How does Shape of Emotion work?
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.
The Shape of Emotion steps:
- Observe / Describe
Choose an emotion you’d like to work with and:
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 / Describe
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 points.
In summary, the Shape of Emotion process asks one to (1) feel a feeling, (2) find it in the body, (3) describe or observe it and then (4) regulate it through a specific sequence of touch points. These pressure points directly access the parasympathetic nervous system which calms the nervous system down.
Kaleidoscopes and butterflies
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. Enough wings are done for the shape to disappear.
The entire process from the initial feeling, through steps one to four, using the touch points enough times for the shape to disappear and, lastly, checking on the original feeling is called a kaleidoscope.
A kaleidoscope is the collective noun for butterflies and also symbolises the dramatic and yet beautiful transformation that can occur when using Shape of Emotion.
Shape of Emotion is a skill that can be learnt to use on oneself or as a tool for coaching, counselling or group work. To find out more go to the Shape of Emotion online curriculum (Link to this page).
Shape of Emotion is used in a guided format at the weekly Emotional Fitness Classes held online.