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The Emotions Underlying Illness

A topic I love talking about with people is the underlying emotions that are associated with every physical manifestation of illness (or injury). Often we think of physical symptoms as just that, physical, and we are not aware that there is always an emotional component. Always. Sometimes this emotional piece is very obvious and other times it’s more mysterious, laying hidden under layers. I spent nearly 10 years in a private practice doing intuitive energetic bodywork (which was part talk therapy and part energy work), in which I learned a tremendous amount about the relation between the physical body and the emotional body (as well as mental, spiritual, and energetic bodies). My work largely consisted of guiding clients towards becoming aware, either consciously or through body energy and temporal work, of the underlying emotions. Once the awareness was there, it opened up the doorway for choice around whatever issue they might be dealing with………..they literally could choose to feel the emotions that were the root of the illness (or choose not to). When they choose to feel and experience the emotions, the physical symptoms would disappear, sometimes almost instantly. (This might sound a bit unbelievable. I had a hard time accepting the idea of it until I experienced it myself numerous times. And I have hundreds of past clients who can attest to it’s validity.)

I often explain it like this. Picture a stereo receiver with all of it’s knobs. Each knob represents one of the “bodies” that we as humans are made up of……physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, energetic. Each and every experience we have is a very specific combination of levels on each of those knobs. For example, a migraine is a VERY physical experience, so the physical knob may be turned way up……and the emotional knob way down. When we experience the emotion that is often at the root of migraines, up comes the usual familiar pattern on the knobs……..down goes the emotions, up goes the physical. IF we allow ourselves to turn the dial up on the emotions, and experience that, the physical dial will go down….because there is always a balance…..and the migraine pattern will shift. I also like to remind people that EVERYTHING is always in balance. Period. It wouldn’t exist if it weren’t. However, we may not LIKE the current balance of things….and we can change that. We are still going to experience, for example, anger…………however we get to choose how we experience the anger. If we are willing to allow ourselves to feel it when it comes up, we will be angry for about 90 seconds (any emotional only lasts 90 seconds physiologically, after that it’s memory and re-wounding by the mental body) and then it will subside. If we are unwilling to feel the anger, we instead stuff it inside, repress it, and it comes out another way, usually as a physical pain symptom. The energy of the anger we are experiencing is. just as it is….and it is going to be expressed through our being in one way or another…..because that is how energy works. We get to choose how we experience it.

Sounds simple enough. And it is and it isn’t. We have long standing rules that we created, most before age 4, that served us at the time. And we spend the rest of our lives reinforcing these rules. Usually these rules were created out of safety. As a three year old, perhaps we got the message, either directly or indirectly, from our parents that it was not ok for us to express anger. Maybe it was simply a scornful look, or perhaps it was someone always trying to soothe that anger because they didnt like to see us hurting. (And whatever choice our parents or caregivers made, was supporting the rules each of them had.) Either way, at 3, the way our brains worked back then, the message was simply that anger was an emotion that we didnt get to feel, either because it had direct repercussions or because our parents didnt want to see us suffering. So at a very young age, we learned to not feel anger. That is how a “rule” is created. We then spend the rest of our lives not feeling anger, reinforcing that rule. We remain unaware that this rule may no longer serve us, and it is something that we can probably let go of as adults. When we were three, it was essential for our survival (or so we thought based on our three year old brain), but as an adult of age 50, it might not be necessary any longer.

As a bodyworker, what I would do through my intuitive skills, was to help to shine a light on these “rules” and present the opportunity for the individual to let these rules go, or to keep them if they wanted. The key was to be aware of choice. Even when someone decided to keep the rule, they had gained an awareness they didn’t have before. And that awareness doesn’t just go away. Simply because we have experienced it, brings the possibility for it to come up again, and then we get to choose again. Sometimes the longer embedded and BIGGER and HARDER patterns take longer to shift. Everyone is different and we all do it in our own way and in our own time. I have seen countless ways in which people work with this and each is as unique as the individual.

There is more to it, such as maps of the body that are fairly consistent across different schools of the holistic arts, where certain emotions correspond to certain physical structures…..but I won’t get into that right now. It’s a long conversation that can loose some of its essence in words.

You may be wondering,……where does herbal medicine come into all of this? Can herbal medicine help to shift these patterns? The answer is absolutely. Everything has the potential to serve as a catalyst for change. It can be directly, such as using a hawthorn tincture that is supportive of the heart……….which is also going to support all of those emotions that are associated with the heart, even the ones we have tucked away. Using a hawthorn tincture, for example, may help to bring to the surface emotions, rules, patterns, and present us with opportunities to meet them and be with them, which presents the possibility for new choice and change. Sometimes just being aware of how we do something is enough. We don’t always need to know all of the details and the whys.

It’s good to remember that we are not separate faceted beings, even though some schools of thought want to cut us up into neat little parts………we are complex intricate beings with many parts and aspects that are all intertwined and work together. I see people and life as woven tapestries……different threads that come together to create this one big beautiful work of art. And the way the tapestry looks and feels is always shifting, always changing, and always full of possibility.

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