Most of us have, or will experience trapped emotions in our body. It is all part of everything we have gone through and the natural human experience of life. Whatever part of your body has emotion lodged in it, there will be some distortion to the tissues, and over time, you could experience pain, discomfort and eventual dis-ease. Many of us – perhaps most of us – are only alerted to this when we have physical symptoms that perhaps alarm us. We focus our attention on the symptoms, often seeking medical advice, without considering any underlying factors as opposed to simply having a malfunctioning body. This is the system we have been raised to adopt. Thankfully we have learned a great deal and are educating ourselves in a much greater way than ever before.
I was aware of the mind-body connection for some years before I was alerted to my own physical problem that urgently needed addressing. It’s one thing knowing the theory, and helping others explore it, it’s another putting it into practice for yourself.
I'll give you an example. When my son unexpectedly passed away I got all practical, put on a brave front for the family, stopped myself from feeling the intense pain and trauma, the grief, guilt I couldn't save him. I just got on with life day to day, best I could. I decided I didn't want his life to be a waste and needed to make something of mine in his honour, to dedicate my life to him. To be of service somehow, with no idea what that meant.
Yes of course I cried, I felt, but I was too afraid to ask for help, to talk to anyone about the experience, the circumstances that led to his passing. I knew this was big and I bottled it. Like a pressure cooker it simmered for years. The emotion rising, suppressing, rising suppressing over and over again. Fear. I couldn't release it, too afraid the release would be out of control and fearing I wouldn't be able to handle it.
Years and years of personal and spiritual growth, all the while touching on the deep feelings of sadness, loss, grief and only ever scratching the surface. Occasional unexpected releases triggered by deep spiritual transformative work. Feeling totally unconditionally held by others during those moments. Utterly blessed by those experiences. Yet I knew the grief lingered and was disproportionate to not only the length of time since he passed but also my absolute knowing and trust that he is with me always, his essence will always live on, I could feel him around me, I knew we had a contract that we had honoured during our lifetimes, all is in divine order and perfectly timed.
My body knew otherwise. She knew the grief was far from released. Yes of course it is understandable that we may always feel a sense of loss from those we hold close to our heart. We miss their physical presence. But you just KNOW when you are holding onto something.
About 16 years ago I began to feel pretty ill. I had a cough that wouldn't go, at the time I had a very demanding full time job and thought the extreme tiredness I experienced was due to that. Again, I pushed through. Conscientious in my work I wouldn't stop. I began to feel a bit breathless and went off my food, losing a lot of weight, spending the evenings lying on my sofa. As a teacher I was struggling to keep up with marking and prep for lessons and trying to teach lively 16 to 18 year olds took everything I had. I also had a mysterious rash on my legs.
Eventually testing showed it to be sarcoidosis an auto immune disease, predominantly in my lungs, and, as a practising energy healer as well, I turned to a naturopathic practitioner for help as there was no potential solution from orthodox medicine. During my sessions with her, it transpired that the sarcoidosis came out of deep held grief that was squeezing me so much that it was difficult for me to breathe. My emotional state had constricted me, my immune system under extreme pressure not only from the loss but the chronic stress I experienced from my job coupled with a deep sense of lack of self worth. No wonder I overworked as I was always trying to prove myself, not least of all to me. My body wasn’t just shouting at me but screaming at me to stop. And stop I was forced to do. I also had persistent psoriasis on my hands and arms - this was related to my inability to express my needs so they could be met.
I write this now to show the importance of getting QUIET, listening to you and your innate inner wisdom, mindfully being aware of how you are feeling and what physical symptoms you might be experiencing. What emotions are you storing and not releasing? Are they making themselves known to you through your body?
What I learned from this experience is that trapped emotional energy will always lodge somewhere in the physical body and create pain, discomfort (symptoms) and disease. All emotions are energy and vibrate at a particular frequency. There is an emotional scale in that some are of higher frequency – such as love, bliss, joy and some are of a lower frequency, such as frustration, envy or shame. Because that emotion (in this case grief) resonates at a particular frequency it will affect the physical tissues where it has lodged until they too resonate at the same frequency as the emotion. When emotion gets stuck, similar situations related to the initial trauma are more likely to trigger a more intense experience of that stuck emotion. So you are more likely to find that, for example as happened to me, with grief already stuck in my system, when I encountered another family death but of someone I was more distant from, the tightly held pressure cooker of the stuck grief rose explosively at their funeral where I was affected in a way I hadn’t expected to and I knew the feelings were not about the recently deceased person but were almost entirely related to losing my son some years previously.
If you feel like you can’t shake certain emotions off, there is a chance that the emotion you are struggling with is trapped within you and may be from a past experience you don’t even remember.
There has been a trend in recent years towards talking more openly about the need for self care, to look after ourselves is the greatest gift we can give to others – not only in the energy we have available to support them to but in the example we set to others- our friends, family, children, so that we can stop feeling we have to run ourselves into the ground in order to be valued, so that we can ensure our emotional stability and wellbeing by developing awareness about how we are feeling, how this is impacting our whole life and indirectly those of others too.
There is plenty of support out there. Friends, family, groups you may belong too and any one of a number of healers, practitioners, wellbeing coaches, counsellors just waiting in the wings to help. Doctors also have their place, in my experience they are not so knowledgeable about emotional effects- they are simply not taught about this but there are more freer thinking doctors around now who are open to the newer aspects of psychology and spirituality so something to bear in mind.
My learning continues, of course, there is no end and plenty to explore. If you keep pushing through, something will give. It's taken decades for me to learn this and if only one person reading this is alerted to look at how they feel and truly start listening and noticing when emotions are getting stuck, joining he dots and appreciating the mind-body connection, it will have served its purpose. If this is you, and you find the content useful, I'd love to know how it has helped you.