The Energy of Emotion
According to recent electrocardiogram research, the heart’s electromagnetic field generates five times more energy than the brain’s, and the amplitude of the heart’s electrical field is sixty times greater than that of the brain. This is largely due to the powerful energy emitted by human emotion. We must remember that emotions are energy. We’ve known for years that the emotional energies of the heart are capable of producing dis-ease, but now science is beginning to learn that the emotional energies of the human heart also have the ability to balance and heal body, mind, and spirit. Researchers have discovered that the heart’s electromagnetic field has a coding system that can transmit entrainment frequencies, generated by positive emotions, to assist with our rebalancing and reorganization following trauma or a stressful ordeal.
Each emotion produces a uniquely different electromagnetic frequency. Positive emotions generate higher frequencies; negative emotions, lower frequencies. Higher emotional frequencies connote creative power, while negative emotional frequencies evince destructive force. The greater our tendency to harbor negative emotions, the lower our vibrational frequency, and the more likely we are to succumb to unhealthy and/or destructive behaviors. The more positive our emotional state and the higher our vibrational frequency, the more likely we are to cultivate healthy, creative behaviors. Everything is energy. Our emotional energies are powerful and forceful—so much so that they are often the root causes of our dis-ease.
Between 1995 and 2002 researcher and author Dr. David Hawkins calibrated the energy of specific human states of consciousness (including emotions) on a relative range from 0 to 1,000, with 0 representing the lowest and 1,000 the highest energy. He did this with the help of applied kinesiology. Again, the lower calibrations represent frequencies that contribute to dis-ease, and the higher calibrations generate states of ease. In his book Power vs. Force, Hawkins recorded the following calibrations, representing the three human emotions that generate the lowest frequencies:1
1. Shame: 20
2. Guilt: 30
3. Apathy: 50
The following calibrations from Hawkins represent the three human emotions that generate the highest frequencies:
1. Enlightenment: 700–1,000
2. Peace: 600
3. Joy: 540
Hawkins’s energy calibrations inspired me to run some similar tests of my own. With the thought in mind that emotional forces lie at the causal root of our overeating, I was intrigued by the idea of performing some of my own kinesiology testing, in order to determine the three lowest-calibrating human emotions at the heart of the present weight gain and obesity problem. While clearly understanding that there are always a myriad of emotions at play here, I was resolute to discover the three principal emotional afflictions that cause us to overeat.
I did indeed decipher these emotional frequency calibrations with the help of my EMT system of kinesiology. For our purposes, kinesiology is the manual strength testing of the body’s neuromuscular mechanics. It is a means for establishing the mind/body’s positive or negative reaction to things like foods and nutritional supplements (for more on this, see chapter 6). Here’s what I found.
The Three Emotional Overeating Frequencies
1. Fear—negative—relative 1,000 (1.1 Hz)
2. Shame—negative—relative 850 (1.4 Hz)
3. Apathy—negative—relative 770 (1.1 Hz)
On a more technical note, posted right beside each relative kinesiology calibration I’ve listed the exact frequency of each of the three principal overeating emotions in cycles per second, or hertz. It’s these three main emotionally generated low frequencies that keep us from breaking old destructive eating patterns. If we’re to overcome our struggle with food and chronic overeating we must first commit to contending with these three destructive emotional frequencies that take root deep within our hearts. It’s time we realized that our struggle with weight gain and obesity is less about the food on our plate and more about the emotional energy in our hearts. It’s not about fad dieting, but about getting to the heart of our fear, shame, and apathy.
One of the world’s great models of energy healing, classical Chinese medicine, is based on a cosmological five element system, in which all within and everything between heaven and earth are constitutionally categorized into five metaphorical classifications: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water.
The five-element system tells us that fear is an emotion that resides within the kidneys, and joy is the emotion that resides within the heart. The kidneys symbolically represent the water element. The heart represents the fire element. The kidneys (water) are in charge of regulating the heart (fire). It is considered of vital importance for our water (fear) to regulate our fire (joy). For the same fire that can warm, cook, and shed light on our visions can also destroy everything. This offers an interesting and enlightening perspective, as it presents us with an image of fear as the principal governing force over our life’s greatest potentials. When properly balanced, fear puts us in position to experience balanced joy. However, when our fear (water) is deficient, life’s temptations are free to fan the flames of our destructive emotional fire. This is when mania, foolhardy confidence, and distorted risk taking result. The five-element wisdom tells us it’s all about having a holistic appreciation of our fear.
Fear is generally thought of as an emotion induced by threats that are both real and/or perceived. Fear alters chemistry, brain, and organ function and behavior. If imbalanced, fear can have a paralyzing effect on the body, mind, and spirit. The single greatest obstacle that stands in the way of our healing and transformation is fear. Our most primal fear is our fear of pain. Our fear of pain comes in a myriad of forms: fear of feeling, fear of failure, fear of success, fear of loss, fear of shame, fear of guilt, etc. It’s the fear of pain that most often keeps prospective dieters from ever getting started.
We have a growing population of overweight and obese people who desperately want to succeed at permanent weight loss, but they are so afraid of having to face the truth that they continue to buy into “the lie.”
Afraid of the Truth
Listen closely to what I’m about to say. The first step in overcoming your chronic overweight and obesity problem is to stop being afraid of the truth! It’s time you got to the heart of the matter!
Some of us are food addicts. Some of us are compulsive overeaters. Some of us are binge eaters. Some of us are stress eaters, and some of us are just overindulgers. Seventy-five percent of us overeat not because we’re hungry but because of emotional pain.
For many of us, food has become a coping mechanism. Food can temporarily calm our nerves and distract us from painful emotions. It is arguably the quickest way for us to shift from negative to positive emotional energy frequencies. Unfortunately this solution is part of a problematic, vicious cycle that comes full circle from pain to pleasure and right back to pain again.
This cycle begins with destructive negative emotional frequencies generated from fear, shame, and apathy and culminates in obsessive overeating. Overeating means gaining weight. Gaining weight means we’re right back to the fear, shame, and apathy. So, as we go deeper, we begin to realize that overeating is prompted by these negative emotions that set off a chronic destructive cycle.
There persists the stereotypical belief that overeating is simply due to a lack of willpower. Nothing could be further from the truth. When you go to the heart of the matter, you’ll find that overeating is entwined with emotion, biochemistry, and neurology.
Emotional pain rooted in fear, shame, and apathy becomes embedded in the psyche, resulting in chronic depression, anxiety, and dissociation. The heavy burden imposed by these powerful negative emotional frequencies alters biochemistry to program the nervous system for addiction. The end result of this programming is lower levels of “feel-good” neurotransmitters like melatonin and serotonin, and elevated levels of cortisol.
Once this systemic emotional, biochemical, neurological connection gets traction, food will have an entirely different effect on the brain and body. The brain and body will have become accustomed to having their biochemical fires of stress put out by floods of endorphins, triggered by favorite foods. Now endogenous neuropeptides such as endorphins and enkephalins will have started binding to morphine-like receptors in the brain, turning food into a virtual opiate. The destructive cycle that results in overeating begins with emotions like fear. Therefore, the only way for us to break the cycle is to go deeper into the nature of our fear.
As a culture, we tend not to like getting our hands too dirty, especially regarding matters of the heart. We’re a society weaned on heavenly pleasure and hell-bent on denying pain. We’re just not inclined to go deep. We don’t want to face the truth, but only by doing so will we be able to transcend the destructive frequencies of the fear that binds us.
As a young practitioner I was very much afraid of having to get to the heart of the matter with patients. Over time, however, I gradually developed a better comfort level. In fact, I discovered that taking such a risk was necessary to helping patients break through to a more effective level of healing. I will forever recall my first such risk-taking breakthrough.
A middle-aged gentleman who was an air traffic controller had come to see me in hopes of losing weight. He suffered from chronic anxiety and insomnia and had a history of struggling with addictions to tobacco, caffeine, and rich food. He was approximately fifty pounds overweight at the time. It was with great angst that he went on to explain how he’d spent most of his adult life as a failed fad dieter. He was clearly very discouraged about it, but I didn’t get the sense that he was ready to throw in the towel. In fact, I could feel that he’d managed to maintain a strong commitment to his health. Anyone could plainly see that he was an intensely passionate man whose emotional energies ran deep—the fact that he wore his heart on his sleeve struck a chord with me.
At once, we unexpectedly found ourselves enwrapped in an intensely candid heart-to-heart communion. He wasted little time getting right to the root of his heart’s discontent. Time seemed to stand still. It was as if our conversation was suddenly being channeled by forces greater than us. A fluid stream of consciousness flowed between us and he went on to divulge sensitive information about his painful childhood. It was without hesitation that he shared with me many of his most agonizing lifelong emotional frustrations. We were able to tap into some of the deepest causal roots tied to his chronic anxiety, insomnia, and addiction. This seemed to inspire the sparking of a positive, high-frequency emotion called hope. From that point on I could sense a dramatic energy shift in the man. We followed up with hourly office visits on a monthly basis, and upon completion of our six-month follow-up, he had attained his fifty-pound weight loss goal, and so much more.
Today he remains healthy, fit, and smoke-free. During our initial time together, we learned that food addiction and chronic weight gain are symptoms more than they are diseases, and that healing them demands a risk-taking willingness to rechannel the destructive emotional frequencies of the heart. The roots of every overeating problem trace back to the wounded heart of an inner child. Fear, shame, and apathy germinate within the subterranean soil of our fertile psyche very early on.
As Lisa Firestone put it in Psychology Today, “As children, we all experience varying degrees of emotional pain. The love, care, and nurturance we get from our caregivers lead us to form a positive sense of self and help us to create our identity. Yet, no parent or person is perfect. Even the best parents are only attuned to their child’s needs about 30 percent of the time. This means that, as children, each of us was inevitably left lacking certain things we needed. We may have felt rejected, isolated, unseen, or unheard. Conversely, we may have felt intruded on, overly controlled, or intimidated by our parents. All of these factors could have impacted our relationship with food. We literally and figuratively learned how to ‘feed’ ourselves from how we were nurtured by our parents and influential caretakers.”2
The fear, shame, and apathy that many of us experience as children often trigger distorted perceptions and dysfunctional, overcompensating behaviors. I’ve counseled many obese patients over the years who’ve openly confessed that they perceive their excess weight as a kind of armor protecting them from the frightening prospect of any further emotional pain. For them, food has become a protective shield. For many, food allays fear. The human mind can devise an infinite number of strategies to use food as a bulwark against fear.
A number of years ago I saw a woman in her midthirties who was a hundred pounds overweight. When I first took her diet history, I was surprised to discover that her food-based calorie intake was relatively balanced. However, her caloric intake of beverages was astronomically high. She was drinking liter upon liter of soda, juice, sugary drinks, and milk shakes. During the course of our meetings she told me that she was an only child who was raised by a single mother. She said that her mother was just too stressed and overwhelmed to provide the nurturance she so desperately needed. She recalled often being completely ignored while lying in her crib crying for her bottle. She said that as she evolved into her teenage years she started to feel increasingly driven to consume as many liquid calories as she possibly could to compensate for the deprivation and pain of her childhood.
Food has forever been used as a remedy to compensate for our crippling fear of the truth. It’s the pacifying milk from a mother’s breast, it’s the comforting ice cream after skinning our knee, it’s the lollipop after learning that our best childhood friend has to move away. Our codependent relationship with food extends from the depths of our heart and soul to our brain and nervous system, resulting in a dis-ease that manifests as destructive, obsessive, and addictive behaviors. In order for us to heal ourselves of this systemic dis-ease process we must overcome our fear of the truth.
Fear and Denial
Everything is energy. All the energy in the cosmos is dynamic, variable, and in a constant state of flux. All forms of energy respond to the animating push of flux with either flow or resistance. In other words, change is constant. We can choose to go with it, or we can resist it. When we go with the forces of change, the result is energetic flow. When we resist change, the result is tension. The greater our resistance to change, the greater the tension we must contend with.
Denial is resistance—resistance to truth. The longer we insist on denying the truth, the greater the degree of tension we’ll be forced to contend with. If the truth is that chronic overweight and obesity problems are rooted in eating dysfunction, and eating dysfunction is rooted in emotional pain from fear, shame, and apathy, then the only logical conclusion one could arrive at is that fad dieting is a form of denial—denial of emotional pain.
Perhaps the greatest of all human temptations is to deny emotional pain. That is, until one day we come to realize that emotional pain is undeniable. To deny pain is to welcome suffering. A Buddhist friend of mine once put this in perspective. He explained that to believe that we have a choice between pleasure and pain is but an illusion. He went on to share the Buddhist perspective that the only real choice we truly have is between short-term pain and long-term suffering. He noted that short-term pain is more intense, but that a willingness to face it head-on allows us to move more swiftly through its process, and on to liberation. He then pointed out that long-term suffering is the natural result of denial. When we attempt to deny our short-term pain, our suffering only becomes more unrelenting—instead of liberation, we become afflicted by pain’s bondage. Denial, with its resultant suffering, is a state to which far too many of us remain forever fastened.
A brief examination of our use of language reveals our reluctance to face our pain head-on. The energy has been virtually drained out of some of our most powerful words—all to suit our inclination to live in denial. The word “stress” is arguably the most commonly used word we choose to describe pain. In fact, it’s become one of the most frequently used words in our vocabulary. There’s little doubt that a word like “stress” should indeed have a striking impact. Yet, strangely enough, its greatest power now lies not in what it says, but rather in what it fails to say.
The word “stress” has essentially been neutered in order to keep us from having to acknowledge what’s really going on emotionally within us. It has virtually lost all of its meaning. It’s merely become a part of our colloquial lexicon—an insignificant conversation filler.
In point of fact, “stress” actually refers to a cascade of disorienting chemical changes that become activated in the body whenever strong emotional energies get gridlocked. Repressed emotions are what produce the energy that triggers the plethora of symptoms most commonly associated with physiological stress. Denial then activates the brain, mind, and nervous system, further actuating the release of hormones like cortisol, which increases sugar cravings, and aldosterone, which drives up salt cravings. Acute and chronic stress dramatically increases levels of these two hormones, ultimately resulting in a cycle of sugar cravings followed by salt cravings. Once this cycle is biochemically bolstered, there are only two ways for us to respond—to feed the food down or to feel the emotions out.
This brings us full circle, right back to the concept of flow versus resistance. By denying the powerful emotional frequencies within us, we’re choosing to resist the physics of our own power and force. By saying no to the flow of emotional energy that’s demanding to move through us, we’re accumulating frustrated tension that can only result in dis-ease. The tension that builds from such denial then progresses from failed dieting frustration to failed serial dieting frustration to an intensification of food addiction. The more we deny the pain, the more it suppurates. The greater our pain, the stronger becomes our drive to make the hurting stop.
Fear of Being Without the Comforting Love of Food
A little over two million years ago, our ancestors first began hunting big game. Big game like woolly mammoths couldn’t be hunted and killed by small tribes and cave clans—thus, hunting and eating became social events. Around that same time, the human brain was in its early stages of formulating the hippocampal hormones—leptin and ghrelin—vital to memory and emotional development, as well as dopamine, which regulates the brain’s reward centers. Let’s just say that as of two million years ago we humans no longer needed to be reminded whom we’d enjoyed our most recent dining pleasures with. We ate in groups, shared in the pleasures with friends and neighbors, and developed fond memories around the experience. Just as true today as it was then, our brains associate food with memory-making emotions.
Today we celebrate virtually every aspect of life together with food. We make love with food, we celebrate life with food, and we memorialize our losses with food. We’ve always had an abiding relationship with food—a relationship that reaches deep into the innermost recesses of our soul. Life is complicated and demanding, and through all the changes, challenges, and heartaches, food has always been there with us, and for us. Our lives and lifestyles have forever been associated with food, feelings, and memories.
The human mind is a memory machine with an affinity for making associative connections. I recall stumbling upon an associative memory study of people who’d suffered abuse. The study was able to consistently show biofeedback spikes in vital functions whenever the subjects viewed colors that were associated with the colors of their perpetrators’ clothing, some twenty to thirty years after the fact. This study supports the theory that, subconsciously, we never forget.
For most of us, food has found a way into our hearts and associatively linked itself to some of our most impressionable memories. As you’re reading this page, I’m certain that you can recall both old and recent memories that you’ve unconsciously associated with food, like a holiday dinner with family and friends or an intimate, romantic candlelight dinner with someone special. There’s no question about it—for most of us, the thought of food elicits powerful emotional memories.
One study, performed by associate professor of nutrition David Vanata of Ashland University in Ohio, found that by merely thinking about various foods, subjects expressed varying degrees of happiness, excitability, pleasantness, and comfort. As you might imagine, the highest happiness scores went to ice cream, chocolate, cake, grapes, and pizza. Overall, the highest-ranking foods for emotional response when combining happiness, excitability, pleasantness, and comfort scores turned out to be ice cream, chocolate, and cookies.3 Our experience with food is emotionally associative. Associative memories elicit powerful emotions, and powerful emotions engage sensory neurology linking the emotions and memories to sights, sounds, smells, feelings, and tastes.
Science is discovering powerful links between our sensory connections with food and our early life experiences. Similar to the way we as adults might associate the fragrance of a certain perfume or cologne with a lover, we create strong sensory bonds between food and the pleasant memories in our life.
For me, the fragrance of a rich tomato sauce immediately stirs fond memories of cooking and dining with my beautiful Italian grandmother, Maria Nina De La Fabiano. I spent a good deal of my childhood enjoying her love and the warmth of her surroundings. I shall never forget assisting her with the culinary creation of a soup she referred to as minestra. Once a week she’d take just about everything in her refrigerator that was on the verge of being thrown out and put it in a large soup pot of boiling water and spices. Upon completion of her minestra masterpiece, we’d sit together and enjoy sharing in the love and laughter as we partook of a bowl of “you name it” soup together. This memory-making would often carry over to the next morning. Whenever I was fortunate enough to spend the night at Grandma’s, I’d often awaken to a breakfast of Cheerios swimming in a bowl of coffee, cream, and sugar. And though I don’t drink coffee today, I do often find myself inhaling its ambrosial scent, and each time I do, I return to the same special memory. Like most of us, I have many happy, loving memories around food. I do have some not-so-happy memories around food that remain with me as well.
I recall an occasion when I was a young boy and my mother asked me if I’d like to have hot dogs and beans for lunch. Excitedly, I answered, “Yes, please!” Moments later I found myself staring at a plate of lima beans. I know it’s not unusual for a mom to occasionally pull a fast one in an attempt to sneak in a new food from time to time, but this was one of those times I was simply having none of it. I distinctly recall digging my heels in, determined not to eat these disgusting little green earlobe-shaped things. Unfortunately for me, Mom had her game face on that day. Our wills were poised and a battle royal ensued, and I was not allowed to leave that table for what seemed like an eternity. To this day, I’ve never eaten a lima bean, and I never will! In fact, the mere mention of them instantly ushers me back in time to that distressing moment in my life.
We’ve all made powerful associative connections between food, emotion, and neurology that reveal our deep, abiding relationship with food. Food has been our only friend in the world, and food has been our worst enemy. Food has been our poison and our miracle cure, and it has often both caused and eased our pain.
There’s been a good deal of research that’s shown that at least some of the effects of food on our mood trace back to our primitive biology. One series of recent studies discovered that subjects who had full stomachs while listening to sad music and looking at sad faces experienced positive mood shifts. Researchers say that it points to evolutionary programming that was designed to keep us alive when food was scarce. The authors of these studies theorize that due to the fact that this primitive chemistry has become obsolete, it’s now likely contributing mightily to our current obesity problem.
Other studies have found that high stress drives up emotional eating by triggering powerful glucocorticoid receptors in the taste buds that stimulate our desire for starchy, sugary, fatty comfort foods. Studies such as these have made it clear that when you combine our current easy access to food with our primitive survival chemistry, the result is uncontrollable eating. Throw in exceedingly high levels of emotional stress and you’ve got yourself an obesity dilemma. Our history, memories, survival chemistry, and high levels of stress all contribute to our powerful emotional connection to food. Our relationship with food runs deep.
As we all know, nothing can ever fill any void left by the absence of real love. Nonetheless, our growing addiction to food is one surefire indicator that real love is waning in our world. The world will never overcome addiction without replacing its self-contempt with self-love.
Why do we suffer from such self-contempt? In a word, the answer is shame. Ours has become an increasingly competitive cultural experiment. We compete in the home. We compete in the classroom and schoolyard. Many of us go on to compete in college and at our jobs. The results are always the same—more failure than success. When you get right down to it, it’s really not so much about our successes or failures. It’s more about the feelings we’ve been programmed to attach to them. We learn very early on to link negative emotional energies like fear to the prospect of success, and likewise to link shame to failure.
I recently had a session with a thirty-five-year-old woman who suffers from chronic stress and anxiety. She nervously entered my office, in a state of great angst. I asked why she was so nervous and advised her to distill her overwhelming feelings down to their causal root. She said she was anxious and afraid of being late for our appointment. I once again suggested that we distill things a bit more, so I asked her what she thought would happen if she were to arrive late for our appointment. She said that by arriving late and/or missing out on our appointment, she felt she might lose both the fee and the opportunity for treatment, which would have been interpreted as a shameful failure on her behalf. We talked further and she went on to explain that her mother had had an extremely critical nature and had always shamed her and made her feel inadequate when she was growing up. She told me that she’d always wanted to be a lawyer or a teacher, but that her mother demanded instead that she attend secretarial school. She said that her mother programmed her not to fail. Subsequently, she recalled struggling with anxiety, fear of failure, and shame most of her life.
I inquired as to what, if any, collateral damage she believed this may have caused her. She said that she thought the stress from a lifetime of shame affected her overall emotional state, heart rate, blood pressure, and immune system. She told me that, looking back on it, she was quite certain that her mother suffered from OCD, which she believed her mother had developed from the shame and stress of being an abandoned, motherless child.
I asked her to close her eyes for a moment, take a few deep breaths, and imagine that she was viewing a past mother-daughter episode from the movie of her life. I suggested that she visualize her present-day adult self stepping into this scene from her past so that she might bring some healing to the situation. I asked her what she’d like to tell the spirit of her mother and her “child self” if she could. She said that she’d like to tell them, “Stop trying so hard! There’s no need to be perfect! You’re both fine just the way you are! Enjoy life! Take the time to have more fun and enjoy each other!” Tears began to well up in her eyes as she reflected on her many years of suffering from toxic shame.
“Toxic shame, the shame that binds you, is experienced as the all-pervasive sense that ‘I’m flawed and defective as a human being,’” writes John Bradshaw in Healing the Shame That Binds You. “Toxic shame is no longer an emotion—it signals our limits. It’s a state of being—a core identity. Toxic shame gives you a sense of worthlessness, a sense of failing and falling short as a human being. Toxic shame is a rupture of the self with the self.
“Toxic shame is so excruciating because it is the painful exposure of the believed failure of self to the self. In toxic shame, the self becomes an object of its own content, an object that can’t be trusted. As an object that can’t be trusted, one experiences oneself as untrustworthy. Toxic shame is experienced as an inner torment, a sickness of the soul. If I’m an object that can’t be trusted, then I’m not in me. Toxic shame is paradoxical and self-generating.”4
The stress and depletion that result from this self-generating emotion trigger a cycle of dis-ease.
I recently visited with a patient whom I see once a year, usually during the summer. She suffers from chronic, seasonal mononucleosis and binge eating, brought on by very busy, stressful spring and summer work overloads. She’s relatively symptom free in the winter months, when her business slows down. She explained that her cyclical symptoms are triggered by a lifetime of stress, which she traces back to workaholic programming downloaded into her by her father when she was a kid. Dad was a workaholic, and so his daughter has been unconsciously programmed to not become a “shameful slacker”—so much so, it’s caused a cyclical pattern of chronic immunosuppression and obsessive-compulsive binge eating in her life.
I recommended an antiviral diet with some immune-enhancing nutritional supplements, but for at least twenty of the thirty minutes that we worked together, I encouraged her to consciously work at uprooting her dis-ease by breaking her shame-based thought patterns. The specific dysfunctional messages that she most needs to uproot are that slackers are not deserving of their own love, and that unless she’s willing to work herself sick, she should see herself as nothing but a shameful slacker.
Repeated shaming ultimately distorts self-image to a point of chronic self-contempt, and chronic self-contempt inevitably leads to destructive behaviors. “The world’s constant rejection has at last convinced me that I’m flawed. Now I’m beginning to resent myself for being so unattractive to a world that I so desperately need. Therefore, I’m left no other alternative than to agree with the world. I don’t like me either. In fact, I don’t like me so much that I just might destroy this flawed, unattractive self once and for all.”
I have a very dear friend of many years who was one of the most remarkable and gifted men ever to walk the earth. Unfortunately, he was the last to know it. In fact, he never got it, which is why he’s no longer with us. When I first met him he was a tobacco-, alcohol-, and drug-addicted teenager. He eventually got clean and sober, but then decided to turn his addiction to food. He gained eighty-five pounds in a relatively short period of time, and then I got ahold of him. He followed the nutritional program I designed for him and he eventually got down to a healthy weight again. He seemed to be getting himself back on track. He was divinely blessed with extraordinary gifts and talents. He had a beautiful and loving wife, four magnificent children, and many deeply devoted friends, but there always seemed to be something missing. No matter how good his life was, he was unable to enjoy the ride.
His father was an austere, critical figure who found it difficult to play an intimate, unconditionally loving role in his son’s life. It was clear to many who knew him that the absence of his father’s love left a fathomless void. Moreover, it resulted in a critical inner voice that tormented him right up until the end. Thousands showered him with love during his last days, but all the love in the world couldn’t heal him from the bottomless pain of his deep-seated shame and self-contempt.
Shame and Self-Abandonment
The word “addiction” comes from the Latin addicere, meaning “to enslave.” As long as we’re devoid of self-love, we’ll remain vulnerable to the torment of our own critical voices within. It’s these shaming voices of self-destruction that prevail upon us to stuff ourselves full of anything other than self.
We Americans account for approximately 4.6 percent of the global population, yet we consume 80 percent of the world’s opiates. The fact that our opiate use continues to skyrocket at such an alarming rate is a clear sign that our pain is insurmountable. In fact, you might say that our pain is surpassed only by our determination to not feel it. In parts of the major population centers of the United States, oxycodone-based products such as OxyContin, Percocet, and Percodan are said to have increased sixteenfold over the past decade. There is a great void within that we’re fruitlessly attempting to fill with substances like these.
In 1943, noted American psychologist Abraham Maslow published “A Theory of Human Motivation,” in Psychological Review. The gist of his message was that in order to be a truly fulfilled human being, one must have a hierarchy of five vital needs met. Here’s one interpretation of what Maslow’s hierarchy might look like:
1. Self-actualization (performance talent, creativity, and fulfillment)
2. Self-esteem (achievement, mastery, and recognition)
3. Belonging (friends, family, and community)
4. Safety (security and protection from danger)
5. Basic physiological needs (food, water, and warmth)
The most important takeaway stems from the first two, Maslow’s “self-actualization” and “self-esteem”: Without self-love, it’s virtually impossible for our core to be fulfilled. In the absence of self-love, there can be no love at all. With no vital connection to our indwelling life spring, we are left to operate our lives out of a void. Maslow tells us that if we are to prosper, this void must be filled by self, with self. When there is no self through which to live life, a primal instinct to belong to something else rises up as a force of desperation from within. When we’re not “self” connected, we’re destined to become “other” connected—we simply cannot survive being disconnected. But in a world where “the real thing” is so hard to come by, chances are better than good that “other” will not be there to love our “self,” because “other” will be preoccupied with its own struggle to find fulfillment. After we’ve been repeatedly turned away, desperation soon follows. The more desperate we become, the more likely we are to broaden our fulfillment search.
It doesn’t take a human being very much rejection for him or her to be drawn to the myriad of pleasure-providing options that are available. Of all those options, food is arguably the most accessible form of instant gratification. Food has long been the object of our desire for its mere ability to instantly fill us full. It comes right down to feeling or feeding.
Experts tell us that most of our overeating is caused by recurring negative emotional states. These emotional states have the power to rewire our brains and nervous systems, creating an unquenchable physiological desire for food. Our bad moods dramatically increase our desire for foods that satisfy defective insulin receptors. Thus, chronic negative emotions can set up vicious cycles of addictive overeating. If you break the human heart enough times, the emotional repercussions ultimately alter body-mind and brain chemistries. There are powerful opiate centers in the brain that produce neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins that offset negative emotions. This chemistry results in a neurology that reinforces emotion and results in chronic compulsive behavior. Make no mistake about it: food has the power to possess our body, mind, and spirit.
Many years ago, I was asked to give a presentation at an aestheticians’ conference in Wellesley, Massachusetts. About ten minutes before I was to begin my talk, the spirit moved me to jot down the following words on a piece of paper: “Complete the following sentence by filling in the blank: Food is _________.” Approximately two hundred people were in attendance that evening, so I asked the organizers if there was a nearby copying machine that I might use. I quickly proceeded to run off a few hundred copies, then asked for assistance placing them on all the chairs in the room moments before beginning. As the attendees filed into the room and took their seats, they were asked to fill in the blank on the page. After a few minutes their responses were collected, and as I read them I was immediately taken aback by what I saw. This group, mostly very attractive, fit, well-dressed, educated women, opened my eyes to something that night that I never forgot. Here are some of the answers that appeared:
Food is—Pain and suffering.
It was clear to me that many of the people in that room that night were feeling pretty empty. Food had clearly become far too important to them in all the wrong ways. But a quick examination of their answers tells us that food isn’t the real problem. It’s the systematic disempowerment and abandonment of “self.” For food has clearly been bequeathed unlimited “other” power. Look at how much power many of these women assigned to food. A good number of them answered that food is love. What really comes through loud and clear here is the self-abandonment that manifests as a lack of self-love. We’re simply not raised to fully occupy and love “self.” So here we are. Most of us don’t even know what it means to love ourselves. Meanwhile, no one wants to be lonely and feel unloved—so enter the “other,” otherwise known as food. But food is not the answer. Food temporarily fills the emptiness, but it cannot fulfill the void. The more deprived of true fulfillment one is, the more addicted to the notion of being filled full one becomes.
If you were to distill compulsive and addictive behavior down to its causal roots, you’d find shame and self-abandonment. Shame and self-abandonment trigger the insidious pathology of food’s potentially life-damaging, mood-altering force. Painful, flawed perceptions of self drive the biology of addiction. What starts out as distorted emotion and thought ultimately transmutes into neurological and biochemical addiction. It’s all about turning off the “pain” switch.
Food makes us feel better without having to wait. Biochemically, this gratification response gains immediate access to our brain’s reward center (nucleus accumbens). The nervous system is the first to feel the “feel-good” endorphin reaction of this instant gratification response. In short, we go from feeling really bad to feeling really good in milliseconds. As Mara Tyler reports on healthline .com, “Research, such as a 2010 study published in Current Opinion in Gastroenterology, shows increasing evidence that food addiction is a result of changes in a person’s neurochemistry and neuroanatomy. . . . When lab rats were given free access to high-fat, high-sugar foods, their brains changed. The changes in their behavior and physiology were similar to the changes caused by drug abuse.”5 Study after study reveals that the biochemical changes imposed by foods are instantaneous, powerful, and lasting. This is the reason their chemical reactions are tied to a lifetime of emotion.
The indelible pain from a lifetime of internalized shame makes us feel chronically depressed and anxious, but it doesn’t take long for our brains and nervous systems to discover that food can soothe that pain in no time at all.
Shame and self-abandonment produce a quaking in the heart that only fulfillment can ease. Without love, food becomes an available proxy. But like any surrogate love, this fix doesn’t last for very long. Food’s endorphin response is only good until the next mouthful. Before long, deprived endorphin receptors begin sending powerful craving signals to our nervous systems: “We’re starting to feel the hurt again. We’re getting jittery. We need more.” Thus, the addiction process has been biochemically effectuated. That which was once distorted emotions and thoughts has at last become encoded into our neurochemistry. The damaging, state-altering potential of this destructive cycle from shame to self-abandonment to addiction is noxious.
Feeling Instead of Feeding
Anita N. was a bright, affable, fifty-two-year-old woman who reported in at five feet, six inches and 320 pounds. She had struggled unsuccessfully with five or six diet programs in the past and decided to give a personalized, one-on-one approach a try. We immediately rolled up our sleeves and got started by kinesiologically testing her foods and setting a nutritional plan. She seemed to get good traction right off the bat, as each of her first successive follow-ups revealed excellent results. Anita’s father had died when she was much younger—and, subsequently, she and her mother were still living together. It wasn’t too long before I had the opportunity to meet her mother and observe their relationship dynamics. I could see right away that there was a great deal of tension between the two. Her mother was very critical of her, especially her weight problem and eating habits. She would often betray Anita’s confidence by calling me to tell me she’d discovered fast food wrappers under Anita’s bed and in her drawers and closets. Eventually, I had to stop taking her phone calls, as she insisted on ignoring my coaching input. Her mother’s critical nature and shaming tactics stirred self-contempt and anger in Anita. The dysfunctional tension between the two clearly stirred up a rebellious streak in Anita, which ended up sabotaging her good intentions.
A clear cyclical pattern began to avail itself. Periods of exceptional results by Anita were followed by spells of anger at her mother and shame about herself, followed by periods of weight gain. It was time for Anita and me to have a good talk. I made it clear straightaway that her frustrating relationship with her mother was setting her off on emotional eating binges. Without hesitation, she affirmed my assertion and began to cry. She clearly understood that her conflict of loving her mother but being very angry with and shamed by her left her feeling uncontrollable anger. She explained that these conflicting emotions made her feel trapped in her own body. She told me that she loved her mother far too much to contend with the degree of anger that she felt. Thus, her conscious mind had turned the problem over to her unconscious mind, which decided to stuff down with food the energy of her frustration, shame, and anger.
Anita was now conscious of the fact that she was an emotional eater. I told her that with all emotional eaters, it comes down to the decision to “feed” or “feel.” I explained to her that emotions are very powerful energies and that feeding represents “energy in” and feeling represents “energy out.” I advised her to be mindful of her feelings. I told her that anytime they came up, she’d best bear responsibility for releasing their potentially dis-ease–producing energy. I explained that by feeling instead of feeding, she’d be able to overcome her emotional toxicity and at last be free to embrace her dark side.
Healing Our Shame: Embracing Our Dark Side
Like everything in the universe, we are composed of both energy and matter. Similarly, we are composed of a lower human nature and a higher spirit nature. Our lower human nature is easy to identify with. It’s the carnal, fallible part of us that is chronically plagued by temptation, confusion, and emotional pain. Our higher spirit nature, on the other hand, is that transcendent part of us that has the power to protect, inspire, and uplift us. It’s our supernatural overdrive for those times when we’re stuck on life’s highway. Our higher spirit nature is the “get real” part of us that reveals itself on the rarest of occasions. Our collective higher spirit was very much in evidence during and after September 11, 2001. It was as if we’d mystically undergone a transformational unification during those shocking days.
While it’s easy to interpret our higher spirit nature as good and our lower human nature as less than good, it’s important to remember that together, these two divergent representations of self make up our wholeness. It is due to the fact that our lower human nature is correlated with the darkness of temptation, confusion, and emotional pain that we’re inclined to identify it as evil. The evil, however, comes not from our lower human nature, but from the world’s influence over it.
Each of these components of self is plugged into a different energy source. Our lower human nature is attuned to the energy of the world. Our higher spirit nature is tuned into the innate stream of consciousness that flows from deep within and all around us. It’s as though we have two different selves that are unconsciously modulated by the frequencies of two entirely different programming networks. The frequencies of the world so distort our vulnerable human nature that most of us end up unconsciously blaming and ultimately loathing ourselves for our mortal iniquities.
It’s important to remember that we are human beings with two distinctly different selves. The presence of one naturally falls away as the other rises. It’s essential that we remain ever aware of the addictive influences around us at all times—it’s also important to forgive our lower human selves for their natural attraction to those influences. Self-solidarity is the only antidote for personal shame, but integral wholeness is a choice that demands ever-present awareness. It all begins with living moment to moment in a state of conscious attunement, fully aware of what energy network our thoughts are tuned into.
What frequency is your mind harmonized with? What’s the general theme of your internal narrative? What’s the spirit of your inner dialogue? Are you attuned to the voice of the world, or are you tapped into the universal stream of consciousness? The world network’s signals can get very staticky, to say the least. Are you aware of your awareness enough to be able to change the station in your mind to a higher frequency when need be? Can you get yourself unstuck from the lower-frequency dial? Does the network you’re tuned to remind you that half of your self is naturally created of darkness, and that the collective darkness of the world is continually attempting to manipulate it?
I recently visited with a thirty-year-old mother of three who is a girls’ lacrosse coach. She first came to see me determined to lose weight, and recently she came in excited to share the news that she’d lost over twenty pounds. Even more important, she was anxious to discuss some of the transformational changes that she’d been experiencing. She shared a story with me about how she’d unconsciously become entranced by her depressing, shaming, critical inner voice. She told me that the voice had come very close to destroying her life. Then one day, while looking at the lacrosse team pictures with a dear friend and fellow coach who also happened to be overweight, she couldn’t help but notice that in virtually every photograph, her friend was pictured in the back, far behind everyone else. She asked her friend why she was in the back of every picture. Her friend told her that ever since she was a young child, whenever it was time for a group picture, she would always creep unsuspectingly behind everyone else to hide her body from view. When my client heard her friend’s sad admission, a voice in her head spoke the words, “I’m not doing this anymore!” She told me that she made a decision that day to begin unconditionally accepting herself and to start celebrating her life.
I told her that she’d made a conscious decision to “change the station” and that it would be extremely important for her to continue paying attention to this new mind-set. Moreover, I reminded her to never stop unconditionally embracing her dark side. I told her that it was not her lower human nature that had been bringing her down all those years—it was the world’s influence over it.
I’ve worked with many overweight and obese people over the years and can attest to the fact that most who made a conscious connection with their higher spirit while managing to unconditionally embrace their dark side were much better equipped to deal with the pain that leads to addictive eating.
Shame disintegrates all sense of oneness. It provokes the detestation and abandonment of self. Food fills the vacuum left by the abandonment of self, but without providing true, lasting fulfillment. The only stabilizing fulfillment that can ground us in the face of such enmity is self-love. Self-love is a quantum stretch for anyone inculcated by years of self-loathing. It’s a little less of a stretch to approach this from the perspective of duality equaling wholeness. Here’s what I mean: The simple logic of one plus one equaling two, and two being an even, whole number is a simple way to say that when conjoined, two polar opposites make up one complete whole.
There is a perfect metaphorical depiction of what I am trying to convey in the great tai chi circle (commonly referred to as the “yin/yang” symbol).
The great circle represents a paradoxical metaphor that invites us to delve deeper into the potential holism of our duality. It is composed of half darkness and half light, symbolizing the interdependency of our lower and higher selves. It serves as a symbolic reminder that in the absence of either our darkness or our light, there can be no wholeness. The great circle teaches us that by failing to embrace our lower self, our higher self is destined to remain un-whole. The supreme state of oneness can result only when the two extremes are integrated.
Transcending Our Shame: Trusting in Our Own Inner Light
Once we become attuned to the higher frequencies of our innate stream of consciousness we tend to become less “other” and more “self” directed. Therefore, we begin getting our problem-solving advice from a higher source. So, where do you get your problem-solving advice from? In your time of greatest need, who’s your problem-solving expert?
Whenever we use the word “expert,” we’re generally talking about someone else, or some “other.” Most of us are not accustomed to thinking of ourselves as experts. Even those who are experts in some field often find themselves referring to someone else as the expert, much if not most of the time. Knowledge isn’t just power—it is the power that makes the expert the expert. So, when it comes to the power of expertise, most of us have been programmed to think of ourselves as buyers. In our culture, we’re persuaded to believe that power is an entitlement of expertise, representative of “other,” not “self.”
From very early on in life we’re programmed to believe that powers rest with some “other”—God, mother, father, big brother, teacher, or coach. Knowledge, wisdom, and command are synonymous with “other.” Therefore, we’re constantly reaching outward beyond the presupposed limitations of “self” in search of knowledge, love, and approval from “other.”
I’ve had many thousands of consultations, over more than three decades, with people who’ve come to me in search of vital information. Much to their surprise, the most important information I share with them is information that encourages them to stop reaching out and to start reaching in. I make it very clear that their most meaningful answers flow forth from the innate stream within them.
How many times have you watched a sporting event only to see an athlete point up to the heavens as if some “supreme other” were sitting on a throne thirty thousand feet above them and presiding over their accomplishment? You can walk into virtually any place of worship at any given time and find people praying in an outward direction, as if the divinity they’re appealing to were residing in some distant domain far removed from the wretched habitat of “self.” “Other” is perceived as immortal, while “self” is seen as mortal.
We’ve been subtly indoctrinated to surrender our power of “self” to the forces of “other”—so much so that many of us are now afraid to trust in the power of our own light. Moreover, by disempowering “self,” “self” becomes exceedingly vulnerable to the attraction and addiction to “other.” As long as we remain entranced under the spell of “other” power, we shall remain susceptible to the allure of its false promises. Turn on your television or radio for five minutes and consciously observe the programming. It’s all about the self-imposed pseudopower of “other” seeking to capitalize on the natural human vulnerabilities of “self.” Our bodies aren’t fit and firm enough. Our teeth aren’t white enough. Our hair isn’t thick enough. God forbid you’re over fifty and happen to be watching a Touch of Gray or Viagra commercial. The pummeling our human nature takes from the world’s voice is unceasing.
We all have access to an innate stream of light that emanates from our source. As long as we’re distracted by world static, we’ll remain tuned out of source wisdom. The inner voice of source wisdom represents our only access to true transcendent power—the only power capable of breaking our addictive link to “other.”
I define apathy as feeling defeated and shamed past the point of caring. Just yesterday I had a conversation with a male patient in his thirties who first came to me after having been diagnosed with acute inflammatory colitis. He wasn’t able to hold down any food at all and was sick, weak, and at a breaking point. Over the course of the next several months, however, his strict dietary discipline resulted in a complete recovery. He was at last able to digest his food healthfully. He told me that he recently tried to encourage an extremely overweight acquaintance to come see me for weight loss. He told me the person’s reply was, “I could never follow a diet like you’re on. I just don’t have the strength and determination.” Mind you, we’re talking about a potentially life-threatening issue. Nonetheless, like so many others, this person likely feels defeated and shamed past the point of caring.
As previously mentioned, nobody wins all the time. In fact, in this world there’s more losing than winning, and repeated losing leads to deepening feelings of shame and inadequacy. If we are continually made to feel inadequate, the shaming effect is likely to become embedded in our spirit. Once we’re dispirited, the door to addiction starts to swing open a little wider.
Instead of providing real solutions for this crippling state, the material world prefers to offer costly, artificial solutions. Solutions that fail to provide long-term results tend to produce negative side effects and, worse, leave us constantly coming back for more.
Every culture is a social experiment designed to improve the quality of life for those who qualify. Our framework was designed to improve life quality by providing material comfort. The message of our free enterprise system has always been, “And to the victor go the spoils.” The most aggressive, intelligent, and attractive among us are given the greatest access to the best quality of life. Our thirst for perfection is unquenchable, and our appetite for winning is insatiable.
Ours has become a highly pressurized cultural experiment, replete with loss, riddled with shame, and devoid of self-love. The higher we raise our standards, the greater the probability of loss and failure, and continual loss and failure give way to the fracturing of the spirit. You can’t imagine how many perfectly fit patients I meet with who insist that I help them to lose fifteen pounds. Far worse still than the shame is the apathy. I continually hear overweight and obese patients utter words like, “I hate myself,” “I feel like I’ll never lose this weight,” and “I’m getting so I just don’t seem to care anymore.”
Our struggle to survive in spite of our own degraded self-image becomes intense. You might say that shame forces us to care too much for our own good. After years of caring too much, we just get burned out. That’s when the apathy and self-contempt set in.
A sixty-six-year-old woman recently came to see me suffering from acid reflux, bladder inflammation, insomnia, memory impairment, concentration problems, panic, anxiety, and depression. I performed EMT energy diagnosis on her, which revealed that her symptoms traced back to her adrenal medulla, indicating severe and chronic stress. It was clear that the roots of her disharmony ran deep. She conveyed a pattern of stress-borne dis-ease that resulted from a lifelong disconnection from positivity and self-love. Her long-suffering spirit had been so deprived of joy that apathy had begun to set in. Her drive to survive had burned her out. I then explained that only by reformatting her mind, from a consciousness of survival to a consciousness of abundance, might she be able to inch her way back to some semblance of self-love. That was when she broke down in tears and told me that both her parents were Holocaust survivors. As we talked further, it became clear that the morphic resonance (emotional absorption) she’d experienced from living with survival-scarred parents all those years had so embedded itself in her psyche that it prevented her from fully feeling love and prosperity. The release of tears and strong emotions preceded a profound healing breakthrough. Her apathy had been broken. In fact, her heart had revealed to her that it had cared all the while.
Healing Our Apathy with Our Words
The concept of holism reminds us that healing can be invoked in body, mind, or spirit, and that to heal any one of these is to heal them all. Because the spirit resides within the infinite domain of the human mind, it’s an unequaled source of great healing power.
Neuroscience tells us that our unconscious mind can process hundreds of billions of bits of information per second. Unfortunately, a vast majority of those thoughts are unconscious and negative. It’s been said that our negative thoughts are like Velcro and our positive thoughts are like Teflon. So we humans tend to be somewhat negative by nature, as our brains were wired that way for survival purposes. Mother Nature saw fit to make sure we expected the worst for our own good, but she also gave us the option to either remain in this negative survival mode or choose to rewire our brains for something more upbeat.
You see, our brains are not hardwired—they’re “neuroplastic,” or designed for change. The act of rewiring the brain begins with changing the mind, and changing the mind begins with changing our thoughts. The nouveau science of neuroplasticity has discovered that rewiring the human brain and nervous system from negative to positive is largely a matter of changing the inner dialogue from negative to positive. Words alone have the power to change brain chemistry. It’s of the utmost importance that the positive inner dialogue be repeated with great frequency. Our apathy can be turned around with our words.
In the brain change programs that I’ve developed for both individual and corporate use, I’ve discovered that it’s extremely important that the positive phrases, or mantras, that one chooses for one’s brain reformatting be exaggerated. For example, rather than choosing a languid phrase like “I love life,” one might better select a more ostentatious positive phrase, such as “I am the master of the universe.” The reason for this is that it’s important to command the attention of the nervous system. I always remind my neuroplasticity subjects that a transformational mantra doesn’t have to be accurate or true. It does have to be positive and attention getting. A number of the group programs that I’ve run over the years have clearly demonstrated that if you repeat an attention-getting positive mantra like “I am the master of the universe” for four minutes, twice a day, over a period of sixteen weeks, the brain will neurologically rewire itself from right-prefrontal-dominant negativity to left-prefrontal-dominant positivity. We have the power to overcome our apathy with words. Words of power, frequently repeated, stimulate the brain to rewire the nervous system from a negative to a positive mind-set. If we’re accustomed to living in a hellish place and we want out, we might consider mending our mind by reformatting our inner dialogue. By simply changing our inner dialogue, we can engage our inner power.
In the words of the author Emmet Fox in his classic Find and Use Your Inner Power, “Both heaven and hell are states of consciousness, the net resultant of our beliefs and feelings at any time. Formerly, people thought that both heaven and hell were places where one went after death, and nowadays many people seem to think that neither heaven nor hell exists at all. The truth is that both hell and heaven do exist, but they are states of mind, and we experience them right here on this earth now.”6
When you have true peace of mind and an adequate understanding of life, you are already in heaven. When you are full of fear, anxiety, hatred, or physical pain, you are in hell. The conventional descriptions of both places are but an attempt to provide symbolic pictures of states of mind.
Whether you live in heaven or hell depends largely upon the kind of thinking you indulge in throughout your day. And, fortunately, you can—using a simple technique—program yourself to rehearse heaven-focused thinking to the benefit of your general state. Think of the doors of hell as swinging doors. You may enter if you wish—and, by the same token, you can also come out as you choose. The way out is to begin thinking thoughts of health, happiness, and success at this very moment.
Allowing the Holism of Our Pain to Heal Us
The word “holistic” is typically associated with health and healing. It generally refers to the natural wholeness that is the result of the balancing and unifying of the body, mind, and spirit. But disease is also a reflection of holism. In fact, disease is the most natural form of holism. Healing is the by-product of following a protocol that reverses the natural, a priori process of disease. By observing the natural course of disease we can construct a map that returns us to a place of homeostasis. Disease is the perfect reflection of nature’s if-then decree. If we don’t eat enough, then we get malnourished. If we don’t sleep enough, then we get tired. If we don’t exercise enough, then we get weak. The deductive nature of disease manifests at our deeper mental and emotional levels. If as children we’re ignored by our parents, then we’ll be more likely to have to contend with fear, shame, and apathy as adults. Moreover, the physics of holism implies an inclusion of “the whole.” Therefore, the emotional fear, shame, and apathy that result from years of parental abandonment can also generate physical inflammation in the endocrine system, which is likely to imbalance glucose levels and lead to sugar/carbohydrate addiction, fueling addictive eating patterns and contributing to the risk of obesity. There is no question that by healing the body, heart, mind, and spirit, we heal the whole self—but we also must realize that by diseasing any of these parts, we can also disease the whole self. Once again, it’s about our willingness to dig deeper and stretch wider in order to grasp the holism of disease. So long as we insist on attempting to manage our disease at a strictly mechanistic level, the prospect of lasting healing will continue to elude us. Disease may be rooted in the emotional frequencies of our heart, but it ultimately metastasizes to our whole being.
We are born into families, environments, and circumstances that are often chaotic, dysfunctional, abandoning, and abusive. The resulting entropy accompanies us throughout our stages of life, making us emotionally wounded adult children fraught with obsessive-compulsive and addictive tendencies. The all-encompassing holism of this abuse and suffering often stirs compulsive thinking and obsessive control behaviors.
Ever vigilant, our insecure child’s mind is constantly scanning its surroundings for any sign of potential threat, real or imagined. If we sense that we’re unsafe, we’ll adapt our behavior to assert control over our surroundings by seeking pleasure, denying pain, and altering our perceptions.
A friend of mine who’s been a pediatric nurse at a major Boston hospital for many years recently shared a disturbing story with me. She explained that the anorexic and bulimic teenage patients in her unit were weighed every morning in an effort to ensure that they were gaining weight. She told me that if they didn’t gain weight, they’d be forcibly restrained and force-fed Boost and Ensure through feeding tubes. She then went on to explain that these kids are so afraid of giving up control that they’d go as far as to lubricate two rolls of quarters and place them in their anal cavities, just to add a half pound of body weight. After having heard this story, all I could do was shake my head in disbelief. This sad picture exposes the deepest holistic roots of the dis-ease and pain that ultimately evolved into fear, shame, apathy, and addiction.
In spite of the far-reaching nature of our pain, we must keep in mind that the physics of holism implies a logical duality and balance. If there’s a way in, then there’s a way out. In fact, the way in could even be seen as a part of the way out. As many of us evolve through our healing process we may eventually come to realize that the very pain that so dis-integrated us was intended to make us whole all along.
This transcendental wisdom is best captured by Kahlil Gibran in his poem “On Pain,” in his timeless classic The Prophet:
Much of your pain is self-chosen.
It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self.7
The WHD Emotional Energy Release Exercise
We are an extremely emotionally repressed culture. Because of this repression, our emotional frequencies are generally so highly charged that we become intimidated by the prospect of having to deal with them. The more we deny them, the greater their accumulative force. It is this highly charged repression that forces us to ultimately seek release through alternative behavioral excesses, such as eating and drinking. The key is to demystify these emotions and ultimately to defuse their energetic charge.
This procedure is designed to help release the toxic energies built up from years of repressed fear, shame, and/or apathy. Regardless of which emotional energy we are focused on, it can be effectively released by opening up the heart and grieving it out. It’s simply about energy release.
Next, it’s important to remember that this is an exercise. It may be an emotional exercise for the internal heart, but it’s still an exercise. We exercise our bodies, brains, and minds, but rarely if ever do we exercise our emotional hearts. And when we exercise our bodies, we rely on a support environment, such as an equipped gym, a trainer, a set of headphones, and some kind of music to psych us up. When we exercise our brains and minds, we’re also accustomed to a support environment such as a teacher, a classroom, or a laptop. So, in order to effectively exercise our emotional heart, it is equally important to create the proper support environment.
To get set up for the WHD Emotional Energy Release Exercise it is advisable to first establish an appropriate place. It should be a place of privacy and quietude, where you are least likely to be disturbed. Make sure to turn off your cell phone, unplug the landline, and put a Do Not Disturb sign on the door. You should ensure at least twenty to thirty minutes of total privacy. It’s also advisable to surround yourself with scrapbooks, mementos, and keepsakes. These are referred to as emotional triggers. These emotional triggers generally make it a bit easier to open up a repressed heart. Finally, be prepared to tune in to some preselected music that plays directly to your heart.
Now that your environment is set, you’re ready to begin. Begin listening to the music and slowly filing through your visual triggers. It’s essential that you allow your heart to flow freely—laughing, cheering, moaning, groaning, crying, screaming, and yelling as you so feel. Remember, this is intended to be a spontaneous release of feeling expressions passing through your body in the form of highly charged emotional energies.
Once you’ve engaged in this exercise for thirty minutes, try to allow for an additional ten minutes of quietude to re-center yourself. Also, it’s not unusual to be a little bit subdued or feel a little blue for an hour to as much as an entire day or two after. (Do not hesitate to contact a qualified professional counselor for further emotional support.) Once having passed through this brief blue period, you should begin feeling much lighter and clearer. The WHD Emotional Energy Release Exercise should be performed as needed. It is a powerful technique that has proven most effective at defusing the negative driving energies that trigger emotional eating.