Cultivating emotional balance - Happy + Well : Happy + Well

Cultivating emotional balance

Written by on November 30, 2015 in Happiness, Relationships, Wellness with 0 Comments

UnknownImagine if there was a training program that taught us how to manage our difficult and negative emotions so that these no longer had the same power over us, causing us to act out in ways that were both harmful to ourselves and others?

Cultivating Emotional Balance (CEB) training, a combination of contemplation science and western psychology, is such a program and the topic of this presentation at Mind & Its Potential 2013 by Dr Eve Ekman, an accredited CEB trainer and one of our speakers at next year’s Wellness@Work conference.

In recounting the program’s origins, Ekman explains how following a meeting held in 2000 with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and others on the topic of destructive emotions, Dr B. Alan Wallace, leading scholar of Eastern and Western scientific, philosophical and contemplative modes of inquiry, and Dr Paul Ekman, an American psychologist and pioneer in the study of emotions and their relation to facial expressions (he also happens to be Eve’s dad!), volunteered to create a training that was secular and would provide the best tools available to cultivate emotional balance.

Ekman says the published results of their first randomised control trial looking at the impacts of CEB training on a group of teachers came out in 2011. Subjects reported a range of positive affects. They felt happier, less stressed, less frustrated. They were also more mindful and much easier to get along with, in the workplace and at home.

Ekman says the goals of CEB training are to increase awareness about emotional life in general and to increase skills for emotional regulation, namely our ability to recognise, name, soothe, enhance and transform our many and varied emotional states. “CEB means creating choice. We want to give people the opportunity to choose. Is this the way I want to feel right now? Does this actually fit with the person I intend to be? Is this constructive? Is it leading towards something that is functional and useful in my everyday life?”

But, as Ekman points out, being aware of our emotions requires considerable insight into their nature. For example, it’s important to see how internal and external stimuli can trigger emotions in all of us, that many emotions occur physically in the body and are expressed most obviously to others on our face, that suppression of an emotion can actually make us feel it more intensely, that stress is the over arousal of emotion, and that there are great individual differences of emotion in that people don’t feel about and react to things in the same way.

Ekman also describes the purpose of emotions as being primarily to “read the signals of others. What are people communicating to us? The dysfunction is when we confuse what we’re relating to”, such as when we misconstrue what is simply constructive criticism by our boss as a personal attack. Or lash out at a friend who’s five minutes late for dinner because for the past week at work we’ve been battling impossible deadlines. “So really not being able to understand that emotions have their function but when not appropriately understood, or examined, or expressed in a meaningful way, they can become dysfunctional.”


Dr Eve Ekman is an international expert working with emotion and mindfulness to reduce stress and burnout while enhancing ‘professional empathy’ in the workplace. She will be presenting at the Wellness@Work conference in 2016. This is part of the Wellness Show which also includes an expo. To register for the conference, click here. To register for the FREE expo, click here.

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