After being on the spiritual discovery path for most of my 63 years, I’ve come to see that there are just about as many approaches to how to go about this journey as there are people. In other words, spiritual journeys are a deeply individual experience, and ultimately, only the journeyer can decide which way to go, or what approach to take.
Ironically, there are also some very tried and true techniques to use to speed you on your way that seem to apply to practically everyone, but the results vary. My own style of research and discovery into who and more vitally, what I am, includes trying out practically every mode and modality I run across. I’ve often thought, If I just stayed with one damn technique I’d probably be a lot further along by now. But then, this would be only if I didn’t change as a result of applying these various tools. I change–need a new tool. And although that seems like a bit of an excuse, it seems to work for me as I am now.
That said, one observation I keep running across, and then processing on, is how emotions are intertwined with the physical body. There are hundreds of modalities that address the emotional component of physical disease and discomforts, yet basically, they are all saying the same thing.
SEE ALSO: What Would Mr. Rogers Say?
Body and emotions
My favorite spiritual teacher and savant, Teal Swan, summed up this whole approach with one question: “How does your pain make you feel?” Sit with that for a moment. “How does your pain make you feel?” What emotions are triggered by your pain? The reason this is such a significant approach is because the structure of pain and disease in the body is underpinned, anchored and given form by the emotions or feelings from which it arose. By re-experiencing these emotions, we’re able to effectively “reverse-engineer” and de-construct our pain. It goes like this: Say, you experience knee pain. Now sit with that pain for a moment–not resisting it, not judging it, or fleeing from it. Instead, observe how that pain makes you feel. Pick out some emotions–there will be several.
For example, I felt my knee pain and it had a feeling of helplessness about it. I followed that back into my past, asking for the earliest time where I felt helpless like that. I ran straight into a time when I was about 8 years old and had badly sprained my ankle. I couldn’t walk on it and was limping around. My friends wanted me to come out and play, but I had to say I couldn’t. This tied into feelings of abandonment and rejection–not to mention frustration. I realized my knee pain had dozens, if not hundreds, of “anchors” or connecting points with past incidents.
I immediately began to feel my knee loosening up a bit, and inflammation and pain levels going down. I kept re-addressing the feelings my knee pain was putting me through, with it becoming increasingly clear that although physically the knee was swollen, stiff, sore, and hard to walk on–all of that was being held in place by a previous emotional state. The “holding in place” of those emotions, over time, created physical changes and mutations resulting in knee pain.
Energy in motion
Another one of my favorite teachers, Christopher Hills, always emphasized that emotion is “E, energy, in – MOTION”. When the motion stops or is obstructed in some way, either by denial or lack of interest, or misunderstanding, it eventually creates physical disease and discomfort. Thus, pain becomes a virtual key to emotional freedom. Emotions are locked up in the pain. By simply looking at them, the energy is reset into motion and pain dissipates.
This is such a simple mechanism it’s easy to forget about it–not to mention pain has a way of distracting attention away from its cause. Use your pain as your deep existential treasure–your strident path to ease and joy in the body and freedom of choice in life.