Life is constantly challenging us. Sometimes, our environment attempts to pull us into a situation that isn’t right. At other times, we take ourselves to places that don’t serve us. In both cases, it is our emotional balance that helps us to stay true to ourselves and respond in a way that is best.
Our last blog post discussed what it means to experience an emotion, and how we can seek to bring balance to all parts of who we are. Today, we’re going to continue that exploration by learning how to effectively face outside challenges, as well as how Qi Gong can help us cultivate and restore emotional balance.
Relating to Your Emotions in a Healthy Way
There’s a wise saying in Qi Gong that can help us learn how to relate to our emotions: “Emotions make lousy masters, but excellent servants.”
Feelings and emotions are a very important part of who we are, but they alone are ill-equipped to guide our decisions. That doesn’t mean that emotions shouldn’t play a role in how we chose to live, but we must be mindful about what role we assign to them.
Often when we face a challenging situation, our initial emotional reaction doesn’t reflect our truth. It can take some time to process and integrate how we really feel. Therefore, instead of reacting to our environment based on our immediate impulses, we can seek to respond from a place of truth and clarity. This process reflects using our emotions to guide our responses to the world, while not allowing them to rule who we are. This can be easy enough when our emotions are calm and placid, but we all know that certain situations invoke powerful internal struggles.
Unless you’re a monk or nun living in solitude, you’re inevitably going to face people and situations that make you angry or upset. Sometimes it’s a stranger who makes a comment that irks you. At other times, it’s a loved one who you’re just having a bad day with. Either way, challenging interactions have the potential to pull us off our center if we’re not well-balanced emotionally. When this happens, we are allowing our emotions to be our ruler.
What can you do to protect yourself from reacting to a negative situation? Well, it’s always easier to stay grounded when you’re in a positive and balanced place before the negative situation arises. Therefore, it’s important to have a consistent practice to cultivate balance even when you’re already feeling grounded (more about this below). By doing so, you’ll have a “reservoir” of strength when the going gets tough.
Another thing you can do is to practice taking a step back to check-in with yourself before you react. Sometimes, just an extra one or two seconds can make a big difference in how you respond. Turning inward, taking a deep breath, and gathering your feelings can help you speak with confidence and clarity. Of course, sometimes we need more than one or two seconds, or even one or two days depending on the weight of our emotions. Knowing when to step away can be a valuable skill in addressing relationships and challenges.
Small challenges can be a great opportunity to “practice.” Many of our daily quibbles are relatively minor, so it can be easy to overlook the significance of how we respond. Most of us can get frustrated by another driver, or feel annoyance when we’re unable to find something at the grocery store. However, these are valuable invitations to practice checking in and responding rather than reacting. Just as athletes sometimes train for their sport at a less-than-performance level of difficulty, we too can use the little mishaps to create positive habits for when things get difficult. We all know that habits are powerful, and emotional habits are no different.
Although it’s important to create a solid foundation for emotional balance, we also need to be real with ourselves. Let’s face it, we’re never going to be an emotional rock, unfazed by life’s experiences. Actually, being a “rock” isn’t a good thing anyway. As the Tao Te Ching teaches us, rocks are eventually ground to sand by the crashing waves.
Rather, we need to accept that we’re going to be tilted off balance from time to time. The important thing is being able to regain our balance and continue forward.
Therefore, emotional balance is a moving target and is constantly evolving. Sometimes, we’re in love, and we feel passion and energy moving through us. At others, we experience loss, sadness, and grief. All feelings have a place in our lives, and being “balanced” simply means we know how to return to a place where we’re present with what lies within. Because new experiences are constantly presenting themselves, we’re often pulled off of our center. Our job is to integrate the lessons and find a new center of gravity. It’s kind of like being in a canoe and taking on a new belonging. There will be a moment when the canoe rocks to the side, but an agile paddler will quickly adjust their weight and continue forward.
How Qi Gong Can Help Us Experience Emotional Balance
Qi Gong can be an amazing way to help us learn how to face our emotions, as well as other individuals. In Qi Gong, we’re constantly working with our internal energy to achieve the intention we set. In many cases, our practice is geared toward welcoming the energy of the current season or cultivating vitality for holistic health.
Emotional balance is another powerful intention to help us guide our practice.
At Holden QiGong, we’ve put together a special online workshop called Qi Gong for Emotional Balance. In the workshop, Lee teaches powerful practices to help bring awareness to our emotional state of being, cultivate our inner strength, and regain balance when the world has pulled us away from our center.
Lee also teaches how different parts of our body store different emotions. For example, the negative emotions of our liver are anger and frustration, while the positive are kindness, creativity, and benevolence. By learning how to tap into the negative feelings we experience, we can skillfully work with our emotions to transform them in a positive way.
As we learn the positive and negative emotions of each part ourselves, we’re able to quickly become aware of our emotions when they appear, and work with our energy to transform and restore balance.
Part of Lee’s workshop focusses on teaching more about the intellectual framework for emotions, but much of it is dedicated to learning the real-world skills that will allow us to flourish.
You know the importance of emotional balance, and now you have an opportunity to cultivate it!
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