31 May June: Release and Renew
You have probably heard at one time or another that emotion can become stored in our bodies. Long after our minds have moved on from a traumatic event feelings of sadness, trauma or anger can well up seemingly from no where and have us questioning why? There have been extensive studies about how stress can affect us, but it’s one thing to understand something conceptually and another to understand it as truth, through our lived experience.
Years ago when I was a young dancer, I had my first experience observing this remarkable mind body connection. I was in a training program in Vancouver, with about 20 other young women, we studied ballet and modern/ contemporary dance mostly, and one day we had a workshop with a Rolfing therapist, (a technique of deep tissue manipulation aimed at the release and realignment of the body, and the reduction of muscular and psychic tension.)
He asked for a volunteer and a woman named Sarah offered to climb up onto to the massage table for a treatment. We gathered around as the therapist began to release the tension in her body. Sarah was not an overly emotive person, one would even say she was quite a closed, private person, so it was a big surprise to us all that when he got to her legs she burst out into uncontrollable sobs. Being a skilled practitioner, he righty recognized this outburst as a somatic release of trauma, and held the space for her to have her experience as fully as she was able. We knew she had recently recovered from an unnerving injury where a plane of glass had fell through her Achilles tendon and severed it in half—yet at the time of this treatment she was fully mobile. Unless you knew about her injury you wouldn’t be able to tell she was affected by it. Obviously her body remembered. As her sobs gradually subsided her face was more relaxed then I had even seen, it was as if she had shed a hard outer layer, revealing a new softness underneath, like fresh grass after as storm.
The wild thing was, Sarah didn’t feel anything out of the ordinary when the Rolfer was working on the leg that had the trauma, the leg that had to work incredibly hard to heal it self over months and years, the leg that had been in physical pain for so long no— the somatic release happened when he began to work on her supporting leg. The side that she didn’t have to think about, the leg that had to grow stronger to support her weight and do the work of two legs. The leg that had literally been holding her up so that the injured leg could heal. This was where her body held the emotion. I found that to be incredible as it was not what what I or the other dancers assumed would happen.
This taught me a couple things, 1) healing is not linear, meaning, just because you can no longer see the trauma physically, does not mean that it’s not there and 2) we are capable of healing and growth beyond what the mind can or wants to understand.
I mention this story because it leads into how I am reading the energy of these times.
Collectively we have been living through a pandemic that shut down the world. It is our metaphorical plane of glass.
Through it all, we have been adapting, learning, growing , grieving and healing. In the next months and years as we continue to recover it may seem as if nothing happened at all, as memories fade into the background and new experiences emerge. There may be a great push to just get back to business as usual.
However, we all process things differently. Some of us may need to walk before we run, move slowly in respect to the HUGE shift we have all been a part of. It may feel like coming up for a breath of air after been submerged under water for a long time.
Our body knows exactly how to process tension, it knows how to communicate with you when something is off, it knows how to let go. So be kind to yourself as we go through yet another monumental change and remember that, just because you can’t SEE what your BODY is holding from the experience, does not mean it is not there!
Having a somatic release could be the sweetest self care you can offer yourself this month. Get in your body and trust that any feelings that arise are like messages tucked into your cells asking to be read and that all storms feed the new grass.
May we move forward together, hearts, minds and bodies.