The Emotion/Body Connection
Have you ever been receiving a massage when a “trigger point” gets activated, and your initial response is “I didn’t even know that was there”? It is a frequent occurrence because most of us don’t spend time actively scanning our bodies for tension. Emotions and feelings build up in our bodies when they aren't fully experienced or expressed, creating invisible energetic debris.
As humans, we put our bodies through a lot! Most of us expect them to continue performing at whatever level and pace we decide they should, regardless of what we have done to support them. Some of us are conditioned to take good care of ourselves regularly, while others miss the mark more often than not. In our best efforts, we try to pay attention to the level of physical activity we get, what sort of nutrition we are ingesting, our daily hydration levels, and even what quality of sleep we get to enjoy for body restoration. Even with all of that intentional focus, one thing that is easily and often overlooked is our emotional state, especially as it relates to pain and body awareness.
When pain and soreness appear, we all have varying ways of coping. Some of us begin a regimen that addresses the symptoms immediately, while others tend to ignore the pain and hope that it will go away on its own. Chronic or persistent pain creates additional stress, and if we don’t stop to address our emotions, the build-up inside the body can be difficult to untangle. In extreme cases, living with pain (physical and emotional) changes the way we relate to others and the way we present in the world, leaving us experiencing feelings of depression, loss, and/or being alone in places where we once found comfort and joy.
Every person experiences pain in their own unique way. Even a pain scale from 1-10 is a loose measure of actual pain because some people just have a higher threshold - their level 3 might be another person’s level 8, and gauging the pain that is actually felt becomes relative to the individual perspective. Becoming better attuned to the signals from our bodies is the best way to stay on top of managing both stress and pain levels. Pain is always an indicator that something is off. It’s our body’s way of saying “please slow down and take a closer look at what is happening”.
Breathing is an involuntary action that we perform without ever thinking about it. It keeps us alive and provides a baseline of oxygen ready for the body to use. It can also be a voluntary action, where we actually direct the movement of the breath within different areas of the body to clear emotional, mental and physical debris before it has the chance to develop into actual pain. An Intentional breathing practice - the kind where you are fully aware of the breath moving in and around your body - is the best tool for identifying potential pain and “clearing” out the places where we store our stress. A regular effort of intentional breathing is a way to replenish and reinforce the power available to our “front line”, by keeping our bodies as ready as possible for whatever challenges we encounter, emotional and otherwise.