Alba Emoting & Joy-Laughter Reimprinting

In a comment on my Basic Anxiety guide, reader Happy_Hilary kindly posted an outline of Alba Emoting, a method used by actors to induce specific emotional states at will by altering their breathing patterns, facial expressions, and other elements of their body form. That method uses the pathways discussed in my guide, and is a brilliant adjunct to my descriptions of how body form and emotions share a 1:1 relationship. Thanks Happy_Hilary!

Here is his comment:

Nice post. It reminds me a bit of alba emoting, which involve training in producing six basic emotional effector patterns, joy, tenderness, anger, fear, sadness, and erotic love (often used by actors).

Here are some practical descriptions I found for the six emotional states – they put more emphasis on breathing patterns: in inducing those states than in your descriptions. I find that inducing joy or erotic love is nice starter for quick relaxation before switching to tender love.

“In an article co-written by Dr. Susana Bloch, Madeleine Lemeignan, and Nancy Aguilera-Torres, the instructions for “respiratory rhythms degrees of muscular tension/relaxation, degrees of eye and/or mouth opening and postural attitudes prototypical for each basic emotion” are as follows:

Anger. Breathe sharply in and out through the nose; keep your lips tightly closed and contract the lower jaw; focus your eyes, tensing the lids; put tension in the body and incline it slightly forward as if ready to attack.

Fear. Give sharp in-breaths through the open mouth, ‘holding’ as it were, your breath; keep the breathing shallow and irregular; at the same time open your eyes wide; tense the body, inclining it slightly backwards, as if trying to avoid something.

Sadness-crying. Inhale in brief saccades through the nose and then exhale all the air in one expiratory movement through the open mouth, as in a sigh; keep your body relaxed, arms hanging; let your head drop slightly and point your gaze downwards.

Joy-laughter. Inhale sharply through the nose and exhale the air through the mouth in rapid saccades; at the same time stretch your lips horizontally drawing the corners up and back; keep your eyes semi-closed, the body very relaxed, the head loosely hanging backwards.

Erotic love. Breathe in and out through the open relaxed mouth in a rather shallow and fast rhythm; keep the body very relaxed, head tilted backwards and to the side, exposing the neck; move your hips very slowly.

Tenderness. Breathe very evenly through the nose; put up a little smile; keep your eyes open with relaxed lids. Slightly tilt your head sideways. Keep your body very relaxed.”

The main page he has linked to at the top is which also contains a useful YouTube video – Alba Emoting for Actors.

I have briefly tested each of the methods listed above and can confirm that they do indeed induce the desired emotional state. Joy-laughter is particularly useful to begin practising as that is an ideal state for socializing. I recommend, if you struggle with loosening up while socializing, that you practise that exercise for 10 minutes or so before going to the social event – and it can also be “topped up” during the event privately by slipping off to a toilet cubicle if necessary. This exercise is a great adjunct to my Basic Anxiety guide, which did not cover socializing. Joy-laughter atop a deep layer of contentedness is the perfect social state!

Joy-Laughter and Fascia

If you are the sort of person who, like me, typically has a grumpy face (which correlates 1:1 with a kind of downcast emotional state), then that is largely because you have trained your fascia in your body and face to adopt that shape. That’s a matter of emotional habit. If you haven’t been following my posts on fascia, you’ll need to watch Thomas Myers’ crash-course video here:

At 5:54, he talks about how emotional habits distort fascia in the body and face, meaning you become more inclined towards that body form and its corresponding emotional state. I have spent the last couple of months coming up with ways to correct those internal distortions using yawning (or the processes that make up yawning), whose purpose I believe is to relax, unwind or “depolarize” fascia from the distorted state. I talked more about that theory here: Posture: The Long and Winding Road

Basically, if you yawn, you can notice two things:

  1. A burst of REM, particularly on the in-breath. This is accompanied by the sound of air rushing in your ears, like your ears are “open”.
  2. This is accompanied by a sensation of “electrical current” passing down through the body, particularly into the base of the spine. I just call this “current” for short. You may have to watch carefully for this current sensation, as it can be quite subtle. The “ears open”/”air rushing sound” always indicates some current is running somewhere.

I decided to try and combine Alba Emoting with my fascial unwinding/depolarizing method (which just involves sending “current” into particular parts of the body in an intentional manner).

Before you understand all this, you will need to watch the following video:

Here he is using “current” to let fascia unwind of its own accord (though he does not specifically say that – “current” is my thing). He talks about “still points”, which I described here: Muscles & Posture: Try this for a “still point”  You may need to read that post briefly now in order to understand how I have combined Alba Emoting with my fascial unwinding/”current” method. Please make a special note of the “still point” concept from the video now. Practise the exercise in the video so you know what a still point is and feels like.

(Note: A “still point” isn’t actually still. There are “micro-unwinds” taking place. In the case of the video, these unwinds are mainly taking place in the neck, where many lines of fascia meet and can become wound or adhered together. I also believe that, during still points, main nerves are descending back into their proper place, e.g. from the neck back into the arm, as they can become trapped slightly out of place by wound fascia.)

Anyway, here is what I did to combine Alba Emoting with myofascial unwinding. But first, a recap on the Alba Emoting joy-laughter exercise:

Joy-laughter. Inhale sharply through the nose and exhale the air through the mouth in rapid saccades; at the same time stretch your lips horizontally drawing the corners up and back; keep your eyes semi-closed, the body very relaxed, the head loosely hanging backwards.

I thought there may be potential to “unwind” grumpiness in the long term by modifying the above using my “current” method. Here is the new method I came up with:

  1. Adopt the joy-laughter pose described in the Alba Emoting guide: stretch your lips horizontally drawing the corners up and back; keep your eyes semi-closed, the body very relaxed, the head loosely hanging backwards.
  2. However, instead of the rapid in-out breathing, do the following: stay in the pose, and draw breath in slowly through the nose.
  3. While you are inhaling slowly, if it reaches a point where it feels like the air is “pushing” on the inside of the body and can’t go any further (in other words the chest cavity won’t expand – due to the internal fascial distortion caused by grumpiness/depression/gloom as described by Myers), don’t try and force the breath to make the body expand. Instead, hold right there, maintain the pressure of the inhalation just at the point where it won’t go any further, and treat it as a “still point” as described in the above “Unwinding and Pandiculation Demonstration” video.
  4. Now, let various “unwinding” events take place, as they want to, without trying to force anything. I found that, due to various unwinding in the body, the chest cavity eventually began to expand with the inhalation. For me, these events started at the top of the chest but also spread to my face and down to my pelvic region.

What I discovered:

  • There began to be unwinding motions within my body, starting most noticeably at the top of my chest leading into my neck. Then, my head and neck would rise up then come back down and kind of “bob”, as though previously held poses were being unwound. I could also feel unwinding on a more internal level, and the chest cavity opening up.
  • These motions then spread into my face, which went through a range of shapes as fascia relaxed or unwound in the face. So, my face went through a series of forms, e.g. mouth changing shape, forehead muscles moving, ears, neck and all connected elements. I did not “freeze” my face in the “smile” pose from the Alba Emoting guide, and just let it change as it wanted (in line with all unwinding protocol). Afterwards, my face was softer and had a wider capacity for and inclination towards smiling. It felt like there was more freedom in my cheeks.
  • The unwinding also spread downward towards my pelvic region – so the entire torso was involved at some point or other.
  • The general sensation was one of opening up – or “restrictions” being lifted that had been conditioned in by grumpiness/negative conditioning in the past.
  • During the unwinding moments, there was “current” noticeable. To reiterate, current is most noticeable due to the “air rushing in the ears” sound. If your acuity is high enough, you will literally feel current in the parts of your body that are unwinding.
  • My emotional state was tangibly uplifted immediately following the exercise, which persisted for some time afterward.

Let all these things happen “as they want”. Let the unwinding follow its own path and don’t interfere, just as he demonstrates in the “Unwinding and Pandiculation Demonstration” video.

There should be a continuous inhalation while all this is going on. So, even at the still point, you are inhaling just enough to maintain the internal pressure against the inner wall of the chest cavity. The whole thing may feel like one long yawn, and, at times during my practice, the exercise even culminated in a full yawn.

So, this exercise is like an “unwinding” for grumpiness. It is my hope that we can use it to recover a range of motion which had been restricted by negative conditioning, internally in the body and the breathing, and in the face, and therefore increase emotional capacity for joy-laughter that had been lost due to a “grumpy habit”. It is my hope that we can use this exercise daily to reimprint one’s body back to a state of joy-laughter in the long term. Practising it immediately upon waking would be a good place to start.

Please try it (preferably many times over a few days) and report back in the comments section. 🙂

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2 Responses

  1. Sebastian says:

    Great arrticle man! 🙂

  1. August 14, 2015

    […] Alba Emoting & Joy-Laughter Reimprinting – Personal Power Meditation […]

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