How can emotional intelligence, being in the flow, and unearthing your past allow you to live a healthier, fulfilling, and more conscious life?
Most of us would agree that being aware of your feelings, your triggers and how long it takes you to come back to yourself are the beginnings of a conscious life.
This is the strategy behind developing Emotional Intelligence as a practice for a healthier and more conscious life.
Everyone who has invested some patience and purpose into a Mind/Body-centered practice will look you deeply in the eyes and say, “Just commit to a practice.”
That all you have to do is:
- Be aware
- Be patient and calm
- Respond instead of react
- and practice, practice, practice…
Common sense, right?
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When most of us first encounter our deeper Emotional Intelligence, we are grateful to have found a way to be with ‘what is'. Being calm and present to what arises is an invaluable gift that we can give ourselves and to those who we are close to as often as we choose.
Wisdom and Awareness are gifts that keep on giving…
I sometimes refer to Emotional Intelligence as ‘Universe Grease' – a way of removing friction and damage from most situations.
This clarity of self-awareness and the confidence that comes from consistent successful practice will set you up for a more patient and hopeful view of your future. Not only will you be more available to the moment and those in it with you, but you will also be more available to the adventures that you imagine coming soon.
Letting Go And Finding Your Flow
This part often sounds like a sales pitch.
‘Put the effort and investment in now and you will win Big Time Very Soon!'
If you can be authentically present to your life while also consciously co-creating your future, what is left?
Actually, for most of us, this is where the real work begins…
Here is a personal question, ‘Are you carrying around anything from your past that is still controlling your life?'
Just feel that for a minute…
Before I get into how to work with your past experiences and traumas, I want to add another layer to your Emotional Intelligence practice.
Understanding Traditional Chinese Medicine
Believe it or not, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has one of the oldest and most developed approaches to understanding and working with Emotional Intelligence. This ancient Wisdom tradition embraces the understanding that everything that exists in nature must reflect nature in some way. This gives rise to the theory of the Five Elements which are Fire, Water, Wood, Earth, and Metal.
The elements of Earth or Soil have the most to do with how emotions get trapped in your body. The other Elements are involved in many other ways but today we will focus on your Soil. The natural function of Soil is related to the flesh of your body i.e. the subtle Somatic feelings of your body, your digestive health, and what you experience with your thoughts and imagination. I like the term, ‘Soil,' because it brings to mind all of the digestion, transformation, and creation of enriching nutrients that are happening on a microscopic level in the ground or in the neurons in your brain.
For me, the term, ‘Earth,' is too abstract to really feel.
Except for Mother Earth. She feels great!
Exploring Past Traumas Through Traditional Chinese Medicine
In TCM, we refer to the process of exploring past emotional traumas as an Unearthing process.
This is because each of your intense memories are held in the soil of your body like a rock in a garden. These ‘energetic blockages' or ‘thought-forms' can create actual changes in how your muscles and posture respond to the world. These stones of grief, pain, rage, and shame can change almost everything about you if they become overwhelming to carry.
Over time, in theory, the rocks in your garden begin to take over the landscape of your imagination and thoughts.
A more intense image would be broken glass. Your Soil body is your Somato-Emotional body. It is your source of energy, nurturing, confidence and resourcefulness. If the felt sense experience of being in your body is like digging into soil full of broken glass with bare hands – well, for most of us, not much changes and life becomes defined by pain and fear.
That was blunt. Call it some tough LOVE…
At some point, we all have to do some digging for our inner rocks and broken things.
Ready to begin the Black Belt Level of Emotional Intelligence?
It is called Somato-Emotional Intelligence.
Here we go!
This is going to take some time and you are going to have to learn a new wordless language of instinctual gestures and habitual micro-expressions. Don't Worry! There are a few ways to do this.
In my work, I ALWAYS recommend having time for each of the Five Restorations of Somato-Emotional Adaptability.
Each of these experiential practices takes you into a fundamental and essential aspect of Being:
• A Somatic Mindfulness Practice
• Somato-Emotional Counselling
• Subtle Movement Practices.
Step One: Meditate with Your Whole Body
I really like the image of a garden as a way of relating to my Somatic Experience. A near constant part of gardening is weeding. In terms of Somatic Mindfulness, weeds are unconscious habits that gradually steal your vitality and take over your Mindfulness landscape. A meditation practice is the most consistent way to cultivate awareness and patience. These will be essential skills for every aspect of this practice.
There are as many forms of Mindfulness as there are people who practice, but with Somatic Mindfulness the practice begins with finding the broken glass and rocks.
How is your Posture?
Are you carrying any recent conflict or loss in your body right now?
Somatic Mindfulness is a gradual, intimate and sensual way to restore how you actually feel inside of your skin.
Over time and with the other restorative opportunities, most of the broken things you may be carrying will transform into the most enriching nutrients in your life.
Step Two: Breathwork is the Rhythm of Change
Going deep within ourselves can feel a lot like walking down some creaky stairs into a dark basement. To move safely within, it is best to maintain a balance between effort and appreciation. If you are new to Body-Centered forms of Psychotherapy, it can get as intense as going deep into an emotionally explosive conversation.
In Somatic Mindfulness and most other clinical approaches to Trauma Release Therapy, both the therapist and the patient have to return to a very balanced state of Adaptability and Resourcefulness every few minutes. This is usually referred to as Grounding or Resourcing.
That is the entry point into the Chaos of all of the things that move around or get stuck within each of us.
Breathwork is a very valuable toolbox of skills that can help you with every imaginable aspect of life!
Especially Somato-Emotional Release as a regular practice.
There are several approaches to this kind of work so ask around. You can also learn the basics on the internet; especially on Youtube.
Step Three: Interact Meaningfully with Touch
If you feel that you are carrying around some woundedness from your past, be it from a bike accident or from ritualized childhood trauma, my first advice is touch.
We all need grooming! I once read a book that explained how most of the modern language developed while early humans sat in circles and picked leaves and bugs out of each other's hair.
It is a funny image, but it brings up a challenging thing for a lot of us.
It is hard to let another person touch you where you need it the most when you are afraid they will judge you or shun you. It is all too easy to imagine yourself covered in leaves and bugs.
Luckily, there are many forms of professional, medically certified bodywork that can help you find your way deeper into your garden.
Just like you may need grooming on a professional level for the rocks in the garden of your muscles and connective tissues, it also good to get some grooming upstairs.
Step Four: Find an Accountability Partner – or Counsellor
A lot of people avoid speaking with a counsellor for the same reason as getting a massage. Shame.
Investing in a few sessions with any Somatic focused counsellor or Psychotherapist will give you some very personal perspective and some tried and true tools for bringing your Emotional Intelligence into the journey of Unearthing Your Past.
Step Five: Move like your Ancestors are watching
There is a reason that there is a Yoga, Tai Chi or Qi Gong studio in every city and town. The benefits of a deep and subtle relationship with your fitness and embodiment are now practiced everywhere.
There are many ways to be more alive in your body. If you go into this journey of Unearthing Your Past, give yourself permission to bring everything you do with your body and how you move into it. It could be dancing, weight lifting, sex, or even how you move when you get a massage.
Move with curiosity and meaning.
Move for your Soul, those you love and all of your Ancestors!
Imagine committing three months to regular bodywork, meditation, Qi Gong and counselling – all with a focus to transform your rocks back into Soil and your broken places into gems of wisdom and compassion.
I encourage you to find a few months to really get in touch with your garden and recapture your imagination.
About Michael Smith
As a clinician at Integrative Health Solutions, I combine the leading-edge sciences of Functional Medicine and Ancestral Nutrition, with the wisdom and vast experience of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). This combination of healing traditions helps me understand and respond to some of today’s most complex health challenges in a very comprehensive and effective way. Each of these healing modalities focuses on treating the ‘why’ more than the ‘what’.
I also encourage my patients to include stress reduction and/or trauma release practices like Somatic Mindfulness and Neuro Somatic Therapy to promote healing on the deepest levels possible.