Is it possible to live without emotions?

By Kim Knight, The Art of Health, Auckland, New Zealand

‘Leave emotion and be motionless’
Paramahamsa Hariharananda, Enlightened Kriya Yoga Master


If someone had told me a year ago, or 10 years ago, that it was not only possible, but actually natural, to not get ’emotional’ about things I simply would not have believed them. Recent experiences have has shaken this paradigm to the core.

For the last 20 years I have spent much time and effort in understanding what drives me, my patterns of thinking and emotional reactions, clearing old traumas and non-beneficial beliefs. During that time I have done a whole host of personal development including one-on-one counselling and group workshops covering a wide range of modalities from The Journey, Holotropic Breathwork, Rebirthing, Bodytalk, past life regression, time-line therapy, NLP….the list goes on. Since 2000 however I concentrated more fully on the meditation and Qi Gong practices of the Universal Healing Tao, in particular using the Inner Smile, Six Healing sounds and Fusion of the Five Elements to clear negative emotions from the organs. Most days for 10 years I took the time to do these exercises, which I found particularly useful for clearing emotions on the spot, rather than ‘soaking’ in them for hours, days or months.

Then a year or so ago I noticed a difference in my meditations, and I couldn’t put my finger on what was happening. And in November 2009 I attended a two week silent Qi Gong retreat with Master Yuan Tze, Zhineng Qi Gong teacher. It was unexpectedly transformative. During the retreat I understood properly for the first time, from within, how negative emotions damage our internal organs. When the emotional energy rises up from within the particular organ (for example, sadness from the lungs or anger from the liver), it disturbs the delicate pool of Qi from which it comes. The Taoist teachings are always emphasizing how negative emotions drain energy, and I really ‘got it’.

Equally importantly, I understood that our natural state of being is CALM AND RELAXED. In other words, it is natural to be and live in a calm and relaxed state. When we are in such a state, our Shen (mind) is clear and our Jing and Qi (body and energy) are in a healthy state. It is from this state that we are designed to operate on a daily basis. ALL OF THE TIME.

So what does this mean? It means that emotional reactions are not natural or healthy! Now, that is going to push a lot of buttons for people when they read it, and to be quite frank, if someone had told me that 6 months ago I would have told them they were talking a load of cobblers. And even after I recognized the truth of this statement, I still wanted my emotions. I still wanted to feel sad and angry sometimes. I felt like a little kid who has had his toy taken away from him and starts to sulk. It was really quite amusing. But something had shifted dramatically in my understanding and inside my body. I knew from the truth that is only revealed from within that we are not meant to have emotions and how detrimental they really to our health. And then I realized that emotions are a habit! And like any habit, a habit can be changed.


So, I just want to backtrack for a minute, and what I am going to say now may sound like a direct contradiction to what I’ve just said. But as you will see it’s not really.

In my own journey to understand emotions, I have come to realize there are different stages of what I like to call EMOTIONAL MATURITY. And it goes a bit like this:

  1. We grow up and for some of us, for many reasons, (culture, family, education etc) we are not validated emotionally, or have traumatic incidents happen to us, which may lead to a supression of emotions. This quickly becomes an unconscious habit which we take with us as we grow up. As we do so, we move more and more out of our body and into our head. I call this moving from the body intelligence to the head intelligence. And there is nothing wrong with the intellect, it’s just that we have far more intelligence at our disposal than just our head intelligence. And so, just like not going to the gym for a while, we stop exercising the muscles of our emotional intelligence.
  2. Then, because everything is energy, including the body, mind and emotions (or Qi in Taoist terms), as we start to supress, hold down and ignore our emotions – but are still not dealing with them or the situations which created them – that energy starts to build up inside the body and block our life force. Slowly over time this starts to manifest as illness, either mental or physical (and actually, they are one and the same). So we start to feel stressed or anxious, depressed, get insomnia, irritable bowel, allergies, cancer, chronic fatigue, you name it… But we are oblivious to the underlying emotions which are being held inside, as we have trained ourselves so well to not feel.
  3. Then something happens, maybe we just decide “I can’t go on like this, I’m going to find answers to my x,y,z problem” and we start to look within. And we start to realize that underneath most symptoms there are unidentified emotions. And we start to learn (or re-learn and remember) how to feel. At first this is scary, as we start to feel long-repressed emotions, but as we make progress we begin to realize that actually it’s not that scary to feel, and very importantly that emotions are not ‘bad’. And slowly, slowly we start to make friends with our emotions rather than automatically resisting them. (And by the way, it’s the resisting the emotion that brings the so-called ’emotional pain’, not the emotion itself).

So, just to recap what I have said in the above points, firstly we train ourselves to not feel, then we become aware that we have a habit of not feeling, and then we start re-training ourselves to feel again. But this is not the end of it. And this is the bit that no-one ever told me! (Well, actually a few people had, I just wasn’t ready to hear it so it didn’t register on my radar).


Once we have reached a certain level of proficiency in feeling, and have cleared a certain amount of emotional baggage, we are then presented with the next step: the truth of the fact that emotional reactions are a habit which can be changed, and that they are extremely damaging to our health. We understand perhaps for the first time ever that it is possible to live without emotions. We realize the inherent truth that our natural state of being is to be in a calm and relaxed state 24 hours a day, and that any time we move from that place of calmness, we know that we have moved from a healthy (life-affirming) to an unhealthy (life-depleting) state. And the number one thing we now have to do, as soon as possible, is bring ourselves back to that natural, calm and healthy state.

Wow. That was a shock. Why? Because I had to give up my ’emotional habit’, which includes any form of drama or poor me or ‘someone else it to blame’ or ‘it’s not ok to be happy’. It’s a 180 degree turnaround in thinking and belief, which at first I wasn’t sure I was ready to accept. It was so spectacularly different, I was in shock for several days. But somehow it felt true, and the internal shift was so real I could not deny it.

And then I also began to experience the state of true joy which arises out of this state of calmness. Joy which has nothing to do with any external circumstance which one would normally associate with happiness, such as ‘I’m in a great relationship’ or ‘I’ve just won lotto’. Just pure, natural joy which arises spontaneously from within.

I do want to emphasize that it seems to me that learning to feel and clear emotions is an essential stage for most of us. How can you transcend emotions if you don’t know what they are? It’s a bit like learning to walk before you can run – you simply have to go through the required stages and skipping a step would be detrimental.

However, things are-a-changing pretty rapidly in terms of consciousness right now, and who knows, maybe that will change too. But for now, I just wanted to share the tremendous realization that living without negative emotions is our birthright. We can “leave emotion and be motionless”.

PS – I’s just like to add, this realization does not mean that emotions never arise in me. Sometimes they do, but the experience is very different, they are much less frequent, much weaker and more quickly dispersed. It’s actually quite hard to put into words the difference inside, but it is a profound shift in both understanding and internal experience.

Kim Knight

The Art of Health

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Comments 10

  1. What do you think would be the ramifications of living with no emotions? In your opinion is it possible to exist in purely emotionless state? I ask because I have realized that to have any emotion results in pain. To love is to lose, to experience joy is to also experience sadness. Thoughts?

    1. My thoughts:

      What do you think would be the ramifications of living with no emotions?

      I have no idea, have not got there yet, although I have experienced a long period of being exceptionally calm without negative emotions such as fear, anger or sadness. It was very peaceful.

      In your opinion is it possible to exist in purely emotionless state?

      It depends how you define ’emotionless’ – my experience was that when one goes beyond experiencing negative emotions, a state of true joy arises spontaneously from within. This is as far as I understand our true being, our natural state. But it is not something that can be imagined or thought about, it has to be experienced.

      I ask because I have realized that to have any emotion results in pain.

      Depends on (a) attachment to the emotion and (b) the ability to process emotions – they are just energy which we label as ‘uncomfortable and scary’ when they are not once we learn how to process that energy.

      To love is to lose, to experience joy is to also experience sadness.

      Then I don’t think you have experienced true love or joy yet…..

      1. “It depends how you define ‘emotionless’ – my experience was that when one goes beyond experiencing negative emotions, a state of true joy arises spontaneously from within.”

        Is joy not an emotion? You should probably say “live without NEGATIVE emotions” instead of “without emotions”.

        Then you would need to define what you consider negative, which is subjective. Perhaps it would be better to say “without anger and sadness”. That sounds like what you’re saying.

        But is it not natural, for example, to feel anger if a loved one is mistreated or sadness if they die?

        Can one truly appreciate positive emotions if they never experience negative ones? Can happiness even exist without sadness?

  2. I am currently in a state of fighting with who i am. Emotionaly driven. And my daughter is 3 and i have only know that i was taught to figure out my own emotion now she shows me she is getting angry causing sleep and expression problems…not sure how to teach us both that we are ok feels lonely and in human

    1. hi Valerie, thanks for your comment. You sound like you are going through a very difficult time.

      The way I help people is through one-on-one coaching and teleseminars, some of which are free.

      I recommend you check out the following events: EQ – Cracking the human intelligence code – free teleseminar

      If you want more practical, hands-on techniques then I will soon be making the following past teleseminar event available to purchase:

      I wish you well on your journey to finding happiness. It is possible, do not give up!

      Cheers Kim

  3. Emotions are essential to a humaine life,what is important though is they not be reacted opon,still it is essential to feel emotions,”they are the stuff of life”.All emotions are based on love and acceptance,the denials of which cause negative emotions,but weather emotions are expressed or not depends on our rationel.It is healthy to feel emotions so that we may know oru feelings as human beings,and being rational enables us to ratinalize emotions,its’ not that we do not have emotions,we do as people,yet we rationalize weather those emotions are valid en congruent with reality or just simply delusional feelings of hurt.The reason why we ignore emotions is because they cause pain.But like the football coach says;”no brain no pain”.

  4. I think you are remiss in using the word ’emotions’ so liberally. The term ’emotions’ encompasses much more than just fear, anger, anxiety, shame, pain and all of the other negative feelings that we all try to avoid. To be utterly devoid of emotions would also remove your ability to feel love, joy, surprise, awe, warmth, etc. The goal is to not live in perpetual states of these negative emotions, not to eliminate them altogether. Our emotions serve functions. For instance, feeling anger may indicate that a boundary of yours has been violated and needs to be re-established and feeling lonely lets you know that it’s time to participate in social activity again. Over time, you can learn the art of not taking things personally to eliminate the time and energy spent on these draining emotions (for instance, you may come to understand that while a person may have violated a boundary, it was not their intention to do so, allowing you to relax your ‘fight’ reflexes, talk it over with them and perhaps readjust either the boundary or the friendship). We also need access to the full range of our emotions to continue practicing empathy which is so, so important in maintaining healthy relationships. So while I know the goal of most eastern philosophies to bring yourself to a state of calm, peaceful serenity- to be human is to not exist here 100% of the time. A tragedy will strike and you will feel sadness, a miracle will occur and you will feel joy. To emote is human, to allow emotions to control your every decision is unhealthy.

  5. Hi kim.
    I am meditating every day in the last fourteen years. I also did some years the mantak chia techniques. I normaly do “close” meditation (with attention in the body/emotions, or breath…) or open awareness meditation.
    The strong emotions continue to appear… In the way i am developing a state of observer that is more and more aware of feelings what its not easy… If i continue this the emotions will calm down?
    And when you talk about your experiente of few emotions you talk in the past, is it not your experiente in the present? Thank you

    1. From my perspective it’s all about learning how to clear emotions with whatever techniques you learn to do that. I suggest you seek the help of people to help you with that if you are not making progress. We all need teachers. Good luck!

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