Your Emotional Self is a source of magical possibilities. It needs loving attention; when it receives that it flowers, releasing a childlike perfume of warmth and playfulness. What follows are five ways to attend to our Emotional Self and nurture it into a creative, joyful power. I have expanded on each one below.
- Daily Intimate Attention
- Creative Expression
- Lazy Time
Daily Intimate Attention: Nurturing your Emotional Self
Just like you would make time every day to be intimate with your child, mate, or loved one, you must make time to sit, be, feel, or dialogue with your Emotional Self. Set aside half an hour every day, preferably toward the end of the day. Put yourself in a private setting—your study, the bedroom, the couch, the porch, or a bench in the park. I recommend having your journal with you, and maybe a box of colored pencils. Close your eyes, and take a few minutes to consciously relax. Soften your jaw and face muscles, your shoulders, your chest and stomach. Let your thoughts drop away as much as possible. Focus on your breath, actually feel it going in and out, and let the rhythm of it relax you further.
After this short relaxation, draw your attention into your emotional center. Physically, it can be located in the chest or the gut area. After doing this for a minute, connect with the place that I call “The Home of Your Feelings.” In the beginning, you might wonder whether you are actually there or not, and what it is that you are supposed to feel there.
Start by asking your Emotional Self, much like a parent would ask a child, “How do you feel?” (In this case you are both the parent and the child.) Listen for feelings; let them just pop up. For example, “I feel tired,” “I feel anxious,” “I feel giddy,” “I feel sad.” Refrain from judgment or comments, just like when you’re listening to a child.
If you hear a feeling you don’t understand, or need more information about, ask some questions. For example, let’s say you hear, “I feel anxious.” Ask, “What are you (Emotional Self) anxious about?”
Your Emotional Self will tell you, if you’re truly open to hearing. If you ask the same question, annoyed or disapproving, you will not get an honest response. Let’s say you hear, “I don’t know why I’m feeling anxious.” You can help your Emotional Self discover more by asking further questions like, “Are you anxious about the trip that we’re going to take?” If the answer is no, keep investigating and intuitively guessing. “Is it the new project that we’re doing at work?” And so on.
Once you discover the underlying reason for the anxiety, express empathy—do not judge. Let your Emotional Self know that you are going to figure out ways together to alleviate the anxiety. Even if you have no idea at that moment what would be helpful, your Emotional Self will feel better knowing that it was heard and understood.
What’s important in this intimate listening is creating a loving bond between your Expanded Self and your Emotional Self, just like between a parent and a child. By listening, asking questions, and accepting your feelings, you are becoming a supportive parent, and your ability to guide your Emotional Self from a place of compassion and wisdom will develop. Here are a few ways to go about this process:
- You can do this as an emotional meditation. Sitting the whole time with your eyes closed, silently going through the process.
- You can use your journal and do the process in writing.
- You can use the colored pencils and draw and write.
- You can mix and match. Start in an emotional meditation and move into writing and drawing, or vice versa.
My clients tell me that this daily intimate sitting, which feels silly, awkward, and useless at the beginning and is only performed at my prompting, slowly becomes one of their most favorite activities, even when it brings up difficult feelings and haunting thoughts. There is a comfort in revealing one’s feelings to oneself. And the loving attention from the Expanded Self to the Emotional Self feels soothing and is healing.
If you want to know yourself and express and actualize your potential, you must sit with yourself—all three aspects of yourself (the third is the Defensive Self). And you must definitely nurture your Emotional Self (nurturing does not mean indulging or enabling).
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Creative Expression: A State of Mind
Creative expression is not just the domain of artists. Every profession has its own form of creativity and every ordinary day is filled with creative opportunities. Being creative and expressive is a state of mind, one that you already possess. Look for everyday creative and expressive outlets. It can start with the way you choose to dress in the morning, or the way you put together your lunch, and can continue with an expressive conversation, a note, or a short e-mail to someone you like.
At work, whatever it is that you do, look for creative possibilities. Think outside the box, play around with new ideas, engage your team—make it interesting for yourself. Evenings also present a playground for creativity: an interesting dinner, program, or lecture; a great conversation; a book, art, or culture; laughter—these can all tickle your creative sensibilities, if you let them.
Make a commitment to a creative and expressive life, and be creative about creating it. If you are an artist, creative expression is a natural part of your day. Let it spill over into the rest of your life, if you’re not doing it already.
Watch for your Defensive Self’s reactions—as you open yourself to expression and fun, it can feel very threatened. Expression leads to freedom and vulnerability, and your Defensive Self is not keen on those; openness might lead to hurt. Your Defensive Self will try to sabotage, contract, or criticize you in order to keep you safe. Your Expanded Self needs to reassure and relax your Defensive Self (this can be quite a job). Eventually your Defensive Self learns to be more trusting of life and living.
Playtime: Doing Something That Is Purely Pleasurable or Silly and Lighthearted
How much time do you spend just playing? Playing is for kids, we think.
“I hardly have time to wash and set my hair or do my nails,” said one a client, a full-time businesswoman with two kids. “You must be joking. I don’t even have time to eat calmly or read for pleasure.”
I totally identify with her. I live in New York City, where the pace of life runs at least double speed. Most active and working adults work from nine in the morning to seven or sometimes eight o’clock in the evening, with not much of a lunch break. Late dinners are many times accompanied by the residue of take-home work. The household chores and attention to the kids usually take the little time that is left. Who can even think of playtime?
I have personally found that if I don’t strongly commit to playtime and schedule it, I never get to play. Playtime has an amazing effect on my spirit. It is a great remedy for stress.
What is it that I mean by playtime? It means doing something that is purely pleasurable or silly and lighthearted, just for the sake of having a good time. This means different things to different people. For some, it’s sitting around with friends, joking, laughing, and generating silliness. Others love the quiet of a chess game, puzzles, or board games. Yet others love to walk in nature or just sit under a tree or on the beach, watching the clouds and listening to the birds. There are also people who love to expend a lot of energy during their playtime activities. This might be a vigorous game of football, mountain climbing, rock climbing, or scuba diving.
I suggest making a list of your pleasures. Be sure to make this list, and do your best to schedule playtime with yourself and your loved ones.
Daily mini playtimes and longer ones on the weekends are as necessary as food. Ultimately, you are here to experience joy and follow your bliss. Playtime is a must on the road to enlightenment.
Adventure: Anything That Feels New and Exciting
Adventures keep us young in spirit. They water the soil of the soul and fuel our aliveness. They keep our brain functioning better and our hearts excited. What constitutes adventure is unique for each person. Some of us might want to climb the Himalayas, skydive, or take a long sailboat ride. For others, it can be new museums, a new opera score, a different jazz class, a new course, or the zoo, if we have not been there for awhile.
An adventure is anything new—or old—that feels new and exciting. Every day should have a little adventure in it. A new dish for dinner, a possible new friend, a new or different route to get home, a new book, a new idea, a new plan. Keep generating adventures for yourself.
I recommend keeping a running list of adventures experienced and desired. Remember, adventures don’t have to consist of a trip to China; they could be as simple as a new song on your playlist.
Lazy Time: A Conscious Choice To Rest, Relax, and Replenish
Lazy time was definitely one of the most difficult things for me to get used to. Just thinking about it used to get me anxious; the overachiever in me would panic. If you are like me, lazy time is a must. I always admired people who could lounge around, being deliciously lazy for hours. I also used to think that they were wasting their life away.
I had a love-hate relationship with laziness. Later, I realized that laziness, like most things in life, needs to be kept in balance. A person also needs to assess why he or she is being lazy. Is it resting, or is it avoiding?
The lazy time I am suggesting is a conscious choice to rest, relax, and replenish. This doing nothing is not an avoidance tactic but a pause, an energetic slowdown, a full permission to let go of doing and thinking. Lazy time is on my personal list of pleasures.
Check with yourself—are you resting or are you avoiding? Do you allow yourself some lazy time, or are you compulsively doing, doing, doing, and more doing? It’s a question of balance, giving and receiving, inhaling and exhaling.
©2014 by Nomi Bachar. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Findhorn Press. www.findhornpress.com.
Gates of Power: Actualize Your True Self
by Nomi Bachar.
About the Author
Nomi Bachar, a holistic spiritual counselor is a self-healing, self-actualization expert and coach. She is the director of White Cedar Institute for Expanded Living LLC and the creator of Gates of Power® Method. Ms. Bachar has been working with individuals, couples and groups for the last 26 years, as well as lecturing and facilitating workshops.Alongside her counseling and training, Ms. Bachar has an extensive background as a multidisciplinary performing artist. Her artistic background includes acting, dance, choreography, producing and writing. In the last few years she has dedicated herself to empowering people through the Gates of Power® Method. Visit her website at http://www.gatesofpower.com
Watch a video with Nomi: Intro to the Gates of Power Methodology Process
Another video (interview with Nomi Bachar): Technique for Healing your Unconscious Pain (Gates of Power)