We all want to live a more balanced life, and emotional harmony is a large part of this. So what are emotions exactly? And how does our physiology actually effect our emotions more than we may think.
What are emotions?
Emotions are energy in motion. The beautiful part to take away from this, is movement. Whilst we are in the middle of feeling the energy within us - say the hot flush of anxiety, the burning sensation of shame, or the gut wrenching density of loss - this energy in motion will move, change and pass. Becoming aware of the energy moving inside you is how you take your meditation practice into everyday life. In the midst of feeling an emotion, noticing where you feel it in your body, how it feels exactly, noticing it coming, peaking, and receding.
What are feelings?
The awareness of an emotion, is feeling. This can be when we name and identify an emotion, of which there are over 34,000 (Dr Alan Watkins). Getting in touch with your feelings, understanding what is happening within and noticing them as they come, and go, is key for a person's emotional stability. The tricky thing with feelings, especially the uncomfortable ones, is we have to actually feel them. Allow yourself to feel what is, whilst trusting in the impermanence of this feeling and letting it go when it naturally does.
You are what you eat
Your emotions and your physiology are affecting one another constantly. Whilst in the brain, emotions are processed by the Limbic System, they are also hugely dependant on the brain within your stomach - your gut. Food is medicine and one big step in a life of greater emotional harmony is to look at the food on your plate. Eating foods you're intolerant to will lead to inflammation, and foods high in sugar are going to increase cortisol, the stress hormone, in your body. Drinking plenty of water and eating the fresh, bright and green good stuff will help.
Honour thy hormones
Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we may feel like we're constantly on an emotional rollercoaster, and our hormones may just be why. For both men and women, hormones have a huge impact on our emotional lives. Their role in our emotional wellbeing shouldn't be underestimated. For women in particular, given we have the gift of a cyclical moon phase within our very system - our hormones can drastically effect our emotions. Some of the leading causes of hormone imbalance include stress, high amounts of sugar in the blood, toxicity and poor liver function, and a compromised large intestine. Some of the ways to work with our hormones in these areas are:
1. Have a regular meditation or mindfulness practice to reduce stress.
2. Sleep should never be underestimated for the health of your hormones and overall wellbeing, make sure you are getting enough restful sleep.
2. Avoid packaged and artificial foods that are high in sugar (high quantities of sugar are often hidden in sauces and dairy products too).
3. Eat organic wholefoods to avoid pesticides and chemicals.
4. Avoid Xeno-estrogens. This xenohormone (derived from the Greek word ξένος meaning "stranger") is found in make-up, plastics, shampoos, skin products, toothpastes and cleaning products. Xeno-estrogens imitates natural estrogen and subsequently hinders the body's natural production of this hormone. This results in making both women and men estrogen dominant, which has a range of health implications.
5. Take care of your large intestine by drinking plenty of water and eating easily digestible and nutritious wholefoods.
Our old friend, stress...
There is controlled and uncontrolled stresses. The body's response to high stress is the same wether you are speaking in public, or running from a tiger. So, it's important to try to manage our stress levels as best we can. Take care of your adrenals with yoga postures that work the middle and lower spine (like cat/cow pose), set a sleeping ritual to make sure you're getting enough sleep for your system, reduce artificial lighting at night and engage in a meditation and mindfulness practice such as our Silatha Meditation App. Remember, when you're aware you're under stress, focusing on slow, rhythmic breathing is proven to lower your heart rate and bring you back to a state of equilibrium.
Emotional Freedom Technique - (EFT)
We're often unaware of what we're feeling during the day. It can be because of our conditioning, or because there are some emotions we've told ourselves we just don't want to feel. Some of us have really become masters at numbing or masking our emotions completely. Yet they remain in the body and what is not felt, can be trapped and manifest as dis-ease. EFT is a useful technique to bring your cognitive awareness to your emotions, allowing them to move through you with love and acceptance. It involves gently tapping on key accupressure points on the body whilst saying the affirmation "Even though I feel (emotion - e.g frustrated, angry, ashamed) I love and accept myself deeply and completely." There's many videos on YouTube where you can learn this fast and effective technique.
All emotions are part of the human experience; all feelings are sacred. Keeping a regular private journal to express your feelings can really help you in identifying your emotions, and also seeing how they change over time. This deep trust in the changeability of your emotions can get you through the toughest times. A mantra you can use is "these feelings are precious, for they will not last" to remind you that all feelings are part of the sacred experience of life. Let the journal be messy, let it reflect all the highs and lows of your day. We naturally tend to cling on to the highest highs and the lowest lows identifying with them. Writing out all the feelings you experience throughout your day might open your eyes to the plethora of emotions moving through you like waves, constantly.
*The advice in this article is given for general wellbeing and does not intend to be given as medical advice. Always seek advice from your healthcare provider when making changes to your diet, exercise and lifestyle.