Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Body memory

For the last three months or so, I’ve had a small sore spot in the middle of my back near my right shoulder blade. I really notice the soreness when I extend my right arm which I do a lot of when I’m doing bodywork. It’s not an intense soreness but a definite awareness of pain. I’ve discussed it with my chiropractor who continually says that the muscles are holding it too tightly for him to get any type of adjustment to happen. I’ve told all of the guys that I go to for massage about it and they have tried to get the muscles to let go but it hasn’t happened. Nothing I do seems to get the muscle to release that inner soreness. I’ve just grown used to it being there and have learned to deal with it.

About three weeks ago I went to a BodyTalk session with my Level I/II BodyTalk instructor, Suryo. (Details on BodyTalk are on my site.) In that session, my “body” (Innate body wisdom) told her that it had to do with shame and something that happened to me at age 4. When she said that, an old memory immediately popped into my head. As a child I always had a lot of stuffed animals and loved them very much. Like most children at that age I thought of them as my friends. One day I decided that I needed to teach them about my body and how to pee. (Even at that age I was a teacher!) I took them all into the bathroom with me, took off all my clothes and began the class.

At some point my mom heard me talking to them and came into the bathroom to scold me for what I was doing. She scolded me and handled the situation poorly and left me feeling ashamed for what I was doing. I don’t remember a lot from my childhood but I do remember this event. (Parents please be careful about projecting your negative beliefs onto your children this way. I know it wasn’t my mom’s intention but it was the outcome.) Suryo finished the BodyTalk session and told me that my body was processing this and it would take a couple of weeks before I really noticed any difference.

Two weeks ago, I was having an email dialogue with one of my clients (I’ll call him Chad) in preparation for his upcoming appointment. He had recalled a high school experience where he had gotten an erection in the gym locker room and one of the other guys started teasing him about it and drawing attention to him. Chad told me that he felt a lot of resentment towards his tormentor because of it and was still holding a grudge at some level. He was also feeling resentment towards his current neighbors because they had built their house too close to his and that had led to having territorial disputes to the point of involving lawyers. He also felt he was holding a grudge towards them as well.

Chad is a very kind man but grew up learning to suppress his anger as a way of keeping the peace. This is something that we had been working on in his previous visits helping him to express this anger and release the resentment, or as he called it the “grudge”. It was a very powerful session for both of us in a lot of ways. Because of the intensity of the session I knew there was something seeking healing within me as well but I couldn’t quite tell what it was yet.

Last week I went back to see one of my massage guys, Tod. On the way there I was trying to figure out when this soreness in my back started and I recalled injuring it while I was in Yoga teacher training back in 2000. During a “laughing meditation” that we were doing, I recalled a painful childhood experience and I began crying almost uncontrollably from the memory. After the meditation experience was over, the instructor asked if I would like to share what happened for me. As I told the story, I was sitting on the ground cross legged and slightly hunched over…crying.

On the first day of third grade, my parents chose to make it a special day for me (or perhaps I simply interpreted it as special because it seemed focused around me). That morning they took me into our small town for a nice family breakfast. The year was 1972. Despite the changing hair styles of the time, my father still insisted that I have a crew-cut and so breakfast was followed with a trip to the barber shop. I remember leaving there feeling like I was looking good and feeling special because of all the attention I was getting from my parents. By the time we arrived at school the bell had just rung for class to begin. I distinctly remember walking down the empty hall with my huge book satchel and feeling like I was on top of the world. It was one of the few days in my childhood that I really felt special and important because of all the positive attention I had gotten from both of my parents.

The teacher wasn’t in the room yet and so the kids were hanging out and socializing. I was the last one to enter the room so everyone noticed me because they were all expecting the teacher to arrive. By third grade in a small town everyone already knew everyone and the cliques were clearly formed. As a nerdy, petite, poor kid not only was I not in the cool-kid jock-type clique but I was one of their targets. Since it was 1972, kids were starting to wear longer hair and “hipper” clothes. Needless to say, the “jocks” lit into me laughing at my clothes and my hair. As kids will be, they were incredibly cruel and immediately reduced me to tears. I remember going to a desk, putting my giant book satchel on the desk and laying my head down behind it and crying. Fortunately the girls in the class were my friends and they came to my rescue and provided comfort for me until the teacher arrived. I spent the next 9 years despising and avoiding the jocks and was a constant target for their taunting and teasing.

As I recalled this long forgotten memory during the mediation debriefing I was crying so hard and so hunched over that I threw a muscle out in my shoulder. It was in the exact same spot as the pain I had been feeling these past few months. The good thing that came out of the injury was that two women at the class were Reiki practitioners and they came to my aide to try and relieve the pain and so it was my first introduction to Reiki. Based upon the positive impact Reiki has had on my life, I’m glad it happened.

The thing is that at that time I simply recalled the memory, went into emotional trauma and never really processed the emotional component because I was so focused on the physical pain. Our bodies hold what is known as “body memory”. These memories are in the muscles, tissues, organs, cells and chakras (info on chakras is on my website). The healing component behind bodywork and energy work is the releasing of these old emotional memories. In my work pleasure leads to relaxation, relaxation leads to physical and emotional release, release opens the gateway for healing. It is the mechanics behind the Tantric principle “Deep pleasure leads to deep healing.”

In sharing this story with Tod and holding my awareness on the sore spot, I was reduced to uncontrollable tears again. The pain came from recalling how special I had felt before and the shame I felt after their ridicule of me. Fortunately he allowed me the space for the emotional release and then helped me work though the resentment to reach a place of forgiveness for the pain they had caused me.

The real issue however was the shame I was holding on to that was beneath the resentment. When their taunting began, the first feeling that came up in me was shame. I did not like the way that made me feel. Our human response is to blame external sources for our feelings and so I resented them for the way they made me feel. Mirroring that was the resentment I felt towards my mom for making me feel shame towards my nakedness and around peeing.

Once I was able to recognize that the resentment was just my response to the shame that I felt, not only was I able to release the resentment but the shame as well. By turning to forgiveness for these boys and then for myself for holding on to it all these years and combining that with the bodywork to open the place where my muscles had stored that memory, the pain in my back was fully released. That was over a week ago and I still have no pain plus as a result of it my chiropractor was able to adjust my spine more easily the next day.

Just like the client I mentioned in the “Coincidences” posting, Chad’s session was a strong mirror for me. Reflection brought that mirror to light you might say. By expressing the anger I had towards the jocks and the hurt and shame I took on as a result of their actions, I was able to release it all. I was then able to return to the joy and love that I felt before the incident. As a self-aware adult now I know that “resentment” was a choice that I made in that moment based upon the knowledge and coping skills that I had at the time. In this moment I chose to fully love myself and not base my opinion of myself on what others think, say or do.

I know that beneath the “shame” was the love that I’ve always held in my heart. By choosing to love myself because I can and focusing on the amount of love there everything else can be released. Love is all there really is and all we really need. By choosing to love the self and knowing that the self is just a small, individualized spark of the Divine, I am choosing to align myself with the loving, creative energy of the Universe, the Infinite, or as some call it, God.

That’s what it has to come down to for all of us, love of self. That has to come first and foremost. If you can’t feel love and compassion for yourself, how can you ever feel it for others? Every spiritual tradition teaches us that we are children of the Creator (whatever the tradition labels that as) so loving the self is also loving the Divine. Believing that and living a life of love based upon that knowledge is what will help us to evolve and grow from the children of God into the Gods that we already are. The only thing which separates us from that awareness is our thoughts, beliefs and fears. Ultimately it’s all either Love or Fear. The Fear is the fear of loving.

Our beliefs are products of the mind. The mind controls the body so our emotional triggers (those things which challenge our beliefs) get stored in the body. The body tries to express these emotions as aches, pains, mysterious ailments, excess weight, depression or other similar issues. It is how our bodies draw our attention to these issues if we listen. Our fears ALWAYS point the way to an issue that seeks to heal. Can you love yourself enough to release all the fears and judgments and simply live fully and completely in unconditional Love?

1 comment:

  1. I can just see you in my mind's eye teaching your stuffed animals how to pee--what a sweet, poignant picture of the innocence of youth!! Had my mother caught me doing something like that, she probably would have said something like, "that's wonderful that you're teaching your animal friends how to pee." And she would have given me a great big hug, as well. It is so sad that your mother reacted the way she did. Even when my mother caught me showing my little cock to a neighbor girl in our basement ("you show me yours, I'll show you mine") when I was probably about six or so, my mother made no big deal of it. She said something like, "now you know what a vagina looks like."

    There was a fair amount of nudity in our home growing up. My parents were very comfortable with their bodies and wanted us to feel the same about ours. With three boys and three girls, there weren't a lot of secrets about our bodies.
    I was picked on by the school ground bullies when I was in grade school, as I was very short for my age--then. When I got to junior high, I put on a tremendous growth spurt, reaching my eventual 6 feet, 1/2 inch height. I went from being one of the shortest to one of the tallest, and no one picked on me after I became a six footer. I, too, was scorned by the jocks. I was the bookish type who got good grades and was reviled as "the brain" (oh how I hated that!). Later, I did become a "jock" in my teen years. That's when I began playing organized ice hockey, a sport I grew to love and still do love. I got a relatively late start at that sport, but worked extremely hard to make up for lost time. I did so so successfully that I became a recognized "all star" despite my late introduction to that game. One thing I never did, though, when I became a "jock," was to belittle those who were not particularly athletically inclined and were not perceived to be "jocks." You are so right that kids can be so cruel to one another. We carry some of those childhood hurts with us the rest of our lives!