Unresolved issues can hinder our lives. We find out about the process of emotional detoxification.
Large amounts of stress, broken relationships, traumatic childhood incidents, suppressed anger and hurt — there are a variety of emotions and emotional experiences that can take a toll on us. While detoxification has mostly been restricted to diets, cleansing or removing of unhealthy emotional toxins can do wonders. These can be just as detrimental to a person's health as unhealthy food substances. Most of us tend to carry a major amount of negativity within us, without even realising.
Clinical psychologist Seema Hingorrany explains. “All of us have emotional baggage/toxins in our body. But, there are certain people who keep this bottled up inside. Most commonly those who have past unresolved conflicts — someone who is a slow learner, anxious people, those suffering from insomnia or who have had a traumatic childhood experience come to us for emotional detoxification,” says Seema. The process is a long one of eight to 13 sessions and having a good therapeutic environment is important. Perhaps a mother constantly hits her child and then gets upset about it, later on she realises that it’s linked to her own traumatic childhood experience. “In order to help a patient heal, one needs to first find out what the baggages are, then help them deal with each emotion and negative memory. One also needs to work on the physiological level and at times meditation or breathing techniques are used as well as visual techniques where the patient is told to imagine a fantasy place where he/she is calm and composed. Another method used is asking the patient to write a letter to the person they are angry with and then once the emotions are released, they are made to burn it,” adds Seema.
Consulting psychiatrist Dr Shyam Lulla believes how we deal with a situation depends a lot on how we view it. One can take it to be distressing and become anxious and depressed or take it as a challenge. “Those who have had life changing events like the death of a spouse, divorce, personal injury, a job lay-off etc may be more susceptible to emotional toxins. In certain situations, the circumstances are not in your hand. It’s best to accept the facts and try and cope with them.” He suggests the use of relaxation techniques such as Jacobson’s relaxation training where a group of muscles are held tightly for a few seconds and then relaxed. Other options include yoga, massage therapy, music or even aromatherapy.
Every thought has a corresponding emotion and every emotion affects the body, states Dr Kanan Khatau Chikhal, Clinical Psychologist and Counsellor. “It is common knowledge that our breath pattern changes with every emotion. With the millions of thoughts we have, all the corresponding emotions are stored in our body. Often they remain unreleased and unhealed, eventually resulting in extreme physical illnesses like acidity, ulcers, blood pressure, migraines and heart problems. Each cell in our body has a memory of every experience we have ever had. Emotional detoxification is a process of healing and cleansing the mind and body.” Dr Kanan says that life gives many opportunities to detox. All you need to do is to use that situation (especially if painful) as a stepping stone. Reading books also help and create great awareness. “A skilled therapist can facilitate the journey and especially enable you to handle emotions. One only needs to be willing to release the negativity,” she explains.
Stages of emotional detox
Stage 1: Awareness
You need to allow yourself to go through the process. Willingness is a key factor. Once that happens you realise that you have created a life of patterns of experiences that tend to repeat through different people through different situations. An awareness where you realise I am responsible for this! This can be a victimising guilt trip if you allow it or it can empower you as well. Since you are responsible you can change it.
Stage 2: Paradigm shift
Since you are now aware of what went wrong, you realise that you are viewing the world through coloured glasses. Your own perceptions are blocking your experience. Now as ‘the shift’ happens you start to view the world from a neutral pair of glasses.
Stage 3: Love yourself
Once this neutrality emerges a stage of love creeps in. A love for your self, for life, for the pain and the gain, the more the love penetrates, truthfulness emerges and then you remain true to your mind body and spirit.
Stage 4: Echo phenomenon
There is a medical term called ‘homoeostasis’, which means the ability of a cell to maintain its internal state. If we extend our understanding it means that somewhere there is a tendency of the mind as well to maintain its original state. For that to happen life echoes back to you situations that you have dealt with only to test your new reality. This is the tricky and difficult stage.
Stage 5: Empowerment
The feeling of enthusiasm and vigour. You realise now that your thoughts determine actions, your actions make your habits, your habits make your character and character creates your future.
Stage 6: Anasuya
This Sanskrit term means the constant ability to see the good. It incorporates accepting each moment like it was meant to be and surrendering it to the universe.
Stage 7: Divine grace
The more you see the good in all; including yourself, you zone into not just your own divinity but also see the divinity in others around you. You now continue to share your experience with others helping them grow as well.