If you took a body scan in this moment, where would your energy be? Many people find their energy centered in their mind, not truly connected to their body. This is known as the mind/body split. According to many natural health professionals and psychologists, this is a common root cause of disease and imbalance.
What causes a person to live disconnected from their body and primarily in their head? We live in a world where for many, it has not been safe to live connected to the body. It has become too painful. When people experience trauma and emotional pain, they tend to disassociate from their body to protect themselves from this pain, to avoid feeling the depths of how much it hurts.
In western culture, we have been taught that the mind is superior to our body. Social statues is based upon the quality of educating the mind. The body is feminine and the mind is masculine. The body is our way of sensing and feeling, the mind is our way of perceiving and judging. Most people actually perceive their body as separate from the mind. Our bodies and psyche may begin to speak very loudly to us when the disassociation becomes too detrimental to our quality of life and vitality.
Let’s discuss the story of Sarah as an example: Sarah grew up in a household with an alcoholic and abusive father. Her mother was a drug addict, violent and mentally ill. Sarah learned coping mechanisms from an early age to survive her abusive childhood. Some of these coping mechanisms involved shutting down her feelings and disconnecting from her body by making her body very tense and rigid to block the emotional pain. Both of these responses to her home environment and parent’s behavior allowed Sarah to have some control over feeling emotional pain.
As Sarah grew older, her response to emotional pain became habitual. When she began to experience any strong emotion, she would suppress it in fear of pain from the past. She began to heavily drink alcohol. This behavior supported her mind/body split further. Sarah had actually became afraid of her own body because this is where her painful feelings existed. The alcohol created dopamine in her body, serving as a ‘fix’ to her lack of connection to her feelings and loving relationships with her parents. It served as a mask for her pain and a way to keep her away from the grief of her heart.
Eventually in her early twenties, Sarah quit drinking alcohol. Without the mask of alcohol, Sarah began to slowly feel her emotions on a deeper level. She began to feel how much pain she had been holding onto and turned to self~care practices such as yoga and meditation to repair her nervous system and release the tension in her body from being closed off to emotion for so long. Her body began to open. She was able to begin facing the stress she experienced from the pain in her heart when memories and emotions from the past arose.
About a year after releasing her addiction to alcohol, Sarah began to experience yeast infections. For a while, conventional treatments worked to clear the yeast, yet treatment began to stop working. She ended up having to ‘sit with’ a chronic yeast infection for years until she started to turn inward and discover what her body was saying and what her body was trying to get her attention about. She saw an acupuncturist who helped her identify the underlying emotional causes of her chronic yeast infection. She began to see a therapist to help her process and bring healing to the emotional causes, all stemming from childhood trauma. She was able to uncover a memory of molestation she had completely blocked out with the help of her therapist.
Sarah felt haunted by her past with her yeast infection that wouldn’t go away. It began to make sense to her that she needed to listen to her vagina. Her vagina was getting her attention in a big way, letting her know that she could no longer keep storing away and hiding from how she really felt about her childhood. We often store memories far away in our psyche, never wanting to look at them again, until we are ready to heal the memory and trauma. Oftentimes, the body serves as a gateway for healing trauma because body imbalance speaks loudly and physical discomfort gets people’s attention.
Sarah’s self~care practice deepened as she continued her healing journey. Her acupuncturist recommended vaginal steams to release the sexual trauma she was holding in her vagina, as well as to bring balance to the microbial flora. As Sarah steamed, she allowed fear and mistrust to release through many tears. Her heart and vagina opened, it was as if a fountain of hidden grief and emotional pain began to flow out of her. Sarah also began to see a woman specializing in womb massage, and was taught how to offer this massage to herself as a way to bring more circulation to her womb and release emotional pain and physical tension. With the support of these self~care practices, Sarah began to feel like the weight of her trauma she had been carrying around was lifted. She didn’t have to hold onto the wounds of the past any longer! Through her willingness, courage and devotion to healing practices, Sarah reclaimed her connection to her body. For the first time ever, she felt ‘at home’ within her body and felt meaningful purpose in her life. After years, the chronic yeast infection was gone.
Self~care practices are of monumental support for coming back into balance and mending the mind/body split. Such practices help us nurture the health of both worlds, and are effective at healing trauma held in the body. We have the ability to restore and recenter ourselves to a state of living in balance through the loving act of self~care. There are so many practices to choose from. Each individual is unique to what will support them on their journey of healing and maintaining balance of the mind/body.
Written by Emily Karnis of Sun Moon Apothecary. "Healing takes time and devotion. When we create space to pay attention to our bodies, bringing awareness, presence and love to ourselves, miracles can happen. May this information along with the products and services at Sun Moon Apothecary empower you to take healing into your own hands, rooting & rising in a deeper connection to self, truly uniting the mind & body to achieve a state of living in balance."