Emotions During Bodywork
As a physical and massage therapist, I frequently see the mind/body connection in action. Many people, when you find that right spot, have emotions, memories, and intuitions come up for them. They report a significant increased awareness and growth from these experiences. Frequently, they report, “I didn’t know I was carrying those emotions around.”
These experiences have led many to develop maps of the body. Many different approaches exist. Books and experts claim if you have a certain posture, it says a something about your personality or what emotions you need to develop. Although this occasionally has truth to it, often time theories get overdeveloped and too literal, lacking nuance. In addition, another popular theory states your movement patterns say something about your personality or emotions. Finally, the most common theory says that certain body parts store certain emotions.
One popular list:
- Neck: stores the refusal to see other sides; inflexibility and stubbornness
- Shoulders: carrying out life joyously
- Upper: feeling unloved
- Lower: fear of money
- Elbows: changing directions
- Hips: fear of going forwards
- Knees: pride/ego
The list goes on, and other lists and theories provide more detail than this one. Unfortunately, these lists do not work. As someone who has watched several people feel emotions come up while receiving bodywork, I can tell you: you can store an emotion anywhere. It doesn’t follow a map. I’ve seen people experience sadness, rage, jealousy in there psoas. On the other hand, I’ve seen others experience grief, fear, or stress in their neck. There is no pattern.
There is no pattern
Admittedly, people tend to hold their unspoken words in their throat or their sexual trauma in the pelvic floor. On the other hand, sometimes they store it elsewhere. The important thing to remember is when you notice pain in your body, do not force a belief system onto that pain. Don’t assume it symbolizes an emotional experience. When you come to the pain, face it with an open mind. Making an assumption about what will happen can limit the experience. Anything can come up.
Also, understand that the emotion, experience, memory you have is not located in one spot of your body. For example. let’s say you fall down and land on your sacrum. The force of that landing travels through the sacrum up through the fascia traveling to many parts of your body. So when you release that, and any emotions stored with it, the release happens throughout the body. Healing is a full body experience.
When approaching a healing experience:
- Go in without expectations.
- Don’t over analyze the pain or healing experience. If you need to know what your pain is about, you will know.
- Don’t force a healing response that does not exist. Healing sometimes is challenging and messy. Other times it happens slowly over time or with ease.
- Be kind to yourself. If you feel like you are doing it wrong or not getting the results you want, go back to #1.
Finally, don’t feel like you have to have a mystical experience or a return of some memory or past life experience to heal your pain or grow. Trust yourself through the process and you will gain what you needed to gain from it. Most importantly, find a bodyworker you trust who doesn’t for emotional releases or experiences onto you.