“You don’t go into a gym when you are 50 pounds overweight, do 100 sit-ups and expect to have a six-pack. That’s not how it works. You gotta hit that bad boy every day for at least 6 months. The same is true for inner transformation.” -Mastin Kipp
Earlier this week, I led a workshop called “Lightening the Load: How to Achieve Emotional Balance.” Since I believe that everyone should have the tools to feel unburdened and emotionally balanced, I’ve decided to share some of the activities from my workshop so you can try them at home.
- Activity 1 (Contraction vs. Expansion): Stand up and clench the body as tightly as you can. Now expand (throw your arms in the air and open your chest). Repeat. Ask yourself: is it possible to feel angry, stressed, or resentful when you’re in a state of expansion?
- Activity 2 (Finding the Resistance): Close your eyes and think of what you’re currently resisting: a person, thing, or situation. Once you identify it, find where you are storing the resistance within the body. Is it residing in the forehead, throat, chest, belly, hips? Breathe into that space. As Raphael Cushnir tells us, “Once we recognize the physical sensation as emotion stored in the body, we can release it.”
- Activity 3 (Visualizing the Chakras): Close your eyes and begin to meditate on the chakras and the colors associated with each of the chakras. For a guide, visit Yoga Journal. Scan the body, stopping at each of the chakras and visualize each color. Let the color grow brighter with each inhale and dimmer with each exhale.
- Activity 4 (The Two Selves): Take out a pen and piece of paper. On one side of the paper, draw a figure of your burdened, anxious/stressed self. Don’t be too analytical; let yourself draw without inhibitions. Write down words next to the figure that describe the emotions of this self. On the other side of the paper, draw a figure of your ideal self. Again, write down words next to the figure that describe the emotions associated with the self. What do you notice? What, if anything, surprised you about these drawings?
- Activity 5 (Lovingkindness): Close your eyes. Place one hand over the heart and the other hand over the belly. Inhale into the top hand, exhale into the bottom hand. Think of three people in your life (a person you love very much, a person you dislike very much, and your own authentic self). For each person, repeat: “May you be free from pain and suffering. May you live your life with ease” (source: Sharon Salzberg).
Try one or all of these activities and repeat as needed. As Mastin Kipp reminds us, inner transformation and emotional balance don’t happen overnight. But if we work at it every day, we will soon see–and feel–life in a whole new way.