As human beings, all of us at one time or another harbor feelings of fear, worry, anger, envy, jealousy, guilt, loneliness or hopelessness. Trouble sets in when such afflictive emotions become chronic or habitual responses. These emotions are largely conditioned, meaning that they have their roots in life experiences that were associated with painful or distressing feelings—experiences like a traumatic birth, an abusive or love-deprived childhood, a life-threatening illness, a sudden major loss (e.g., of home, job, or loved one), or living in a war zone or other onerous circumstances.
Such experiences—especially those that took place very early in life, some of which are not even in conscious memory—tend to result in emotional patterns that profoundly shape one’s behaviors and experiences in everyday life. Over time, these patterns become more deeply entrenched and thus harder to break or dissolve. This, in turn, can lead to a great deal of unconscious struggle and suffering, much of which is assumed to be a normal part of daily life.
Truth be told, however, such endless struggle and suffering are unnecessary. You can minimize their impact on your life and even prevent them entirely as long as you accept that a deeper level of healing focus is needed, one that goes beyond the workings of the rational, analytical mind.
This is where your emotional body comes into play. Most of these conditioned emotions and patterns arise from early-life experiences that are carried as a kind of program deep within your body’s cells and tissues—some would say even at the level of your ancestral DNA. The beliefs and their associated emotions are embedded in the body-mind from such an early age that you may have never known your true self without them on board.
Now, I’m all for traditional talk therapy or conventional “couch therapy”, which is great for helping you better manage and stabilize your emotional life. Nonetheless, the ultimate goal of therapy should be to heal old emotional wounds and help us move into emotional freedom—a more relaxed, flowing mode of being, as well as a greater capacity for spaciousness, even in the face of adversity. My experience has been that body-centered therapy or emotional bodywork can help us realize such freedom and wholeness, in part by accessing those unconscious programs that are lodged deep in the fabric of the body-mind.
Every few years, I've organized a “Healing the Emotional Body” workshop, the purpose of which is to unveil an array of approaches for healing your emotional past and living into greater emotional freedom. The workshop provides opportunities to learn from high-level healers and experience firsthand how to release long-standing dysfunctional patterns, how to heal old emotional wounds while also enhancing personal awareness, empathy and self-compassion.
Stay tuned for announcements about the next "Healing the Emotional Body" workshop, which will take place at the New Hope Camp & Conference Center in Chapel Hill.
Editor's note: To hear Mark discuss a holistic approach to cancer, including thoughts about mind-body connections, listen to his INTERVIEW with counselor-healer Fiona Moore.
If you have questions or would like to schedule a mind-body healing session, please reach out.
© 2017, Mark Nathaniel Mead