Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Secret Truths Your Body Holds

Do you know when you've stepped into something that doesn't feel right? Maybe someone is taking advantage of you and you get a weird feeling in your gut. You feel like you 'should' want to spend time with them, but when you try to make plans something more visceral stops you, as if your body knows something your mind doesn't.

The truth is, I think it does.

Our bodies carry memories, truths and feelings we've long since wished we could forget about, and they call us to resolve them, to move more fully into our lives.

A client I'm working with now, for example, would love to believe he's 'done' with an old love, a relationship that ended five years ago. But he keeps noticing that something is holding him back from forming new relationships. He's always comparing current potential partners to that relationship from way back when.

When I ask him if his body is carrying any reminders of that love, he's able to isolate a whole area in his heart and moving back to his shoulder where he actually feels heartache. When we move more fully into the sensation, it's clear that even if my client would love to believe he's done enough work to let the old relationship go, his body knows otherwise. There's something more there to be understood.

So we begin the unpacking: if your body could speak to you from this sensation, what would it want you to know? What is it feeling? As we begin to explore, we realize that what's coming up for him through the disappointment of this relationship is old: a familiar feeling from childhood of being let down again and again by his mother. His body has been holding this feeling in order to give him the opportunity to work through primitive patterns around being let down, learning to love himself even when others can't or won't give him what he wants or needs. Though it seems attached to one more recent story, his body is holding a whole pathway of healing for him, down to his deepest core.

Another client, an older woman in her 60's, tells me her parents survived some intense torture in Communist Russia but that no one has ever talked about it. She wonders why she's having regular panic attacks as she nears the age that her parents were before they escaped. Together we see where in the body the sensations are living that create the panic: what is her breathing like when she's sitting still? What does her anxiety feel like in her body before it gets big and overwhelming? Behind the panic attacks, in the pushing through of sensation in her body, is my client's scared self, the child who had lots of questions that never got answered. She begins to voice those fears and we find ways to help her feel safe inside, even in an unsafe, unpredictable world.

Your body's messages may surprise you. It may look as though you've put something behind you, but your body may still be carrying pieces of it, pieces that make themselves known when you are still, or when something else triggers that place inside of you. Sometimes we even carry unfinished stories from our families that need to be completed somehow, through us. It's as if the body knows what your soul work is and reflects it back to you in sensations, tightnesses or symptoms until you find it. Even illness can have its messages to convey.

Today, scan your body for any places that feel uncomfortable or tight and ask yourself if there's a story living there that you've put away. Even if it doesn't make sense to your mind, try going into the sensations and see what they're doing there, what they want you to know. First explore the physical sensations: what am I feeling? Where? What is the quality of the sensation? Then see if there's a feeling attached to it: sadness, anger, shock. Finally, ask yourself: if that feeling could speak a message to you, what would it say?

We learn very early on how to move with our bodies in the world. As babies they are our first contact with our own sensations, the vehicle through which we discover life. As we get older, we begin to privilege our mind and all the stories it tells us. But still on a basic level, the body is the final and most basic frontier of how we take in and process our lives.

What story does your body tell you that you might need to revisit? Can you make time to explore what's unspoken, the truth that your body won't let you forget?

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