Imprints and Core Emotional Addictions
At the Center for Heart-Mind Coherence, we integrate knowledge from the social and natural sciences with the spiritual practices of mindfulness and wholeheartedness to help individuals and communities identify and bring to awareness the deep-seated subconscious beliefs—imprints—that shape our perceptions and drive the emotional experiences of our relationships, whether familial, social, organizational or institutional.
Imprints are forged at the intersections of messages inherited from family of origin, from cultural norms and social institutions and organizations. We teach that in our human experience, we carry both life-enhancing (positive) imprints and self-defeating (negative) imprints. Life-enhancing, or positive imprints, are imbued with elevated feelings of compassion, forgiveness, gratitude, joy, generosity, to name a few, feelings that nurture and sustain trust in our Authentic Self. We describe the Authentic Self as the True Self, the pure Heart of our Being, our fundamental and unfailing wholeness.
When we are living from our Authentic Self, we experience abundance, self and mutual empowerment, true enjoyment, unconditional love, freedom and peace. We believe that it is not only our individual calling to become fully our Authentic Selves, but that we are further made stronger when we extend authentic compassion to others.
To negative imprints, on the other hand, are attached what we refer to as core emotional addictions, cravings for security, power-control, sensation and suffering. Unrecognized, these emotional cravings keep us repeating fight, flight or freeze behaviors—survival behaviors of relating to others and the environment even when context no longer requires survival behaviors.
For example, a person struggling with the emotional addiction to security will continually feel as if she never has enough, never does enough, or is never good enough, and therefore, continually craves having, being, and doing “more.” The person interprets and repeatedly experiences life events as evidence of lack, betrayal and abandonment, because experiencing lack feeds an emotional craving for more. A person struggling with the emotional addiction to power-control will continually feel the need to dominate and overpower others; and compulsively craves to have, be, and do “the most.” The person interprets and repeatedly experiences life events as a series of power struggles and endless competition, because experiencing power struggle fuels an emotional craving for winning and dominating.
A person struggling with the emotional addiction to sensation will compulsively seek crises and “drama” in daily occurrences and relationships, or seek high intensity, high risk behaviors to appease an emotional nervousness; on the opposite end, the person may actually completely shut down in isolation and depression. The person interprets and repeatedly experiences life events as boring and/or purposeless, because experiencing purposelessness and boredom fuels an emotional craving for crises/drama or complete shutdowns. Finally, a person struggling with the emotional addiction to suffering will compulsively seek to be vindicated and/or validated through personal suffering and self-sacrifice. Struggle becomes a craving. The person never rests in satisfaction of a pleasant experience, but continually seeks more struggle to feel either worthy or vindicated.
Core emotional addictions not only color the lenses through which we perceive reality, but establish the baselines for what we identify as emotionally familiar and acceptable, often against our best judgments.We believe that substance addictions (i.e. alcoholism, drug abuse, nicotine addiction, etc.) and process addictions (i.e. gambling, shopping, spending, eating, compulsive sexual activity, etc.) are manifestations of core emotional addictions.
At the Center for Heart-Mind Coherence, we guide clients through the process of (1) identifying inherited negative as well as positive imprints, (2) recognizing the core emotional addictions developed by and congealed around negative imprints, and (3) integrating into daily practice the tools we offer (a) to release the energy of core emotional addictions and (2) to draw on positive imprints to find buoyancy in making room for elevated emotions, clear thinking and creative action.
We draw our knowledge base regarding relationships (with self and others) from the field of addiction treatment that connects the concept of core emotional addictions to broader understandings of addictive behaviors; the latest research in neuroscience that brings to light the role of neuro-pathways in forming beliefs; the field of family systems that provides context for relational dynamics that inform imprint work on family of origin; the work conducted on the intelligence of the heart that positions it at the center of emotional well-being as well as work conducted on gut intelligence, both of which challenge the supremacy of the brain as primary regulator of information; the emerging literature on emotions as bodily energies that helps inform the Center’s commitment to develop ever more refined approaches to working with emotional energies; the interdisciplinary field of oral historical research, as well as the fields of sociology and anthropology that examine the role of emotions within social/institutional contexts and the role of memory in relation to social consciousness. These works further inform the Center’s commitment to integrating intra-psychic dimensions of human experience (internal psychological process of an individual) with social dimensions and social consciousness (relationships at home, at school, at work, at play—and the importance of fostering social institutions and structures that empower individuals across diverse backgrounds); and finally, the work on reflective writing as therapeutic, which provides evidence for the Center’s use of guided reflections.
Moreover, our co-founders and many of our collaborators bring to bear, in the work of the Center, their long term experiences as persons in recovery from substance and/or process addictions, or persons in recovery from having grown up with parents or lived with significant others addicted to substance and/or process addictions; our co-founders further bring to bear their personal experiences as immigrants as well as children of immigrants having grown up in multicultural and multilingual neighborhoods. Their experiential knowledge base provides, through lived examples, the needed grounding to the more theory-based knowledge from social and natural sciences that bring to view the powerful role played by individual and collective emotions in shaping the experiences and stories we tell about human reality. All of us working at the Center for Heart-Mind Coherence are committed to practicing and embodying the teachings of the Center that foreground compassion, integrity and peace within ourselves and with all others; and to practicing the humility necessary for ongoing growth, deeper learning, and freer hearts and minds.
From the Field of Addiction Treatment
From the field of addiction treatment we bring to bear the concept of “addiction interaction disorder,” a term originally coined by Dr. Patrick Carnes and which describes the phenomenon by which aperson uses one addiction to enact another. For example, a person struggling with sex addiction may develop an addiction to alcohol in order to enact the sex addiction. Another dimension of addiction interaction disorder is when one stops drinking alcohol only to begin overeating, or gambling, smoking, etc.The co-founders of the Center for Heart-Mind Coherence, in their earlier work in Addiction Treatment Centers, began conceptualizing common underlying threads to all substance and process addictions. One of the first and earliest attempts to articulate the notion of core emotional addictions at play in addictive behaviors was an article by Caroline Eick, one of the Center’s co-founders, published in 1998 in the then Professional Counselor and entitled Tapping the Core. In that short article Caroline explains some of the core emotional addictions and situates the discussion within the broader notion of addiction interaction disorder. A decade later, Liliane Desjardins, also co-founder of the Center, wrote the book The Imprint Journey: A Path of Lasting Transformation to the Authentic Self. In this book, Liliane uses her life experience to trace the role played by both negative and positive imprints. Finally, more recently (2018), Caroline Eick published the book Core Emotional Addictions at the Root of Compulsive Behaviors: How to Use the Heart-Brain to Quiet the Obsessive Cognitive-Brain, a book that traces the development of the core addictions model over the years and synthesizes the work conducted at the Center for Heart-Mind Coherence.
The work of John Bradshaw (1988) on toxic shame also brings to light the role of induced pathological shame (particularly through all forms of child abuse), which develops deep-seated loathing that in turn fuels addictive or self-defeating behaviors.
While all these works articulate variations on the idea of deep seated common roots to repetitive self-defeating and/or addictive behaviors, none of these works are based in scientific inquiry. They are the works of practitioners’ clinical observations and experiences. Still, these works would later find scientific validation in neuroscience research which has recently led The National Institute on Drug Abuse to embrace a broad definition of addiction which now encompasses not only drugs but also process addictions, identifying parallels across types of addictions.
We also acknowledge the work of Allan Marlatt and others who have introduced the approach of Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP). The research of Marlett and his colleagues focuses on applying nonjudgmental, client-centered and acceptance-based approaches to the treatment of addictive behaviors (Marlatt, 1985, 1994, 2002), stirring away from old models of intervention that favored confrontation to break down denial, confrontations that in many cases only exacerbated shame.
Recent work by neuroscientists supports what the Center’s co-founders had begun articulating, in the 1990s, about the role of intention in shifting perception and experience.
In his groundbreaking book The Mindand The Brain:Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force (2002), Jeffrey Schwartz chronicles the discovery of neuroplasticity…[[[whereby]]] in response to environmental demand and repetitive effort the brain will recruit healthy neuronal networks to perform the function of damaged ones… Schwartz took it a step further. In trying to help people diagnosed with “obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)” he recognized that traditional cognitive behavior therapy didn’t work because knowledge of the irrationality of their cognitions made little difference to “OCD” clients. Instead, he re-describedthe obsessive thoughts as products of “brain lock” (using PET scans showing lockstep functioning of the orbital frontal cortex, anterior cingulated gyrus, caudate, and thalamus), impressed upon them the idea that“thoughts were not facts” and that “they were not their thoughts”, and devised alternative behaviors to replace the compulsive ones. He essentially divested the thoughts of their reality status thus makingmindfulawareness possible. (Walker, M.T. (2006).
The Center’s teachings about imprints and emotional addictions are supported by research in neuroscience that shows how neurons that fire together wire together and create neuropathways that become the habit of the brain (as in the case of OCD referenced here-above). Intensity and/or frequency play a role in encoding particular responses, and the concept of neuroplasticity captures the phenomenon by which conscious intention can reshape neuropathways. Neuroscience is showing how thoughts and emotions are energetic currents in the brain and body that can, through intention and mindfulness, be re-scripted (Dispenza, 2012).
From Research on Heart and Gut Intelligence
Research on the heart is showing that it:
…produces hormones and neurotransmitters and sends messages to the brain more often than the brain to the heart. Its electrical field is 60 times greater than that generated by the brain. The magnetic field generated by the heart is…greater in strength than that generated by the brain. Moreover, the electromagnetic field generated by the heart has the capacity to affect others around us, and increasing coherence in the heart rhythms, by intentionally generating loving emotions, alters brain activity (Childre, Martin, Rozman & McCraty, 2016).
Given the power of the biological heart to affect and shape our neurology, given moreover that it calibrates the energies of our emotions (McCraty, 2015), many scientists and practitioners alike across fields and disciplines are redirecting their efforts away from approaches that seek to change thinking, and re-orienting them toward better understanding, using, and releasing the energies of emotions to dismantle body-pain, traumatic memories, repeated self-defeating habits—ultimately, are seeking to use emotions to change belief and thinking. Through intentional use of heart-focused breathing, we are finding that we can shift from what scientists at the HeartMath Institute refer to as “depleting emotions” (i.e. anger, fear) to “renewing emotions” (i.e. compassion, contentment).
Similarly, Dr. Michael Gershin’s work (1998) on the stomach, esophagus, small intestine, and colon has revealed how nerve cells in the gut act as a second independent brain (the enteric nervous system) from the brain. Just as in the case of the heart, the human gut sends signals to the brain that directly affect mood, memory, learning, and decision-making. Just as in the case of the heart, the gut is instrumental in processing emotions.
From the Field of Family Systems
The influential research by Virginia Satir (1988) on family systems, her emphasis on uncovering issues of low self-esteem and her caution that “surface problems” were rarely the actual problem, brought our attention to interconnectedness and the self-defeating roles adopted in struggling relationships. Her understanding of family systems pointed to understandings of social systems: “The family is a microcosm. By knowing how to heal the family, I know how to heal the world” (Satir, 1988, p.20). More importantly, Satir sent out a call to all those working with families in distress, to educate people to be more fully human, to seek to uncover the potential buried under the presenting problems; and that “problems” are not just isolated to one person, but shared within relational dynamics, whether within families or broader social systems (Satir, 1976, 1983, 1988).
Adapting Satir’s model to families struggling with addiction, Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse (1989) identified stereotypical survival roles (i.e. the victim role, the enabler role, the hero role, the scapegoat role, the lost child role, the mascot role) that develop within family dynamics of addiction. Her work helped deepen our understanding of addiction as a family dis-ease. The roles adopted by the various family members were developed to emotionally survive the trauma of addiction within the nucleus of family of origin, but they become dysfunctional not only when played out in settings beyond home, but as well within the close-knit family structure over time, given that the roles keep the addiction intact.
More recently, Richard Schwartz (2001) developed a model for understanding the effects on individuals of inherited family dynamics through a synthesized approach that integrates the systems thinking approach (akin to work discussed earlier in this section) with the multiplicity of the mind approach (the idea that every person has many personalities that develop as needed for adaptive purposes)—the Internal Family Systems Therapy Model. What this model suggests is that one can understand the inner workings of a person at grips with self-defeating behaviors in the same way one understands dysfunctional family dynamics through the systems approach:
…in an alcoholic family…the children are forced into protective and stereotypic roles by the extreme dynamics of their family. While one finds similar sibling roles across alcoholic families (e.g., the scapegoat, mascot, lost child), one does not conclude that those roles represent the essence of those children. Instead, each child is unique and, once released from his or her role by intervention, can find interests and talents separate from the demands of the chaotic family. The same process seems to hold true for internal families [[[subpersonalities developed subconsciously within a person]]]—parts are forced into extreme roles by external circumstances and, once it seems safe, they gladly transform into valuable family members (https://www.selfleadership.org/about-internal-family-systems.html).
Thus Schwartz identifies the inner manager, the inner firefighter and inner exile. Each role having developed as a protective role during formative years and which, when carried through into adulthood and across relationships, becomes painful until recognized as a protective role and released from its duty.
The work in family systems has helped advance our understanding of the unconscious relational collaborations in attempts to keep emotional hurts attached to a loved one’s behavior at bay, by masking the problem with protective but inauthentic roles and emotions, and with the unintended result of intensifying the problem. Family systems work has deepened our appreciation for the powerful unspoken emotional life at work in relationships. It has also brought hope in the understanding that it can take only one member who chooses to remove himself/herself from the artificial survival role to begin shifting the system toward healthy and productive interactions; and within one same person, the release of one protective personality/role to increase a person’s freedom to choose new ways of being.
From Literature on Working with the Energies of Emotions
Medical doctors have begun exploring emotional types as a way to help health care professionals and lay people alike match best treatments for various ailments to individuals, rather than treating the symptoms. In their book Your Emotional Type, Jawer & Micozzi explain that:
A large number of chronic maladies [[[chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, migraines, hypertension, irritable bowel syndrome, skin conditions of eczema and psoriasis, most post-traumatic stress disorders]]] that plague our modern lives are not the result of germs, faulty genes, or specific traumas. They are developmental in nature, with their roots in our emotional lives…Many of these ills are disappointingly unresponsive to the typical allopathic approaches of pharmaceuticals or surgery. (Jawer & Macozzi, 2011, p.vii)
The authors suggest that different personalities, identified along the spectrum of thick to thin boundary types are predisposed to different ailments:
Thick boundary people, for example, are prone to chronic fatigue syndrome and ulcers, whereas thin boundary people are more susceptible to allergies, migraine, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Likewise, not every alternative and complementary therapy will work equally well for each person. Hypnosis is ideal for thin boundary types, for instance, whereas meditation and yoga are better suited for the needs of thick boundary people. (Jawer & Macozzi, 2011, p.xi)
In The Spiritual Anatomy of Emotion, Jawer and Macozzi (2009) further explore how emotions serve as communication channels between brain, body and sixth sense, in particular in what have been identified as paranormal experiences. An emancipation of natural and social scientists from materialistic determinism is contributing to legitimizing the investigation of such phenomena as after-death experiences, spontaneous remissions from terminal illnesses, and of transcendent spiritual experiences. As a result, we are shedding light on the role of emotions in shaping our experiences beyond rational explanations.
Other works by practitioners describe practical ways to work with the energies of emotions. In Letting go: The pathway to surrender, David Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D., speaks of emotions as energies and turns the old paradigm of blaming events for our feelings on its head.
Actually, it’s the exact opposite. The suppressed and repressed feelings seek an outlet and utilize the events as triggers to vent themselves…In psychiatry, this mechanism is called displacement. It is because we are angry that events make us angry…people even suppress and repress their positive feelings. Suppressed love results in the broken heart of the heart attack. Suppressed love re-emerges as excessive adoration of pets and various forms of idolatry. (Hawkins, 2012, p.17)
Hawkins’ work does not take into account the social dimensions of human experience that bring to light the effects of dehumanizing social structures and discriminatory public policies and laws—the result of collective negative imprints. And, the Center does not condone his attribution of poverty to apathy—a narrow description of the human experience that borders on moralistic. This said, Hawkin’s work sits squarely in the emerging investigations on the practical use of emotions as energies. Hawkins organizes the energies of emotions in a hierarchy from those with lowest and most dense energetic vibration, to those with highest vibration. Thus shame, then guilt, then apathy represent the three lowest levels in ascending order; and serenity, bliss and ineffability represent the three highest levels in ascending order in a total of 17 identified levels.
In contrast, Klara McLaren, in The language of emotions: What your feelings are trying to tell you (2010) considers the role and energetic power of all emotions equally. Writing from her personal healing experience and from the perspective of mentor/counselor she identifies (1) the roles, (2) gifts, (3) questions, and (4) signs of obstruction associated with each emotion. For example, the gifts of anger include: honor, conviction, proper boundaries, protection of self and others, and healthy detachment. The questions to ask when anger shows up are: What must be protected? What must be restored? The signs of obstruction are organized, in the case of anger, into repressed or expressed anger. Repressed anger results in enmeshment, self-abandonment, apathy, depression, and boundary loss. Inappropriately expressed anger results in: cycling rages that create harsh boundaries, hatred, prejudice and isolation (McLaren, 2010, p.167).
Other practitioners work with emotions through body-work. For example, structural myofascial release uses a gentle pressure applied to the body to soften and elongate the fascia, a sheet of connective tissue that surrounds muscles, organs and soft structures of the body. The myofascial “unwinding” then takes place to help release unresolved emotional patterns (Barnes, 2000, Pert, 1997). There is also the Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing method (EMDR) of accelerated information processing that uses alternating stimuli, either eye movements or sounds, to desensitize and reprocess emotional wounds.
Practitioners of Hakomi—a mindfulness-centered somatic psychotherapy—help people discover what they refer to as “core material” through gentle and mindful, non-judgmental attention to the expressions of the body in the moment. Core material includes memories, images, beliefs, and neural and emotional patterns. The focus is on helping clients become aware of and distinguish core material that restricts and core material that supports their wholeness; and to willingly change core material developed out of responses to acute or chronic stress (Kurtz, 1999; Weiss, 2015).
The hereto reductionist western medical model has propelled many to seek help from alternative medicine approaches that take into account the role of emotions in physical well-being. Some situate emotions within organs and through meridians, as energy pathways and flow. Yin/Yan Yoga, for example, associates imbalances in the kidneys with the emotions of fear and terror; lungs, with sadness and grief and so forth (Powers, 2008). In ancient Chinese medicine:
The organs…are inextricably linked to the health of the meridians that flow through them. Each yin organ and meridian has a direct sister-brother relationship with a complementary yang organ and meridian…This means that what we do to one immediately affects the other..their energetic, emotional and mental qualities are intimately intertwined…(Powers, 2008, p.29).
Interest in traditional Chinese medicine is increasing in the West and scientists across the globe are establishing connections between the two, taking more robustly into account the role of bodily energies and emotions in physical well-being (Li & Zhang, 2008).
Just as importantly, researchers have begun revealing the personal and social strength gained from emotional vulnerability and the courage to engage with emotions to find authenticity and wholeheartedness (Brown, 2015).
Emotions and Social Consciousness—Works of Oral Historians, Sociologists and Ethnographers
The literature from the social sciences other than psychology, and which includes the fields of history, sociology, anthropology/ethnography, on the role of emotions in relationships between teachers and students and mentors and mentees, is of particular interest to the Center for Heart-Mind Coherence. The Center’s staff identify as teacher-mentors. Their backgrounds combine fields of addiction treatment, education, educational policies, family dynamics, broader social/historical perspectives of community relations, and the role of personal and social narratives in the development of individual and cultural beliefs. As mentors, they offer their own lived experiences as examples of people who practice and integrate the teachings of the Center and have first-hand knowledge of the pitfalls and challenges one is likely to encounter in the process of releasing self-defeating imprints and core emotional addictions, on the one hand, and in nurturing and integrating empowering new paradigms and practices, on the other hand. As teachers, they understand that meaningful imparting of knowledge and information is an act deeply contingent upon trust and emotional safety. Finally, the staff at the Center for Heart-Mind Coherence understand their place as teacher-mentors within the larger fabric of social dynamics. The work of the Center, through its workshops, presentations, and other educational activities is grounded in a social consciousness that foregrounds collaboration and mutual empowerment as one of its core values. We seek always to ensure that the Center’s teachings include all peoples across all backgrounds, and exclude no one.
There is a body of literature that examines how professional expectations in educational establishments and institutions (the Center for Heart-Mind Coherence is an educational establishment), create emotional rules “that govern how people try or try not to feel in ways that are considered appropriate for a given situation” (Padilla, 2014, p. 24).
As Aristotle is purported to have said:
Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.
Teachers and mentors are expected to monitor the expressions of their feelings as part of their work. However, rules for emotional expressions are culturally and institutionally determined, and often by those with the power to shape them. While we may see the wisdom in rules that may help align with Aristotle’s caution to express anger to the “right” degree, at the “right” time, for the “right purpose, in the “right” way, rules may also overall delegitimize any expressions of anger, frustration, or pain, effectively silencing people or groups of people who have legitimate grievances (Leonardo & Porter, 2010). Thus emotions are also socially/culturally organized—governments, nations, political parties, the media may marginalize some groups for their emotional expressions and place others in the mainstream (Schutz & Pekrun, 2007); or, they may incite and harness emotions such as fear, anger, shame at a collective level for particular political purposes across ideologies.
Social scientists also bring to our attention the importance of hope. Hope motivates to make the changes in daily life that empower self and others (Chubbuck & Zembylas, 2009, p. 357). Hope also leads to deeper self-reflection:
It is only by being in touch with one’s own vulnerability that one can develop empathy and concern for others, while having an appreciation of one’s own dependency needs enables one to be compassionate” (Lynch & Baker, 2005, p. 152).
Only when teachers are open to their own inner change, I believe, can they become healers of students and communities (Wang, 2008, p. 16).
Then too, oral historians and sociologists have brought to our attention the role of memory and emotion in interpreting social and public events. Memory, imbued with emotion, is not only a subjective phenomenon, but also a manifestation of historical consciousness—that is that groups of people, along gender, race, class and other social dimensions will interpret and re-interpret same past events in very different ways (Portelli, 1991; Thompson, 2000). Powerful emotional memories and emotionally transmitted stories of the past to subsequent generations consolidate beliefs about others; and vice-versa, deep-seated beliefs about one’s social reality fuel emotional interpretations and reactions to self and others (Eick, 2010; Seixas, 2004; Summers, 2002).
Becoming aware of the social constructions and manipulations of emotions opens up possibilities for greater vigilance regarding our own predispositions for being emotionally manipulated as well as possibilities for greater compassion and willingness to express grief, remorse, passion and caring for people at the margins of society.
Research on Reflective Writing
Writing about emotional experiences has been shown to have psychological and physical health benefits. In his “writing laboratories,” psychologist Pennebaker assigned the task to his writing groups to write for an average of 4 days consecutive, between 15 to 30 minutes. To his control group he assigned writing about superficial topics (i.e. how they spend their time). To his other group he assigned the following:
For the next three days I would like you to write about your deepest thoughts and feelings about an extremely important emotional issue that has affected you and your life. In your writing, I’d like you to really let go and explore your very deepest emotions and thoughts (Pennebaker, 1997, p. 162).
Pennebaker found, among other outcomes, that:
…writing about upsetting experiences, although painful in the days of writing, produces long-term improvements in mood and indicators of well-being compared with writing about control topics (p. 162).
Other research has also shown reductions by 2 months to 1.4 years in visits to physicians following reflective writing about deep emotional states (Greenberg, Wortman & Stone 1996; Pennebaker, Barger & Tiebout, 1989); as well as improved immune system and other physiological markers of well-being (Christensen et al., 1996).
Research on the beneficial psychological/physiological role of reflective writing that focuses on one’s emotional life supports the Center’s commitment to using reflective writing as one healing tool (Pennebaker, 2004).
Work of Paul Ekman
The Center for Heart-Mind Coherence acknowledges the important work conducted by Paul Ekman on identifying and mapping universal facial expressions of emotions (Ekman, 1969, 1995, 2015). Along with Friesen and later Hager, Ekman developed a comprehensive tool for measuring facial movement—the Facial Action Coding System (FACS) (1978, 2003). Ekman’s work has enriched our understanding of cross-cultural expressions of emotions.
His most recent work was a collaboration with the Dali Lama on illustrating the topography of the five emotions universally recognized, as of now, across cultures: fear, sadness, anger, disgust, and enjoyment. In this latest iteration of his work, Ekman brings to view the intersecting roles of prior experience and situation in triggering emotions that are then acted out involuntary, as well as the role of intention in creating a gap between emotion and its enactment.
The Meaning of Coherence
At the Center for Heart-Mind Coherence, we share with the HeartMath Institute the meaning of coherence which
…in any system, from the human body to social affairs, refers to an orderly and harmonious connectedness between parts of a system or between people…From a physics perspective, when we are in a coherent state, virtually no energy is wasted because our systems are performing optimally and there is synchronization between heart rhythms, the respiratory system, blood-pressure rhythms, etc. Among the many benefits of personal coherence are increased composure, more energy, clear thinking, enhanced immune-system function and hormonal balance.
Each of us is capable of achieving, increasing and maintaining our personal and social coherence. One of the simplest and quickest paths to personal heart coherence is through the intentional self-generation of positive feelings such as compassion, care, love and other renewing types of emotions. In contrast, we can quickly become incoherent when we experience attitudes and emotions such as anger, fear and anxiety (HeartMath Institute, 2016).
The Importance of an Eclectic Approach
Given the above description of the knowledge base from which we draw, it becomes obvious that the Center is dedicated to an integration of knowledge across a broad array of disciplines that shed light on personal experience and relational dynamics, particularly on repeated self-defeating relational habits, whether with self or others; and also dedicated to bridging conceptual knowing with experiential knowing.
While guided overall by a paradigm that explains self-defeating habits in terms of negative imprints and core emotional addictions that when brought to awareness can be transformed, the Center’s integrative and trans-disciplinary approach remains fluid and adaptable to the challenges brought to us by our clients. For some clients, negative family of origin imprints trump all other imprints. For other clients, negative social and institutional imprints trump family of origin imprints. Thus the Center remains committed to drawing both from knowledge that addresses intra-psychic dimensions of human experience (internal psychological process of an individual) as well as social dimensions of human experience (experience of self and society created by explicit or implicit messages delivered through policies, laws, institutions and power structures).
Pilot Study/Commitment to Growth
At the Center for Heart-Mind Coherence we continually seek to refine our methods and tools for introspection and emotional self-awareness. Given that we work within the paradigm of emotional core addictions that attach to negative imprints, we are particularly interested in gaining a deeper understanding of how aware participants are of their emotions on a daily basis, which emotions they are more likely to report, and how they identify and, more importantly, transmute “disturbing” emotions following attendance to our workshops. In view of our commitment to continual growth, we completed a small pilot study to examine clients’ “emotional mindfulness.” We hope that insights gained through this pilot study will help the Center plan a larger, more comprehensive investigation in the near future regarding the redirection of emotional energy to transform obsessive thinking.
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