One interpretation: The core wound manifested as a physical trauma, because that was what it took to compel him to work on it… physical pain. The true wound was a broken heart. Healing one heals the other, and vice versa.
A client had lost her voice. It is a familiar wound. I recognized it immediately as she spoke through clenched teeth, and her throat was a mass of energetic congestion. Likely a thyroid issue, too, I thought. As we talked closer and closer to the core of the wound, the issue of her father inevitably arose. Often, the masculine does play a role in the loss of voice. Because the masculine that many of us live into now is an epic distortion of an ancient, empowered archetype.
After I witnessed her whole body clench and vibrate (the signs of trauma releasing from the tissues), her face went through every season. It darkened, it clenched, it lightened, there were tears, gasps, a smirk. In the aftermath, the familiar peace descended. The loop had been resolved.
As she opened her eyes, they were shades lighter. She was gazing out into the backyard, blinking and rubbing her eyes.
What is it, I asked? What do you notice?
The leaves on that maple are extraordinarily red, she whispered. I thought I was hallucinating. They almost seem too red. I think I just wasn’t seeing them before.
As an intellectual practice, forgiveness is a slippery concept.
The mouth lies constantly. The mind convinces itself of outrageous fictions. It doesn't matter how scandalous or absurd the story is when mind is the judge, jury, and executioner. It's a rigged game.
The body never lies. A skilled practitioner can see and touch issues that the client isn’t even aware of, and guide them into that awareness. It’s like holding up a mirror to the vast, ineffable ‘self.’
Our goal isn’t to merely reconnect the leg. Reconnecting the leg awakens the pelvis and all of the digestive and sexual organs. Our goal is awakening; enhancing aliveness. Our goal is expanding intimacy, and deepening love.
Later that night, she goes home and makes love to her partner in an embodied way, for the first time in her life. As she relays it to me, her eyes are ablaze. She hadn’t known what was possible before. Now she’s opened a whole new frontier… the waning art of rising to the touch with a fullness, and touching in the same way.
In a world full of vacant stares, empty promises, and detached bodies, the final frontier isn’t the bottom of the ocean or the depths of space… it’s the body, and the consciousness trickling or surging through us all in this and every moment.
You know, most people don’t actually want to heal. They are enamored of their wounds, hold them tenderly and gaze down at them lovingly.
It can be a startling but liberating realization. Because allowing someone to cradle their wounds, for as long as they choose to, is loving unconditionally. It doesn’t mean you have to associate with them, necessarily, when they launch into a familiar song. It just means, we can now look at them knowing that their wound has become like their child. We can’t separate them from a bond that strong until the time is right. As of now, they wouldn’t even know how to conceive of life without it. It’s like a magical totem. It offers protection from falling in love, and all of the perils that might accompany that, or it offers a reason to stay in a relationship, without needing to brave the unknown. It becomes evidence that supports a fear based worldview. It’s a shapeshifter, this wound… it becomes anything it needs to be.
Like the entire body intelligence, the spine is brilliantly engineered. The perfect balance between mobility and protection; flexibility and durability. With the elegance of form that rivals anything we've seen.
The spine is modeled in a graceful natural curve. No one vertebrae touches another. They are buffered by fluid mediums. We float and are fluid in our bodies, and our bones float with us. Even the bones are said to be 31% water (though I don’t trust those sorts of numbers, generally).
Sometimes, an unnatural twist occurs in the spine. A minor twist, or one so extreme that a diagnosis is required. Scoliosis, for instance. This twist can occur as organs and viscera tighten due to congestion and/or deterioration from a corrosive diet, acidic thought patterns, or it can occur in reaction to a mental pattern. I worked with a client once who viewed her sexual fantasies as ‘twisted’, and this manifested as a physical twist. The body is, after all, an embodiment of our beliefs. As I straightened her torso physically, tears flowed. She just couldn't believe that the way I had positioned her was straight. She'd felt 'twisted. I showed her the mirror, and more tears flowed, wetting her cheeks and shoulders.
As I was working on a client’s shoulder, by simply rotating it slowly, he kept noticing an inner voice chiding him. You’re worthless, it was saying. Pathetic. I saw it in his face so clearly that I could almost hear the voice.
I narrowed in on the motion, and it seemed something like a throwing motion, the arm over the head, arcing down. Is that familiar? I asked. It seems to me like throwing something. As I said that, he saw a vague image that slowly came into focus… it was the laces of a football, lamely wobbling through the air. This shoulder pain had plagued him since high school.
And then it came to him; the origin story of the condition. Time stopped.
It’s common for people to underestimate their traumas. Some even shy away from using the word trauma. I simply use it to mean ‘something that the body is still holding on to.’ It could have come from something as extreme as years of ritual physical abuse, or something as seemingly innocuous a harsh word from a trusted parent. It doesn’t really matter how it compares to the lives of others. All that matters is that we discover and honor our own experience; acknowledge where we’re stuck so we can move forward as gracefully as possible.
This requires feeling the emotions fully. This sounds simple… it isn’t for most.
Disease burrows in the unknown places. It’s a fiction that relies on other fictions; a fragmentation that requires seeing only pieces, at the expense of the whole.
The ‘cure’ for this fiction is always to flood the darkness with light, and to fill the unknown with presence.
Where you are most ‘absent,’ that is where a disease is most likely to take root. (Most people are most ‘absent’ in their lower half, and particularly in the pelvic / gut region, the seat of most disease).
I love the ‘diseases’ that arise out of metaphors, because they are fascinating to unwind.
A client was lying down on her back, as I held her feet and had her tune into the pain in her neck. (Holding the feet signifies support for most). The pain flared up, just to the brink of being unbearable, and I encouraged her to breathe and stay with it. Tears poured out as she realized that the source of ‘the pain in her neck’ was her partner. She left him, and those symptoms… feeling ‘unexpressed’, and thyroid imbalances, as well as the physical pain and stiffness… were finally free to heal. They’d plagued her for a decade.
Viewing yourself as a ‘flake’, in other words, as never sticking to your commitments, can manifest as literal flaking skin. When no balms, salves, or medications support, seek deeper. (Suggested Read: Your Body Believes Every Word you Say).
Foot pain is often tied up in a metaphor. For instance, I have trouble standing on my own two feet. Or, I have trouble supporting myself. Or I’m tired of standing on my own. Each of these will manifest as a different symptom, for instance, a collapsed arch, or a bone spur, or a bunion, or fascia pain.
There are no ‘accidents’. When you break a bone, or incur a trauma, where and when that break occurred is a clue; the body consciousness is directing attention to that area or the issue that that area represents
Often, being unable to ‘let go’ of the past, manifests as a shoulder injury. Or reaching around to grab something and injuring oneself has to do with vainly trying to finish something that is unresolved.
The eyes go blurry when something in life is difficult to see. Seeing it fully, objectively, often resolves the vision issue.
The body is a masterpiece, when viewed from the perspective of the ever expanding dance of consciousness. It does not malfunction on a whim. It is not a machine, as the systems in place would have you believe.
Symptoms are signs. Honoring them, listening to them, truly hearing them often resolves them completely. Sometimes, they are the gentle, persistent requests for a life course change. When we ignore them, they become louder and louder.
What are yours, and are you listening?
Love and flow,
On the healing journey, be careful about the language you use about your ailment, because that is a clue about how the mind is functioning.
‘My back is killing me.’ Your back is not killing you. It has been supporting you for a lifetime. It is sending out signals so you change your life path. If you don’t listen, it will send out stronger signals, like small waves before the tidal wave. Let it know that you’re listening. Find out what it needs.
Can a bone ‘need’? Bones are consciousness. As alive as any other part of you. The plastic skeleton we grow up learning from is not anywhere near reality. Since ancient times, bones have been infused with divine meanings, and many of these have been corroborated by more radical osteopaths.
I had a client who, during our conversations, kept hiding her feet. Especially when we broached difficult topics. As I questioned her, she eventually confessed.
‘I hate my feet. They are so masculine. They remind me of my father’s.’
So she never wore sandals, and took great lengths to hide her feet. So, hiding her feet was a way to hide from me, and the world. Hating her feet was a way to hate her father.
Most of our relationships suffer because of our tethers to the past. I wrote in my Flow Training Manual about Lucy. She was bound up in her shoulder, physically. As we gave a gentle pull, while taking the time to connect her to the emotion, we realized that, on some level, she was still ‘holding her father’s hand while she crossed the street.’ This was long ago, as a toddler, and the body had not let go.
Her father had passed away years before, and she was unable to mourn.
As I pulled on her shoulder, the floodgates opened. Tears for her father poured out, and her shoulder released physically.
Our skulls literally expand and contract at the sutures. This opening and closing happens approximately 10 times per minute. The motion only covers fraction of a millimeter, but we can learn to hone in on it and use it for our own unfolding. It can be a powerful tool for cultivating presence, and its beauty lies in its simplicity.
Tuning into this rhythm on ourselves, the rhythm of life, is the most profound sorcery, however it’s easier at first to feel it on another. The cranial tide swims through the entire physiology, but it’s perhaps most accessible at the skull. If presence is the origin of wisdom, the cranial tide, along with the breath, is the pathway to presence.
Many of our most profound life lessons show up as intimate partners. Our lovers are called into our lives as teachers and sages. They dredge up our deepest fears and unleash our darkest shadows. They set us free by first binding us to our limitations.
This paradigm shift can be very empowering. By keeping our eyes peeled for lessons we can become avid pupils of life; students of the soul. Suddenly, that which was meaningless begins to make sense. Suddenly, a purpose unfolds, and we notice that it was there all along.
First, stand where you are.
This is easier said than done. Somatically, there are pieces of us scattered in the past. We sit in quiet meditation, and a steady refrain begins to play softly under our awareness. Something about our mother or about our origins. Residual pain from an old injury flares up, and tugs our knee back into the fifth grade. If we breathed just a little deeper, we'd notice that fragment of the heart we broke twenty years ago, that hasn't quite been mended.
People come to me with a business challenge, or a creative blockage, or a chronic relationship pattern. I watch their language, mannerisms, and posture as they tell their story, and within a few minutes, the origin of the challenge reveals itself. The right knee is clenching. What an interesting choice of words. They could have chosen any word, and they chose 'battle' to explain their condition. A wave of emotion fluttered through the room when they mentioned their partner, and they swallowed it. I saw exactly where it went. Did they notice that?
Belief systems limit perception. If it sounds radical, it is. Most of us spend our lives searching for meaning and excavating material to build our belief systems with. It's like we're gather whatever seems to fit into our paradigm, and building a nest... to comfortably decay in.
Trauma is a call to awakening. As soon as it is transformed from an obstacle into a catalyst, the healing becomes inevitable. Because nothing can stop the gathering momentum.
I often say that a human being is a constellation of stories. Some of these stories we adopt passively; some we adopt consciously. There is no authentic story; so there is no authentic way of being, other than experiencing the moment fully, and acting out of that experience.
I distinguish between the personality and the essence, the terminology of Gurdjieff. The personality is what we present to the world; it is concerned with image fitting in. The essence is the part of ourselves that surfaces during peak or awakening experiences. It experiences being directly.