When we are young, we learn how to brush our teeth, take a bath, move our bodies, and eat our vegetables. I don’t know about you, but I did not receive the same tutelage for maintaining cleanliness and fitness for my emotional body as I did for my physical body.
I don’t intend to criticize my parents and caretakers, nor anyone else who is a caregiver. Rather, I am recognizing that this may be a pattern and that it is time we review it.
Of course, I am speaking as one who has grown up and continued to be immersed in a Western culture. I bow to the ancient wisdom of systems, such as Ayurveda, which teach holism for health and well-being.
If you were fortunate enough to be taught emotional hygiene and fitness, or if you have, since childhood, taught yourself, there is still the challenge of being in a context that makes no time for these practices. In conventional Westernized workdays, there is no break to feed your emotions. I used to work in hospitality, and I never saw a sign in the bathroom reminding employees to wash their heart before returning to work.
Just like our physical hygiene and fitness, we need to have daily habits of cleaning and strengthening the emotional body!
This is not just a metaphor, in many ways it is literal. Let’s review the definitions of the words:
Hygiene: conditions or practices conducive to maintaining health and preventing disease, especially through cleanliness.
Fitness: the quality of being suitable to fulfill a particular role or task. An organism’s ability to survive and reproduce in a particular environment.
As you read those definitions, think about your emotional body.
We certainly get emotionally “dirty” in our day-to-day. We need to take out the emotional trash of what we pick up as well as what we create. We need to wash it off and flush it out.
Here is a little structure to help you with your emotional hygiene. There are three parts to washing your emotional body:
#1 Relaxation is the basin
#2 Mindfulness is the water
#3 Affirmation is the soap
Think about how you wash your physical body. The timing and frequency aligns well as a measure for cleaning your emotions. Thus, at morning and evening, clean your emotional temple. Just like showering and bathing, it is hygienic to bookend your day with emotional cleanliness.
In addition, reserve several moments throughout the day for upkeep, a mini clean and refresh. Think of this like hand-washing.
Here is a breakdown of the three parts to washing your emotional body.
- Relaxation is the basin
Think about the calm relaxed state as the basin, the shower, or bathtub that houses your cleansing. Allow emotions to soothe, calm and relax. Create a container of calm relaxation. Conscious breathwork is a surefire way to do this.
- Mindfulness is the water
Mindfulness is the water that clears away the “dirt” and refreshes the emotions. To become mindful, you can either empty out the thoughts and create “no mind”, or you can focus deeply on one simple and present thought. Bringing your focus to your body, to become present and embodied, both creates a mindful state and deepens the relaxed state. You can visualize or feel yourself scanning your body with your awareness. Or you can activate a visualization, such as becoming a tree with roots and branches. I have a mediation on Insight Timer called, Become a Tree.
- Affirmation is the soap
Now that you have the basin set and the water flowing, let’s get soaped up! Apply positive, affirmative, deeply felt thoughts or images. These affirmations must feel true to you. “I have a billion dollars” will only work if you feel the thought with complete positivity. Deeply felt gratitude and appreciation is a form of affirmation. (By the way, affirmations are your self-induced hypnotic suggestions that will tell your subconscious mind what you want to attract!)
The more you charge up your affirmations or appreciations with feelings, the squeakier your emotional cleaning. The affirmations are the soap, and the feeling is the lather!
Other generalized ways to improve your emotional hygiene include reviewing your habits.
- Cleaner activities
Ask these conscious questions:
“What do I allow my emotional body to do?
What am I feeling about on a regular basis?
What am I saying with my emotions, both internally and externally?”Check with your feelings periodically and let them become a thought. Neutrally discern whether that is a helpful thought, if it is creating health for you. Or take step back and observe from the standpoint of your relaxed and mindful state. Any activity you would like to improve can be done gradually, so no need to panic about swift changes!
- Cleaner places
Ask these conscious questions:
“Where do does my emotional body go?
Would it be healthier to spend less time around certain places or people (including virtual ones)?”
Maybe you cannot cut out entire places or people to which your emotional body is exposed, but consider cutting down where you can, even if it is little by little.
With these practices, we are at the place is where hygiene meets fitness!
Now that you are clean and feeling fresh, let’s get fit! Emotional body fitness, just like the physical body, refers to diet (intake) and exercise (output).
Conscious questions for your emotional diet:
“What do I feed my emotional body?
Is what I feed it rich with nutrients?
Is it too high or too low in calories?”
Being too high in emotional calories simply means taking in too much. Whether it is media, social media, work, friends, or family – if you are consuming more emotional calories than what is healthy, your emotional body will become dense and heavy.
Emotional starvation is real. I have experienced it! Of course, if you feel like you are hungry for more emotional sustenance, then perhaps there are shifts that can be made in existing relationships. Communicating your needs and desires to your loved ones helps them to love you more, and it is loving toward them too!
In the meantime, there is no shortage of angels and spirit guides who are available to support you, including emotionally. Maybe it is time to have a really juicy trance journey to connect with Spirit in a new way. YouTube, Insight Timer, and countless other low cost and free resources are available to deliver to you a delicious emotional meal!
Like any diet, the nutritional value of your emotional intake is key. Consider changing the conversation. Gossip and complaining just may be the twinkies of emotional food! Sometimes we can pivot a conversation to something of more value.
Consider changing the channel. You could improve your emotional intake by taking in great art and literature as opposed to the alternatives that soak up time and energy.
Now, let’s discuss emotional exercise. Remember how the definition said that fitness is:
“…the quality of being suitable to fulfill a particular role or task. An organism’s ability to survive and reproduce in a particular environment.”
If the emotional body is stronger, has more endurance, is more flexible and agile, then it will possess a greater ability to “reproduce”, a.k.a. make a positive contribution to life.
Ask these conscious questions about your emotional fitness program:
“What is the movement practice for my emotional body?
Is it varied, allowing an even strengthening?
Are there movements that are too repetitive, causing degeneration or damage to an area?
Is there healthy stretching?
Do I have practices that create strength, endurance, and flexibility?”
It comes down to strength, endurance, and flexibility. Braving life’s challenges can be the workout to accomplish all of this. Bringing our full Being to a situation and trusting that something good is coming of this will maximize your emotional fitness results.
But fitness is not only the outcome of troubles. Positive emotional experience is just as strengthening! Implement a daily emotional fitness regimen with your spiritual and personal development practices, your creativity, and by being an emotional support to others. Be creative just for the love of it. Or perhaps it is time to check in on someone, just to listen and hold space. (Perhaps that someone is you.)
Emotional hygiene and fitness can greatly improve emotional health. You are so important, so precious to the Universe. Nobody else could give the gift of you! So please do take good care because we need you and we love you!