A lot of the work I do as a therapist is asking people to connect with their emotions. Like taking a small child’s hand if you are in a busy, scary or unknown place, putting that wee child’s hand in yours gives them a sense of security and safety.
Is your body a safe place to be? A client presented with anger this week and when I asked them to sit with where they felt it in their body they said it went from a raging fire to a smouldering one and felt the calming effect of their hand . This only took 20-30 seconds. Other clients have felt the burden and weight of stress in their chest and by literally putting their hands on the area for 20-30 seconds and breathing it reduces the weight and burden of that stress.
It’s like a feedback loop- you are acknowledging your body’s pain and that can be enough to create a visceral change in your emotional state.
Other clients don’t feel anything in their bodies and that’s ok too- there’s no judgement or expectation. I have just finished reading (finally!) Molecules of Emotion by Candace Pert and that validated a lot of the work I do in the therapy room ( which can also be a virtual one - our brains are so powerful when I asked a client to imagine me hugging them it created the same physiological response as if I had actually held them in that moment in the room.)
Here are some of the quotes that really resonated with me from the book- “the emotions are a key element in self-care because they allow us to enter into the bodymind's conversation. By getting in touch with our emotions, both by listening to them and by directing them through the psychosomatic network, we gain access to the healing wisdom that is everyone's natural biological right.”
“For most of us, the very words healthy lifestyle conjure up images of low-fat meals, daily exercise regimens, and the elimination of alcohol, tobacco, and recreational drugs……network--what's missing for most of us is any focus on ongoing, daily, emotional self-care. We tend to deal with the physical aspects of keeping ourselves healthy and ignore the emotional dimension our thoughts and feelings, even our spirits, our souls. Yet, in light of the new knowledge about emotions and the psychosomatic network, it's obvious that they, too, are a part of our responsibility to manage our own health.”
"....if our emotions are blocked due to denial, repression, or trauma, then blood will become chronically constricted, depriving the frontal cortex, as well as other organs, of vital nourishment. This can leave you foggy and less alert, limited in your awareness and thus your ability to intervene into the conversation of your bodymind, to make decisions that change physiology or behaviour. As a result, you may become stuck- unable to respond freshly to the world around you, repeating old patterns of being and feelings that are responding to an outdated knowledge base.|"
By learning to bring your awareness to past experiences and conditioning memories stored in the very receptors of your cells you can release yourself from these blocks, this “stuckness."
The next time your therapist asks you to connect with your body consider that “we do store some memory in the brain, but by far, the deeper, older messages are stored in the body and must be accessed through the body. Your body is your subconscious mind, and you can't heal it by talk alone."
Maybe we need to stop referring to mental health as if it were something seperate to the body and just call it health?! 🤷🏽