Befriending your body

Take a moment to ponder this statement.

Everything that has ever happened to you in life, even before your birth, has had a physical component to it.

Now, close your eyes and settle into your seat, your body, your breath. Begin to review your day. Allow your awareness to expand back over the events of your day. Picture your day, noticing what you feel and sense in your body while remembering it. Linger as you notice feelings, thoughts and notice sensations in your body. Notice the relationship between thoughts, feelings, body-sensations and particular events. Isn’t memory amazing?

Memory is tied to our bodies, senses, emotions and thoughts. Recalling a memory can affect our bodies, increasing our heartrate, tensing our muscles, causing a wave of nausea or butterflies in the gut. Both positive and negative memories illicit physiological responses. But it is human nature to avoid difficult and painful experiences. We learn to “get on with life”, repressing negative experiences and doing the best we can to move forward. In doing so, we eventually cut off mind from body and this can become habitual. But the truth is that emotional and psychological experiences stick with us and can even make us physically sick, on a cellular level. Habitually “getting on with life” is a form of dissociation, cutting us off from the conscious felt sense of our bodies and living mainly in our minds.

A clinical study by Van Der Kolk of the Trauma Centre concluded that survivors of childhood trauma were predisposed to more difficulties with long-term relationships in society and that unresolved trauma victims were more likely to develop lifestyle diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, liver disease and skeletal fractures.

What does befriend the body look like in the context of trauma stuck and stored in the cellular tissues of our bodies? How can we repattern the dissociative relationship between our minds and bodies? How does one begin to re-connect with her body when it feels all of the uncomfortableness of the past pain or trauma?

This is the real challenge of bringing your body into the therapeutic process of healing trauma and moving forward in life. I’m aware of how real and scary this can be. The very first step in re-connecting with your body is to know that you are not alone. Just as your Therapist is with you in the process, as a Yoga Therapist, I am present with you. I’m here to support, listen and create a safe place for you to begin.

A body is a vehicle for life, both our entrance and exit; you enter the world with in it and you leave in it. As your friendship with your body grows, so will your friendship with life.

How do you begin the process of be-friending your body? In Phoenix Rising method, it begins with compassion, empathetic listening, simple breathing and presence. The therapeutic yoga mat is a place that you can land and not have to sensor what you say, feel or experience. It is safe for you to show up for yourself and to yourself as you can today. There is nothing you have to fix, shift, change or manufacture. Whether fear, pain, resistance or love, ease, or acceptance is present, you have the opportunity to acknowledge it and be with it. The truth is you are valuable just as you are and worth paying attention to. The process of befriending the body is a process of growing awareness of now – the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual parts of yourself that are showing up now. Healing begins with learning how to listen to yourself as you would listen to a friend, with compassion, kindness and empathy.

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