Anchen Texter lives on a tree-filled hillside just outside of Eugene, Oregon with her husband and daughter. She was part of the very first licensing cohort of DEI. When she’s not working, you’ll find her with her family or pursuing some of her many hobbies, including knitting, gardening, and rock climbing.
Q&A with Anchen Texter
What brought you to this work?
It was my first career in massage and bodywork that brought me to learning to work with my emotions, and then teaching others about how to do the same. When I was in massage school, we did something called “student clinic,” where we gave massages to the public for a very low fee so that we could practice on real people. In one session, I gave a massage to a past professor and felt waves of anger rolling off of her. I thought she was angry at me! It really confused me, and woke me up to the power of emotions. If this seemingly normal person was carrying so much anger that it seeped out when she relaxed, then what was I taking on from clients, and what was I carrying around myself?
It took a few more incidents like this for me to realize that I needed help with understanding these emotions and what they wanted. In my past, my method for dealing with emotions had been to numb myself, to “tough it out,” and to “be strong,” which meant ignoring and repressing my emotions and doing what I thought I should.
Luckily, I found Karla’s book The Language of Emotions when it came out in 2010, and it gave names and messages to each of the emotions – a revelation! I studied the book off and on for four years while I continued my work as a massage therapist, slowly learning to set boundaries, to not take on my clients’ emotions, and to name my own emotions. Slowly, oh-so-slowly, I began to peel back the layers of ideas and contracts I had about emotions and what it meant to have them. This work was a revelation, and I decided to see if I could work with Karla in person.
How did you finally get to work with Karla?
In 2014 I attended an Emotion Theater workshop in Berkeley, where I saw Karla gently lead the room through the different emotions that could come up in a scenario involving parents, favoritism, and new cars. It was fascinating to see how she welcomed emotions, saw them as friends, and moved through them (or they moved through her) as easily as walking through a curtain.
While I didn’t understand how she was doing what she did, I knew I wanted Karla’s ease with emotions and that I needed more than a book to guide me. I spent a week at Kripalu with Karla in January of 2015, and I got together with other students at the retreat to fervently request that Karla create a teaching program. Karla created the Dynamic Emotional Integration® licensing program at Empathy Academy in 2015, and I’ve been taking classes and teaching there ever since.
What do you do for fun? What are your hobbies?
Knitting in the winters and gardening the rest of the year engages my creative mind and practical side at the same time – gardening produces food, gives me exercise, and gets me outside, while knitting makes beautiful things and gives me a reason to buy more yarn in a rainbow of colors. Sometimes I’ll create my own patterns, or modify someone else’s, to make a shawl or sweater that’s completely unique. Both my hobbies are deeply satisfying, but I’m also constantly making mistakes and learning from them.
Oh, and I used to compete in indoor sport climbing when I was a teenager. I even traveled to Europe a few times to compete! Climbing was my world for a while, but because of unrealistic contracts around being tough and a health issue, I had to let it go. Now, almost 20 years later, I’m trying it out again by taking my family to the local crag. It’s been interesting to listen to my emotions that come up around rock climbing.
Oh, I bet there would be a lot of emotions that come up while rock climbing. Can you say more?
Yes, I have a lot of emotions around rock climbing because I did it for such a long time at a formative age where I was gathering ideas and beliefs about how I should be in the world, from the people around me. I was highly impressionable. And those ideas and beliefs told me that I should be tough, shouldn’t show fear, that I should act confidently and courageously, that I should move smoothly and gracefully on the wall, and that I shouldn’t ask for help or admit when I didn’t know something. As I climbed a very beginner wall last spring, I still heard those “shoulds” whirling around me even as I knew I was there just to have fun with my family and share a source of joy. It was a physical reminder of the emotions I’d felt as a teenager, as a result of those outdated “shoulds”. It felt like the past me and present me were having a reconciliation right there on the wall, and I was thankful I had practices like grounding and burning contracts and that I could name my emotions and notice old contracts. I knew I was no longer that person, but when I physically began climbing, the motions brought back the past.
What type of consultation clients do you work with?
My clients are usually in some kind of transition when I begin to work with them, either an external transition, such as a spouse passing, a job loss, or moving, or an internal transition, such as beginning to set boundaries, wanting more clarity around who they are and what they want, or healing from trauma. Often outer transitions lead into inner changes and vice versa, so another way of putting it is that I work with clients who are in the midst of a change, and who want support in changing gracefully so that they can eventually navigate changes on their own.
What are some of the highlights of the work you’ve done with DEI?
The projects I’m most proud of are the Befriending series of courses that I’ve created over the last 5 years at Empathy Academy. It started with Befriending Anger, a course designed to help people approach their anger as a friend and source of support, and it’s expanded to Befriending Sadness, Befriending Shame, and the newest course, Befriending Fear. It seems to me that it’s about time for Befriending Happiness to appear! Creating the Befriending courses led me to create a more intimate course, called the Channeling Emotions Intensive. Students focus on working with one emotion over the course of a week, such as shame, happiness, or anger. Working so intensely with an emotion allows students to get to know it, and their patterns or contracts around it, in a deeper way than before.
Tell me more about your home; the pictures look beautiful!
We have a large garden and chickens, and we watch the wild turkeys from our windows. We’re working on making it more of a less-work more-produce garden, with lots of perennial greens and fruit trees. It’s a work in progress though, with lots of, shall we say, “educational moments.” Eventually, I plan to offer workshops combining nature and emotions, starting with nature walks through the oak savanna woodland, and gatherings under the gazebo.
What are your most recent projects?
My most recent project is the newest season of my YouTube channel, Let’s Talk About Emotions, where I’m talking with other DEI Licensees about different aspects of shame; what defines shame and how it shows up in our bodies, shame and contentment, self-acceptance, and trust, to name a few topics. It’s a totally fascinating topic, and getting to hear other DEI licensees’ takes on it is illuminating for me.
My other experiment lately is a Tiktok channel where I’m just playing around with talking about emotions and nature, and using nature to illustrate different aspects of how emotions work. I really had to work through outdated contracts at first to even admit that I wanted to play with this medium, and now it’s a source of inspiration and an outlet for trying out ideas for working with emotions.
How has DEI most impacted your own life?
The Empathic Mindfulness practices, especially getting grounded, defining my boundary, and burning contracts, are practices I use daily, and they help me to be more present with my emotions and the information they contain. My husband told me the other day that he’s impressed with my ability to “be a better person,” but what I’m really trying to do is to live in alignment with my sense of integrity and values. It feels really good to uphold my values and listen to my conscience, and being immersed in teaching and learning about emotions has helped me to be more welcoming of my own emotions, and to gain an understanding of the wide variety of experiences that people can have with emotions. It’s through working with my students that I also gain their perspectives and experiences with emotions, which in turn widens my own lens.
Where do you see yourself in regard to this work in the future?
Teaching people that their emotions are their friends and supporters has endless possibilities, and I plan to create a year-long Emotion Apprenticeship for people who really want to get to know their emotions individually, learn to welcome them, identify and update contracts, and work consciously with the Empathic Mindfulness practices and messages in their emotions. Eventually, I’ll hold in-person workshops and retreats, either at my home in Eugene, Oregon, or elsewhere around the country. We’ll work with specific emotions or concepts over the course of a day or a weekend, so that students can do the sometimes frightening work of delving into their emotions in a supportive and rejuvenating environment. I see this work integrating with other complimentary modalities, such as massage, a movement practice such as chi gong or ecstatic dance, shamanic practices, and being in nature. Emotions are an evolving and exciting field that invite exploration and change.
What else would you like people to know?
Working with your emotions is an ever-spiraling internal process of self-discovery, and it never ends. Once you start this journey, it’s a lifetime education, and it only takes knowing a few concepts and skills to get you started. I’m constantly amazed by the information my emotions have for me, the contracts I’m still uncovering, and at how my behaviors change as I update and burn old contracts and make room for who I am today.
Anchen Texter is a dual-licensed Dynamic Emotional Integration® Trainer and Consultant. She lives in Eugene, Oregon, and teaches online courses at Empathy Academy, as well as shorter, intensive online courses available at EmotionAlliance.com. She is a licensed massage therapist, a trained shamanic healer, and a certified life coach. Her education in each of these areas of body, mind, and spirit inform her approach to working with the emotions as part of the whole. Anchen’s expertise in DEI includes boundaries and anger, preventing empathic burnout, and emotion regulation practices.
Visit Anchen’s website: Emotion Alliance.