Where do you feel anxiety and depression? In your mind? This may sound like an odd question, but the truth is our body holds all our experiences and feelings. Our body is our messenger. It informs how we are doing. There are many studies citing the mind/body connection for healing, especially for those who have experienced a trauma (Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, Dr. Peter Levine and Dr. Aimie Apigian, to name a few). In a trauma experience, a person can experience their body as not doing what they wanted it to do. For instance, if you were being hit as a child, you may reflect and wonder why you didn’t run away? The important message is that your body did exactly it needed to do at the time to keep you safe. You are alive! Life is your proof that your body protected you in the moment.
Often in a traumatizing event, our bodies go into a shut down, disassociation or anxiety (flight, fight, or freeze.). Over time, you may feel stuck in a certain response that is triggering for you and is no longer serving the purpose to keep you safe. This is a signal that tuning into your body, rather than recounting the story or the memory of what happened to you, needs attention. When you take the time to be gentle and work through the trigger, it begins to lessen its hold. The goal of breath work and awareness of your body’s sensations is to tune in with how you are responding to your environment, and to shift the intensity away from a trigger reaction.
Tune into the present experience, stay in the present moment (by touch and breath work), notice what has changed, and then reflect on what is different.
Tips on how to stay connected to YOU:
- Scan your body for how it feels right now. If you are sensing agitation, locate that place in your body. Gently place you hand on that part of your body. Breath slowly, and focus on your exhale to lessen the agitation.
- If this body part could speak, what would it say? Then give yourself what you need, for example a butterfly hug, gentle massage, or focused breathing to that area.
- Lying down, imagine a healing light at the top of your head. Then, with intentional breath work, send the healing light to the parts of your body that need it.
- Progressive body relaxation (search for examples on YouTube).
- Using both hands, tap just below your collar bone.
- VOO breathing (Dr. Peter Levine).