Emotional fitness involves understanding:
- body grip
- facial motility
- physical, rational, biorhythms
- stored emotion
- the four coherent emotions.
In this series of presentations we have taken a journey on how you can alter the way you experience emotions and thereby transform yourself.
Relaxation is a skill
At the foundation of emotional fitness is learning how to relax. We define this as a skill, because it is a skill. There are definite relaxation exercises that you can learn and if you practice relaxation regularly then you will get better at it. It is also beneficial to condition yourself to relax in as many different kinds of situations in the world as you can, such as before a job interview or exam, or waiting in a queue.
To help with learning how to relax, it is important to understand how breathing works and which breathing techniques enhance relaxation.
A further enhancement to relaxation skill is an understanding of good posture, whether standing, sitting or lying down.
Muscle, tendon and bone configuration
Fundamental to posture is something we call your muscle, tendon and bone configuration, which is the habitual structure that those parts of the body develop into, and which is relatively stable over time. If you have a poor muscle, tendon and bone configuration then you will have a poor posture, which will negatively affect breathing and ability to relax. Muscle, tendon and bone configuration can be improved over time with the right exercises and level of dedication and effort, something which EmotFit emotional fitness is all about.
Stretch and hold
In order to improve muscle, tendon and bone configuration we need to carry out certain stretch and hold exercises, since these are the kinds of exercises that stretch the tendons and alter the configuration of parts of the body.
All kinds of bodywork can help improve and maintain human bodily functionality, but we focus on slow moving or static techniques like Yoga which use stretch and hold exercises. Yoga positions involving stretching the body into certain poses and then holding that pose for a number of minutes. When the exercise is done regularly usually it leads to it becoming easier and easier to do and the body becomes more flexible.
In EmotFit emotional fitness we focus on two parts of the body, the upper torso and the face.
Body grip involves focusing on the upper torso and encouraging strengthening of the intercostal muscles to create a more robust and better connected chest structure. Such a chest provides a firm foundation upon which all bodily activities can be carried out with greater precision and success. The body grip exercise itself is a very simple one which can be carried out in any number of places, but some effort is required to understand what body grip is and how it might be so fundamental to emotional fitness and human functionality,
Facial expressiveness / motility
The other area of the body which is important to emotional fitness and human functionality is the face. The role that the face plays in interpersonal communication is immense. The obvious one is facial expression, but also, usually linked to that, and to the firmness of the upper torso, the tone and timbre of the human voice. The muscle, tendon and bone configuration in the face create the passages that sound passes through and resonates from after being generated by the vocal chords. The nature of those passages helps determine qualities of the person's voice, whether it is pleasant, resonant, timid, convincing, constricted, dischordent, or thin. As with body grip, facial motility / expressiveness can be improved with exercises that change the underlying configuration.
This is all very well, but how do we go about making these changes? Emotions have certain characteristics, that we can harness to help us to change the way that we use them and enhance our fitness.
Emotions obey physical laws
The first thing we need to understand is that emotions are physical events that take place within our bodies, and that negative and positive emotions tend to occur in rhythm with each other. We use an example of a skydiver, who has an intense experience of fear and agitation while falling through the sky, but once safely in the ground is overcome with an opposing intense feeling of euphoria. The body has a natural homeostatic system that constantly seeks equilibrium. Once we understand this we can be certain that whenever we fall into a deep despondency, we will naturally, over time, recover from it, because that is how nature works. It is also useful to argue that emotions obey the third law of motion, which states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Emotions are rational
Many of us might have been brought up to think that emotions are irrational. If emotions obey natural laws of action reaction, then they are rational. They are part of an ordered world and have their own reason and logic. For the sake of EmotFit we define emotions as the sum total of all the physical, chemical, biological and social rhythms going on in the body and the individual's interaction with their immediate environment at any given time.
This is where the third law of motion comes into play. For every emotional action against us, there is a (while usually not very equal) response from us. Some people are able to respond immediately and resolve the transfer of energy quickly, but others are not able to, and this might lead to the emotional energy being stored somewhere in the body.
Processing, channelling emotion
Emotions that are stored in the body can be processed and the released energy channelled constructively. There are a lot of different methods of processing such as counselling, personal reflection and various forms of psychotherapy, but we are mainly interested in the channelling of those processed emotions. The focus is on channelling the energy released into improving body grip and facial motility.
Coherent and incoherent emotion
Some emotions are more coherent and constructive than others. We focus on four coherent emotions: happiness, sadness, love and anger. Both sadness and anger are healthy emotions and should not be repressed; they are an important part of the emotional biorhythm. They are also the emotions most suitable for channelling. We all express emotions differently but there are a lot of physiological features of the emotions that we all share and can learn from each other.
Happiness is not an emotion that we can readily channel into physiological change, that I know of anyway. However there is much to be gained by discussing what we mean by happiness as an emotion, either in groups or through individual reflection.
Sadness is associated with loss and can be used to channel the body into a relaxed state. When something is lost it is important to go back to a place where you were without it and start afresh.
Anger is associated with the presence of excess amounts of energy and this can be used to channel into making physiological changes to body grip and facial motility, with the consequent improvements in functionality and emotional fitness that is the subject of emotional fitness theory. Given that coherent emotions such as anger are not with us all the time, but only appear periodically, it is a matter of being in a position to capture this energy when it arises.
Love is many things, but in this emotional fitness theory we view it as a spectrum from lust to pure love, of the kind which a parent might have for a child. Love definitely has to be associated with sex hormones, but there are plenty of occasions where the same emotion occurs in their absence. While love can and is often channelled into creative accomplishments, I have not found any useful method of channelling it into improving physiological functioning.