In today’s episode on 30 DAYS OF INTENT, Natalie and Iman meet with Alyssa Nobriga, a relationship counselor and life coach. Alyssa has a Master’s degree in spiritual psychology, and she leads Natalie and Iman each through a counseling session. Iman confronts the pain surrounding his recent break-up. Natalie struggles with feelings of inadequacy and regret after leaving a career in professional soccer. We interviewed Alyssa on the relationship between spirituality and emotional health.
The Chopra Well: Hi, Alyssa! To kick things off, what does spirituality mean to you?
Alyssa Nobriga: To me spirituality is life, one in the same. It is about waking up from the ideas that have been created about life and experiencing it directly as it is in reality. Not a thought about reality, which would compartmentalize and separate life into categories, but the actual experience happening now without our interpretation of it.
CW: How do you see the relationship between psychology and spirituality?
AN: I see psychology/therapy as a resource to support spiritual awakening. As you gain a larger vantage point of the conditioned mind, you are no longer caught in it and can more fully experience the fullness of who you are. This is the deepest level of healing because unless you gain awareness of the beliefs, behaviors and identifications that create psychological suffering, the ego will continue to replace the previous “problem” with a new one. In the investigation of who we have taken ourselves to be, this identification with the personality begins to fall away and a deeper seeing of our true nature is possible.
CW: If there is one thing you could advise everyone to do regarding their emotional health, what would it be?
AN: Learn how to welcome all emotions without identifying with them or buying into the stories the mind may create and attach to the feeling. We tend to label some things as good and others as bad and try to avoid the “bad” feelings. But what I have found is that these so called bad feelings actually aren’t what we think they are when they are experienced. What I have found is that when we try to avoid certain feelings they actually imprison us. Our energy will either be used up trying to repress or avoid feelings or it will be freed if we have the willingness to allow and meet whatever comes up directly in our body moment to moment.
CW: How do people react to this advice? Is there ever the fear that once we allow certain emotions in they’ll never go away?
AN: I find that sometimes clients want to stay talking about the feelings and this is a subtle form of avoiding it because it keeps the feelings at a distance, rather than feeling them. I mention this because some of these tendencies of avoiding can become so sneaky even to ourselves I offer it as something to watch for. As we accept ALL of what comes up, without judgment or identification, it naturally moves through and lets go. If we can really open up to experiencing the raw energy of say sadness or anxiety, it actually moves through quickly and usually reveals a gift within it. We have to be willing to fully surrender to the emotion, not indulge in it or avoid it but just simply allow it. The feelings will pass, everything does. My experience is that the reservoir of unexpressed past emotion dries out, it’s not endless.
CW: Natalie asks, “How do you love the parts of yourself that are the most misbehaving?” How would you answer that question?
AN: I would answer this question differently to different people, depending on what their intention is. If they were only interested in feeling good then I would ask them, who do you feel so incredibly loved and accepted by? I would have them bring forward this person in their awareness, get in touch with how they feel with this person and ask them how this person would see that part of them. As they connect with that person’s presence and unconditional love more fully in their body, I would invite them to allow it to touch that part of them that they have judged. Essentially to allow that love the other person evokes in them to wash over the part of them they judge; to be able to see it through the eyes of unconditional acceptance is healing. Whatever we judge we hold in place and it holds us back, whether we are judging someone else or ourselves, it’s the same. When we allow what has been judged or hurt to intimately be met with love and acceptance, it opens the space for deep healing to unfold.
If the person asking me is interested in discovering and living the truth of who they are, I would invite them into a deeper inquiry. I would invite them to find what in them is already loving, regardless of the mind judging or accepting their experience. I would guide them into recognizing this presence that is prior to the mind’s interpretations of who they think they are. In this way there is an opportunity to awaken from the one they have identified with as problematic or broken. In waking up to this game, actually being able to see from this larger perspective no longer identified with a limited self, you can realize that this love that is always here, is what you are. This field of awareness unconditionally welcomes everything – the hurt, the joy. It’s just the way life dances with itself.
CW: What is your intent in sharing your work with the Chopra Well? What do you hope it will bring the participants?
AN: My intention is to support people in discovering true lasting love, that which could never be separate from who they really are. In sharing with the Chopra Well my hope is that it will inspire people to learn how to use their relationships as vehicles to awaken consciously and come home to themselves.
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Would you like to work through some difficult emotions or memories? Try Alyssa’s advice, and let us know how it goes!
Alyssa is offering a FREE Couples Counseling Consultation to Intent readers!