What does this mean? Emotional release through body work.
The idea of emotions stored in the body is not new. Alice Miller (1923-2010), a psychologist who was a child survivor of Nazi Germany, was one of the first to bring this to light. She wrote several books on the subject, but her ideas were put to rest until recently. Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) also understood that women’s “hysteria” resulted from sexual abuse, but he waylaid this path and went the way of alter egos and parent-hate as the cause of our problems. His thinking has been the basis for therapists for the last one-hundred years. It is time to put his practices to rest.
Talk therapy only stirs up the memories and does nothing to alleviate them. Cognitive behavior therapy is a popular therapy today, which means you reframe your memories for a better outcome. “Think yourself well.” This works for controlling a behavior or developing a new habit, but the crux of the problem is still there. The only way to relieve the symptoms of trauma is to process the trauma. Because memories entail thinking, we tend to focus on relieving the memory in the mind and forget about our bodies.
Little do we realize that our pain is a result of traumatic memories.
As an example, when you have an accident with major injuries, there is more damage than the injuries that you can see. A broken bone is easy to fix. You see the break, you fix it. A broken heart or broken brain cannot be seen, and they are usually ignored during treatment. Since they are ignored, the heart and the brain continue to remember the impact of the accident. Memories come in the form of flashbacks and latent fear. A fear we are not aware of. Memories and fear reside in our bodies in the form of pain, and chronic pain is usually the result of an unprocessed injury.
Even though we do not consciously remember the event, our bodies never forget. The root cause of fear and pain is at a deep subconscious level, so deep it is miserable to consciously bring up the event that causes the pain.
And this is where emotional release through bodywork comes in. Massage therapists will tell you people experience a powerful release of their emotions when a certain part of their body is massaged.
We think these emotions are well-controlled and deeply hidden, but in reality, they are sitting just under the surface waiting to boil up. And boil they do. Anxiety, anger, more stress.
The purpose of bodywork is to consciously release these emotions.
There is a component of mindfulness to this process, but gratitude and acceptance also play a part. Instead of ruminating with a therapist, talking about all the past wrongs, the body becomes the therapist. Your body knows the pain better than anyone.
In a nutshell, this is how emotional release works: Rather than corral the mind into how we want it to go, the goal is to bring those thoughts to the surface and acknowledge them. Through a series of exercises that target certain parts of the body, and with breathing and visualization, the pain will miraculously disappear.
Is it a miracle? Not really. We are so concerned about restoring our brains through therapy, and making our bodies strong and flexible through exercise, we have missed an integral component of it all.
Our brains, bodies, and minds are all connected. What a concept.