I see rejection in my skin, worry in my cancers, bitterness and hate in my aching joints. I failed to take care of my mind, and so my body now goes to hospital. ~Astrid Alauda
Sore throats, migraines, carpal tunnel syndrome, lower back pain, upset stomachs when approaching a deadline… are these just the price we have to pay for our profession? Not necessarily; what if I told you that these are not, in essence, symptoms of the body, but symptoms of the soul.
Carolyn Myss loves to tell us that our biography is our biology. I finally realized the meaning of this when, with the help of a wonderful therapist named Lori, I found that my lower back pain was actually repressed self-judgment and fear. Can I take care of myself? I can’t support myself! If I succeed where my family has failed they will turn away from me…. All of this was causing a whirlwind effect and my physical body was trying to stay balanced. Lori provided me a place of safety and support and helped me unravel the messages my body was giving me.
Each of us is meant to be able to connect with our bodies and receive the messages it is sending us about where we are out of balance, but we don’t…it’s as if we have forgotten how to listen. Actually, we are to busy covering up the signals with aspirin, caffeine, and anti-depressants. Listening is something we can re-learn though, and we don’t have to wait until we are in pain to get the message!
I asked Lori if there was an exercise she could share with us to help us learn how to listen to the messages our body is sending. Below is an abbreviated version of an exercise she gives to her clients. I should add though, that it is extremely beneficial to go through this exercise with a qualified practitioner a couple of times before going solo. The support and guidance she can offer you will take you deeper into the experience than you might allow yourself to go on your own, especially when physical or emotional pain is present.
The Contract/Relax (or Wake up and Stretch) Routine
Courtesy of Lori Zeltwanger, PT
Get into a comfortable position, either lying down or sitting.
Take a deep breath. Pay attention to what parts of your body are expanding and receiving your breath.
Then take another deep breath. This time, without any judgment at all, pay attention to what parts of your body are not able to expand.
Now scan through your body and find any areas of tightness, tension, aches or pains that are present in this moment of time.
Tune in to these areas of tightness, tension, aches and pains. Gradually begin to tighten and tense these areas. Tighten and tense these areas as much as you feel you comfortably can.
Hold the tightness and tension in your body. While you continue to allow your breath to flow in and out, tighten and tense these same areas even a little bit more.
Then slowly begin to release the tightness and tension allowing your tissues to soften and let go. Continue to tune in to these areas and repeat the process allowing your tissues to let go even more than they ever have before.
Repeat this process several times, each time activating deeper areas. Your body will tell you how it needs to move, allow yourself to go there. Slowly follow the body’s natural movements as it accesses deeper layers.Your body will naturally come to a pause in the movement.
Pause, until you feel your body naturally move you into a new area of tightness and tension.
Now gradually tighten and tense this area of your body. Continue to allow your breath to flow in and out.
You may find yourself needing to release some noise; a groan, a yell, whatever feels natural. Allow this to happen; noise is a vibration that helps to shift your stuck tissues.
Allow your body to move with the tightness in any way in which it desires. Pause. Feel the sensations that are present in this moment of time.
Allow your body to unravel all of the tightness and tension that is present, moving in any direction that your body guides you, until your tissue feels ready to let go.
Wait until you feel your tissues begin to melt, soften and let go. You may want to let out a big sigh as you release all of this tightness and tension.
When working this exercise you may notice memories, thoughts or emotions surfacing. This is the stuff behind the pain. Don’t judge it, just notice it. Is this a truth or just baggage? What fears have you just uncovered? Are you ready to let go of these? Reconnecting with our bodies in this way will retrain us, over time, to listen more deeply to ourselves.
By Robyn Chausse
A big “thank you” to Lori at Advanced Release Therapy or sharing this exercise with us today!