The River of Emotions
A few months ago, I assisted with a ritual at The Women Unveiled Mystery School. While I was there, I collected bits and pieces of paper that were headed for the recycle bin during our clean up and brought them home with me. They became the background for my piece, by making a random collage of these papers, and then creating my image over top.
I like using all sorts of papers in my backgrounds, but recently I've been collecting papers specific to an event, and using those papers, infused with the energy of the event, and layering them right into the artwork that the event inspired in me.
The part of the ritual that stuck me the most was the idea of "the river of emotions," likely because I know it so well and always feel caught up in its undercurrents. I can say there was a time when I was ALWAYS lost there, now at least there's space in between the times when I'm triggered. Yes, I have reached the point where breathing periods occur now. Though I believe all forms of therapy contributed to this, today I'd like to highlight one of them that is really made a difference for me.
Rosen Method Therapy is an alternative form of bodywork that I discovered and decided to try with the hopes that it could help my Chronic Myofascial Pain.
"Rosen Method bodywork is distinguished by its gentle, direct touch. Using hands that listen rather than manipulate, the practitioner focuses on chronic muscle tension. As
relaxation occurs and the breath deepens, unconscious feelings, attitudes, and
memories may emerge. The Rosen bodywork practitioner has been trained to notice
subtle changes in muscle tension and shifts in the breath, and to acknowledge the
responses with touch and words. As this process unfolds, habitual tension and old
patterns may be released, freeing the client to experience more aliveness, new
choices in life, and a greater sense of well-being."
While it may sound relaxing, it's not easy work, but the rewards are really worth it. I have been amazed by what goes on inside my body that I'm completely unaware of, what muscle tension I have where, and when I find out what is trapped inside there, I'm amazed at how far back it goes. The body has entire protection mechanisms that the mind is completely unaware of. It's simply amazing!
The Unconscious Mind is in the Body
Bodily experience is the realm of what, since Freud, we have come to think of as the “unconscious.” The unconscious... is the realm of the forbidden impulse, dangerous emotional feelings, unfulfilled longings, and traumatic memories of physical and emotional pain. Our bodies develop protective postural and muscular patterns that contain and control these impulses, needs, and memories. When we choose to slow down our mind’s chatter, and allow our habitual muscle tension to release, we open ourselves to re-experiencing what our bodies have been holding down from our conscious awareness. When we focus our attention on our bodies messages, we relinquish our habitual control of what we will experience and know about ourselves in this moment.
I'll be honest, I tried it on a whim after reading an article in Mosaic magazine. I spent the first few sessions just learning to relax my breathing. That's the cool thing, the practitioner basically teaches you HOW to relax. If you don't know how, it doesn't matter how much people tell you to do it, you simply don't know how!!! Until you are shown, (at least in my case.) The practitioner I have is so well attuned that sometimes a thought will flash through my head, so fast I'm not even sure what it was, and she will say, "What was that?" which can be a little freaky at first. It may seem like she's mind reading but what she's really doing is reading your body's muscular reactions, the ones you don't even realize are happening.
Rosen Method Bodywork practitioners help clients become aware of the moments when their bodies tighten, when their breath becomes shallow or rapid, and when their mind spins stories. These are some of the ways that clients habitually protect themselves from experiencing emotional feelings, impulses and desires that they fear or are ashamed of.
During a session, if a client’s nervous system becomes dysregulated by fear, anxiety, or other emotions, the practitioner is able to help the client’s nervous system down-regulate from too much arousal (fear accompanying strong emotions) and up-regulate from too-little arousal (numbness, disengagement). As their degree of fear/anxiety/shame diminishes, clients become able to tolerate the emotional feelings, impulses, and desires they have suppressed with protective defenses.
The simple fact of having a guide who is closely attuned to one’s bodily experience creates a degree of safety that is difficult to achieve when one is alone. Feeling “safe enough” opens the door to curiosity and exploration, making the journey into the unknown possible, and healing.
It's true, when my body decides she will not cooperate because she has become triggered, no more exploration into what I'm feeling is possible without the help of someone who knows how to get to the other side. Otherwise my body is reeling in a pattern of fight or flight or freeze that I can't make sense of, and this, I've discovered, is the way my body tries to protect me. If I'm on my own I need to practice self-care and try to relax and rest until my body feels she is safe enough to let me off the roller coaster.
But my Rosen Therapist KNOWS how to get to the other side!!! And it's glorious when we do, because not only does my body release the trigger, there is information that arises each time that is so freeing, that makes so much sense, and sad as it may be this information, it blows my mind that all of it comes from my body, and that she never forgot. She never left me, she's been there fighting for me for sooo long, all this time, and she still is. It's touching, that she cared enough to create a system to help me survive.
I am learning to read my body's cues. At this point, I'm still working on relaxation/mindfulness while I'm alone with myself, so as to create a sort of awareness baseline which I can work from as I attempt to read my body's cues.
With an awareness of how my body experiences emotions, I can better swim through The River of Emotions that I experience with CPTSD, Fibromyalgia, and Chronic Myofascial Pain. I am so grateful for my Rosen Therapy! And for the powerful ritual I shared with others who are also learning how to swim through their emotions.
So many different paths brought us together in ritual, a place where we were all dealing with our struggles that life had presented us, but what was the same was a real desire to find our way through. Different as we may be, we all shared a knowing that although we may each have our own way through, we were all headed in the same direction. Having the respect to honour and even celebrate each other's way through the fray, is the connection that has been feeding my heart and encouraging me foward.
A big thank you to the women from Generation 5 of the Woman Unveiled Mystery School for letting me share in their ritual space! ♥