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Emotional Agility: your invisible lifejacket

sound life Apr 25, 2021

On some days, the world seems like a terrible place and despair crowds in the shadows. When I heard about the shooting in Indianapolis, along with reading about a teenager being stabbed during broad daylight in East London, it felt like being punched by an invisible fist. What is going on? Is our society crumbling? It’s as if we are dragging the world down with all this heaviness.

There is no denying that we live in troubled times, where waves of change roll over us and one upheaval follows another. Many people tell me they feel helpless, vulnerable and unable to cope any longer. Maybe this contributes to the rising violence - people lashing out blindly because they can’t see a way out. But is there really no way out - for any of us? Are we doomed to hurt others to feel in control for a short moment?

Call me an optimist, but I think there is light at the end of the tunnel- I’m not ready to give up on humanity just yet. Let us take a closer look at what is happening.

In Sound Alchemy, emotions are the primary language of the mind and the soul. They connect the different levels of our being and are essential for our internal cohesion. Feelings are caused by emotions and are perceived and expressed by the body.

Now, let us do a little experiment together:

Step 1:

Sit down comfortably and close your eyes.

Imagine your mind, your soul and your body as people. Visualise the three of them sitting next to each other. How does the surrounding landscape look like? And how do the three personages appear to you? Tall or short, old or young? What is their colouring? What does the expression of their faces look like? How is their body language? Are they sitting comfortably close, turned towards each other, or far apart? And what can you tell about each of their moods? How do you feel overall after sitting with this visualisation for a bit?

Step 2:

Take a short break, move around a bit and get some fresh air. While you are doing that, think about your happiest memory ever. Try to relive the moment you felt it, and make it as accurate as possible. Keep going until you can feel the happiness in your whole being. Then sit down again, and repeat step one.

Afterwards, compare what you observed in step one with your experience. Did the appearance of those three imaginary people change? What about their body language? Are they sitting closer or further apart? Again, be as detailed as you can with your observation.

While doing this experiment, no words have been exchanged - the communication was entirely based on emotion, and the changes you just observed happen all the time within you. Your mind shifts in response to your soul, or vice versa. Your body changes as a result of emotions flowing between your mind and your soul. Those changes affect the perception of your inner world, your surroundings, and the people you interact with.

Our emotions are critical to how we experience life, how we see ourselves and how we impact the shared reality we constantly co-create with everyone.  

Now that we have established how important emotions are, let me ask you this: have you ever been systematically taught how to manage your feelings? Did you learn how to increase your emotional agility? It wasn’t part of your formal education.

For most people, emotional training was not significantly different from house training a puppy, which only aims to keep the unpleasantness out of the house. But what happens with fear or anger when all we have been taught is to hide it from others? When all we can do is keep the lid on it and hope for the best? We are like pressure cookers that keep building up pressure inside until they explode. Many people are desperately trying to avoid any potential triggers, so they don’t have to deal with uncontrollable emotions in the first place. But that is not sustainable in the long term and comes with side effects like loneliness and isolation.

I believe that this lack of understanding and training is a significant factor in our current crisis. It is not just the rise of violence I’m talking about, but the mental health epidemic with its increase in depression and anxiety among teenagers and young adults. What could be the solution?

In my opinion, we need to build a society that places humanity at centre stage - our shared humanity. I am not speaking about individualism versus collectivism, far from it. Instead, we need to focus on what makes us human: empathy, compassion, connection and creativity. All those values are powered by emotions - and emotions are universal.

So let us celebrate and value our emotions and those of others, embrace them instead of fighting them. Sound has a tremendous power to channel emotions, like the safety valve of the pressure cooker. Sing, dance, or clap along with the music you like and which you feel resonates with your mood. It’s an excellent way to relieve the tension.

Those walking on the path of Naad Yoga know how effective Sound can be to switch your emotional state just by listening. You can find out more about how Sound transforms and transmits emotions in my previous blog: “The Sound of Truth in a World of Fake News” 

Now, if what is happening in the world makes you want to curl up in a corner under a blanket of despair, I have suggestions for you:

Listen to Raag Asa Asawari and Raag Dhanasri until you feel better. You can listen to those Raags for free on Spotify or find them on iTunes and Amazon Music.  

Raag Asa Asawari, Album: Anhad - Beyond Sound, track 3, Artist: Professor Surinder Singh; or click here for the link to Spotify 

Raag Dhanasri, Album: Sacred Sounds, track 2, Artists: Sidak & Sumpuran; or click here for the link to Spotify 

Also, remember that you don’t weigh the world on your shoulders. Nobody expects you to change the universe on your own. But you can work on yourself, get to know your emotions and make them your allies. Emotions are messengers from your mind, body and soul: they are trying to get your attention and pass on a message. They are neither your enemies nor something dirty to hideaway.

Now more than ever, we need to be guided by compassion when dealing with ourselves and others. So the next time a friend of yours snipes at you or your kid has a meltdown, don’t force them to hide away how they feel. Offer them kindness instead, so they can work out whatever they are struggling with. And when you next have a terrible day, they might just return the favour.

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