These may be toxic emotions, like anger, jealousy, or guilt. But they may be neutral or even positive, but the intensity of the feeling is almost too much to bear.
While fielding questions in the heart of NYC’s Union Square for The Chopra Well series, SPIRITUAL SOLUTIONS, Deepak was approached by Kersten with the predicament: “How do I deal with extreme emotions?” In the past, Kersten said, she has tried to avoid her emotions. Now when she experiences them, they “come in great force.”
This seems to be a conundrum in our culture. Americans especially love getting emotional over their favorite football teams and the latest controversies of political campaigns. But in our personal lives, who wants to be the one laughing the loudest at the movie theater or saying “I love you” first to a sweetheart? Balance is a virtue; moderation is key.
In response to Kersten’s dilemma, Deepak shares a 7-step process to release emotional toxins. It may come as surprise to many, though, that the process focuses on experiencing emotions fully and then releasing those that get in the way. The steps originally featured in Deepak’s book, The Ultimate Happiness Prescription, and follow as such:
1. Take responsibility for your present emotion.
2. Feel it in your body.
3. Label your feeling.
4. Express what you feel.
5. Share what you feel with someone you trust.
6. Release the toxic feeling through a ritual.
7. Celebrate the release and move on.
As you work through the steps, imagine that you are metabolizing the emotion. Your body, mind, and soul need to process feelings, just as you process food or toxins, so that they don’t make you ill. Don’t shy away from the experience, as raw as it might get.
First, take responsibility for what your body and mind are experiencing. Feelings occur within you, though they may be triggered by external stimuli. There are always alternate ways of responding. Deepak emphasizes that we have the power to feel and respond exactly as we wish.
Feel the emotion in your body. Close your eyes and meditate on the feeling. You may experience sensations in certain parts of your body – tension, tingling, aching. Notice the feeling without any attachment to it.
Label the feeling; identify it. The Boogie Man isn’t so scary if you learn his name is Albert. Give the feeling a name. Irritation? Fear? Anticipation? Once you label it, you already have the upper hand.
Express what you feel by saying it out loud and writing it down on a piece of paper. It can help to frame from first person, second person, and third person. This may help you understand it from a slightly new perspective.
Share the feeling with someone you trust – a loved one or friend. This will help you verbalize the progress you are making in dealing with the emotion.
Release the toxic feeling by performing a ritual. Deepak tells Kersten that this may entail burning the piece of paper on which you wrote your feelings, throwing it to the wind, singing, dancing, or doing yoga. This symbolically releases you from the experience.
Celebrate the process and get on with your life. Allow yourself to be free of the emotion and recognize the hard work you did to overcome it. Then go have some fun! You deserved it.
For an even more in-depth outline of the seven steps, check out this article by Deepak Chopra.
Participate in the 5-day Emotional Freedom experience at the Chopra Center.
Originally published July 2012