This is Not Personal; My Introduction to NPA’s
I first met Gulara Vincent at a family camp called Grow the Grown Ups at Embercombe in Devon, earlier this summer. I was in the midst of processing a bevy of heavy emotions that were arising during the week and consequently tried to keep my head down throughout the time to avoid distraction. In turn, I only briefly spoke to Gulara. She sang at an open mic night towards the end of the week and I was spellbound, drawn into the depth of her energy that she seemed to contain so imperceptibly. We shared a few words after this but it wasn’t until after everyone returned home and folk started re-connecting on social media, that we really hit it off.
Alongside others, her profile photo kept appearing on my page. Despite not having chatted significantly face-to-face, again there was something that drew me in; her Cheshire Cat smile full of warmth and contentedness, the lightness in her eyes, the joy in her face. We began to discover a resonance between us as we started to share, through our individual writings, our experiences at Embercombe. It was then I realised why I felt so moved to connect with her; I felt in many ways she was a kindred spirit.
As we opened up to each other, I explained how I sometimes felt blocked in my writing, which I knew was to do with childhood trauma. She very kindly asked if I would like to receive an offering; a one-to-one on the telephone or through Skype, using techniques to help release blocked emotions and energy. Without knowing too much about exactly what she did, with much gratitude towards her, my intuition said YES. And so, a few days later, we did just that.
She had outlined how the call would run but I didn’t know quite what to expect in the content of the work. It did not matter. Instantly, as she lead me through the Deep Listening and then introduced the NPA work, I felt safely bound in her sense of knowing. Gulara possesses an immense energy. At once calm and still, she’s like the warm autumn sunshine, glowing through in golden-ness. Yet she also carries a full-bodied charge, as if a storm brewing, inviting, ushering in, the gentle winds of change. I absolutely love this about Gulara; they are rare qualities to inhabit, especially to embody side by side and I have an enormous respect for who she is.
My time spent with her on the phone that Monday morning was powerful and intense, in a way in which I felt deeply comfortable stepping into the work. As she tenderly guided me, a dawning began in understanding the significance of the process and the heart of which it was seeking to connect to. At the end of our call together, she advised me to continue the NPAs for the following 30 days and emailed shortly after the ones to particularly focus on.
Prior to speaking with her, I knew nothing about this kind of work but soon learned this: NPA stands for Non Personal Awareness and involves a simple of sequence of phrases to repeat daily for difficult emotions that people are seeking to release. It does, wonderfully, what it says on the tin, enabling us to create space from the attachment we constantly, and mostly unknowingly, intertwine with our emotions. A key phrase is applied to each emotional state, ‘This is not personal’ as the sequence is worked through to help us as we begin to free ourselves from the feelings we might be experiencing. This phrase, so simple and effective, for me I found simultaneously revolutionary in my thinking in it’s intention and yet, too, I completely ‘got it’, where it was coming from, what is was and how it sought to reveal.
Gulara gave me the option to combine the phrases with EFT, the Emotional Freedom Technique, which she explained can make the work more powerful. EFT uses an approach called Tapping in which you tap certain meridian point on the head and upper body to again help the process of releasing. I had heard of tapping before and knew of people singing it’s praises but this, together with practicing the NPAs was my first actual experience of it and I decided to use them both.
And so my journey began, creating 20 minutes within my day, to stop and internally focus with the four NPA’s Gulara had recommended. Still buzzing from my telephone session with her, the first week was incredibly dynamic. I felt hugely inspired and both valued and appreciated the de-personalisation of emotional states, whether ‘positive’ or ‘negative’. It reminded me greatly of the Peaceful Parenting approach I practice with my children; providing space for them to really, fully feel their feelings within safe, loving and non-judgmental arms. Only using the NPA technique on myself, it was myself holding this space for me to work through the intensity and difficulty of some deeply held, old emotions. The intention within Peaceful Parenting is to enable our children to release their feelings, in the present, and help them return to their natural equilibrium and flow. Possibly because of my work with our children in this way, I could see instantaneously, whilst practicing the NPAs, how, yes, the energy of our emotional states is truly and fundamentally a fleeting experience. And it is our human nature, perhaps intrinsically or perhaps because of how we are socialised, that our tendency is not to fully acknowledge this. We instead loose their very essence, their motion, whilst we weave in attachment and ownership of ‘our’ feelings and, as we begin to embody them, in the embodiment, we unwittingly bind ourselves to these transitionary states.
I guess, in hindsight, I had recognised this from previous experiences with mediation and healing work, but for the first time, through practicing the NPAs, I found an anchor into tangibly seeing this from the inside out. For the first time I could see the connectivity of these energies and how, depending on our state of being ~ or possibly not being, we would pick up and inhabit them, with very often hooking and locking into them. And, depending on our state, we could either continue to hold onto them or allow them to pass. I could see my own pattern, alongside the potential patterns of my children, in how this occupation manifests. I could see too how liberating it is to undo ourselves from this ownership and allow our beings instead to experience and feel the magnificent connectivity of flow between all, whether we deem it good, bad, joy-giving, painful, easy or difficult….
So, I attentively continued, happy as a bunny, with my eyes growing wider until I hit a wall of resistance a week later. Suddenly the work felt too much. Suddenly it felt too overwhelming and exhausting letting go of these of big old feelings. Everyday day, whether positive or negative, we let our emotions define us and internally part of me started to panic; Who am I if I no longer consider myself happy, angry or sad? Who am I without these definitions, these fixing points? I began to find whilst using the approach, I was not only releasing some less healthy emotions, I was also unknowingly un-hinging old identities of and within myself and for a moment, and a small voice within me, felt uncertain about this adjustment. Thankfully however, a slightly more confident part, the part that wholly got the how and the what of the work, knew I needed to surrender to this and Gulara, in her soulful wisdom, helped me through. Affirmingly, she suggested doing an NPA on resistance, going gently with myself and reminded me that when heavy past feelings are released, it’s common to feel very tired as we work through their energy. Hearing and thinking about her words, I realised, with my enthusiasm, I had been very keen and super-intent throughout the first week of practicing, perhaps searching for results too quickly, and that I could be more gracious, allowing and less outcome driven as I continued.
Wow! It is now five weeks since I started and my 30 days have finished. I am almost speechless about the process that has unfolded within me during this time. Writing about my experiences usually comes relatively easily, with happily swimming in the depths, but this, how I have shifted with the new-ness of my mind(un)set and flow of emotions, I am still processing so much. Still evolving so much. My being is in a space that I don’t yet entirely recognise BUT it is powerful, so, so powerful. I feel able, incredibly able with an openness and a new understanding of how I can travel through uncomfortable emotional states, to go right through to the heart of them and move through to the other side. Before this, I had felt brave enough going in but I didn’t have the interior tools to know how to come out and often found myself ‘over’-experiencing them. But now I feel maneuverability. And should I re-coil into an ‘older’ state of being, I find myself, rather than falling back into a mindset with it, able to position myself and sit in between. With this growing awareness, I feel I’m discovering and creating the beginnings of a potentially marvelous capability to poise myself in relation to emotional states. They are no longer ‘my’ emotional states, they are simply states that I am experiencing and I feel an invigorated freedom to enjoy the dance between them. And it is, in fact, simply this: a dance and I am developing an increasing ability to consciously choreograph and inform the relationship between myself and these non-personal energies.
Probably my greatest revelation during this time has been my NPA on love. Supposedly, I imagined, straight-foward but, I noticed how whilst practicing this one in particular, when I allowed myself to feel it, how quickly I wanted to give it away. Fascinatingly, I found easier staying power with the other more seemingly awkward emotions, the ones I knew too well, yet love, felt like a slippery eel, in my hand one minute and gone the next. I know part of this is historical within me but, appreciating the nature and intent of the work, it makes me wonder how common this is within us all. Do we all possess a struggle, to smaller and greater degrees, to allow our beings to experience love? Gracefully, with this self-acknowledgement and my learnings through the work, despite my tendency to too swiftly let love go, I now see how I can more purposefully cultivate a wider and more generous invitation internally to permit love in. I see now too very much how I am the key-holder to this; from what I had learned as a child I had believed otherwise.
Gulara has been lovingly present with me on every step on my journey as my mind has been re-setting, whilst new synapses have been forming. She has held me in uncertainty, encouraged me in my resistance, celebrated with me as I welcomed change and, in receipt of her generous offer, my energy grows more buoyant, bountiful and stronger as the weeks pass by. I feel so hugely blessed that our paths crossed earlier this year and to have met such a beautiful, courageous and inspiring being. Her wisdom astounds me every time we connect and I’m profoundly grateful to her for her heartfelt kindness, warmth and guidance in her offering and support whilst learning about the significance of that which is not personal.
Nameste dear Gulara and thank YOU!
You can learn more about Dr. Gulara Vincent’s work through her website on: www.gularavincent.com
And about the founder of the NPA work, Joel Young, on: www.joelyoungnpa.com
Image: Frans Lanting