If you pair a stimulus to the body with an emotional experience, the emotional experience becomes "anchored" in the body. The stimulus could be anything from the touch of a finger to a traumatic injury. This has been extensively explored through techniques of Neurolinguistic Programming . You can demonstrate this to yourself in a simple exercise.
Focus your mind on an experience that has left you with a negative feeling (e.g. sad, angry, frustrated) and reinvoke the feelings in as great intensity as you can. When you feel they are at a maximum, ask yourself, "If '10' represents the worst I could feel about this, and '0' means it doesn't bother me at all, what number is the intensity of these negative feelings?" After you note what level of intensity you feel, press with one finger on any part of your body, such as your thigh muscle. After holding the pressure for about 30 seconds, release the pressure but be sure to not move your hand so that you can press repeatedly on exactly the same place. Think of any other experiences you want to for a few seconds. Then press again. What do you notice as you press again with the same finger, using the same pressure on the same spot? (Keep your hand in the same place to continue the exercise.)
Most people will notice a resurgence of the negative feeling when they press on the "anchoring spot." It is as though you have set up a button that now reactivates the feelings associated with that memory.
Now, focus your mind on a positive experience, reinvoking the feelings associated with this (e.g. happy, joyous, confident) and use a finger of your other hand to press on a different spot, again keeping your hand still so that you can press again later on the same spot with this finger. Hold the pressure for about half a minute, then release. Again, be sure to keep your hand in the same place so that you can press repeatedly on exactly the same spot. Think of any other experiences you want to for a few moments. Then press again. What do you notice this time? (Keep your hand in the same place to continue the exercise.)
Now, press with both fingers simultaneously and hold the pressure for 15-30 seconds, or as long as it intuitively feels right to do so. Then release the pressure and again hold your hands steady in their places.
Now press again with the finger that anchored the negative feeling. Note the intensity of the feelings you experience. What level of intensity are they (0-10)?
Most people note that the intensity is noticeably decreased. The factual memory will remain, but the emotions associated with the memory will not be as strong.
This simple exercise confirms that your body is clearly an integral part of your consciousness. It participates in your awareness of experiences and in your feeling memories of experiences. It can also participate in your healing of traumatic experiences.
Three observations are evident from this exercise:
- Memories of negative experiences can be anchored in physical body memory, related to tensions in muscles, tendons and ligaments.
- Memories of positive experiences can be anchored in body memory.
- Positive body memory experiences can be used to diminish the intensity of negative ones.
Traumatic body memories