How to connect with your most guarded emotions

Wherever a strong lock is used,
There is something
Extremely precious hidden. ~ Rumi

The renowned psychiatrist, Carl Jung, was passionate about self-transformation. He wrote a great deal about our “shadow”: that hidden, majestic, powerful and beautiful essence of ourselves that lies dormant, pretending to be a ferocious dragon to frighten off the half-hearted. Only those who are committed to finding the heart’s treasure will ever seek, discover and release this untapped power and beauty into the light of conscious awareness.

The shadow remains unnoticed, undetected, until such time as our wise inner Self deems that we are ready to face those suppressed, darker feelings that have been guarding our hidden treasure, and then transmute them into love, peace and joy.

The shadow remains unnoticed, undetected, until such time as our wise inner Self deems that we are ready to face those suppressed, darker feelings that have been guarding our hidden treasure, and then transmute them into love, peace and joy.

How can we tell when a radical self-transformation is at hand? Often times it is when we feel least able to accept such a daunting challenge: we might feel overwhelmed, unable to cope, over-sensitive to scrutiny and criticism, perhaps with nervous exhaustion, irrational bouts of anger and inexplicable fears and sadness. Few there are who can recognise that such disturbing states are often signs that the dragon is growing restless, getting ready to emerge from its cave.

If we can remember that the dragon/shadow  is only pretending to be fierce – it is testing our readiness for self-transformation – we can coax it out in a gentle and loving way so that the treasure in  our heart’s cave can be ours once more.

Using the heart for self-transformation

When we sense that our shadow is ready to offer up some of its old, hidden memories and feelings, we can play a part in assisting this process. However, before doing so, it would be wise to prepare ourselves for what could be released, so that we are not pitched down into an even deeper darkness by the gravity of the revealed material. Effective self-transformation requires that we feel confident of being able to transmute any ‘base metal’ into ‘gold’, as it presents itself to conscious awareness. That is, transform fear into love, sadness into joy and anger into compassion. This can only be achieved with a soft and open heart – the heart becomes a transformational fire.

I’ll now share with you two simple yet powerful methods for softening and opening the heart, so that it can play its essential role in the upcoming self-transformation. I taught them to a friend only recently when she was being deluged with wave after wave of aching sadness, sobbing and tears, triggered by the spontaneous release of hitherto-repressed memories from childhood.

Practise these heart-massaging chants for self-transformation several times every day, just for a few minutes, until you can be confident of being able to return at any time to an inner haven that feels safe, peaceful and loving.

Bija Mantra

The Sanskrit letter ‘Yam’ is the Bija Mantra  or healing sound, described by Dr Deepak Chopra, for the heart chakra (energy centre).

Cross the hands over the centre of the chest, focus internally there, and repeat softly but firmly, over and over, the Tibetan sound for the heart chakra (energy centre): “Yam…..Yam…..Yam…”, about one ‘Yam’ every six seconds, drawing out the ‘mmm’ at the end of each intonation. Vary the pitch of the tone of your voice until you feel that your voice is vibrating in the centre of your chest, at the spine.This self-transformation exercise is an affirmation of pure and ardent love, directed towards the true Self within. It’s as if you are saying, with full adulation, “I love you”, to the Higher Being or Essence residing in your heart.

My Beloved

I was led into this sacred chant of the 13th-century Sufi saint, Jalaludin Rumi, by Andrew Harvey, a modern mystic. It is similar to the Bija Mantra in its practice and effect.

With the hands crossed over the heart chakra, head bowed in reverence, express your deepest love for Jesus, or God, Guru, the Oneness, or the limitless ocean of peace that lies within, by repeating over and over, “My Beloved….. My Beloved…… My Beloved….”, slowly and tenderly, every five or six seconds.

Say it with yearning, gratitude, awe, adoration or celebration, whichever rises to the fore. This is a truly beautiful doorway to self-transformation.

You will notice that crossing your hands over the heart allows you to feel the vibration in your chest as you intone the sacred words. This acts like a positive feedback loop, adding to the depth of love and yearning that carries your chant inwards.

Releasing the hidden emotions

If we can remember that the dragon/shadow is only pretending to be fierce – it is testing our readiness for self-transformation – we can coax it out in a gentle and loving way so that the treasure in our heart’s cave can be ours once more.

Now that you have the elixir that will sweeten and render pure the dragon’s breath, you are ready for the release of hidden memories and feelings. You are ready to coax the dragon out of his cave, ready to undo the lock on the door to your heart’s treasure. Each one of the exercises to follow is a powerful tool for self-transformation. Perhaps not all will appeal to you or be suitable. You’ll be guided by your inner wisdom as to which ones to try.

Tell your story

Share with a trusted person the general outline of an early trauma or unhappy period in your life. Often this can be enough to release into conscious awareness a trickle – or sometimes a flood – of forgotten feelings and memories. There could be intrusive images of past events, overlaid with disturbing feelings of shame, revulsion, fear, sadness or even hatred. It is not unusual for copious tears, physical weakness, trembling and even nausea to arrive.

Remember always that you can limit the flow of released material by an act of will, saying, “Enough for now!”, so that you can find some inner balance and harmony again using one or both of the heart-massaging intonations described earlier.

When we sit down to a meal we try to eat only as much as can be digested – more than this results in indigestion. It’s the same with the journey of self-transformation. It would be wise to release only enough memories and emotions that can be transmuted readily into those higher emotions of forgiveness, love, peace, compassion and joy.

Journalling in the third person

One distinct advantage of this technique is that we develop some detachment from the emotionally-charged thoughts, feelings and images being triggered into release as we write down a detailed account of the disturbing events. Detachment is a valuable component of any self-transformation.

The writing is done in the third person. That is: “At the age of nine, Ron was electrocuted. Close to dying, he was both fearful and exhilarated, his body shaking uncontrollably. He felt a sense of security as his older sister sat by his side, telling funny stories to take his mind off the pain of his burned flesh.”

After a few minutes of writing, you can stoke the fire in your heart with the Bija Mantra or My Beloved intonations of love.

Reading the journal to trusted others

Further release of long-hidden memories and feelings can be triggered when you read aloud your journal to someone you trust, then in turn to others, until five or six people have heard your story. The self-confidence gained through doing this is another valuable component of any self-transformation.

Again, you’ll feel a little more detachment each time you read aloud your personal account to a loving, non-judgmental person who knows how to listen, until it is like telling someone about a movie you have seen.

Yogic breathing

Once or twice a day, for two to three minutes, engage in what is called yogic breathing. Lying or standing, push the abdomen out as you breathe in and pull it back towards the spine as you breathe out. We used to breathe like this when we were babies, until we started locking feelings away behind a tight stomach and by breathing higher up in the chest.

Yogic breathing is an effective, gentle tool for self-transformation, as it gives us more open access to more of our feelings. Keep in mind that it is best to change our habitual breathing patterns in small steps, for just a few minutes each day, rather than engaging in intensive practice of this exercise.

Heart release

For those who feel emotionally inhibited or constrained, self-transformation can be speeded up using this simple physiological tool. You’ll need to have some heart-opening music (like Pachabel Canon) to play while you press steadily, without bruising, with a thumb on a somewhat painful spot in the centre-line of the rib-cage, about ten centimetres up from where the ribs first join.

The vocal sound of the drawn-out ‘Ahhh’ is to be made every minute or so, seeking to match the emotional tone of the music.

This self-transformation exercise is best done in private so as not to inhibit the release of sadness, grief, loneliness, abandonment or feeling unloved, whatever is ready to come to the surface. Tears, sobbing and even laughter can come out. As each wave of feeling arrives you can repeat in your mind, “Yes, Yes, Yes”, with an attitude of trust that each release will carry you further towards inner peace, deeper love and sweeter joy.

When you feel you have done enough, perhaps after five or ten minutes, you can transmute any residual feelings into higher states using one of the Heart self-transformation methods described earlier (eg. Bija Mantra).

Empty chair dialogue

Whether we realise it or not, all of us yearn for a more complete and easier connection with a greater range of our feelings.

This exercise is also carried out in solitude. You sit on a chair facing an empty chair turned towards you. Starting with a parent (and then on later occasions with other significant people from past or present, alive or deceased), you imagine that the person is sitting in the chair opposite you. Begin talking aloud to them, expressing thoughts and feelings never shared, with a commitment to full honesty and openness. These first few words might last anywhere from thirty seconds to three or four minutes.

When you feel that there is nothing more to say, sit in the opposite chair and reply as if you are that person, trusting whatever you spontaneously say, and not trying to censor it or think how the person would respond.

When it feels right, return to your own chair and become yourself again, saying whatever arrives spontaneously in the mind. This interchanging of roles continues until you feel you have done enough. You can take it up again a few days later with the same person if the pull is there, or perhaps you can try it with another significant figure.

Unexpected results can flow from this powerful method for self-transformation: the release of emotions, deeper understanding of the other and oneself, and a flowering of forgiveness, compassion and love.

Sounding out

This method for eliciting hidden feelings can only be carried out in an environment where you cannot be heard. Using a powerful as-if-singing voice, allow a song without words and no fixed tune to burst forth in continuous flow.

It is a full cry of the heart to the universe, letting the waves of sound trigger feelings long held back, which in turn are poured out as a yearning, passionate sound that triggers the release of other emotions, and so on.

At first your voice could sound false, strangled, artificial, certainly unfamiliar and not at all melodious. Don’t let this deter you. The journey of self-transformation is often strained and a bit scary at first.

After five minutes or so you could feel an emotional fragility or exhaustion approaching. At this point you switch to a slow, nurturing, loving intonation of the Bija Mantra with hands crossed over the chest. This will lead you into calmer waters, dispersing the emotional vulnerability and transmuting the released feelings into ones of safety, celebration, confidence, love and peaceful tenderness.

If you decide to explore this self-transformation exercise – perhaps only once or twice a week to avoid becoming hoarse – you will find that your voice gradually changes until it is beautifully melodious, powerful in its yearning for the highest in oneself, sometimes bringing sweet tears at the haunting Beauty of what is being released and expressed.

Final words

Whether we realise it or not, all of us yearn for a more complete and easier connection with a greater range of our feelings. After all, they are the fuel for our passion and enthusiasm for life; without them, we are left with a colourless, barren and bland internal and external world. Our feelings can serve us well as agents for self-transformation – once we have allowed ourselves to become more aware of them – for each one is ‘grist for the mill’ as Baba Ram Das would say, potentially able to be transmuted into a spiritual feast.

Diligent practice in one or more of the above techniques will reap many rewards. However my advice is to proceed slowly, listening to the guidance from your conscience or Inner Voice, telling you when to pause for a few days, to allow ‘spiritual digestion’ to catch up.

I wish you every blessing.

“A hoard of treasure is
guarded by a large snake;
don’t dwell on the
hideousness of the snake
contemplate the dazzling
and priceless things
you’ll discover in the treasure.” ~ Rumi


Ron Farmer

Ron Farmer

Ron Farmer is a psychologist who writes a regular blog about self-help therapy, self-transformation and being the change we want to see in the world. He is passionate about using the mind and heart to promote our own health and wellbeing, as well as those around us. Ron is a practising therapist on the Gold Coast and produces CDs and books on how to rediscover our innate peace, love and joy.

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