Issues In Your Tissues
You may have heard this curious phrase in a yoga or stretch class. Perhaps in a Pilates class especially when a foam roller is involved.
How do your issues get stuck in your tissues? I have always believed that this is definitely possible, but exactly how does this happen and how do we set it free?
Emotion and Trauma
Let’s first look at what exactly the issues might be? Issues can be repetitive emotions that are associated with an event that happened in the past or a recurring feeling that loops in our mind which creates a physical feeling in the body.
Emotion is energy in motion. By definition, emotion is a conscious mental reaction (such as anger or fear) subjectively experienced as a strong feeling usually directed toward a specific object and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioral changes in the body.
Then we have trauma, an experience that is prevented from being completed, which also comes into the arena when we think about emotional blocks or issues. The word as of late has become quite mainstream as we often think of trauma as a horrific experience such as sexual abuse or a severe car accident.
However, trauma can also come under the guise of being bullied as a child or a stressful breakup. All trauma is subjective and real, so allow yourself to recognize it and create time and space to allow it to unravel and ultimately set you free.
So How Does It Get Stuck ?
This is where we get a bit sticky as to how emotion and trauma get trapped in our muscles, tissues and even our organs. Here’s what some experts in the world of psychology, structural integration and neuropharmacology have to say.
"Trauma often represents the violation of all we hold to be dear and sacred. Such events are often simply too terrible to utter aloud, and hence they often become unspeakable," says Shaili Jain, M.D., a clinical associate professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine and author of The Unspeakable Mind. "But when these traumatic thoughts and memories remain unspeakable or unthinkable for too long, they often impede our brain's natural process of recovery after trauma. They become stuck points that inhibit the mental reintegration that is needed for healing to occur."
It is believed that information that is too severe for the nervous system to process during stressful events gets allocated to the subconscious ‘database’ of our connective tissues.
But there is hope.
Research has further revealed that emotions and cellular memory are stored in the fascia as well as other tissues.
“Your body is your subconscious mind. Our physical body can be changed by the emotions we experience,” says Dr. Candace Pert who is a neuropharmacologist and a pioneer in the intricacies of the mind-body connection. ‘To unwind our emotional traumas, we may need to unwind our fascia first. When we liberate our bodies, we can liberate our minds.’
Great, Tell Me More
Luckily there are several ways we can help to unleash these hidden, locked emotions that might be unknowingly camping out in our bodies, specifically our fascia.
Our fascia is that remarkable, malleable network of connective tissue that weaves through our entire body encasing all of our muscles, bones and organs. Releasing this ‘stuck stress’ plays a key role in releasing repressed memories and emotions.
‘Through bodywork and some types of "exercise," we can release psychological trauma by addressing chronic tension patterns and holdings in the body’’ says Fascia expert Tom Meyers , author of Anatomy Trains.
“We can change the pattern of that fascia and thus you can get down to the chronic tension patterns lodged in the tissues. This can lead to a wonderful emotional unfolding over the long term.”
I’m in. Now how to LET GO
There are several approaches to start the process of releasing. The best is a combination of cognitive therapy coupled with myofascial release.
This all sounds great and expensive, but there are also some wonderful avenues we can stretch into that only require your body, a focused mind, and a few inexpensive props for added effectiveness. Let’s dive in :
SELF RELEASE TECHNIQUES
- FOAM ROLLING - This self administrated exercise can help relieve muscle tightness, soreness, and inflammation. All of these benefits will help to release tight tissues where our issues might be hiding. Here’s some videos on how to start your roll now.
- TAPPING - stimulating the meridian points through tapping can reduce the stress or negative emotion you feel from your issue, ultimately restoring balance to your disrupted energy. It’s different, interesting, but here's a little tap into the magic.
- DIAPHRAGMATIC BREATHING - studies have revealed that diaphragmatic breathing (belly breathing) may trigger body relaxation responses and benefit both physical and mental health.
- AWARENESS - this is the ultimate armor of acceptance. A juxtaposition in itself, but it is the key to allowing our mind to observe what our body is feeling. From there we have a springboard to jump into focus, shining light on what is hidden.
- STRUCTURAL INTEGRATION - a multi-stage treatment process that works by manipulating and stretching your body's fascia to relieve pain. Ida Rolf is the mother of this incredible myofascial release that helps to unwind deep ingrained patterns in the body. Search ‘Rolfing’ for a certified professional in your area.
- ACUPUNCTURE - This ancient Chinese medicine-based approach to treating a variety of conditions helps to stimulate nerve-rich areas of the skin surface in order to influence tissues, glands, and organs promoting the movement of stagnant energy, chi, in the body. Best to ask friends, colleagues for a personal referral if possible.
- EMDR THERAPY - Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an extensively researched, effective psychotherapy method proven to help people recover from trauma and other distressing life experiences, including PTSD, anxiety, depression, and panic disorders. To find a certified therapist near you here.
- SOMATIC THERAPY - This is another trauma therapy modality that is excellent and based on the sympathetic nervous system fight/flight/freeze response. Here’s a link to help your search and more info.
Ready Set let GO
In all these techniques, the goal is to really become aware of the body. Observe where you feel you might be holding repressed emotion and then focus on the release to help restore peace in your body and your mind.