I am becoming increasingly aware especially in this current world of how important it is to regulate my own emotions not just in my work or relationships but in my entire life. I find this awareness particularly relevant especially as I approach the prospect of becoming a new father. As a new earth man, in particular, I am being called to be open, vulnerable and embracing of my sensitivities and empathic nature however without being at the effect of my environment or other people. The deeper I can feel the more it is up to me to hold space for those feelings and not pass that responsibility on to other. It is a feat far easier said than done and I trip up more often than not. Especially when I find myself in environments that are intense, overwhelming and even triggering I can become highly reactive, angry and combative but likewise I also have the capacity to be compassionate, patient and centred. It becomes an absolute imperative for me that I develop an even greater capacity to cultivate and hold my own vibrational states. It confirms for me that I am not just a space energetically within myself, I am also the energetic space in which other people participate whether it is in my role as a facilitator, coach or future parent and that is a significant responsibility.
As within so without.
It is important to realise that the ability to regulate our own inner emotional environment and thus our vibration is decisive in sustaining a healthy body, thriving relationships and in co-creating wholehearted energetic environments. Our wellbeing actually depends on it so this is not just an ability but actually our responsibility. Where we get it all wrong is when we believe that the more sensitive or deep feeling we are the more we need to control other people's behaviour, manage our environment or even stifle and ignore our own unwanted emotions in order to be in a harmonious and thriving space. Likewise we believe that when we are experiencing illnesses, pain or discomfort that we cannot simultaneously hold a deep state of presence and peace. Somewhere in this misunderstanding we stop taking responsibility for how we show up and we give our power away to circumstances, triggers and external influences. The magic only happens when we can consistently hold a powerful vibrational states such that our bodies instinctively move towards healing and our circumstances attract abundance and flow.
As parents we are required to help regulate the emotions of our children and mitigate their pains through our own energy but our job over time must be to teach them through example to regulate their own emotions, communicate their needs and boundaries clearly so that they eventually feel empowered to hold their own vibrational spaces independent of their environment. How else to we equip them to be sovereign beings? When it does not happen that dependancy we had on our parents simply gets transferred on to our partners which then gets passed to our children again. We then create a world of people who cannot take responsibility for their inner states. We cannot ever hope to teach our children to regulate their emotions if we cannot regulate and consciously process our own. We cannot hold space for anyone else’s difficult emotions if we cannot hold space for our own, and likewise we cannot teach anyone to hold space for theirs either until we have accomplished it for ourselves.
I believe this is the most important quality for being both a facilitator who holds space and a parent. It shows up in our ability to be truly vulnerable and present in our emotions, to take full responsibility for them and to not shy away from potential triggers; this for me is what being present is about. We are here to stand in the chaotic thick of life with all its discomforts, pains and still be able to access our joy.
But what does it really mean to 'regulate'?
My own challenge has been that I often confused regulating my emotions with controlling, suppressing and denying them. I discovered soon enough that they are not the same thing and that suppressing emotions comes at a very big price. I went from being a seemingly calm, polite and collected person to being explosive, intense and unpredictable. My journey has since been learning how to be fully present in all my emotions in a healthy and empowering way without mitigating, sacrificing or judging any of these aspects. We live in a society where suppression is the order of the day and this is why I am so passionate through shamanic facilitation work to create held spaces where people get to connect with their primal sides, where they can openly express the raw emotions of anger, sadness and hurt in a way that does not transfer or ripple outwards.
The best way I have discovered to regulate my emotions is to fully express and feel them in appropriately held spaces or to simply sit with them in meditation. The most important part is that our emotions do not have to be directed at anyone else for them to be authentically expressed or processed. It invariably causes problems when we expect our significant others to process or regulate our difficult emotions. The need to have our these emotions heard by the is most often tied with the itch to transfer them, when we are unhappy or irritated for instance we seek to have that vibration mirrored in another person, usually someone close to us. In this exchange we hold an entitled expectation that we require a response of explanation, apology, contrition or sympathy from someone else in order to be able to appease our own emotions. Sometimes we just want other to feel the pain we feel to be satisfied or understood. We will even allow ourselves to stew in anger, resentment or disappointment indefinitely until we get our expected response, which is no different to taking poison and expecting the other person to die. This is the paradigm of a dependant and it is so built into our social conditioning. As mature sovereign beings however we must learn to resolve our emotional conflict in ourselves without depending or relying on the responses of others. This is what it is to hold space for our own emotions where we can find ways to fully express, feel and process our emotions without creating inner toxicity or feeding into the greater chain reaction. Only when we stop the cycle of transferring our emotions can we ever hope to transform them.
Learning to regulate our emotions is not only about being able to process unpleasant emotions but it is about taking for responsibility for our overall vibrational states. While we may not always have control over our inner weather with regards to the daily triggers and pains that invariably impact us, we do absolutely have a say in creating our inner climate.
What is our inner climate? Well if we took a snap shot or wrote in our diary what our overall emotional state was each day and looked at the general pattern over a few weeks, even a few months what would we see? This would be our emotional climate; our habitual state of being. When we have a strong inner climate, no matter what contrasting emotions we might experience along the way we will instinctively return to our default state. Many of us can remember from our childhood at least one adult who seemed to hold a space of unconditional care, joy or love, whether it was a grand parent, an uncle, aunt or a mentor. It is this person we felt most safe and accepted to be with because of the consistent inner climate they held. It is not that they never had bad or challenging days but they always seemed to bounced back quickly to their joy and peace.
So the question is what is your vibrational climate? To answer this question we must be able to become aware of what we are actually feeling. It is so seldom that we check in with our bodies. Many people struggle to simply identify the palate of their core emotions such as anger, sadness, fear and joy. Most people identify with conceptual emotions such as feeling ’fine’ 'good' or ‘okay’ which is just a pretence that masks whats really going on inside. People around us tend to be more aware of what our emotional climates are than we are because they are the ones who have to deal with us. They are the ones that often have to walk on egg shells around us when we are fiery and reactive, easily offended or overly sensitive, discontented or withdrawn. We can be so unaware sometimes that we might even believe that we are happy and pleasant to be around when everyone else experiences us as being volatile. It takes some honest reflection to acknowledge what we are really like to be around because then we must take full responsibility for our feelings and our focus. If you really want to be bold in your enquiry ask a few people close to you, ones who would willing to be honest, what they perceive your overall emotional climate, your default state to be.
Here are a few vibrational possibilities to help you with your enquiry:
Are you joyful- always seeing possibility and positivity around you?
Are you melancholic- often disheartened, sad and in a low energy?
Are you anxious- restless, concerned, shy and often in your head working it out?
Are you angry- easily triggered, often hurt, resentful and reactive, needing to punish , complaining about others, in some form of pain, hardship or drama?
Are you fragile- overly sensitive, sometime prickly, often dealing with pain and needing to overly manage your environment?
Are you playful- tending to be silly, jovial, fun loving and naughty?
Are you chilled- generally in a calm and peaceful space, not attached or too connected
Are you excited- always on the go, pushing forward, emotionally obtuse and fiery?
While we may experience all these vibrations at different times or variations, our default state tends to be one of the above or a combination of two. It can either be a conscious or unconscious vibration but it's the one we keep coming back to, the one we wake up in the morning with. It requires a level of real honesty to engage this enquiry. You need to put aside the content, the many reasons and the stories of all the justifications as to why you are like you are and just get present to the simple vibration that you are transmitting and therefore what you are attracting.
For a long time my general feeling state was a restless suppressed anxiety even though on the exterior I appeared to be composed. I lived with an undercurrent of fear and it had me come across as serious and preoccupied most of the time. While I had many many moments of happiness and joy, these were short lived because my climate always pulled me back into a restless worried state. It took me some time to simply acknowledge what a closed-off grump I often was and how it impacted my space and the people around me. It meant I had to stop romanticising and justifying this state as my ‘artistic temperament’ and admit the truth that I was actually often fearful, depressed, disconnected and blaming it on the world. It took years of practice to take myself on, dealing with my inner narrative and learning to shift my state into one of gratitude, joy and peace. There are times when I can still feel the wheels of anxiety turning in my inner realms but they no longer have the gravity they ones had. While I still face many challenges and triggers around me I can confidently say that I am in the happiest most joyful and creative space I have ever been. My interactions with people are generally completely different; I feel I have finally arrived in being alive. Even when I experience painful or raw emotions, all these swirl and flow now in a greater wheel of the most incredible love. I admit there is still much work to do and I feel that the universe keeps preparing me for greater vibrational spaces by sending bigger and bigger initiations. Parenting feels to me to be one such beautiful initiation for expansion and wholeheartedness.
The best way I can describe this experience of inner climate or vibration is that within us we all have many spinning wheels, I imagine them to be like those big Tibetan prayer wheels we see at the monasteries which pilgrims spin as they intone their mantras and prayers. We have these spinning wheels within us each vibrating at certain frequencies, some are vibrational wheels of fear and anxiety, some of discontent and annoyance, some are of sadness and melancholy and some are of joy and elation. Take a moment, close your eyes and you may become aware of this inner energy and feel these prayer wheels spinning within. You may become present that there a few wheels spinning.
Depending on our thoughts and what we focus on some wheels spin faster than others and some can spin so fast they dominate and affect all the other vibrational planes. The faster they spin the more they dominate the frequency of our thoughts and affect our actual perception of reality. If a wheel of fear and anxiety spins faster we lean towards worrying thoughts, financial concerns and the judgements of others etc. As this wheel spins even faster our thoughts may even veer towards panic and mistrust which then has a knock on effect of spinning our wheel of anger and rage. These two energetic wheels spinning at a high speed can sweep us into a vortex of reactivity and destructiveness. These inner wheels can also be spun by the words of others that we entertain. If we allow someone to speak discontent or fear into our ear their words compound the similar resonance momentum that we already have within us. Similarly what we entertain on social media, articles we read, movies we watch, these all form part of the background whispers in our head that can spin certain wheels faster and faster. The lesson here is to start becoming more aware of vibration over content.
There is a particular reason why I liken our vibrations to these Tibetan prayer wheels because they only turn when we actively spin them; they do not spin on their own. If we left them alone they would eventually slow down to a stand still. This is an important metaphor about our emotions for it is our thoughts that spin our vibrational wheels. What we focus on and think about always determines the vibrations we experience for it constitutes our interpretation of life. Emotions in this sense are really just the disturbances of our thoughts coming from the latin term “emovere” which means to stir, to agitate or move. We are constantly processing streams and loops of thoughts all the time, some consciously but most unconsciously. There are often many voices speaking in our head simultaneously as there are in the world, in the media and online, some we hear clearly but most are whispers in a background chorus.
While we cannot control all these voices in the background or what they are saying we can always choose what the dominant voice is saying. So for instance when we read, our dominant inner voice takes the stage with its focus on the words we are reading while the other backseat voices try to grab moments to comment, process, reflect and recall. When we pray, recite mantra or sing our dominant voice takes over our inner space which is why these activities can bring us to greater harmony and focus. When we pray or do a conscious gratitude practice we literally start to spin the vibrational wheel of joy and wellbeing which in turn slows the other wheels down and if we can do it in a conscious way we start to create a desired momentum that can sustain itself throughout our day.
In certain meditation traditions we are likewise given a mantra that we are taught to repeat over and over again which is usually without a specific meaning. It’s job is to quieten all the other thoughts and slow down the momentum of our more fiery wheels. This allows the higher gentler vibrational spinning wheels that are always present to be felt. Meditation also allows us to sit with the difficult emotions of certain wheels especially if there is pain or trauma embedded there. In being able to sit with these emotions and feel them without attaching thought or opinion to them, they resolve and slow down on their own. When for instance we feel the fear and anxiety wheel and our thought loop is ‘I shouldn’t be feeling this! This shouldn’t be happening!’ this is an anxiety feeding thought which causes the wheel to go faster and faster. On the other hand when we can allow ourselves to feel the spinning of the fear wheel, to feel and accept it, adding no resistance other than perhaps acknowledging ‘I am feeling some fear, and it is perfect’ then eventually it will simply slow down.
In this distinction we see that there are two approaches that radically influence our vibrational directions: that of flow and resistance. When we resist, which is the energy of trying to stop something that is already happening, it is like trying to swim upstream in a river that is pushing against us. It leaves us feeling exhausted, resentful and unsupported. The quality of resistance generally shows up in expressions of complaint, negativity and denial which invariably leaves us at odds with life. When we flow, we are present with what is and are able to navigate it using what life presents to us, there is a sense of ease and creativity and life seems to work with us. The quality of flow generally shows up in expressions of gratitude, acceptance and acknowledgment. When we get present to the difference between resistance or flow in our approach, we can choose our vibrational momentum. Our ability to regulate our emotions powerfully is about understanding how to accept and flow with them cultivating them like an artist into high frequency spaces. This is admittedly no small task if for most of our lives we have been living with an approach of resistance.
It is so clear to me now how suppressing my emotions came from an energy of resistance with thoughts that sounded like ‘It is bad to feel this way. I should not be feeling this. I must hide it.’ Feeling or expressing anger, fear or sadness is never in itself a problem, it is only when I resist that it compounds into states that are unstable and toxic. When I can let it rise and let it flow then I am able to let it go, but let it go I must. When I am able to acknowledge my gratitude for all my feelings even the uncomfortable ones then I can easily return to a climate of joy, love and wellbeing. It is a practice that gets easier and easier the more consistently I do it.
Through these distinctions and practices I believe we can all powerfully regulate our emotions through our focus no matter what is happening around us. Likewise I believe that it is vital that we find consciously held spaces where we can express our more primal fiery emotions freely. This is the space I offer with the Tiger Hymn sound and breathwork sessions amongst many others. And with that I believe if we then do conscious vibrational practices daily, we can learn to regulate our emotions by generating an unconditional emotional climate of our own choosing. I admit sometimes that in my desire to encourage other people to take responsibility for their emotional states, especially those close to me, that I sense myself starting to spin a wheel of frustration and judgement. I can see how it comes from a place of resistance and not flow. It brings me back to the awareness that my most important work is not to try shift anyone else but to simply return to the practice of being the energetic space of the world I want to see. Needless to day discernment and the holding of firm healthy boundaries is of course a vital part of this process but that is a share for another day. As we learn to hold powerful spaces within ourselves the irony is that our world will then eventually start to change around us. It is this world that as a mentor, guide and future parent that I look forward to ushering our new generation into, a world where people take full responsibility for their inner spaces, a world that brings an end to collective and unconscious suffering.
I hope this sharing helps or creates clarity in your own process whether you are integrating from a medicine journey, dealing with difficult emotions or situations, deepening your spiritual practice or just want to attract joy and abundance into your life. For me this is always about practise, its never about arriving somewhere. No one has it all handled and anyone who thinks they have is just not taking on a big enough game in life. This is about playing as best as we can and taking on bigger and bigger challenges as we become more and more adept.
If you would like to find out more about the sessions I provide or would like to embark on a personal coaching journey please visit www.tigerhymn.com. If you are interested in experiencing the transformative power of plant medicine ceremony and related shamanic processes please visit www.wakecircle.com. We will also be releasing dates shortly for Wake facilitator training workshops on the practice of holding space.