By Mariko Hiyama
“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realise this, and you will find strength.”
It was the end of the year, and I was distraught. Exhausted by the effects of the pandemic on my ability to earn a living, my body engulfed with emotions. I was in pain. I must have sobbed for at least ten minutes. After clearing my emotions, I grabbed a pen and notebook. I wrote down my feelings and the thoughts that came to mind.
Today, as I look back at my journal and revisit what I expressed on that day, I read the following:
- The feeling of sadness that I cannot do my job.
- The feeling of frustration that I will face financial difficulty that is not my fault.
- The feeling of anxiety whether my work and I could survive without an income in this city.
I could have easily become trapped in negative thoughts and emotions for days and weeks on end. But I did not let that happen. I was determined not to allow the pandemic to take over my emotions, my mental and physical wellbeing, and my life.
Why it’s important to acknowledge and meet emotions
Anxiety, worry, fear, grief, sadness, frustration, and anger – these emotions are all a natural part of being human. When we meet them and allow them to pass through us, we are healthier. But when we suppress or deny them, they become stuck in our system, impacting our physical health, and eventually causing illness.
According to traditional eastern medicines like TCM from China and Ayurveda from India, your emotional vibrations are linked to your organ systems. For example, the emotional vibration created by anger can influence your liver and gallbladder, and the emotional vibration of excessive worrying or over-thinking can impact your stomach or pancreas.
When these basic emotions are not met and released, they accumulate in the body. Our body responds by evoking certain sensations such as pain in specific areas.
As a facial reflexologist, I often support clients who have yet been undiagnosed or discovered the cause of a health condition. By touching their face, I can detect a person’s health conditions, emotional states, and possibly old physical and emotional traumas. Interestingly, many of my clients have experienced flashbacks during the therapy or felt sensations in their physical body when my hands are on their face.
Some of you may have experienced emotional release during Yoga, Meditation, Pranayama (breathing practice) and some may have cried during classes. Such entirely normal reactions is a sign you have allowed yourself to acknowledge and meet whatever emotions you have forgotten or suppressed in your body and mind. By moving your internal Prana (Energy), you are unlocking blocked or stagnated, unwanted emotions. Yoga and other gentle movements using deep breathing techniques help us focus “now” and enable our body and mind to connect more deeply. This unity is the key to unlocking the closed feelings within and slowly, we begin to dispose of toxic emotional waste.
The power of putting pen to paper
To prevent being sucked into the vortex of negativity, I did what I teach my students and clients to do:
- Take a pen, open your notebook and write down everything that comes to mind. Just keep writing.
- After you’ve finished writing, take some time to meditate (I choose to sit on the floor, light a calming incense and candles, and chant mantras).
- After completing your meditation practice, write down whatever thoughts come to mind.
By doing this, I noticed a big shift within. I felt able to take positive action and take control of my emotional wellbeing too.
The benefits of breathing
As a Facial Reflexologist and healer through Yoga & Qi Gong, I recognise the positive effects of breathing to balance our mind, body, and emotions. When I experience unwanted emotions or physical pain arising, I take slow, deep breaths. Consciously moving my abdominal region, I inhale to expand and exhale to bring the body and awareness inward. I often make my exhalation even longer than my inhalation. In this way, my inhalation automatically becomes deeper.
As Dr. Vasant Lad, a renowned Ayurvedic physician in India, says, “Every thought changes the rhythm of breath, and every breath changes the rhythm of thinking. When one is happy, blissful, and silent, breathing is rhythmic. If one is disturbed with anxiety, fear, or nervousness, the breathing is irregular and interrupted.”
How to protect yourself from being sucked into a vortex of negativity
When the challenges of the pandemic began to wear me down, I reminded myself not to be sucked in a vortex of negativity. Instead, I needed to bring my emotions and focus on shifting them “upward”.
Our emotions often create a vortex which can suck our energy and physical consciousness. When this happens, it can take ages to come back up. When we emerge, we may not be where we used to be.
There is also a vortex which can lead upward or toward the right direction to create positive changes. Try this. If you feel powerless, consider the opposite emotion. Now take a journey to shorten the distance between powerlessness and powerfulness. I find that journaling, meditation, Yoga & Qi Gong, and alternative medicine therapies help me to take the journey to shorten the emotional distance.
Once you acknowledge your emotional state and start looking upward, you will feel a slight lightness in your mind. Grab the sensation of lightness.
Make a positive decision about what you want, focus on it, and find the feeling. How do you feel when you visualise achieving your decision?
This visualisation practice has helped me through many difficult life events. When I went through a traumatic separation after an amazing marriage, I was emotionally and physically unstable. But using the techniques that I have learned and share with clients, I recovered quickly, and my suffering disappeared much faster than I could imagine.
Ways to move forward and become your best self
To become your best self in any situation, consider your Base/Ground, Vision, Purpose and Strategy.
Ask yourself the following:
Who am I?
What am I?
What is my ideal self/the best version of myself?
What do I get by being the best version of myself?
What if I don’t do or get what I visualized? What will happen to me?
Why do I want to be/want to do?
What do I need to do to become the best version or myself or achieve what I want to be or do?
I find the daily practice creates a foundation for me to be the best version of myself in good and challenging times. Personally, I follow “Dinacharya” (Sanskrit for “positive habit/routine”). Whatever you choose, the habit can be simple and should be enjoyable with a meaning connected to the action.
Here’s my Dinacharya:
1. Wake up between 6-6:30 am. In this way, I can have a longer day and enjoy quiet time.
2. Drink 1-2 cups of room temperature or warm water to detoxify my body.
3. Journaling to clear my mind and plan my life.
4. 30m Yoga practice, Qi Gong, Pranayama, Meditation for peace and bliss.
5. Maintain empty stomach till 9:30-10:00 am, which helps me feel great.
6. Walk as much as possible during the day, so I stay fit.
7. Avoid processed food, so I eat and feel well.
8. Do good things for others, so I contribute to society.
9. Eat a light dinner no later than 8 pm (ideally 7 pm). The evening is considered ‘Yin’, our resting time. When we eat late and sleep, our digestive systems do not have enough time to rest.
10. Self-oil massage with my original Ayurveda oil to promote relaxing muscles, enhance circulation, and detox wastes.
11. Take a shower before going to bed to cleanse the body, calm the mind, and cultivate new energy.
12. Bed by 12 pm (ideally 11 pm). This works well for me as it aligns with my natural body clock.