting for the silver lining a game. Look for the
5. Be honest with yourself. Acknowledge your negative feelings, look for their source, and come up with a way to solve the underlying problem.
6. Show respect by respecting other people's feelings.
7. Avoid people who invalidate you or don't respect your
8. Listen twice as much as you speak.
9. Pay attention to non-verbal communication. We communicate with our whole selves. Watch faces, listen to tone of voice, and take note of body language.
10. Realize that improving your emotional intelligence will
As we heal the separation between our hearts and our minds we will find new images and balanced energies within that nourish us and value life.
with thanks to
Marsha L. Green, PhD