Emotional pain from the past can lodge in the body and become physical pain in the present. If you ignore the emotional pain, you are basically ignoring the root cause of the physical pain, and may find yourself remaining in physical discomfort.
I know this well, because I once had a physical condition, that went undiagnosed for seven years. When it was finally diagnosed I was producing as much testosterone as a teenage boy. Eventually, I discovered a very powerful emotional trauma that set my body into a slow state of atrophying. I’m great now, but discovering and healing the emotional root was key to my healing. You can watch a TV interview on Emotional Mojo where I talk about the emotional root and how I healed it. In order for the physical healing to take hold, the emotional root behind the changes my body was making had to be addressed and healed.
Emotional Stress, the Past, and Physical Healing
This is a difficult concept for many of us to grasp—the connection between emotional stress and physical illness. What is easier to understand is that regret, guilt, shame, resentment, jealousy and fear are emotions that tend to feed our feelings of inadequacy and it is very difficult to experience full and complete healing when you do not feel that you are worthy.
When I teach sound medicine, I invite people to touch a place in their body that is in distress and make the sound of the pain they are feeling. Consistently, the sounds of the pain are emotional. Whether the person is expressing the pain of the body itself or their feelings about having that pain, the emotional body is suffering. If the person sounding stays present to the feeling, they often see visions or remember experiences from their past as they are making the sound of the pain. This is when the person sounding recognizes that some of the physical pain locked in their body is actually associated with profound experiences and associated feelings from their past.
Some years ago a woman asked to do some sound healing work with me. When she realized the sounds were taking her into memories from the past, she stopped doing the work, because she did not want to “live” in or revisit the past. To her way of thinking, the sound medicine was taking her out of the present moment. It was understandably difficult for her to realize that her emotions from the wounds of the past were the driving forces behind her present illness and her current emotional reactions. Treatments of various kinds weren’t working for her. So there she was, trapped between the past and present, and not able to be fully present to the truth of her experiences.
Releasing the Emotional Trauma of the Past
Many of us have underlying emotional needs that get met by remaining hurt or angry. We get to be in the right or feel vindicated. We get to feel pity and a certain degree of compassion for ourselves. We get to finally be acknowledged for all of the pain we have suffered from our past experiences, often at the hands of someone else. We get to be the noble one who lived through the abuse.
But when we meet our needs through our emotional stress and pain, we do not get to be spiritually, physically or emotionally free. We do not get to experience the full capacity of our love. That part of us is constantly being held back as the other needs get met through our illness and depression.
In order for the past to truly release and for emotional healing to occur, we need to become present to those feelings, needs and beliefs from the past that are running our lives in the here and now. When we understand with our hearts how these feelings and beliefs came to be, we are free. When we can experience true compassion for ourselves, the old feelings simply dissolve because they no longer need to exist.
My colleague, Jeff Maziarak, in one of his lovely, “Ponder Central” e-mails, , offered this quote from Echkart Tolle from “The Power of Now.” It beautifully exemplifies this very concept of being present to what is rising up from the past:
So deal with the past on the level of the present. The more attention you give to the past, the more you energize it, and the more likely you are to make a ‘self’ out of it. Don’t misunderstand: Attention is essential, but not to the past as past. Give attention to the present; give attention to your behavior, to your reactions, moods, thoughts, emotions, fears, and desires as they occur in the present. There’s the past in you. If you can be present enough to watch all those things, not critically or analytically but non-judgmentally, then you are dealing with the past and dissolving it through the power of your presence. You cannot find yourself by going into the past. You find yourself by coming into the present. —Eckhart Tolle, in “The Power of Now”
Make Releasing Emotional Trauma Gentler for You
In my own work, I have discovered that a healthy dose of compassion for myself makes the difference. To help you access deeper compassion for yourself, I have created a free guided meditation, The Holding for emotional healing and awakening through your emotions. While you are there, enjoy the support for emotional transformation you’ll find my non-profit organization, Sacred Feminine Awakening.
This simple and elegant guided meditation makes it much easier to remain present to the feelings that can rise and fall as I honor my truth in each moment. I do not need to do anything to or about the feelings, other than to be a loving witness to them. If I choose, I can sound, dance, draw or write the feelings as a way of honoring them. Ultimately, it is in the witnessing that the old and painful feelings are finally acknowledged, along with the stories and experiences that accompany these feelings. Once fully witnessed, they simply no longer need to exist and I am free.
Once the emotional body is sprung from its trapped existence, it is easier to invite the cells of the body to embrace their healing freedom. When this happens, the methods you choose for your physical healing can be more effective. Now your emotional body is a supporter in your cause for physical wellness. Once you decide to be present to your emotions, you can experience a catharsis of the congested energy, and along with it—deep emotional healing in the present moment and an emotional release from the past.