How does Shape of Emotion work?
It's about the feeling
Shape of Emotion works directly with the somatic felt sense (the feeling) rather than the label of the emotion. It works with both difficult (negative) and supportive (positive) emotions.
Shape of Emotion does not concern itself with the reason for the feeling, nor it’s label. It is for this reason that it is referred to as being content-free. There is no need to share anything about the feeling. The important element is being able to feel the feeling.
A four step process
Shape of Emotion is a four-step process that is used both to down-regulate a negative difficult emotion and / or to up-regulate a positive supportive emotion that one wants more of.
The process is the same for both sets of emotions, differing only when it comes to what is said when certain of the touch points are used (see step four).
The mindfulness component of the process asks for one’s awareness to be directed inwards and attention focussed on what is being felt and where it is being felt. Through observation the shape or form of the feeling is allowed to appear.
In brief, the Shape of Emotion process follows these steps:
- Feel a feeling,
- Find it in the body,
- Observe what it looks like it and then
- Regulate it through a specific sequence of touch points. These pressure points directly access the parasympathetic nervous system which calms the nervous system down.
Feel the emotion you wish to release and let go of (down-regulate) or feel the emotion that you wish to open and embrace (up-regulate).
Feeling an emotion is a critical element of Shape of Emotion. Although there is evidence that being able to label your emotions is useful for emotional regulation, for this model it is not necessary. In fact we sometimes mislabel our emotions and getting stuck in our heads around what the emotion really is is counter to the work we are doing here where we want you in your body not your head.
You may need to access a memory or imagine a scenario in order to feel the emotion
Find the feeling in or around the body.
We feel our emotions in our bodies, that is why they are called feelings. When we are stressed we may feel that stress across our shoulders, like a heavy cloak, or the anxiety may show us as a knot in our stomach, that is why we talk about the feelings being in or around our bodies.
Observe and describe to yourself what the feeling looks like.
Here we go inwards, with eyes closed or cast down, to observe the feeling and watch the shape or form of the feeling show itself without judgment or analysis. This shape can be 2D or 3D, organic, geometric, an object, gas or liquid in form. There are no rules or requirements. It just shows up as it does. And usually different every time.
Touch to release and let go (down-regulate) or open and embrace (up-regulate) via the stimulation of the various acupressure touch points.
Diving deeper into how Shape of Emotion works
In this video we explore the first and second steps of Shape of Emotion as a process and tool. The first step is to feel the emotion, the second step is to find the emotion.
In this video we explore the third step of Shape of Emotion as a process and tool. The third step is to observe what the emotion looks like.
In this video we explore the fourth step of Shape of Emotion as a process and tool. The fourth step is to touch various points on the face, arms and body.
Using the touch points from the eyebrow to clasping hands at the end and taking a deep breath in and out is called a wing.
When doing a dial-down, as many wings as are needed are done for the shape to disappear.
When doing a dial-up, only two wings are done.
A kaleidoscope is the term for the entire process from step one, feeling the emotion, through step four, using the touch points. This is coupled with observing how the shape changes together with checking in on the original feeling when the process is complete.
A kaleidoscope is also the collective noun for butterflies. For us it symbolises the dramatic and yet beautiful transformation that can occur when using Shape of Emotion.