Body Awareness as a Gateway to Healing Trauma
Your Most Sacred Relationship
There is one relationship in your life that is the most important. It is the relationship you have with yourself. Yourself,in the context of this book, is your spontaneous and embodied being; an integrated and interconnected self, in which you are more than the sum of your parts.
When this relationship to your inherentbeing has been disrupted or obscured due to trauma, all other relationships are compromised. Without a healthy and vibrant relationship with yourself, you will experience myriads of symptoms such as depression, shame, anxiety, headaches, lack of self-worth, lack of a sense of safety, intrusive thoughts, loss of connection with others—there are many more.
What is interesting, is that you might not know that your naturally loving relationship to yourself has been interrupted in some manner, or ultimately that you are love, while to others, it may be obvious. No one would purposely break this sacred relationship, yet it can happen when you experience trauma, which disconnects and blocks you from the spontaneous expression of your joyous self.
Trauma, at its core, creates disconnection—a lack of capacity to be fully present with your own being and with others, while distorting your view of the world. If you’ve experienced trauma, you may suffer from many emotional, mental, and physically painful feelings that cause you to isolate, withdraw or compromise yourself in other ways. With trauma, there is always some form of fear, either conscious or unconscious. Fear always separates us from love, the love that you are, and the love that is possible to reciprocate with others. The disconnection from your being, love and others can be terribly painful. You may feel acutely alone, misunderstood, not seen or heard, lacking self-worth, or lacking self-esteem, or overly prideful which creates further separation. You may feel that the world is a cold place or blame others for your responses. You may be self-critical, feel disembodied spiritually, be excessively judgmental, and experience outbursts of anger, and hidden rage. All these symptoms of unresolved trauma and more, will be addressed throughout the workbook as you gently and safely reconnect to your most authentic being.
When there has been trauma, life force is distorted, repressed, or disconnected. It creates rigidity and feelings of being stuck. Healing trauma that embraces body awareness reweaves that life force back within you, bringing you back into a state of harmony and connection. For instance, when emotions go unexpressed because they are too overwhelming, you may automatically repress or disconnect from them. Even though you don’t feel these emotions they are still affecting you. You are also using your life force to hold the emotions down below your conscious awareness. It’s an exhausting process, and most of us do it unconsciously. Rather than that energy flowing freely through you, being part of your creative expression and feelings of aliveness, it remains stagnant, creating tension in your body and agitation in your mind.
Emotional stress and unintegrated emotions are a major contributor o physical illness and disease. With this workbook, you’ll learn techniques for releasing stagnant energy and integrating emotions through body/mind awareness, so that you can connect to your authentic expression, live with more vitality and enhance your wellbeing. You may restore the natural life force flow within you and realize its distinct relationship to spirituality and a deeper intuitive way of knowing.
As you explore your emotions through deeper body awareness, it’s important to review developmental trauma in infancy and early childhood, to see if the root cause of your present symptoms emerge from that time of your life. You don’t have to revisit trauma but having a deeper understanding of developmental trauma can inform your process to help you see what essential needs may have been missing. Remember, trauma doesn’t only arise from an external traumatic event, but emerges within us when necessary elements were missing—nurturance, holding, attunement, calm loving presence, safety, etc.
The pain of not having your needs met as a child is incredibly distressing and creates numerous negative beliefs about yourself, others and the world. You will have created several adaptations or strategies to survive these painful times, which are likely still haunting your life today. Fortunately, through our exploration together, and the exercises, you will find insight into the necessary elements of life-giving force that were missing, to find ways to implement these into your life now, creating new neuronal pathways, feelings of love, safety and connection.
As you come to know and practice the exercises throughout the book, you will find an intimacy and connection with your body and sense of spirituality that you may not have known before. You will learn to freely express yourself with a clear, strong voice with robust boundaries, to live in the personal rhythm of your heart’s deepest desire. In this sense, starting with your body as a gateway, you will be cultivating your capacity for deep presence and awareness.
Your Subtle Energetic Body
I was fifteen when the practice of meditation made its entrance into my life, bringing with it silent gifts, and lending a guiding hand. It was through the practice of Aikido, of which my father was a teacher and 5thdan Master, that I directly experienced a sense of spirituality, the importance of inhabiting the physical body, and sense of a subtle body. I remember the quiet meditation of our sitting before practice, and how easily this resonated with me. I experienced my own being—a quiet spacious presence and aliveness—and an interconnectedness of others and the world and beyond.
In both Aikido and meditation, by tuning into the sensations of the body, I could feel what in traditional martial arts is referred to as “life energy.” Throughout the book I will refer to this as life force. Life force is believed to be a principle forming part of anything living. You will find similar concepts in many cultures such as pranain Indian cultures, pneumain ancient Greece, and vital forcein Western philosophy. This life force is part of the “subtle energies” referred to in Eastern philosophy. The intricacies and maps of the subtle energies, body and physiology, vary from tradition to tradition; yet they hold a similar view that this invisible subtle body, which includes channels, points, and chakras, in which subtle life force energy flows (such as you may be familiar with in acupuncture) are understood to determine the characteristics and wellbeing of the visible physical body. You will be working with these principles in some of the exercises you learn in this book because it is rather difficult to maintain the intimate awareness of life force and its relationship to the connection of body, mind and beyond when you have unresolved trauma.
The nature of being human is that you can change yourself for the better. The exercises throughout this book can enliven your whole body with life force and creativity, invigorate or calm you, and bring you into the present moment. You can cultivate a greater sense of spiritual presence, the natural presence of the Divine, that according to many spiritual traditions is that which is always already here. So, there is no other place to go, but to be here with all your vitality and capacity to be. However, when there is trauma, there is work that needs to be done to open to this state of being, or to allow its natural grace.