This is very helpful to me. Sometimes I felt like when I said “I have Lyme” that I was identifying myself with the illness. That is not what I wish to do. Your perspective of separating your body from the behavior of the illness is great. It helps me to have that perspective in order to be kinder to my body. It’s doing the best that it can given the situation. It’s the illness that I am battling against, not my body. Thanks for reminding me about the Healing Trauma CD. Yes, my body is my oldest friend.
#mybodymyfriend #bekindertomybody #healingtrauma
Very recently, I have come to a fresh perspective about what acceptance means to me. There is a phrase in Belleruth Naparstek’s Healing Trauma CD, Affirmations: “[More and more, I understand that]…my body is my friend, my oldest ally, and my steadiest companion.” I have been listening to the Healing Trauma affirmations on and off for two years now. When I first I heard the affirmation about my body being my friend and ally, I thought “No! My body has actually betrayed me.” However, I would say the affirmation to myself anyway.
Are you familiar with the theory of cognitive dissonance? As humans we prefer internal consistency, and when we perform an action that is contradictory to our beliefs, ideas, or values we experience a lack of consistency, or dissonance. This makes us psychologically uncomfortable and we are motivated to try to reduce this discomfort. While I repeated the affirmation that my body was my steadiest companion, what I experienced was cognitive dissonance; over time my psyche began to resolve the conflict between the affirmation and my belief. The affirmation eventually became true for me. Thinking about my body and my illnesses is a little different now.
When my son was young I remember learning the concept of separating the child from the behavior. In other words, when the child had performed some negative behavior you were to remember that the child was not the behavior – it was perfectly normal to love the child and hate the behavior. You could say to your child, “I love you, but I don’t like your behavior”, so the child wouldn’t think that your anger with their actions meant that you didn’t love them anymore.
Using this concept I have re-framed the way I see my body now: I accept my body but I don’t like its behavior (the chronic illnesses). I don’t confuse my illnesses with my body, they are two separate things. This allows me to see that my body is genetically predisposed to having certain issues (such as a faulty central nervous system or digestive system) which is not its fault, and it has no way for it (or me) to reverse. If I were born with a hole in my heart or only one arm, I would not try to live as though these conditions didn’t exist; I would (have to) accept them. I would most likely not appreciate the symptoms and complications they would cause and wouldn’t necessarily accept those things, but I would accept my body’s limitations.
For me at least, this is the crux of acceptance. As it is much easier for me to love my child than to love his negative behavior, it is much easier for me to accept my body with its certain built-in flaws than to accept the symptoms and illnesses caused by those flaws. I manage my illness; I accept my body and its limitations. My body is my friend, my oldest ally, and my steadiest companion, and together we will see each other through to the end.
#acceptance #personalgrowth #affirmations #cognitivedissonance #healingtrauma #mybodyismyfriend #journeyofselfgrowth
I have sought counseling with therapists at different stages of my life, and they have used many different modalities. But I started having some breakthroughs on my own a couple of years ago. I had chronic pain in my neck but I hadn’t been able to connect it to anything. At the same time I was using meditation, prayer, visualization, and setting my intention to bring resolution to some of the emotional issues that had plagued me for most of my life.
As I was driving to work from a doctor appointment, memories of forgotten trauma came flooding back to me. I was on the freeway, becoming blinded by tears. After a bit I took an exit that led to the ocean (lucky me, I lived in California then). I had a pen and a legal pad in the car and I wrote and wrote and wrote about all of the memories, thoughts, feelings, and visuals that were enveloping me. I was having a kind of detached vision of the past. When I finished I drove back to work and slipped into the rhythm of the office as if nothing had happened.
When I got home I sat in the dark in stunned silence for hours. I knew I had uncovered the cause of much of my physical symptoms, distress, and pain. My occipital neuropathy – my “pain in the neck” – was directly related to this trauma. I involuntarily tensed my muscles (“armoring”), and held my breath constantly because of this trauma. I began employing many techniques to rid myself of the tension and emotional pain that I had stuffed deep down inside, including guided imagery and affirmations from a CD for healing trauma.
To make a long story short I turned a corner that day. Just knowing the origin of the muscle tension and spasms, and being able to face and evaluate the cause allowed me to be more objective about it. That was when I was finally able to separate myself from it, and eventually eliminate the pain in the areas of my body that I identified with it. This for me was a transformation.
I wasn’t familiar with the term “emotional decoupling” – thank you to Rachel for introducing it to me in her post from last Thursday – but that is exactly what happened for me, and I believe it has been a key component of my healing process. For me this was a critical area of personal growth that I got to through body listening.
#transformation #trauma #emotionaldecoupling #breakthrough
Gail, thank you for bringing up the paid access to the article. I found another version freely available on Google Scholar.
I’m glad you mentioned that fear and trauma can lead to pain. I’ve learned this as well, although it wasn’t my personal experience. I have had to tell both health care practitioners AND my therapist several times that I haven’t had any particular trauma or emotional difficulty prior to my pain (what a strange way to have to advocate for myself!), which definitely tells me that it’s common and well-accepted that our emotional state can bring on pain just as much as pain can bring stress to our emotional state. #fearpaincycle
Rachel, the article sounds interesting but unfortunately I am no longer working for the medical school so I don’t have access, and there is a charge of $31.50 to read it. Unless there is another way…
You mentioned fear being caused by pain, but there is also the possibility that pain is caused by fear (and the stress that comes with it). So does pain cause fear, or does fear cause pain? Who knows, maybe it’s a chicken-and-egg dilemma. But if the pain is caused or held in the body by fears or past trauma, working on those issues with a therapist or even on one’s own (through various methods such as journaling, the Gaga dancing mentioned in the Movement topic, or the intuitive art exercises in the Expressive Art topic) can help illuminate the cause, reduce, and even eliminate the pain.
I have experienced a lot of my growth through journaling in one form or another. Although I don’t think it is usually associated with mindfulness, as with anything it depends upon how one approaches the practice. With mindful intention on just the thought-to-hand process in the moment, it can be a powerful emotional coping mechanism. There is often a sense of relief and release after committing thoughts to paper. It provides evidence of my process, and can be reviewed later to see just how much I have progressed. And there is a record of it for posterity. 😉
#fearandpain #journaling #release
Has anyone tried the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)? I learned about EFT in 2001, but it was only a couple of years ago that I tried the energy meridian tapping with spoken affirmations.
I wish I could say with empirical authority what the results were but unfortunately I was using other methods at the same time in an attempt to remove pain and deal with past trauma. (Trying everything at once to speed up the process – who wants to hurt any longer than they have to?)
So even though I experienced some emotional breakthroughs during that period, I can’t say for certain that they were due to my tapping. Also I don’t know if it had any effect on my pain.
Here is Dr. Mercola’s website which has information on EFT: http://eft.mercola.com/. It has a video about it. It’s 11:29 and pretty comprehensive.
#emotionalfreedomtechnique #eft #illtryanything
I don’t remember where I read/heard it, but sometimes an excess of body weight is a protection. You mentioned unrecognized trauma, and even if you don’t remember what it is (I’m not speaking of “you” specifically, here maud, but of people in general), the body remembers. It can be seen as a layer of physical protection. I don’t know/remember if I had a trauma, but I got a lot of unwanted sexual attention from much older males when I was just entering puberty, and I think my unconscious response was to transform my body so as not to attract that male gaze. I gained weight, and it has fluctuated in the 30 years since then, but I know a lot more now about how to deal with harassment and unwanted attention. Not exactly a trauma but certainly a negative experience that impacted how I live in my body.
I have always been overweight, even in childhood pictures, and I want to know what that is about, now. My guess is it could be a food sensitivity, or it’s unaddressed, unrecognized trauma.
I have also always had odd pains from scoliosis that went unaddressed until my 30s. What I live with now is a hip that gets sore just before a chiropractor visit is scheduled, now every 6 weeks, and mid back pain that tells me I have been craning my neck somehow: counter work, trying to use a cell phone or table to read for too long, especially from standing. This called T4 syndrome.
I recently was in an accident, and my need to go to my chiropractor much more often isn’t surprising. Part of it is of course the stress of trying to do things under trying conditions.
my eyes don’t team correctly, due to a stressed out eye muscle and misaligned cranial plates, and a tension headache exactly around my left eye is a real siren for me to cool it, as is transient double vision that tells me I need to stop reading, or even trying to focus, and go for a walk.
i’m trying to sensitize myself more, especially to food. Thinking of journaling on what I eat, start taking my pulse, the original metric, after eating suspect foods. I spent decades of my life s a accepting that late afternoon crash, and thinking granola bars in the glove compartment was prudent, then finally had a naturopath set me straight on protein for breakfast & protein vs carbohydrate rich snacks. Nuts are a good choice for me.
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