Positive Affects and the Transformation of Suffering into Flourishing
Three investigative realms with widely divergent methodologies arrive at uncannily similar conclusions about the vital role of positive affective phenomena in optimal adaptation, resilience, affect regulation, cardiac health, and subjective well-being: research on resilience and human flourishing; Indo-Tibetan practices and the emergent yogic sciences; and the practice of AEDP (Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy), a healing-oriented, transformation-based model of psychotherapy. AEDP has explored the vital role of positive emotions in the process of change in general, and, more specifically, in therapeutic work with painful and overwhelming emotional experience, and has identified and descried a phenomenology of positive affective experiences, including the healing affects, and core state, which signal the operation of healing transformational processes. This chapter focuses on how, in the course of one therapeutic hour – through the moment-to-moment tracking of bodily rooted experience and dyadic affect regulation in the context of a relationship in which the individual feels safe and known – the processing of suffering, i.e., stress-based, traumatizing, painful emotional experiences naturally culminates in flourishing, i.e., deeply positive experiences of aliveness, hope, faith, clarity, agency, simplicity, compassion, joy, and truth. Key to this is the focus on and experiential processing of the experience of healing transformation. Thus, there unfolds a series of cascading transformations, with each transition somatically marked by positive transformational affects, until we arrive at core state, a state characterized by the positive affective phenomena that underlie some of our highest strivings and deepest joys.
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