graphic of nerve cells and their connections

The connection between the physical body and emotions

We all have an inherent somatic intelligence which we can access to a greater or lesser extent.

This means that our body constantly gives us signs and signals about how it feels, both physically and emotionally. If we bring an important issue to mind, we may notice emotions and feel sensations in our bodies at the same time.

If, for example, we feel fear as we bring an issue to mind, we may become aware of a simultaneous tightening in the chest. This is the diaphragm responding to the release of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin. Alternatively, if we feel that the issue we have to deal with is too much for us to cope with, then we may become aware of shoulder pain or discomfort as we feel the burden of responsibility resting on us.

Several things happen physiologically and anatomically when cortisol and adrenalin are released from the adrenal glands.

Our natural body response to this hormone release can result in a tightening of our psoas or hip flexor muscles. They draw our thigh bones upwards and inwards in a spiral movement towards the inside of the T12 vertebra and the whole of the inside of our lumbar spine. Then, our diaphragm, which is also attached to the inside of T12, can tighten.

The result of these combined actions is that the whole of the abdominal area can lock up. Breathing can become shallow and strained. The trapezius muscles, those attached to the back and sides of the head, the collarbones, shoulders and the outside of all our cervical and thoracic vertebrae down to and including T12, can tighten. These reactions can lead to lower back pain, shoulder and neck pain and headaches.

Occasionally, due to extreme, overwhelming circumstances, our stress response may become chronic. We may begin to experience IBS or similar digestive issues precipitated by potential strain or constriction of our organs. Then, if our adrenals become stuck in overdrive for too long, we may begin to experience adrenal fatigue and move towards a chronic fatigue state.

All areas of tension, constriction, injury and dysfunction in the tissue of our bodies are trapped energy in one way, shape or form.

For example, chronic neck tension may, over time, constrict not only the blood vessels carrying oxygenated blood to the brain but also the glymphatic system, the brain’s cleaning and drainage system. This can lead to a slowing down of thought processes and compromised decision-making. How many of us make our best decisions when we have a raging headache or neck and shoulder pain?

As living human beings, we are a system of balanced tension. No one part of us works in isolation from the other. Trapped energy in any part of the body can create a localised blockage that interferes with the movement of blood and lymph. The balance then becomes upset, compromising flow and drainage.

If we can identify these places and work with them and their associated emotions, we can help ourselves release or integrate the pain and potentially move towards resolving the issues responsible for our discomfort in the first place.

We all know someone who will habitually sit on the sofa with their knees up to their chin whilst watching TV or looking at their phone. This way of sitting represents someone who is trying to protect themselves. It is the equivalent of lying on the bed or the floor, on the side of the body, in the same position. It is the same one that we adopt when we want to curl up and hide—the foetal position. As children, we used it for self-protection and safety when all around us became threatening or overwhelming.

If we routinely sit in this position, our brains will begin to assume that there is a constant threat. As a result, we may release more cortisol and adrenalin. This can then lead to a tightening of the psoas muscles and diaphragm. The chances of us suffering from aches and pains can increase, and we may become anxious for no obvious reason.

Conditioning our bodies to look and feel small and hunched over may also, over time, lower our self-esteem and induce anxiety. Know that you have a right to take up space and feel safe and secure as you do so.

Try “Manspreading”…. sitting back on the sofa with your legs apart and your arms stretching out.

You may notice a deep breath coming in as your body expresses gratitude for the gift of expansion.

Occasionally, our bodies may react to this expansion in a very different way. We may feel fear, shame, guilt, or just not feel worthy of inhabiting the additional space when we stretch out. If that is the case, I would suggest that it is something to be curious about and maybe explore in a safe and supportive environment.

To sum up, the combined impact of stress energy on both the emotional layers and/or the physical body can result in a state of being that cannot be fully healed by talking alone. Our whole being has to receive acknowledgement, understanding and opportunity to heal, resolve dysfunction and find access to inherent health.

Both Somatic Experiencing® and Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy are, by definition, trauma-attuned modalities. Used together, either online or in-person, they can facilitate the resolution of embodied trauma in a very profound but gentle way, honouring the unique wishes and needs of each client.

If you think you could benefit from working with me, please get in touch. Email or call me on 07747 111040.

Please remember to contact your medical practitioner in the first instance if you have any
concerns regarding your health.

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