Emotions cannot be permanent. That’s why they are called “emotions” the word comes from “motion,” movement. They move, hence, they are “emotions.” From one to another you continually change. – Osho
When I returned from a three-month silent meditation retreat my stepson said to me “Where did all your anger go?” First of all, I was amazed he recognized my emotional change and secondly, I began to question what happens to the mind/ brain when stressful emotional reactions are regulated in some way and then seem to disappear. This question has motivated my passion and research for the past ten years.
Brain research studies have shown that people who meditate generally do not react to life situations as readily as when compared with those who do not meditate. These studies have shown in practicing meditators that neuronal connections are activated in positive rather than emotionally fearful or negative areas of the brain. Neuro-scientists call the brain’s ability to change in this way neuroplasticity.
Neuroplasticity enables our brains to be flexible and produces these changes in the brain through having novel experiences and a practice of repetition. Most of us do not do long retreats or stay in silence for months on end, but we are searching for “tips” to reduce stress and gain emotional balance in our lives. I have found two “tips” that can easily release old emotional patterns and literally rewire the brain. The first tip is a technique called “Fact it, Embrace it, Erase it “(FEE) that I developed in my therapy practice. The second tip is called Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) that is used by many health professionals. These two techniques move hand-in-hand to remove old negative emotional patterns and provides a combined methodology to create new and positive patterns that both heal and rewire the brain.
One of my clients, Julie, was constantly driven by fear, anger and hurt. She remembered being judged, and ridiculed unmercifully by her father. These fear, hurt and anger responses were “hard wired” into her neuronal emotional memory bank to be repeated over and over again in response to life situations. She had struggled for years through many forms of therapy with poor results to heal this deep pattern. When she came to me she did not want to live in this emotional turmoil anymore. Our strategy was to change the neuronal pathways that kept these emotional patterns going through the rewiring technique I call, Face it, Embrace it and Erase it. To face her situation I had her repeat her story about her relationship with her father and embrace it until her sensory body responses, mental images and thought pattern had reduced the emotional charge. This reduction of emotional response happened after several repetitions of her story feeling state. I had her use a scale of 1 to 10 to gauge her emotions after each repetition. As she repeated each time the feelings and sensations in her body the emotional charge became less and less and finally was no longer connected to the story. Usually a person will say the emotional reaction to the story is at 0 to 3 on the scale. Then, using a visualization meditation that is part of the technique, she found a new story that she discovered in order to establish new neuronal pathways. At this point I taught Julie the EFT method. The EFT technique uses repeated tapping on specific areas of the body while repeating new affirming thoughts. The pattern of tapping that EFT uses reinforces new neuronal pathways and is key to the rewiring process of the brain.
To face, embrace and then erase old memory patterns is a beginning step of the brain to unwire these neuronal patterns and become wired into new neuronal pathways. To create a new story provides a new novel pattern for the brain to connect to and amplify through repetition. Changing the function and structure of the brain circuitry takes both practice and repetition time. I gave Julie a twenty-one day practice of “ tapping in” her new sensory feelings while imagining and repeating to herself the new story we had crafted together for her life.
All of us have these negative repeating emotional patterns that create stress and unhappiness that we want and need to clear emotionally. Neuro-scientist say, “The mind is what the brain does.” It is our mind through our intentions and what we put our attention on that can help us be more aware and receptive to making emotional changes for a healthier and happier life. These two tools together, FEE and EFT, provide a positive and practical method to heal our minds and rewire our brains.
Patt Lind-Kyle holds an MA in East/West Psychology and a BS in Biological Sciences. She is a therapist, consultant and author. She is also a co-founder of Lind & Kyle Consultants, an executive development company that applies neuro-monitoring tools for stress management, health, and peak performance. Her research, writing, and teaching in the mind/brain field center on using an EEG brainwave monitoring system to help individuals maximize their brain-mind potentials.
Patt is the author of the new book Heal Your Mind, Rewire Your Brain: Applying the Exciting New Science of Brain Synchrony for Creativity, Peace and Happiness. (Energy Psychology Press, 2009) She also has created a companion set of practice CDs that accompany the book by the same title. Heal Your Mind, Rewire Your Brain won the Independent Publishers gold medal award in the Health/Wellness category for 2010. She has written a chapter in Audacious Aging: “Building Community from the Inside Out” (Elite Books, 2009), and is also the author of When Sleeping Beauty Wakes Up (SwanRaven, 1994, BookSurge, 2008).
Attention readers on or near the East Coast USA: Patt will be at Kripalu Center in MA for Yoga and Health for a 3-day workshop March 27-30th, 2011. If you have read Patt’s book, this will be a great opportunity to integrate the information through personal practice. Stay tuned to Patt’s Calendar for details or visit http://www.kripalu.org/