Have you noticed a shift in your emotional and physical state more recently?
The feedback I am getting is that we are feeling more aches and pains in our whole body and generally feeling fed up.
I noticed a definite change in my emotional state during the last week. Both mentally and physically I feel like I am wound tighter, with less energy.
Most of us are feeling strain right now, some more than others. As one meme said, ‘we are all on the same journey but in different boats’.
I have been thinking about how we react in a crisis. After the initial shock our body moves our nervous system from a natural state of rest and digest to a fight or flight response so we can focus on what we need to do to survive. How will we feed our families, manage our finances, work, educate and entertain our children? It is a natural survival instinct to repress any emotions that might distract us from these goals.
But coming into week 8 now with vague hints at a return to ‘normal life’, could it be that we are experiencing the beginning of an emotional crash?
Are the powerful emotions of guilt, anger, shame, sadness, worry and fear literally manifesting as pain in our necks?
The Mind Body Connection
It is generally accepted now that emotional strain can lead to physical ill health. We all know that stress has physical symptoms and that suppressing emotion can lead to mental disorders.
Sarno was influenced by Freud’s theories on psychosomatic illnesses and practiced for many years in rehabilitation medicine, treating thousands of patients suffering pain.
He theorises that oxygen deprivation has a role to play in our pain. As we repress emotions and our body moves to fight or flight, oxygen in our blood supply is drawn towards the organs ready for defence and away from smaller parts of the body, the muscles, nerves and ligaments, causing us to suffer from tension and physical pain.
Sarno also raises an interesting argument that our body purposefully uses pain to distract us from the more uncomfortable sensation of experiencing strong emotions and so, by becoming aware of and acknowledging our emotional trauma, we can help heal our physical pain.
One major problem with this ‘easy fix’, highlighted in his books, is that the majority of our mental and emotional activity takes place in the unconscious mind, so we may not be aware of it.
How can we access our unconscious emotions?
Your practice this week: Morning Pages
To access this hidden reservoir of emotion we have to delve deep.
The morning pages technique was originally created by Julia Cameron in her book, The Artist’s Way, to help artists unblock their creativity by overcoming their negative inner critic.
However, journalling techniques go beyond inspiring creativity. They help focus your mind so you can see patterns of negativity that perhaps you didn’t know existed. You can access the realm of your unconscious.
The practice is simple.
Get up a little earlier in the morning and write 3 pages in longhand.
Your feelings, fears, minutiae of life. Everything that is in your head allow it to come out like a stream of consciousness, with no purpose other than to unburden your brain. Even if you don’t know what to write simply write that. Allow the narrative in your head to appear on the page, however rambling it is.
You don’t have to keep them or re-read them after, it is simply the act of writing down your thoughts that is the practice.
If you are interested in reading more about the Mind Body Connection, I highly recommend the book When the body says no by Gabor Mate. It devotes chapters to specific illnesses and sets out how emotional factors and individual make-up may contribute.
I would love to hear how you get on and how the practice helps with your emotional and physical wellbeing,