Do you have aches and pains that never seems to go away? The chances are they are a by product of hidden emotions trapped in your body.
In fact, emotions trapped in the body significantly increase the likelihood of physical injuries such as joint degeneration, muscle aches and can even lead to orthopedic surgery.
Watch the video here or, if you prefer the written word, read the article below.
This Is Not Physical Therapy
I’d like to take a moment to contrast my approach with traditional bodywork and physical therapy.
Bodywork and physical therapy are all about using a physical process to work on physical symptoms.
If there are aches and pains, physical therapists will will go straight to manipulative therapy, massaging out the muscles and working on occlusions in the ligaments—a process that can be quite painful.
However, this approach misses the root cause of many physical injuries and most chronic pain.
By contrast, my approach is to uncover the underlying emotional core of the pain—what is it that’s fueling and sustaining it. My clients and I journey to the nucleus of their underlying emotional pain to acknowledge and release it, which ultimately allows the body’s natural healing process to resolve any attendant injury.
The Crucial Limitation of Traditional Pain Therapy
I’d like to illustrate with a personal case history. Recently, I used my own healing process of body-centered emotional exploration to relieve a pain and tightness around my right shoulder. The pain extended around and inside my collarbone and into my chest bone and neck. It had been getting worse and worse over the course of a couple of months and had gotten so bad that the pain sometimes kept me up at night.
I’ll get into a detailed description of what I did to promote my own healing in a minute. Let me share first how physical therapists and bodyworkers would likely go about addressing the symptoms I’ve described. From the outset, their attention would be fixated on the nature of the pain and its physical symptoms. From their first assessment they would note that the pain seemed to emanate from the bursa, a small fluid-filled sac that reduces friction in the joint. That finding would imply an injury to the bursa.
They would also note tightness and tenderness in the muscle area and in the connective tissue between the collarbone and the muscles above my first rib. As pressing that area caused discomfort and sent a shooting pain down into the shoulder blade in the back, they would assume a further injury.
Their diagnosis would be that my shoulder pain had been caused by a sprain. Their therapy would likely be to release occlusions—any places where the connective tissue is stuck—and to slowly massage out any muscle tension.
There’s an important difference between this purely physical approach and my own. Bodyworkers and physical therapists neglect the underlying emotional cause of the physical pain and so it’s much harder to produce genuine healing. Because my approach takes the emotional cause into account, it often engenders deeper and more lasting healing.
The Role Of Emotions In Pain Therapy
Here’s how I went about exploring and releasing my shoulder pain.
As I explained in How Emotions Get Trapped in the Body, emotional issues often create constrictions in the body, predisposing the affected sites to injury. So the first step in my healing process was to explore what emotions in my recent experience might have led to a tightening of my shoulder.
As I brought my attention internally, three recent life experiences came to mind. The first was a period of intense work and travel over the previous month. It included extreme hot and cold weather in Canada and Mexico and the anxiety associated with some high-stakes business meetings.
Another recent experience that produced negative emotions was a ten-day stay in Serbia. Although I found Belgrade interesting, the people seemed to be tense and a little scary. The emotional impact of their recent civil war and genocide lingers in the collective emotional tone and, as a natural empath, I breathed in a sense of that horror, which impacted my emotions and my body.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I had recently been taken aback by feedback I got from a community of fellow bloggers. I had shared a review of what I had accomplished over the first year of working on this blog and expected everyone to tell me what a great job I had been doing. Instead, they gave me tough feedback on blind spots and things I was doing wrong. The feedback was certainly valuable but it was very difficult emotionally to accept such challenging feedback about something I had labored on for thousands of hours and poured my heart and soul into.
As this third event came to mind, I realized it was right after receiving the feedback that the pain around my right shoulder started.
From a point of view of my own approach to healing, which appreciates the importance of negative emotional influence, the physical pain now made sense.
The shoulders are important in how we relate to other people. We use our shoulders in reaching out to embrace other people and also in pushing others away. Our shoulders reflect how open or closed we are to connection or relationship with other people.
In my own reaction to the painful feedback from fellow bloggers, the tightening of my shoulder embodied the sentiment, “No, I don’t like this feedback. I need to close off and protect myself!”
How I Healed Myself
Continuing with my healing process, I brought my attention more fully into my tightened shoulder. I did this without any presupposition of what I would discover, but soon noticed that, while this area of the muscles was beginning to relax, I was also experiencing pain and discomfort in the muscles and connective tissue around my ribs.
As I focused my attention deeper in, I sensed a spike in physical pain. There was a specific spot that held an emotional charge that felt like nausea; an unpleasant feeling that went down through my lower lung and into my ribs. Yet, almost immediately, simply by accepting that feeling, I experienced a wave of release in the bottom of my lungs that seemed to open them up.
At that point, I let my body explore the lung and ribs on its own, without conscious direction.
The lungs are a primary place in the body for storing unresolved sadness and loss.
Apparently, my attempt to protect myself from painful feedback by tightening my neck and shoulder had created a compression all the way down into the lower lung. As I connected to and released the emotions, a deep breath helped to release the tightness in my ribs and some of my shoulder muscles.
I continued to explore for about another twenty minutes, feeling into each pain as it came into my awareness and feeling beneath the pain to find and release the underlying emotional junk that had been trapped there.
After a while, my subconscious intuitively gave me the signal that I had done all that I needed for the day, and I brought myself back to normal, waking awareness.
Once I had released the negative emotions that had been trapped and hidden underneath the physical pain, my body no longer needed to hold itself in the tight protected posture. It could start its own, natural healing process.
That was two weeks ago. As I write this article today, my shoulder has healed without me needing to pay conscious attention to it again.
Your Body Can Heal Itself – If You Let It
An important feature of this emotion-based approach is that you don’t need to do all the physical healing at once. After the negative emotions have been released, the affected muscles and ligaments will start relaxing, since they will no longer need to protect you from unwelcome feelings. Once they no longer need to constrict or protect themselves, your natural healing processes take over.
Hope for the Future
Although the release of hurtful emotions is central to my approach to healing, the emotions released are often not the product of a cataclysmic event or severe trauma. They are far more likely to result, as in my own case, from the failure to deal with a succession of ordinary issues and personal setbacks. In time these small emotional wounds build up into layer upon layer of unresolved pain which can lead to chronic or cataclysmic physical injury.
For me, this buildup took place only over only a month or two. For many people, however, the buildup persists over a lifetime and greatly increases the likelihood of major physical injury and degeneration. When I see some old people walking on the street, their backs crumpled over their walking sticks, I often imagine the lifetime of unresolved emotions that have twisted their bodies up into painful physical knots.
Once you appreciate the importance of releasing emotional wounds that build up over time and develop the habit of releasing emotions as they come up, you can look forward to retaining the vitality of freedom of movement and freedom of emotional expression deep into old age.