Emotional Processing

An Energetic Point of View

By Cyndi Dale
[Energy Work]

Philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. But there is another, more tenuous, idea hidden in this concept: that we are spirits having an emotional experience.
Emotions, especially repressed emotions, are often related to and sometimes the cause of deep-seated tension, illness, inflammation, and pain. These stress-related symptoms are high on the list of reasons why clients see massage therapists, bodyworkers, and healers. It’s only logical that while we’re assisting clients with their physical problems, the work may trigger underlying emotions—and when that happens, we’ll be the ones they look to for support.
We can’t offer psychiatric advice, as this falls outside our scope of practice, but as fellow human beings, we can always be present with compassion and grace. Decades ago, the first time one of my clients had an emotional reaction, my immediate response was to panic. I wanted to protest: “I’m not a counselor!” Did my client want me to be a counselor? No. He simply needed me to witness his emotions. I have found that one of the most powerful ways to help a client with an emotional release is to approach emotions from a subtle energy point of view.

The Emotional Toll of Stress
Let’s first address the issue of why it’s so important to be present for clients’ emotions. Scientists have known for decades that repressed or unacknowledged emotions can cause or contribute to disease, pain, and psychological damage. Back in the late 1980s, emotional intelligence expert Daniel Goleman pointed out that individuals who repress their emotions are more prone to disease. Those who repress all emotion in favor of rationality are most in danger. The longer the emotions are locked into the body, the more significant the toll.1
Since those initial forays into the body-mind phenomenon, the link between emotional trauma and physical maladies has become a well-trodden road. As many as 90 percent of all physician visits are for stress-related issues, which often include psychological and emotional components. In fact, about 43 percent of all adults report that they currently suffer adverse effects from stress.2
Even the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that addressing emotional and behavioral issues plays a significant role in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of the 15 leading causes of death in the United States, including heart disease, cancer, accidents, hypertension, and more.3 Hundreds of studies on stress and immunity show that psychological distress negatively affects the immune response, further substantiating the integral relationship between emotional stress and physical maladies.4
Early childhood stress is especially toxic, say researchers from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Harvard Medical School, explaining that when the body’s stress response is activated so early, there can be long-term harmful effects on the brain and organs. One of the reasons why early emotional crises are so long lasting is that once the neurological pathways for responding to stress are laid down, physiological responses to stress are more easily triggered later in life—even when the current situation is dissimilar to a childhood one.5
Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long for childhood trauma to harm the body. Research outlined by the Child Welfare division of the US Department of Health & Human Services shows that during the three years after a maltreatment investigation, nearly one-third of the children developed a chronic health condition. In addition, the emotional adversity led to psychological conditions including depression, anxiety, and other psychiatric disorders.6
When you’re working on someone’s body, repressed emotions are bound to surface. After all, emotions are physical. Our neurotransmitters instruct everything from our heart to our hunger, yet it is estimated that 86 percent of Americans have imbalanced neurotransmitter levels.7 Such imbalances are linked to dozens of disorders, including addiction, ADHD, adrenal fatigue, bipolar disorder, chronic pain, depression, fibromyalgia, hormone dysfunction, irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, panic attacks, and weight issues.8 Neuropeptides, a special type of neurotransmitter, deserve special attention from bodyworkers because they regulate emotions and stress. They also bind to the surface of cells located throughout the body, thus turning our entire body into a “mood machine.” Within these cells we hold and process both current information and memories.9
Emotional triggering is strongest when clients’ defenses are low or they are being touched, something that’s being explored through an emerging discipline called somatic psychology. Somatic psychology addresses the loop between emotional stress, trauma, and pain. Chronic pain—the type often seen in massage clients—often hides feelings of anxiety, depression, and hopelessness. These emotions might very well be caused by posttraumatic stress disorder or other unresolved emotional issues.10

The Power of Emotion
Being a body therapist really can call for us to be a “therapist” at times. So how do we provide emotional support, energetically, and without stepping outside our scope?
We start by recognizing that an emotion is composed of bonded energies—energy being information that moves. There are two types of emotions: those made of affixed feelings and those made of at least one feeling and one belief bound together. Emotions form to empower our reactions to an event, especially stress. Like all things, each feeling carries a certain vibrational impact and reinforces a certain message. The same goes for beliefs. It’s important to remember that feelings and beliefs hold energy and when they are joined—feeling plus feeling or feeling plus belief—create exponential energy. Emotions activate all the other energies of our body, mind, and soul, stirring explosive effects.
Emotions are great. Under pressure, intense emotion can help us lift a car off a trapped victim. Emotions are like chemical equations of interaction that respond to stimulation with action. Problems occur when an emotion forms and remains fastened permanently.
For example, imagine an attacker is about to strike you with a club. You might respond by merging fear with anger. The fear alerts you to danger, the anger spurs you into action, and you shout, “no!” Now, let’s say the emotion remains bonded. How would your life partner, children, or boss feel if every time you got scared, say from a loud noise, the fear retriggered the anger and you started yelling?
When a belief becomes permanently bonded with a feeling, the same potential disaster can happen. Imagine a child whose father constantly tells him he is stupid. When older, he might come to believe every male authority figure thinks he’s stupid—and he responds by failing at school and work.
Our job as healers is to unclasp stuck feelings and beliefs and “mature” the two elements. This process recognizes there are innate messages or information in feelings and beliefs that can be useful, but only if responded to appropriately—and only if the emotion can unlock and not continue to recycle. Accomplishing this goal involves understanding more about the true energy latent in feelings and beliefs.

The Beautiful Messages of Our Feelings
There are five main feelings, each of which conveys a message that grants a benefit. These are the major feeling constellations and their innate messages:
1. Anger sets boundaries to enable individuation.
2. Fear alerts us to danger to create safety.
3. Sadness indicates a perceived loss of love and encourages recognition of deep love.
4. Disgust reveals what is unhealthy and allows us to separate.
5. Happiness points out what we want and invites connection.
If we respect and accept the first four feelings, they will eventually transform into some version of happiness. For instance, feeling the loss of a deceased father will eventually help us embrace our permanent bond, leading to deeper love. Getting angry with an abuser will help us establish appropriate boundaries; we will individuate. These positive payoffs are the ultimate reason we mature a feeling into joy. We are happier owning love that is permanent rather than transitory; we are happier as an individuated person than as a victim.
The key to feeling (and remaining) happy is to recognize there are many types of happiness. Yes, there is bliss—but more frequently, happiness is experienced in more subtle ways, like gratitude, relief, contentment, satiation, and relaxation.
When the five major feelings are repressed or adjoined with other feelings, they become distorted. Twisted feelings need to be unwound until they reduce into their true selves—one of the five feeling constellations. At this point, they can then be acknowledged and eventually followed toward a feeling of joy. For instance, repressed anger turns into resentment or bitterness. Anger contorted with sadness or fear turns into rage. Ignored fear is the basis for feelings of abandonment or terror. Intensified fear becomes abandonment, terror, or panic. Fear with disgust can turn into shame. We have to unwind these confusing feelings before we can embrace—and heal through—their messages.

The Truths of Our Beliefs
There are six major beliefs that present us with a single choice: connection or separation. Connection aligns with the positive side of the coin and separation aligns with the negative.
1. I am worthy/unworthy.
2. I have value/no value.
3. I am powerful/powerless.
4. I am enough/not enough.
5. I deserve/don’t deserve.
6. I am good/bad.
How do you heal the darker sides of a belief? You mature a belief by assuming that even the darkest belief holds a truth. For instance, if someone believes they are unlovable, the truth may be that their parents weren’t able to love. If someone thinks they are unworthy of financial equality, the truth might be that they need more than money from a job. Once someone can reduce their thoughts to the six major categories and own the central truth, the belief is ready to be matured into a choice: to look for connection, or further stoke separation. Even the worst of situations covers up connection. Even if others are malicious, the Divine is always accepting.

Steps to Release Emotions
If it’s within your scope of practice, you can use these steps to support your client in an emotional release, a new attitude toward life, and maybe even a reduction of stress and pain.
• Express. Allow your client to express his feelings. If you feel uncomfortable, you can suggest he works with a mental health professional.
• Remember. An emotion is usually linked to an event or ongoing situation. If both you and the client feel comfortable, ask questions to pinpoint the originating cause of the emotion.
• Discern and label feelings. It’s easiest to help a client label feelings before beliefs. Help him reduce distorted feelings into one or more of the five categories.
• Discern and label beliefs. Reduce beliefs to a main category and help the client see there are two sides of the coin.
• Mature feelings and beliefs. Assist the client in embracing the true message of the feeling and then help him mature a belief if there is one. Aid the client in figuring out how to better use the feeling in his everyday life to move toward joy, and select a connecting type of belief to focus on.
• Present further choices. At this point, you can ask the client if he is ready to let go of issues related to the once-stuck emotions—attitudes, illness, pain, tension, etc.
• Celebrate. You both achieved a great transformation!

Cyndi Dale is an internationally renowned author, speaker, and intuitive consultant. Her books include the bestselling The Subtle Body: An Encyclopedia of Your Energetic Anatomy (Sounds True, 2009), The Complete Book of Chakra Healing (Llewellyn Publications, 2009), and Advanced Chakra Healing (Crossing Press, 2005). To learn more about Dale and her products, services, and classes, please visit www.cyndidale.com.

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1. Daniel Goleman, “New Studies Report Health Dangers of Repressing Emotional Turmoil,” New York Times (March 3, 1988).
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