Emotional Resilience Part 1

Inspired by my own struggles,  I came up with the idea for our classes – Building emotional resilience with yoga. This month I wanted to focus on the meaning of resilience and the importance of honouring our emotions.

Definition of resilience – “the capacity to withstand or to recover quickly from difficulties.”
Life is never just about being happy, it throws at us many different things outside of our control. In many situations, we can’t change any of it, but what we can change is our perception of the situation and our reaction to it. And yoga can help us to do it, it can help us to recover much quicker.
Emotions are an intricate and integral part of the human experience. They have the power to shape our perceptions, decisions, and actions. Often, we tend to categorize emotions as either “good” or “bad,” judging them based on societal norms and personal biases. However, yoga made me understand that emotions are merely energy in motion and that their inherent value lies in how we choose to navigate and utilize them. Imagine your emotional landscape as a vast canvas splashed with a spectrum of colours. Each emotion represents a distinct shade, and together they form a rich palette that shapes our experiences. Just as an artist blends colours to create a masterpiece, our emotional palette offers us infinite possibilities for self-expression, growth, and understanding. In society, we often tend to categorize emotions into: happiness versus sadness, love versus hate, joy versus anger. However, this view fails to acknowledge the complexity and depth of our emotional lives. Emotions, in their essence, are neither good nor bad. They are natural responses to our perceptions, experiences, and internal states. Rather than labelling certain emotions as undesirable, we should strive to understand their messages and lessons. Anger, for instance, can be a powerful motivator for change, while sadness can deepen our empathy and connection with others. By accepting and exploring our emotional diversity, we unlock a profound opportunity for personal growth and transformation.
Often, when faced with “negative” emotions, many of us have a natural tendency to avoid or suppress them rather than face them. This pattern of avoidance can be seen as sweeping these emotions under a metaphorical rug, hiding them from immediate view. While this approach may provide temporary relief or allow us to cope in the short term, it can have long-term consequences.
By avoiding or suppressing negative emotions, we fail to address their underlying causes or find healthy ways to process them. Instead, these emotions accumulate in our subconscious, creating an energetic vortex. This vortex acts as a sort of emotional whirlpool, perpetuating a cycle where negative emotions remain unresolved. As this vortex gains strength, it gradually drains our energy and vitality. The emotional turmoil lurking beneath the surface affects our mental well-being, often manifesting as stress, anxiety, or even depression. It consumes our mental and emotional resources, leaving us feeling exhausted and disconnected from our true selves. Moreover, this vortex can impact our relationships with others. Unresolved negative emotions can subtly influence our interactions, leading to miscommunication, heightened conflict, or emotional distance.
To break free from this draining cycle, it’s essential to face our emotions rather than sweeping them under the rug. By acknowledging and accepting these emotions, we open the door to understanding their roots and finding healthier ways to process and release them.

Step 1 – acknowledging the emotions
When we experience intense emotions such as joy, sadness, anger, or fear, our bodies often respond in various ways. These bodily reactions can range from subtle changes in heart rate, breathing, and muscle tension to more noticeable sensations like a racing heart, sweaty palms, or a sinking feeling in the gut. This mind-body connection is unquestionable. Even through our language we often express the connection between emotions and the body. We use phrases like “you broke my heart” or “I feel like someone kicked me in my guts” to communicate the impact of emotional experiences. These expressions highlight how emotions can be felt and experienced as bodily sensations. Scientific research supports the notion that emotions are indeed stored in our bodies. Studies have shown that emotions can elicit specific physiological responses, activating different areas of the brain and releasing various neurotransmitters and hormones. For example, stress and fear can trigger the release of cortisol and adrenaline, leading to increased heart rate and heightened alertness. Similarly, feelings of love and connection can result in the release of oxytocin, promoting relaxation and a sense of well-being. When we ignore or suppress our emotions, they can become trapped within our bodies, potentially leading to physical discomfort or even health issues over time. Acknowledging our emotions and their bodily manifestations is an essential aspect of emotional intelligence and self-awareness. By recognizing and accepting our emotional experiences, we can develop a deeper understanding of ourselves and better navigate the complexities of life. This process involves becoming attuned to our bodily sensations and learning to interpret them as signals of our emotional state.
It is important to find a few minutes and check how you feel. Sitting in a nice, calm environment. Maybe close your eyes and place one hand on your chest and one on your tummy and ask yourself a question – How am I today? How do I feel? What is my body telling me? In our class, we have done a drawing exercise when we tried to befriend the emotions and visualize them. Imagine your body shape and see where you feel the emotion, which part of your body, or maybe outside of your body? Do the emotions have got a shape or a colour? Maybe it has a taste or a sound, lights? If you were to touch it would it be soft or spiky? Try to get to know your emotions a little bit better. Draw them, name them, and be aware of them.

Step 2 – accepting and feeling the emotions

Once we have identified our emotions, the next crucial step is to fully accept them and allow them to exist without resistance. It is a natural human tendency to try and suppress or avoid uncomfortable emotions, but doing so can be detrimental to our well-being. By acknowledging and accepting our emotions, we create a space for healing and growth. Acceptance means recognizing that emotions are a fundamental part of being human. We all experience a wide range of emotions, including happiness, sadness, anger, fear, and many others. Each emotion serves a purpose and carries valuable information about our inner state. When we resist or deny these emotions, we suppress an essential aspect of ourselves and hinder our ability to understand and navigate our experiences. Allowing emotions to be means giving ourselves permission to experience them fully. It involves surrendering to the intensity of the emotion and embracing the discomfort it brings. It’s important to remember that emotions, no matter how overwhelming they may seem, will not harm us, however, if your mental health is not in good shape it might not be a great moment to do so. Your mind and your body will let you know if you are ready. Emotions are just temporary states that arise in response to our thoughts, beliefs, and experiences.

Fully accepting and allowing our emotions requires self-compassion and non-judgment. We must cultivate an attitude of kindness towards ourselves and recognize that emotions are neither good nor bad; they simply are. By embracing our emotions without labelling them as right or wrong, we create a space for self-acceptance and self-growth. Moreover, accepting and allowing our emotions can enhance our emotional intelligence. It enables us to understand ourselves better and empathize with others who may be going through similar experiences. When we fully experience and accept our own emotions, we become more attuned to the emotions of those around us, fostering deeper connections and more meaningful relationships.

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