Caution: Severe injury described in the content below. Not particularly graphic, but be aware of your own personal triggers and if you need to avoid reading, do so.
Your body talks to you all the time, do you recognize its messages to you?
If you hear it, do you know how to interpret what your body is telling you?
Let me give you an example of what that looked like for me yesterday afternoon:
I had just sat down and within a couple of minutes I got a terrible charlie horse cramp in the muscles in the lower right side rib cage area.
Normally I would have just forced it out with a stretch and been sore for a day or two because that’s the only way for me to release them or they go on and on and on until they are finally stretched out. But gratefully, today I had the presence of mind to realize my body was talking to me, and to listen to what it had to say.
I should explain a little what this looks like first. When I have physical or emotional pain and work with my body, I approach it from a place of seeing two of me within myself.
One of “me" is the kind, unconditionally loving, nonjudgmental of anything, wise version of me. It’s the me that is un-movable, no fear, fully and completely connected to God self, my emulation of Christ self, my “perfected” self, so to speak.
The other “me" is in distress of some kind. Most often it’s an inner-child, sometimes it’s the angry teenager, and occasionally it’s a younger version of me as an adult. But that version of me is always dis-regulated in some way.
I always speak to my distressed self in a completely unconditionally loving way. If there is anger or disrespect that comes back, I validate it as completely understandable considering the circumstances, and I don’t judge the response or condemn it. I just love whatever comes up as being perfectly what it should be regardless of social or religious beliefs.
(As I explained this to a friend of mine recently, she sent me a picture by artist Simon Dewey called "Angels Among Us" that hangs on her wall and she expressed that it was a perfect symbolic reminder of what I had shared. I whole-heartedly agree!)
One of the first things I will often notice is that the feeling that comes with this emotional upset or physical pain has an age I sense with it. Sometimes I will just outright ask my distressed self “how old are you?” I usually get an age, either outright or approximate. “I’m 3”, or "5-6”, or whatever it is.
Today it was 12 or 13 "ish", and “she” was panicking, as though her life was at stake. It’s the first time in working with my body that I’ve almost left my higher self because of working with such a distressed younger me. The conversation went something like this:
Higher self (HS): "What’s wrong?"
Distressed self (DS): “make it stop! make it stop! It hurts SO back, please, I beg you make the pain go away!!”
HS: (feeling a little distressed, but remembering, start with gathering information to work with, deep breath, recenter myself.) "How old are you?”
DS: “12, almost 13. Please, help me!”
Immediately I had a flash of a couple of pictures come to mind. One of a boat, one of a young girl, about a year younger than me, in the water behind a motor boat and next to a banana-boat/water weenie lake toy with blood quickly filling the water around her. I immediately knew what this panic was about.
When I was 13 or 14, I was at a summer activity for the youth of my church and the leaders had taken us boating. We were taking a last run with the water weenie before heading back to shore and getting ready to go home.
Unfortunately, that last run turned into a life threatening boating accident.
It was getting late, the sun was setting and the driver of our boat had the sun in his eyes and had made an error in turning. He turned directly into the path of an oncoming boat that he hadn't seen through the setting sun. The oncoming boat didn't have time to react and crashed up and over the water weenie. The blades of the propeller tore into the thighs, very nearly hitting the main arteries of one girl who had been knocked off the water weenie in the collision and when the boat came down over the water weenie, the motor's propellers caught her legs and did serious damage.
I was there watching the whole thing happen in horror and feeling quite guilty for her pain and injuries. Before the last run I had refused going on the water weenie, even though it was my turn, and I refused, not knowing why beyond that I had suddenly felt SO uncomfortable with the idea. My refusal at the time seemed out of proportion to the urges to, "just go, it will be fun." Had I give in to their encouragement I would have been sitting exactly where she had sat because she was taking my turn. It would have been me.
The pain of the insane cramp began to release, and strangely it felt like a bubble moving to my left, just below the xyphoid process bone of the rib cage, and was barely cramping at all now.
In that moment I realized I had taken on that girl's pain, not only in wanting to help and feeling helpless to do so, but as I had that experience, my subconscious felt so guilty that it took on the pain and a part of the experience as though it HAD been me, because at the time I believed it should have been.
That memory, those emotions, were stored in the muscles near the lower right side of my rib cage. In the instant I made that connection all the muscles relaxed and my distressed self sighed.
“Thank you” she said.
We continued the conversation around the guilt of not taking a turn and thus avoiding the accident. The fact was there was an inner knowing that it was a bad idea to get on that ride, and she (my younger me) had trusted it. It wasn't fear, it was unexplainable but persistent knowing that it was a bad idea. The fact is that it shouldn't have been her (my younger me) because she DID listen to that impression. Odds are that others had it too but dismissed it because they didn't understand it. There is NO reason to feel guilty for trusting that feeling. So no, it shouldn't have been "her".
There were also things that were said to try to help the girl keep conscious as we got her to shore where the ambulance was waiting for her. I’ve always felt so stupid and embarrassed and inadequate about my clumsiness of not knowing what to say as I sat next to her. I won’t repeat that conversation. But I did have the idea to have that younger distressed version of me connect with the healed and higher self of that young girl, and it was an interesting conversation.
That younger distressed me apologized to the girl for saying something so stupid and unhelpful and let her know she just wanted to help and didn’t know how and had made it worse. What I heard back may or may not be “true”, but it’s what my distressed self needed to hear to forgive myself and let it go. Her higher self said “ya, it was really stupid. And it saved my life.”
Both my higher self and my distressed self were very surprised by this. She continued, “I just kept thinking to myself ‘how could she say something so stupid? what is she thinking’, and it kept me conscious. If you have been telling me everything was going to be okay and the things other people were saying, I would have tuned it out, but I just got stuck on how I couldn’t believe you could say something so incredibly stupid! You just wanted to help, and saying something stupid was the only thing that could have helped in that moment. It might not have been what you thought, but it was exactly what it needed to be. Thank you.” With that she smiled and walked away.
I looked at my no-longer-distressed 13 year old version of me and asked if she was okay now. “Yep!” she said, “I’m going to be just fine.” She had let go of that physical and emotional trauma being stored in my body and been able to forgive herself.
Five hours later I checked those muscles that had cramped and there was hardly any soreness at all, (usually I’d be pretty tender for a day or two at least) and the cramp lasted all of about 30 seconds for the whole process. (It goes much faster in the moment than reading about it.)
This process might sound complicated, but I promise it’s worth trying for yourself. At worst, you need practice to hear what your distressed inner self is communicating. At best, you are healing your life, physically and emotionally. I encourage you to try it and see if this is a method of healing that can benefit you.
If you have any questions, you are always welcome to email me. I look forward to hearing from you!
All my love, and Be Well…