For the past 20 years, I have immersed myself in helping people land in their body. I have studied structural bodywork, yoga, embodied movement, anatomy from multiple perspectives (traditional western, Chinese medicine, ayurvedic and fascia) as well as Jungian archetype and shadow work. With the use of these practices and tools, I have dedicated my life to processing my own experience on this planet along with serving others through teaching, coaching and private practice. It has been my honour and blessing to have served on a global scale. Teachers who have guided me on this journey include Thomas Myers, Elena Brower, Nicki Costello, Gil Hedley and many others.
I wrote this article to help others recognise how emotion and memory are stored in our body. Emotions become held inside of us when we are unable to feel them completely, unprepared to digest them or are afraid of allowing them to flow through us. We all have certain emotions that we are comfortable feeling and experiencing. Likewise, we all have certain emotions that we avoid due to never having learned how to exercise those specific muscles.
Yoga and bodywork provide us with practices of contacting feelings in a physical manner. When we open the pathway to feeling our physical self, we begin walking down the road to the emotions that exist within that space. This article explores some of the ways in which we utilise the physical gifts within the human anatomy as tools to manage, store, feel, digest and integrate the chemistry of emotion. Physical movement is equivalent to motion. The chemicals that we respond to the universe with are also motion, they are emotion. In yoga, we take responsibility to exploring and inviting that movement while body work is a practice of having another human lend a hand in that process.
Memory and emotions
There is a memory from my childhood that was etched in the fabric of my being. This memory was compressed in the fabric of my cells, into my fascia. It was a dark moment rife with abandonment, rejection and pain. My heart clenched as did the muscles in my spine and shoulders. And the experience strangled the core of my body like a boa constrictor crushing a column of crystal. A splintering wound cracked through my heart like aquarium glass absorbing that first experience of too much pressure. There it remained in my fascia; hidden from plain sight, hidden from my consciousness. I left it in my past, stored in my body and continued to grow around it. What choice did I have?
I felt this moment so deeply and fully that my body etched it into memory. My muscles and bones grew around the pain. The pain defined my posture, my posturing. My fascia suspended the story in both time and space. The space was defined by my posture. The time was defined by the memory. And my body knew that I was not ready to face such an adult experience at such a young age. So, it stored the experience by means of turning off the nervous system pathways like a circuit breaker being popped in and around my heart. The electricity went dark or dull, redefining the pathways to ensure safety and preservation of self so that I could continue and develop around the wound.
Muscles and density
The gripping of my musculature gathered the connected fascia and in turn the bones and in turn the skin and began to form a density. The magnetism of muscular contraction drew all of the fabric of my body inward toward the protection. Joints were altered as bones shifted. My breath changed to avoid movement in the area. The emotional chemistry was compressed into the fascia, into a memory. Slowly, the area dehydrated into a density storing the thoughts and feelings awaiting the moment in my life when I was developed enough to rehydrate the experiences consciously.
The density is the blockage that preserved my life. The density is the compensation that I grew around it like a tree whose roots shifted down an eroding hill forced to bend upward to find the sun. I bypassed the sensations (nervous system), the feelings and thoughts (dehydrated chemistry), the quiet, constant muscular gripping, and the consciousness that the density lived in me.
Hydration and courage
Then one day, not long ago, I discovered that this pain lived in me. And fear came as a protector and sat on the density like a chivalrous knight guarding the space until the timing was right. Slowly, I felt into the gripping muscles and began to wake up the nervous system. I began to move the area and release the tension. The movement called hydration into the region and the once dimensionally dry beaver dam of pain began to rehydrate. The once stiff fascia became pliable after weeks of slow, conscious movement.
Once hydrated, the chemistry began to hydrate and the memories began to flow back into my system. With support from some beautiful people in my life, I found the courage to welcome the experience of those thoughts and feelings. Some of that density was expelled in the form of tears. Some of the density was reintegrated into my system as I began to move and connect the physical space with other long practised movements.
The movement of healing
As I slowly began to move into the density, I was able to acknowledge that I held fear, resistance, pain, abandonment and rejection. The tension began to release from the muscles and the bones find their way into a new alignment. The nerves light up and the circuit breaker is reconnected to the whole system. The hydration flushes the region cleansing it and redistributing feelings and thoughts that were once too concentrate to approach. My being becomes lighter and I become more whole.
This is a practice of loving movement to meets the needs of people who hold density in their flesh. It is a practice of curiosity and consistency. It is a practice of reclaiming parts of our body that we have forgotten. It is a practice of realising and releasing age of tensions. It is a practice of gentle acknowledgement to bridge painful memories with current loving self to become whole again.
If you enjoyed this article and are curious to know more, I would like to invite you to join me for a weekend on 22 – 24 March at triyoga in Camden. You are welcome to come to part of the workshop or the entire weekend. It would be my honor to have you join us.