What the first emotional center is and why it matters to your health and relationships

first emotional center roots>>I’m so happy to hear you are staying. When I read you were considering moving, my heart got this uncomfortable feeling. We moved five times during our 8 year stay in Israel. Moving is so extremely unsettling and destabilizing. So much change, plus you need to get to know and integrate into a totally new community and start putting down roots all over again. It’s like starting from zero.<<

it’s so true, moving is deeply unsettling – literally! – and I’m very grateful to have made the decision to stay in one place.  There’s something very physically and emotionally grounding for all of us about this decision.

A while back I listened to an interesting audio program about the seven emotional centers and their physical effect on the body’s health.  This is based on the concept that all illness has an emotional/energetic component, and this component is much more significant than most people would acknowledge.

This is fascinating stuff and if you’re interested in details about all seven emotional centers, look at the link I put up above and you can see a summary of some basic information.  (Dr. Gabor Mate also has a great book called When the Body Says No: Exploring the Stress Disease Connection in which he writes about the emotional state and how certain illnesses are later manifested as a result.)  What I’d like to do is is share about the importance of the first emotional center and how this was a factor in our our decision not to move.

The first center is what your sense of self is built on, what provides you with a sense of grounding and belonging in the world, rootedness.  Physically issues connected to this center are related to the immune system issues, illnesses such as arthritis, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.  A person who doesn’t have a strong foundation in his first center with his family of origin will have trust and security issues.  Not being balanced in this center will affect a person’s ability to appropriately feel fear, when and who to trust, and how to be appropriately dependent or independent.

These first center emotional issues almost exactly parallel the issues Dr. Gordon Neufeld describes as the outcome for children who are inadequately attached to their parents, though he gives them different names – emotional defendedness/hardening and peer dependency are a couple of concepts that he discusses at length that tie in well to this.  It’s all about building a sense of connection and security in the world; when that is missing, you have first emotional center issue that if held long enough without being addressed in some way, will eventually show up in the body.  I’m starting to wonder if the real reason that new immigrants tend to get sick when they move here isn’t about our bodies being hit with germs that we aren’t used to, but about our immune system being weakened due to being emotionally uprooted.

The health of this center is the healthy capacity to hold two things at one time: the vulnerability of belonging and depending, and the power of being able to stand alone and be independent.  That really means being able to be interdependent, which is the highest level of interpersonal functioning and is much, much more difficult than independence.  This is especially hard for those of us growing up in Western cultures, that place a very high value on independence as an ideal.

If you’re missing this as an adult, you can work to bridge the gaps of your childhood by consciously creating relationships, connections and routines that bring a sense of continuity and grounding to your life.  If we can provide our kids with a sense of connectedness when they are young, that goes a long way through the years in helping them develop a sense of trust in the world.  It’s always more effective to invest in prevention rather than trying to fix something that’s already broken.

Since moving here my kids have gone through some really difficult stuff, things that shook the foundation of our family.  When I thought of moving them again after the trauma of my recent burns and subsequent hospitalization, I knew that I couldn’t do that to them.  I didn’t want to do it to myself, but for my kids it was clear to me this would create a first emotional center issue that would affect their sense of security and safety in the world.  This sense of stability and security is so foundational to a person’s emotional health and future relationships, and eventually can affect one’s physical health.

Does that mean that everyone should stay in one place his entire life?  No, absolutely not.  Sometimes you need to experience the discomfort of change to get a place that will ultimately be better for you.  I firmly feel that  moving to Israel in August 2011 was the absolute best decision for our family even with all the upheavals that we experienced afterward.  What I do mean is that as parents we need to think very carefully about how to provide our children with a sense of continuity and consistency, both emotionally in how we raise them as well as physically where we raise them.  The more deeply rooted we can help them to be, the stronger their sense of security and immune system will be.


11 thoughts on “What the first emotional center is and why it matters to your health and relationships

  1. well said! In my practice, I do a lot of healing work around the energy centers of the body and the themes that present.

  2. I feel all strange and unsettled now – not in a bad way, but in a “I feel like I might be on to something” way. I believe myself to be pretty settled, secure and centred person – but there is no doubt that, wonderful though my parents are, I did have a very unsettled childhood and have ended up separated from my family not just by a considerable distance, but also emotionally.
    In other words, the place I have in the world is a place I built myself, with my other half’s help – and we made the best effort we could in order to root ourselves as deeply as we can – for ourselves, but also for our children. The thing is, though, that the older I get the more strongly I feel the lack of the roots that go far into the past – the sense of, whilst I might know who I am, I would also like to know where I came from.

    In fact, this desire to find out more about where I came from is why I started reading your blog in the first place….. So, anyway – I have fibromyalgia, and whilst I really do not think that I have trust and security issues….. I do have a serious problem with asking for help, and a fear of ending up dependant on someone else. Which isn’t really a million miles away, now I think about it.
    Think some more thinking is on the cards for me ! Thank you for the post.

    1. Allegra, I’m a pretty balanced person but I have first center issues – similar to what you expressed, I don’t like to ask for help or be dependent. This is why it took MAJOR overcoming my natural tendencies when the fundraiser was set up for me to accept help that was offered even when I didn’t solicit it. I forced myself – literally, when I found out about it I was ready to call my friend and tell her to cancel it and I *forced* myself to wait until morning and not be so impossibly independent – because this is part of the lesson I need to learn now, not just to help others but to let them help me.

      You can compensate for the childhood lack but you can never fully make up for it. It’s just the way it is. I also have a deep fear of financial lack which I just learned is also a first center issue. So there’s always something to work on!

      What did you mean when you said you started reading more here to find out more about where you came from?

      (By the way, I didn’t thank you for your most recent comment which was beautiful and brought tears to my eyes – so thank you!)

  3. It’s a slightly convoluted story….. But trying to keep it short and simple, I am from Croatia, and from quite a mixed – shall we say cosmopolitan – family on my mother’s side. I was raised an atheist, but against a strong background of Catholicism, which is in itself enough to send an array of mixed messages – but, anyway, a couple of years back a relative was doing some research into our family tree and has found some evidence that a great-great -grandmother (my maternal grandmother’s maternal grandmother, if you see what I mean), the lady that has always been credited as the source of some of our family traditions that were different to those of everyone else around us – the lady we always thought of as “the Viennese Grandma” – was in fact Jewish – and then a Jewish friend told me that, if this was the case, this would actually make both myself and my daughter Jewish as well.

    So I went (sorry, I am writing an essay now) and did some research online to try and find out more about Judaism – and your blog came up as one of the links. The goosebumpy thing about it was that this was the third time I came across your blog – first time as a link from another blog I read; second time when I was doing some research into Weston Price and Nourishing Traditions – but both times I just glanced over, decided it was not what I was looking for, and moved on – so when it happened for the third time I got a very strong feeling that someone REALLY wanted me to read this blog.

    Turned out it was what I was looking for all along. Oh, and I now know why Grandma – and countless women in our family before her – always lit candles just before sunset on a Friday. Funny, isn’t it, what manages to survive even when you’ve lost sight of where you came from…..

    1. That is fascinating; thank you for sharing, Allegra!

      It really must have been meant to be for you to find my blog, since I don’t specifically write about Judaism and even if I did, many blogs would come up in searches way ahead of mine. I’m glad to have you reading here and if there’s any way I can be of help to you, please let me know.

  4. Thank you Avivah for appreciating my comment! So glad again that you’re not uprooting. I agree that emotions show up in the body. In my work with accupressure – EFT – it is obvious how closely emotions affect physical health.

    1. Rachael Leah, I appreciate every comment! (Did you see I responded to your full comment from the last post?)

  5. Yes I saw that, thank you! And Hashem should help you figure out a solution for, at at least feel more settled about your location issue and your older ones. At the very least, their family core being settled and stable will have ripple effects and might be even more helpful for them than being closer would have been.

  6. Avivah,

    Thank you for that link and the info about Dr. Gabor Mate. I’m wondering if you have also heard about Somatic Experiencing? It’s a psychological method geared for trauma and chronic stress, and bases it’s concept on the fact that the body does store trauma and stress, and SE provides a safe framework for release.

    From the website (www.traumahealing.com):

    “SE offers a framework to assess where a person is “stuck” in the fight, flight, freeze, or collapse responses and provides clinical tools to resolve these fixated physiological states. It provides effective skills appropriate to a variety of healing professions including, mental health, medicine, physical and occupational therapies, bodywork, addiction treatment, first response, education, and others. . . SE facilitates the completion of self-protective motor responses and the release of thwarted survival energy bound in the body, thus addressing the root cause of trauma symptoms”

    1. Yehudit, it sounds very interesting but I hadn’t heard of this until you mentioned it. I’m glad you took the time to share!

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