Recent research into how our brains adapt to inputs from the environment, rewiring themselves to reflect that to which they are exposed, has triggered some thoughts in my own cranium on how my AER Stress Reduction technique can be used even more effectively. (If you want to know more about this adaptive process of our brain, do a search for “Brain Plasticity” and you should get close to 1 million hits. Happy Reading! OK, that might be a bit much to do this afternoon, so instead, visit this site to start.)
If we consider that the neural networks of brain matter that store old memories and feelings can be influenced by the use of meditative techniques such as AER, not only will those memories and feelings be greatly reduced in intensity, but the opportunity then arises to supplant them with more positive feelings. The use of affirmations, for example, will then have a fighting chance of provoking change, as the resistance presented by old memories and feelings will be much lessened. Normally, affirmations only work when there is no emotional blockage getting in the way. Telling yourself that you live with abundance when you have trouble paying the bills each month rarely does more than frustrate you – nobody is being fooled.
When I first started writing about this concept on my Real-Personal-Growth.com web site, I knew it would work (having already used this approach to help lots of people), but the scientific evidence had not yet been published. Now, it is most gratifying to see the research coming out to validate this approach to improving one’s emotional wellness.
Getting an Affirmation to work
A positive affirmation can help steer you onto a better path, so long as there is no emotional issue (trauma, dysfunctional belief, etc.) which is contrary to that affirmation. If such an issue exists, then one needs to first clear the “pathway” in the brain (which includes the brain in your head, the one in your heart and the one in your gut. If that “pathway”of the emotional response, or what some might call a rut, is not “smoothed out”, then no matter what one tries to do (like align oneself with an affirmation), then that pathway will be followed as the default route.
This is where AER (Awareness Expression Resolution) comes in. The AER process can significantly speed up the natural human process of releasing emotional “stuff” which is no longer of any use to us. This “stuff” can include residues of traumatic events, stress, anxiety, grief, sadness, anger and other feelings/emotions which get in the way of us having a peaceful life. Humans are not designed to hold onto these feelings for a long time and traditional societies often had processes to enable us to release them. Modern society has become fixated on convenience, and as a result, instead of releasing these feelings once they have run their course, we “take a pill” and muffle them until they come out as heart attacks, depression, apathy, etc. These “pills” which provide some temporary relief or distraction are not only prescription medications, but also plenty of others which are readily available in your neighborhood: chocolate, ice cream, fudge, alcohol, nicotine, TV, extended exercise, etc.
There are many ways to release emotional “stuff” and stress, and all effective ones work on the basis of what we humans do naturally – so long as we do not constantly re-activate the feelings and there-by retrace their neural pathways, they will fade away over time. Much of psychotherapy, for example, is based upon this repeated limited exposure to unresourceful feelings and thoughts, with just enough time spent on them to allow the feelings to surface briefly and then fade a little more. Eventually, they have faded to the point that they no longer present a problem to the client.
When I started researching trauma and how it could be dealt with effectively, I noticed that most therapeutic modalities did two things:
– they gave clients limited exposure to the trauma so as to not overwhelm the client (and the practitioner) and
– they stopped the releasing process once the feelings had reached a “manageable” level.
Most modalities, other than those which are more body-centric (somatic), tend to involve “thinking” about the feelings associated with an issue rather than actually experiencing them fully. Research has shown that different parts of our head brain get activated when we think than when we feel. If one spends time thinking about the issue, it is natural that some of the feeling associated will surface. However, the amount of feeling that arises is typically only enough to allow for a very limited release. This explains, in part, why talk therapy can take a long time to produce results – there is only a little releasing happening in each 50 minute session, as most of the time only the thinking part of the head brain is activated.
There are therapeutic modalities which invoke much deeper experiences of the feeling and these often produce a faster releasing of the stored feelings. Even with these, though, there is often a lot of thinking activity being used – the client might have to repeat certain phrases or tell some sort of story/dialogue or do other mental exercises. Based on my experiments, most of this verbalizing and thinking actually gets in the way of the releasing process as often as it helps. People who have come to me to experience the AER process after trying to let go of issues and traumas using a variety of modalities report that they got distracted by all the steps and talking involved in some modalities.
AER – Awareness Expression Resolution is actually one of the simplest approaches to releasing that I have seen. It takes the normal human releasing process and “boosts” it by using intention, full awareness and full presence of the stored issue, together with the now well accepted advantages of using contact on body meridians.
Since AER is designed to work as an accompaniment to the natural human releasing process, people find it works well even if they get the steps out of order or forget to do a step – so long as they have the intention to release, all the rest of the AER process serves to assist that intention become a reality. AER is not a process that involves a lot of willpower and effort to release. It involves a surrender to what it is, with little thinking about it and a full experience of what is.
We all know how to release emotional “stuff” and we do it all the time – “time heals all wounds”. It is our modern addiction to convenience and pain-free living that has caused us to do everything but experience some feelings fully and then release them fully.
AER just boosts that process for us. I’ve seen people let go in 10 minutes of the trauma of having had bombs fall around them.
What is the role of affirmations?
One does not “need’ affirmations, per se. They can be a good way to enhance our lives by pointing toward where we want to be. If you want to use any of the many affirmation processes out there, AER can truly enhance that experience and make it more effective, by helping clear the neural pathway for the affirmation to take hold. This also applies for any of the Law of Attraction systems you may be considering.
Who can use AER?
AER is a process that anyone can do by themselves. It is quick and easy to learn. I plan to put together some training material in the coming weeks – a PDF manual, an MP3 recording and a video. All will be available for a modest sum.
While it is a good idea to have someone properly trained facilitate your first AER session, just like having someone guide you when you learn to ride a bicycle, it is not essential.
Copyright 2009 Robert S. Vibert, all rights reserved