The Body Compass—Learning the Language of Emotions
I first read about the Body Compass in Martha Beck's book, Finding Your Own North Star.
And every word felt like a home-coming.
Martha's work is centred around the idea that we all have an inner compass that knows the direction of our right life.
Reading about her method was an affirmation of something I've always felt.
There's a wisdom in me that knows the way even when things seem dark and confusing.
The truth is, I've always been finely attuned to what does and doesn't feel good for me.
As a teenager and young adult, I made many decisions that went against the good advice of others because a deeper part of me knew what experiences I needed for my evolutionary growth.
There was only one problem.
Following my true desires triggered an enormous amount of GUILT.
I felt like there were two different personalities, pulling me in opposite directions.
When I read about the Social Self (the conditioned part of us that developed in response to pressure from people around us) and the Essential Self, (the part of us that is the essence of our personality and holds the blueprints of our right life) I almost cried from relief.
I wasn't crazy!
Martha's work helped me make sense of the painful tug-of-war I'd lived with for most of my life—and put me on the path to becoming a transformational coach.
During my training, I worked with Abigail Steidley, a Mind-Body Connection Expert who taught me how to tune in to the physical sensations of my body.
What a shock!
As good as I was at knowing what felt right and what didn't, there was a whole other level of awareness I'd been avoiding.
Instead of regularly checking in with myself to see what I was feeling (and why,) I was suppressing my "negative" emotions (and their corresponding sensations) to an alarming degree.
No wonder I felt so worn out.
Emotions are ENERGY. It takes a lot of work to block their flow.
I realized I'd been clenching and tensing muscles FOR YEARS, trying to control feelings I didn't want to feel.
And I'll bet that you've been doing the same.
Because, let's face it. Emotions have a bad reputation.
They're known for being too volatile. Too intense.
The minute you allow yourself to feel them, things can get out of hand.
Most of us have evidence to prove this.
We've all had impulsive, reactive, explosive moments that were hard to recover from.
Together, we've come to a collective conclusion.
Emotions either hurt us, or cause us to hurt others.
Well, I'm here today to challenge this.
Because the real problem isn't our emotions. It's our inability to understand and communicate with them.
Imagine someone handing you the keys to a Bugatti Veyron Sports Car (worth 2.4 million) and letting you take it for a spin when you've NEVER driven before in your life!
Would you blame the car if you ran it into a tree?
Would you bury it in a landfill because you didn't know how to handle such a powerful piece of machinery?
Of course not.
In fact, I think you'd do whatever it took to learn how to drive such a technological wonder.
Maybe you'd start by reading the owner's manual.
Or maybe you'd jump right in and get an instructor.
But for sure, for SURE, you'd practice driving in a safe, controlled environment.
THIS is the kind of willingness you need to have if you want to master the amazing communication device inside your body.
In order to evolve to the next level of consciousness, we've got to start using our WHOLE intelligence—which means learning the language of our emotions.
I won't even pretend that this is easy.
Because listening to the inner experience means slowing down.
It means tuning out the mind chatter and noticing the physical sensations inside our bodies.
Have you ever noticed how hard it is to stop what you're doing and just SIT?
Mental processes move at lightening speed. Once they gain momentum, it can feel excruciating to put on the brakes.
If you're not willing to meet this resistance and just BREATHE, the mind will continue to race like a run-away car.
Resistance to quiet time is really just a healthy fear of pain.
We're hard-wired to avoid it.
But emotional discomfort CAN'T actually harm you.
If you teach yourself to accept it, (instead of suppressing it) it can guide and heal you instead.
You need to FEEL what you feel, so you can KNOW what you know.
If you're willing to start, then try this:
Direct your attention away from any mind activity and bring it down into the body.
Check in to see where you're tensing or clenching.
Notice your emotional state. What are you feeling?
Whatever comes up, sit with it for a moment and acknowledge where that feeling lives in your body and how it manifests as a physical sensation.
Is it showing up as a tight throat?
Or a twisted gut?
Does it feel like butterflies in your stomach?
Or flames shooting up from your gut into your heart?
Are your shoulders tensed?
Your jaw clenched?
Is your solar plexus contracted up into a fist?
It's important to know that you don't need to make any sensation go away. All you have to do is bring your awareness to it and support it with your breath.
Remember, you don't need to immediately ACT on your feelings. You need to experience them first to gain valuable information.
Once you understand what your emotions are trying to tell you, you can make an informed decision about what (healthy) action needs to be taken or what area of your life needs to be nurtured.
If you'd like support, there are many great resources available to you.
Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck is a great place to start.
I'm also a big fan of Karla McLaren's work and really recommend her book, The Language of Emotions.
If you want a quick and easy guide, click HERE for The Body Compass Emotional Chart (credit to Martha Beck).
I love this chart because it's geared to help you tell the difference between your real emotions and their unhealthy FAKES.
Fear, for example, is most often generated by the mind.
Stressful thoughts (or mind-stories) create an emotional response (like Fight or Flight) in our bodies.
As you become aware of the relationship between your thoughts and your feeling states, you can more accurately determine what your needs are and how to take care of them.
Remember that FEELING your emotions is much different than getting hooked into their energetic patterns, or the story that's creating them.
Self awareness will help you determine if a boundary needs to be set with your own mental processes.
More and more, I'm starting to realize that what I do as a Consciousness Coach is help people set limits with the verbal part of their mind so they can disconnect from their old painful stories and re-connect with the wisdom of their bodies.
This is so much better than shoving your feelings down into the dark regions of your body where they need to go rogue in order to be heard.
The Body Compass is an amazing tool once you learn how to use it.
Yes it takes time and practice. But doesn't any new language?
Your body speaks to you through physical sensation and emotional intensity. You'll feel expansion and freedom whenever you're heading toward something that serves your most authentic self.
You'll feel curious and excited and drawn toward some place or some experience or some person.
No, it won't always work out the way your mind will expect it to.
There will still be pain and loss and sadness. But those experiences will be a part of your right life and your necessary growth. They will be worth the trouble because they will be YOURS.
So much better than feeling dead on the inside because you're living your life for someone else.
When things get chaotic—when the noise of the world has you spinning in circles—the Body Compass won't be confused.
And isn't that the kind of guidance you're secretly looking for?
Sending you so much love,