Blog Entry Health & Healing

CBMA Health & Healing: The Power of Emotions, Part I


My journey into holistic health began with the study and practice of Ayurveda. This ancient East Indian system of healing changed the trajectory of my life by eliminating COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) from my body after just 3 months of implementation. Before I discovered Ayurveda, I was on pharmaceutical medication for COPD for 27 years. During that time, my medical doctor told me that I would eventually develop asthma or emphysema as I aged. As the years passed, my doctor continually prescribed stronger meds but my cough persisted. Finally, I asked myself "what is the purpose of medication if my body continues to get weaker and the disease continues to get stronger?"

That question is what eventually lead me to Ayurveda. We define Ayurveda as "The Science of Living." Whenever I share this definition, I wonder if people really make the connection:

An ancient healing system that has been around for thousands of years suggests that if we want to be healthy, we need to look at how we are living and continually make adjustments to maintain balance and harmony in all areas of our lives.

It's a pretty deep concept when we let it marinate in our minds long enough.

One principle of Ayurveda states that emotional imbalance is the precursor to all dis-ease. What does that mean? We have emotions that move through us all the time. At some point in time, we allow an emotion to get stuck in us. When this happens, that emotion finds a home in a organ, gland or tissue. It will live there and, gradually weaken the area until the emotion is released so that healing can occur, or until the weakened area develops dis-ease. In my case, I experienced a traumatic event that got “stuck” in my chest as a child and developed into respiratory dis-ease.

Take a look at the simplified graphic below (primary source: Barral Institute). Notice how certain emotions directly affect specific organs and cause dis-ease.

Consider this statistic: 

Although African Americans have the same or lower rate of high cholesterol as their non-Hispanic white counterparts, they are more likely to have high blood pressure. –Office of Minority Health

What can Black and Brown folks do to reverse the course of dis-ease? For starters, we can learn how to slow down and choose our responses to negative stimuli. This is an important factor in creating and maintaining radiant health that requires continual cultivation. 

Getting Unstuck

According to Ayurveda, we must learn how to properly process emotions. Not suppress them, not ignore them, not avoid or project them onto others - PROCESS them. Emotions that are not processed are stored in our organs, eventually making them vulnerable to dis-ease. 

We can learn to process our emotions by acknowledging them, allowing them to move through us without getting stuck in us. This is a skill that requires practice, because we have been trained (via bad habits, social marketing messages)  to do the opposite. 

Since our breath is the bridge that connects our body, mind and emotions, the first step is to begin with our breathing. Here are two simple strategies that we can practice now:

  • INHALE somewhat forcefully (but not enough to become lightheaded), whenever we feel anger, frustration or any other negative emotion. Most of us do the opposite and when we sigh or exhale forcefully, we give our energy away during the very moment that our body needs it. 

  • Practice taking slow deep breaths while you work. 

We can survive weeks without food, about a week without water ... how long can we survive without breathing? Given these new insights, will we practice regularly?

Next month, we’ll learn effects of positive emotions on our organs.

Have you noticed a connection between how you feel and health issues in your life? Share your stores! Tag us on Twitter and Instagram using hashtag #BMARadiant.

Dr. Phyllis Hubbard is the Senior Director of BMA Health & Healing Strategies for the Campaign for Black Male Achievement. She is also the Founder of Radiant Health Strategies, LLC, a privately owned holistic health educational business that helps individuals and groups achieve radiant health through strategies that integrate an array of holistic health methods, professional and lifestyle skills. Follow along with Dr. Hubbard on Twitter @GetRadiant and on Instagram at phyllishubbard.


blog Journey To Radiance

Journey to Radiance Ep. 12 "Journey to #CBMANext"

In the latest episode of the "Journey To Radiance" podcast series, we reflect on CBMA’s momentous 10 years working daringly to build beloved communities for Black men and boys across the nation, and its efforts to shape a vision of what's to come.