Are You Carrying Stress in Your Body?

Can I feel my feet?

Do you find you are getting ill quite frequently, getting aches and pains, or feeling weary? Are you always catching that cold or virus? Do you just put it down to stress or that you are too busy and don’t rest enough? It could be more complex than simply a low immune system or the periodic stresses and strains of life. It could be stored or repressed emotions coming out in physical symptoms.

Peter Levine* a renowned psychologist concentrated on the subject of trauma and discovered something called somatic experiencing. He noticed by focusing on the sensations of the body, it can help realize emotions that were hidden and repressed.

Have you ever sat down and experienced a guided meditation?

It always starts with some form of ‘Body Scan,’ focusing on each part of the body and allowing yourself to feel any sensations that arise. A sensation could be noticing that headache you didn’t even know was there. Feeling painin the curve of your lower back. Feeling like your knees are weak. Noticing your hands are trembling. Can you feel your feet on the ground?

The next stage in meditation is focusing on the breath.  Do you take small shallow breaths or nice big breaths? The answers can be very revealing. Simply focusing on the body may help you understand why certain ailments pop up. Is it really a cold or a virus or a sore throat, or am I stopping myself from expressing something.

A lot of people may suffer somatic experiences due to a traumatizing event or events, but what is traumatizing to one, may not be to another, so this traumatic experience doesn’t have to be catastrophic in nature. It could have been something so subtle that resulted in affecting you long term. You may not even realize it was such a significant event in your life. By focusing the mind on sensations in the body, it really bring insight into your emotional state at the time.

Studies show that suppression of any kind of toxic negative emotions increases stress hormone cortisol levels, which directly suppresses immune system function. This may explain why you feel ill often. An example of a toxic emotion could be anger. Sometimes we feel anger needs to be repressed as we find it volatile or hurtful in nature, or we may feel afraid of our own anger. But, it doesn’t have to be viewed as a destructive emotion at all. If we can allow ourselves to talk through emotions in a safe environment and be able to express anger and it be okay, it can have a massive effect on our wellbeing and health.

There will always be stresses and strains in life, but it’s the suppression that makes us feel we can’t cope with any more challenges. It feels compounded, like we are laying more negativity over existing negativity or burden, so of course we feel heavy and want to just hide or curl up in a ball. Who can be our best when we feel so ill all the time? If we learn to peel back those layers and unburden ourselves of the baggage, we will feel more ready to deal with anything else that comes our way. If you learn to express things and let them go as they arise, it can help you feel lighter, brighter, healthier and happier. And who doesn’t want to be healthier and happier?

*Peter Levine,  "Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma"