luisa kolker shamanic healer

Emotional Fluency & Your Inner Playground

Updated 8 Basic Emotions with copyrightOne of the shamanic tools I share in my workshops and ceremonies is “Emotional Fluency,” which is the art of developing a compassionate and conscious relationship to your emotional self.

It’s important to be physically and emotionally grounded as preparation for expanding your consciousness to spiritual, non-physical realms. Learning to consciously witness and relate to our emotions is critical to that grounding.

Almost all of us know and will readily say what we think. However, it’s rare that I find someone who can readily identify and express what they feel.*

I thought for years that I was very in touch with my emotions, until I went through a rough patch some years back. It was particularly rough because a present-day crisis opened the door to some very old wounds. Remember the old trick (I know you did this when you were a kid!), it’s summer time and you pick up the running garden hose, put a kink in it and then at a strategic moment, you release the blockage and whamo!

For those of us who learned to suppress emotions, either because they were overwhelming to us or to someone else, this is often what happens when we encounter an intense emotional crisis: We’re so caught off guard (e.g., traumatized) that our psyches let go of their usual vigilance.  And then, that twist or bend in the garden hose releases and the built up pressure is unleashed with tremendous force.

What I learned was that even though I’d felt my emotions strongly all my life, I hadn’t been in conscious relationship with them. In fact, my emotions felt both repellent and exciting, like a pack of shrieking, out of control pre-schoolers, running amok in my inner playground. My emotions were running the show, because I was not consciously in relationship with them. (Think of that playground of pre-schoolers running around without supervision!)

While everyone has emotions (yes, even the most emotionally “shut-down” person in your life), it is rare to feel one’s emotions. Feeling and emoting are different things. Very different. The act of feeling is actually the ability to witness, be present and if necessary, make a compassionate intervention with your emotions. Your compassionate, witnessing self (I call this my Fully Blossomed Self) is like the benevolent, wise grown-up on that pre-school playground.

Without a conscious, mediating awareness of your emotions, you will be held hostage by your emotions, which, like being held hostage by a bunch of 4 year olds, can be embarrassing and even dangerous—to them and to you.

In my workshops and one-on-one sessions, I teach clients to become “emotionally fluent.” If you find your emotions are holding you hostage, it may be just the right time to brush up on your Emotional Fluency. Without proficiency in navigating the language of your emotions, you may be able to survive, but you won’t be able to flourish. I believe in flourishing.

[For more information on feelings vs. emotions, check out my June 2013 blog article on the subject.]

*Thanks to my teacher & mentor Pia Mellody for the succinct list of the “8 Basic Emotions.”