We are all at different stages of our emotional journey:
1) Awareness of Emotions: Some of us repress our emotions, and simply need to tenderly turn towards them without trying to change them.
Healing Task: Breathe into your emotion without interpretation and witness by saying, "Something in me is feeling....I see you, feel you and hear you. I am going to stay with you for a few minutes." Hold the part of your body that is expressing strong feelings, and endeavour to stay lovingly present with it for 5-10 minutes.
Expressive Arts: Write "image poems" without interpretation.
2. Emotional Expression and Release: Emotions need to be "energy in motion." When we repress our emotions, our body will hurt from the tension. When we hold our emotions in for too long we get sick.
Healing Task: Express what feels unacceptable so that the unknown can become seen, heard, known and accepted.
Expressive Arts: Spontaneously dance, paint, draw, write and collage.
3. Regulation of Emotions: Once we are aware of our emotions, and are regularly expressing them, it becomes easier to understand how to calm and regulate them. If we feel anxiety, for example, we can regularly engage in calming practices.
Healing Tasks: Name your emotions. Tell their story. Practice meditation, spiritual practice, daily exercise. Practice healthy eating and sleep patterns.
4. Transformation of Emotions: When we express and release our emotions and calm and regulate our bodies and minds, we become ripe and ready to embed brand new positive habits into our emotional body.
Healing Tasks: Re-pattern your neurology and biology with positive psychology, positive affirmations.
Expressive Arts: Affirmative collage, gratitude journal.
5. Corrective Emotional Experiences: When we feel better emotionally, we can practice demonstrating our self-love and self-worth with other people. New positive experiences replace old wounds and we are changed for good.
Healing Tasks: Community involvement and service, deepening intimate relationships, healthier friendships.
Expressive Arts: Creative Facilitation, leading or contributing to other people's self-expression in groups.
What is Your Daily Creative Practice?
I have a passion for emotional healing. I have done a vast amount of inner work on myself, mostly through the expressive arts. And lately, I have been deeply reflecting upon how we are drawn to different creative practices at various stages of our emotional journey.
Presently, I am focusing on the "regulation" stage of emotional healing and I maintain a meditational morning mandala practice for calming my emotions. My aim is also to heal my adrenals after many years of overworking. My emotional need to create is not nearly as imperative as it once was. Many years ago, for example, I would spend an entire day intuitively drawing in order to rise out of an intense emotional mire. Now, my creative practices are short and deliberately intentioned toward a desired goal of self-regulation.
Heading through my 50's, intensive emotional healing work is no longer so imperative for me. I am moving into the wisdom stage of my life. I know myself well, and I am not nearly so preoccupied with my own emotional "stuff," As a therapist in private practice, I am now in love with beholding the emotions of others.
My question to you is: "What is your creative wellness practice right now? How is it helping you to emotionally heal?" I invite you to share in the comments below.
Emotion focused therapy is a relational process that supports you to accept, express, regulate, make sense of, and transform your emotions so you can become who you really are.