Feeling Our Way Back to Peace - by Cedric Bertelli - Founder of Emotional Health Institute
Seeking appears to be central to the human condition. At our core, we aspire to be at peace with ourselves, with others, to attain contentment. Like a compass, this search for contentment drives our lives and our behaviors. It fuels religious fervor; the burgeoning self-help industry; workaholism; the legal and the illicit drug industries; it funds tens of thousands of yoga retreats annually and over 30,000 new users of meditation apps per day in the United States alone. As we move through our days yearning for contentment, we experience stress, anxiety, frustration, shame, physical discomfort. We accept these as an inevitable part of life. Maneuvering through these obstacles, we constantly look for inner peace; we look for it outside of ourselves, convinced that eventually—with perseverance and some good luck—we will find the practice, or the community, or the philosophy which will open the door to our contentment. Then, we will feel fearless, healthy, safe, and fulfilled.
As ancient texts and current self-improvement gurus tell us: we already possess what we are looking for. Imagine a state of contentment and inner peace as the default for each one of us. What if all our efforts are driven by a primal need to recover a lost default state of peace?
What keeps us away from this state? The goal-directed seeking, the cerebral effort of trying to “feel better” traps us in our own heads. We reanalyze the past and reconstruct or fear the future while ignoring the sensation of being in the present. Those of us more adept at being in the present have a tendency to be happier.
Why is this? As humans, we have a physiological capacity for resolving negative emotions. This innate capacity enables us to permanently integrate disruptive emotions through an active awareness of the physical sensations associated with each emotion. In other words, rather than trying to understand our pain or figure out how to avoid it, or how to control it, all we have to do in order to permanently resolve it, is to physically feel what constitutes our emotional pain. Our mind and body will do the rest. The answer to our emotional difficulties is literally within each emotion.
Through the hundreds of sessions that I have done with clients, I have witnessed how any emotional struggle, stress, isolation or disconnectedness can be permanently regulated by tapping into this physiologic capacity for emotional regulation. Our body is “wired” to integrate and resolve our stresses, we just have to let it do its work.
Not surprisingly, a stress-free mind begets a healthier body. After years of working with clients who struggle with emotional difficulties, we noticed that their chronic physical ailments, such as eczema, asthma, arthritis, tinnitus, among others, resolve or improve as they regulate their emotional distress. This finding suggested that if the body is not under chronic stress it is better empowered to fight or neutralize disease or inflammation. Based on this observation, we developed an efficient protocol for resolving physical ailments by specifically targeting the stressors which create or exacerbate the physical symptoms. Once the stressors are identified, we can resolve them by using the natural capacity for emotional regulation. We all have the opportunity to live a life free from pain; we can access it when we stop running away from our fears or trying to control them. Instead, we need to take the time to observe, recognize, and accept our behavioral patterns. Once we accept them, once we physically feel our fears, we become free of them, one by one. As a result, our body becomes healthier and stronger.