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 The Body (Part 5) - Physical, bodymind, energetic, and potential doorway to spiritual awareness 
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Wholistic Spiritual Healing by . View all columns in series
Emotional releases during complementary therapy treatments
Massage can release emotional memories stored in muscles, as described above. The mechanism for such releases is probably complex. In some ways it appears similar to the releases of the anchoring exercise. The pressure of the massage on the muscles may recreate the tension that was locked into the muscles during the emotional or physical trauma. This may reinvoke the memories, just as happened with repeated pressure on the same spot on the body in the exercise above.

The emotional and physical releases may be further facilitated through the positive atmosphere created by the relaxing massage, combined with the compassionate touch of the therapist. These may create a safe space in which the unconscious mind overcomes its habitual defensive habits and permits the release of the buried original traumas. Similarly, these nurturing and supportive aspects of the massage may help to neutralize some of the negativity, just as the positive anchor paired with the negative one did.

Deeper forms of massage, such as Rolfing, put pressures on tendons and ligaments as well as on the muscles. These tissues may also hold traumatic memories. While such massages can be painful experiences, the emotional releases they facilitate bring benefits that by far outweigh the cost in therapeutic pains.

Gestalt therapy invites you to dialogue with any part of your body that spontaneously "speaks" during a therapy session. In gestalt therapy you form an image of a problem and then you imagine this problem is sitting in an empty chair that is opposite you. For instance, you may be struggling with chronic backaches. You would put your back pain on the empty chair and ask it what it is saying. Your would then change chairs and speak for the back pain, which might state, "I'm carrying too heavy a load, between my stressful job, my partner who has cancer, and my young children who need my attention a lot of the time.” You would then change back to your original seat and negotiate with your back over what parts of the load might be lightened.

Many years ago, I was working with Josh, a sixteen year-old client who was used to gestalt therapy. He came in one day, twirling between his thumb and first finger a flower that he had plucked on a short stem from a bush outside the clinic. I asked him what his fingers might be saying to the flower and what the flower might be feeling. His immediate, responses remain with me poignantly to this day:

Flower: Why have you pulled me off my bush, and why are you twirling me around like that?
Fingers: I don't know.
Fingers: (prompted by therapist): How do you feel, being twirled like that?
Flower: It feels lousy being torn from my roots, being tossed around without any control any more.
Josh: Yeah, that's how I feel. My parents moved because of my dad's job changing, and I was torn out of the school I went to from the first grade.

This invitation for his fingers to speak opened a door into Josh's feelings of frustration, hurt and anger that he had not been in touch with before.

Watch, feel, and listen to what your body is saying. It often has messages of deep wisdom to share.

Meditation and relaxation of the body may bring about spontaneous releases of buried emotional hurts . It appears as though the unconscious mind carefully guards the doors of closets where such hurts are locked away. The calming effects of meditation and relaxation may signal the unconscious mind that there are more resources in the present moment to deal with stresses, so that it can relax its guard and allow these buried materials to be released. Or perhaps the unconscious mind relaxes during meditation and the materials spontaneously surface of their own accord. When this happens unexpectedly, it may be unsettling, distressing, or even retraumatizing, and may be taken as a negative effect of meditation and relaxation rather than a positive one.

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 About The Author
Daniel J. Benor, M.D. - wholistic psychiatric psychotherapist including bodymind approaches, spiritual awareness and healing in his practice. Author of Healing Research, Volumes I-IV, he is a Founding Diplomate of the......moreDaniel Benor MD
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