The Threat of Healing

Healing is something we are all destined to do. Whether it’s recovering from an acute, unexpected injury, rehabbing a long term pain or unraveling trauma within ourselves or generation.  

Healing is talked about constantly- but what we don’t often hear about is the risks associated with healing, the challenges.

When it comes to healing, especially in the case of longer held pains or traumas, we first need to become aware of the root cause(s) behind the present issue. Back pain is rarely ever just back pain, just as emotional trauma is rarely just related to one event. Pain itself, emotional or physical, is always deeply rooted in a message from our nervous system. The nervous system effectively is like a giant antenna- sensing into our environments and always questioning and confirming our safety. The nervous system also is rooted in patterns. It likes to know what to expect and how to keep us safe- which means it develops unconscious patterning to operate emotionally and physically in the world based on what was imprinted or learned in our childhoods (usually from birth to the age of seven). This is why many physical issues in health are blamed on genetics, but new evidence is emerging to support arguments against genetics being to blame for health problems.. rather suggesting that we learn patterning from those who raise us and therefore that patterning itself is what leads us into the same health as our elders. There is also much support now for the field of epigenetics- which is showing us how unresolved traumas from generations passed are embedded in us and surfacing to be resolved in our lifetimes.

Our emotions and subconscious beliefs deeply effect how we present ourselves in our physical bodies. When we think of our conscious being and unconscious/subconscious parts – most of us immediately picture stuff going on in our heads. The fascinating thing is that it’s often the opposite. Many of us are unconscious to the patterns, emotions, memories, and traumas we hold in tissues and patterns below our jawline. Your tendency towards anxiety may be as a result of an unspoken event that happened to your great grandmother, causing a deep rooted emotional pattern to emerge through bloodlines. Have the same knee osteoarthritis your dad has? Likely stems from growing up and learning to walk by watching him first- mirroring his movement patterns and setting the baseline for biomechanical issues related to joint degeneration down the road.

My work with clients is to help them work through the layers of what’s actually causing their issue, which inherently opens the door for other previously unconscious patterns to emerge. Herein lies the first risk (I prefer the word challenge) of healing. Asking the question why is this happening, instead of putting a quick fix modality to take the pain away, implies that we are willing to hear the answers.

The bigger risk (challenge)? Rewriting the story.

Healing presents a threat to our existing patterning- and this will initially signal chaos in our nervous system. You see, even though we’ve likely become very uncomfortable and sick (literally sometimes) of our existing patterning.. leading us to seek guidance in the first place.. that patterning is where our nervous system has learned to survive. It’s been deemed “normal” at some point, and the compensations that have come with that normal have been keeping up alive and well from our hardware’s perspective.

Our system will fight to maintain this “safe zone” as status quo. If you’ve ever tried to break an addiction, you know this fight is real. If you’ve experienced chronic pain, you will have also experienced this. This often get worse before they get better, because we for all intensive purposes have to reparent and coach our nervous system, our subconscious, into a new reality.. a new story-line.

The tough part surrounding true healing and evolution lies in building a conscious awareness towards recognizing a old pattern, experiencing the discomfort associated with stepping away from it, and then stepping onwards anyway- into a zone of uncertainty at first. A willingness to write our new story, our new version of survival is paramount.

One of my driving passions in my career has been around convincing people that their diagnosis, their pain, their injuries are not something they are chained to. We all have the capacity to recover and write new patterns- but it means stepping away from comfort zones. In many ways the optimistic view on injury, pain, and trauma is that it is a chance to evolve, to renew and to rewrite. Our nervous systems will give us that chance, over and over, until resolution is reached. This is largely the reason that long term medication, temporary pain relief, does not work.

Unfortunately the system we work within is often not in our (or the patient’s) favor. It’s rushed, based on economy over the people it’s supposed to serve, and overworked purely due to the need in today’s society for healing. Most of us have been raised in environments that neglected to teach us how to hear ourselves amidst the noise of the world we exist in. The wounds of our past generations were never given the chance to heal and those scars have been passed down to us, with new context for the modern age. Only now we are beginning to understand from a Western science perspective how interconnected our inner workings are, and how interconnected we all are.

Healing and reworking ourselves and our environments is tough work. It is available to everyone who is willing, and the path is unchartered- waiting for your discovery.

 

Originally posted on my new practice’s website and blog.. check it out at http://www.evokebodymind.ca

Living at Ease


We live in a culture rife with dis-ease. I think it’s safe to say many of us exist day to day without even considering “ease” as a part of life.

I found myself surrounded this evening by people seemingly living in ease-ful states. After a hike down to the river brought a lovely sunset while sitting on a rock by the river bank, I was surrounded by others enjoying a peaceful Sunday evening. As I drove back to my Airbnb, I was struck (not literally) by couples strolling down the sidewalks, dog walkers ambling along, and kids playing.

A few of the kids playing brought up a memory of what it was like to be a kid- with no notion of schedules or places to be, other than the exact moment one is in.

When do we lose that presence? The ability to simply be, without the pressing urgency of feeling like we should be somewhere, doing something, and we are so very late.

I should preface that these realizations and epiphanies came after a week of profound learning and personal work during a Facilitator training for Integrated Breathwork. This deep training that I am over a year into involves psychosomatic techniques and body centered psycho-therapies that allow one to tap into roots and core experiences that have formed the habits we abide by. I’ve also been blessed with doing this training in one of my favourite places in the world, with the opportunity to escape into the mountains to process each evening- taking some much needed and deserved time to reconnect with myself, away from the distractions of everyday life.

Many of my personal sessions brought themes around boundaries (or lack there of- with a questionable reasoning as to why they were not to be trusted, but nonetheless valid roots related to deep and historic experiencing), my relationships to support (or aversion of- again, logically questionable mechanisms that originated largely to how I felt about boundaries at a core level, and in the end a deep reconnection to a part of myself I haven’t felt in a long time (my connection to my left feminine energy/receptive nature and how worthy she is of a voice and an opinion in collaboration with my right dominant, expressive masculine energy half) – with the realization that I am ready for things to be easy, and that I deserve to live in ease.

I preface with that not to discredit the relativity to all our lives in what I am writing about; rather to highlight the point that realizing the accessibility of ease in our daily lives.

As we experience life we pick up many defense mechanisms that served to protect us from the perceptions around experiences that create what we know as trauma. The layers of these defenses run deep and form the patterning of our lives. They also, more often than not, have a timeframe in which they go from being useful protection mechanisms to long held patterns that bring “dis-ease” into our lives.

Dis-ease can be many things. Often in manifests as pain (emotional or physical), chronic health conditions, sleep disorders, anxiety, depression, ptsd, etc. The stress that pursues trauma in our systems eats away at us even through hardening layers of defense. Depending on the circumstance, imagining an easeful life may seem next to impossible.

It’s a vicious cycle all of us are likely to experience on some level throughout life, if not over and over again in various ways.

In the world we live in, trauma, anxiety, mindfulness, collective support, disease and epidemic are catchwords. It’s not new knowledge that our society is dealing with a lot at the moment, with things not likely to change anytime soon. Yet- from my experience working with individuals and groups on tapping into the wisdom each of us holds inside these bodies we so often forget we exist within, the more we can do to listen and support ourselves- the better the collective experience will become.

Perhaps it starts with a recognition that ease is not so far off as we assume it to be.

If there is one thing I’ve had imprinted on me it’s that no condition or experience is permanent, and alongside that.. no pain point or stress response is unworthy of being given a voice. There is hope for us all as soon as we become curious about what our bodies have to tell us, and what life might look like if we gave ourselves even the smallest chance to heal what once caused pain and scarring.

Where does this start? How do we even begin looking objectively at pains that have created identifying ways of being?

I believe it starts with the inkling that the answers we’ve been given aren’t the end all be all. That there is more, and that maybe if we are aware of just one small crack in the reality we’ve been told is the only option- we can squeeze into a rabbit hole that offers us something more (sometimes requiring we source the bravery to step into said rabbit hole, and persist even when the darkness seems all encompassing..). I can speak to the fact that there is always another obvious step to take, after that first step. I can’t tell you it’s comfortable, or even logical, all the time- yet I can say that the body knows and guides with grace once we open the door and loosen our expectations.

Wherever you are on your journey towards re-discovering ease, thank you.

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Why You Can’t Escape Your Pain

We all know the value of communication. We’re taught it on some level from the day we’re old enough to consciously communicate verbally all the way through school and in early job positions. Some of us excel at different forms of communication (verbal, written, creative expression, whatever)- and some of us struggle to effectively communicate for various reasons.. but in the end, still appreciate when communication is effective and open.
Quality communication creates a pathway forwards in any situation, and I think all of us can say that we’ve been in situations where either the communication tactics saved the day, or the lack there of made what should have been a simply solved problem into a Everest sized issue.
In our exterior world.. all this is common sense. So why do we continuously shut down and condemn the communications we all receive, moment to moment, within our own physical bodies?
Pain has gotten a bad rap somewhere along the lines. At one point we stopped respecting the message it had for us, and began muting it in desperation. Was this because the collective pain (emotional, physical, etc) became so overwhelming that we developed all these quick methods to “take it away”?
Pain, at it’s core, is a reaction to a perceived threat. It will have personal biases related to emotional/mental stress, as well as physical stress unique to each individual. Pain perception is almost impossible to measure from person to person, and tolerance will be equally as unique.
We’ve been taught to fear and dread pain as a society. Which, when you put pain under the frame of communication seems counterintuitive to the good practices a mature individual aims to adhere to in modern day operations.
As an experiment.. imagine a common pain for you as another human being, sitting across a table from you. This other person, who is an integral part of your operational team in life, called a meeting with you. Fairly calmly they begin to relay to you an important message (lets say from your lower spine). They calmly state that the amount that you’ve been sitting, combined with the increasing amount of caffeine you’ve been intaking are causing increased immobility combined with heightened nervous system stimulus in a vulnerable area. They are speaking in an inside voice, with a even tempered demeanor.
You respond by pretending they aren’t there.
They begin increasing the urgency in their voice, just as anyone would having recognized that you obviously aren’t hearing their message.
You, again, respond by shushing them and then resume playing ignorant to their presence.
This causes them to have to begin yelling, maybe using exaggerated gestures, in an attempt to get your attention.
This increase in intensity on their part elicits a more dramatic response from you.. you now put ear plugs in and attempt to change tables. Eventually maybe you attempt to remove them from the equation, putting duct tape over their mouth in an attempt to hush them and having some goons remove them from your vicinity.
Now.. this might seem like a dramatic way to handle a interaction.. however, I think we can all relate to at least once or twice where we put the ear plugs in regarding our pain (via the use of medications, pushing through, the endless search of quick fix/relief vs understanding).
As a therapist I routinely meet people who are so completely disconnected from their bodies that pain (or any discomfort for the matter) is something to be avoided at all costs. Yet, at the same time – they have an attachment to their suffering so strong it has become a part of their identity.
This stems from our nervous system. Our nervous system is primed for our survival. Which means whatever pattern it takes on to survive, it will protect at all costs. It’s not too far fetched to say that at a certain point, especially in cases of chronic pain, the nervous system will actually make it more uncomfortable for us to move into a new way of living life (even if this new way is pain free) out of a perceived need to protect our set patterning.
Yes, you read that right. Your nervous system and brain will push to keep you in pain because pain has become your normal.
Which means- in order to begin shifting how pain/messages from the body are received, we need to develop a strong awareness for what our nervous system is saying to us before moving forwards. If we have good communication with ourselves, that phase of perceived increase discomfort becomes an integral part of the process instead of a fear ridden, panic inducing, run away type moment for our bodies and minds. We are much more likely to continue moving forwards if we are able to communicate effectively with our bodies and minds in this case with that budding self awareness.
I have come to think of healing as another term for getting to know ourselves. True healing requires us to look within to listen, feel, and acknowledge what is truly causing our bodies and minds to call to us. The uprising of research in Epigenetics is now confirming that much of our pain (emotional, physical, and spiritual) has been passed down from generations before- and with this in mind, it can be valuable to first look within but also to look at what your predecessors were dealing with. Our genetic histories (how our ancestors struggled, what they were dealing with physically, emotionally, and spiritually, etc) can often provide us a map as to why certain pains or ways of experiencing life have been so steadfast in our lives. This means what has been passed down to us not only has biological inputs and can make us more prone to certain diseases, it also effects us in terms of mental/emotional processing, psychosomatic body memories and sensations, and patterns that control (or guide, depending on how you look at it) our perception of existence.
Most of us, unfortunately, have been raised in a society that is extremely disconnected from the body and mind. Which means we are having to relearn something that should be second nature (or our entire nature) later in life. We know the power of those gut feelings that often guide us in moments of questioning, and we’ve all second guessed or ignored those gut instincts at one time or another- usually to regret it later. That’s where developing that internal listening/observing ability begins. To build awareness we need to have the patience to be with ourselves, through good and bad, to listen, observe, and FEEL it all. The spidey senses will become more attuned from there. Then that pain becomes less of a nag, and more of a nudge along the path. Our perception of discomfort changes, slowly but surely, until we are able to make a change in collaboration with our bodies instead of warring with ourselves in a state of fear and repression. The image of us developing a relationship to a child version of ourselves comes to mind.. where it can be amazingly insightful to communicate with yourself as you would communicate with a small child. This may in itself elicit some areas where your self-communication could be improved.
It takes practice. It takes dedication. However, the benefits far outweigh the cost, in my opinion. We will not gain the ability to truly feel content in our bodies until we have the ability to feel (and stick with) discomfort in our bodies. You cannot look in the mirror and feel love for yourself until you’ve also loved the painful, uncomfortable, unexpected, and often dark parts. You will struggle to adhere to the necessary exercises, lifestyle changes, and inner shifts that await until you turn inwards to listen and respond. Its all our nothing when it comes to our health; especially since our human existence is one that is ever changing. Moment to moment we will experience different things on the spectrum of wellness, and it is our job to be able to fully experience it all. Escaping ourselves is not serving anyone. We can see examples of this in how desperate our global situations are getting in terms of healthcare, and what this is indicating for our economy and society’s wellbeing as a whole.
The cure starts with you. Healing means stepping away from our search for a cure all, and stepping towards truly experiencing ourselves. The journey through healing, through pain, through all emotions is what will heal us, not something that takes the pain away.