Let Your Body Talk
What if there was an untapped intelligence source you had an all-access pass to and it could give you accurate answers to questions you’ve been seeking for quite some time?
What if you could give that overworked, overdeveloped prefrontal cortex a rest. You know, that part of your brain that is responsible, highly analytical, and very adult? She makes to-do lists, gets you to appointments on time, edits what you say and write, and generally keeps you zipped up nicely in order to make a good impression.
And my oh my, is she exhausted!?!
I believe wholeheartedly, you most certainly can give her a well-deserved break.
So stop whatever highly important thing you’re doing right now and start by giving yourself a hug. Let your body know you’re listening and curious about what she has to say. I’m dead serious.
In 2016, I set out on a crucial journey to reconnect with my body. Sounds weird, right? Perhaps; however, for me, it was necessary.
Throughout my battle with an eating disorder back in high school and ongoing depression throughout my twenties and beyond, my recovery was largely cognitive (aside from the basic requirement of maintaining a healthy weight).
There were also traumatic experiences along the way that made some deep and painful imprints, emotionally and physically. I don’t think I even realized this then.
Now, when I say cognitive, I mean relying heavily on my thinking mind (prefrontal cortex central) and how to mentally process defeating thought patterns and behaviors in order to replace them with healthy ones. For example, therapy modalities such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and partnering psychotropic medications, or antidepressants.
These were both helpful beyond belief and supported my healing in ways I’m eternally grateful for.
2016 came along, and I began experiencing all kinds of physical pain and tension, manifesting in my upper back, throat, and jaw area. It got so bad, I experienced difficulty singing and even carrying out conversation due to a feeling of extreme tightness.
This wasn’t going to fly as I was ramping up to start writing for a new music project. Discouraged and in pain, I put it on hold in order to find some answers I later learned were trapped inside my body.
It was a catch 22 in that I thought I’d found my voice, yet at the time, wasn’t able to use it.
I set out on a mission to crack this cryptic code within my body. After all, emotionally I felt stronger than I ever had, yet the pain I was experiencing set me back day after day into a downward spiral of discouragement. This mission would forever change the way I lived and worked.
I started knocking on every door. Over the course of a year, I did brainspotting, vocal training, yoga, body work, acupuncture, kinesiology, and tons of meditation, all of which were extremely helpful.
Curiously, though I knew this pain affected my voice, I knew this was not a “talking matter.” Hell, I had talked in circles trying to process this thing out, and apparently, my body would not let up.
From all of the incredibly patient and wise practitioners I worked with (whom I’ll thank here in just a moment), I learned that the body is one of three intelligence centers we have. The mind, heart, and body are all crucial in processing life around us, yet again, western psychology focuses mainly on the brain.
Has your body ever tried to warn you of potential sickness? Energy levels flag, soreness peaks, and all you want to do is crawl into bed with some hot tea and binge on Netflix? It’s trying to tell you to slow down, ramp up the vitamin C, because if you don’t, you might end up with the flu. Your body talks.
This is the first of a new blog series centering on this glorious mind-body connection and wisdom. I wanted to kick it off by telling you a bit of my story and dangling some of these alternative practices in your world as you may be in the market for some new ways of integrating.
Brainspotting is a brain-based therapy that jumpstarts the healing process by moving trapped trauma out of your brain and body. It was so powerful in my healing that I became trained in order to offer it in my practice. This was the first step for me. (For more info on brainspotting, check out an earlier post I wrote.)
Not that I remotely have a green thumb, but I’m well aware that the first thing to come up when you plant flowers is dirt. Metaphorically, this was spot on in my experience. As I began listening to, and planting seeds of physical connection and nurturance through brainspotting, body work, yoga, and meditation, you better believe years of emotional dirt— or pain started to come up.
Yet, instead of resisting or fixing the physical symptoms of pain as I’d done for months now, I leaned into its message with the help and support of this healing community.
What I learned from a wise chiropractor trained in eastern medicine is that my body had so many answers to help me along the way. Yet, by relying primarily on cognitive therapy and medication at points along the way, I had shut out this body intelligence.
Hear me out friend, I am a huge believer in talk therapy as well as psychotropic medication such as antidepressants. Yet, we must not ignore the invaluable intelligence source we have in our bodies. It all works together. Working with the pain instead of against it allows all that dirt to finally come up and out, so we can fully process it.
We must befriend this brilliant body of ours and learn how to feel safe inside its skin.
In The Body Keeps the Score, Bissel Van der Kolk shares:
“Neuroscience research shows that the only way we can change the way we feel is by becoming aware of our inner experience and learning to befriend what is going on inside our selves.”
Fast forward to today. I have spent the last year reconnecting with my body’s intelligence and healing capacity with the support of wise practitioners. Decades of depression and toxicity trapped inside my body needed to get out. Even though I’d done so much of my own work, I learned I was still fairly detached from my body.
I’m beyond grateful for people like Dr. David Grand, who invented brainspotting and was gracious enough to work with me last spring in his NYC practice. Laura Donohue, my vocal coach for the past ten years, you safely held space for my countless emotional breakdowns in your studio because I couldn’t sing a simple note without streaming tears and inexplicable pain. Dr. Suman Chaudhuri, chiropractor and alternative medicine Guru, thank you for connecting the dots and reassuring me I wasn’t crazy, I just had residual emotional pain and trauma that was looking for an exit. Also, to my favorite English healer, Linda Penney (whom I affectionately call Money Penny), thank you for your pristine intuitive work and for helping me uncover the truth in my body through kinesiology and realignment on your table in Marina Del Rey, CA. Our time together was truly life-changing.
There have been so many others, yet I won’t drone on like some lame awards speech. I wanted you to know it takes a village. It takes asking a lot of questions and reaching out. It has forever changed the way I approach my work as a therapist, so as to offer more experiential, brain-based therapies. I’m passionate about supporting you on the journey of total connection, mind-body-spirit.
Transformation and healing is where we’re headed. I do hope you’ll continue to join me on this next exciting leg of the journey. Today especially, if you have any questions regarding this new conversation, I hope you will reach out. It can feel overwhelming, believe me…I fully understand this.
It’s worth every wobbly step.
Love & Gratitude,