My husband had cataract surgery on both eyes. For the first time, since the fourth grade, he can see without wearing glasses. Yet, he finds himself “taking off” his glasses before going to bed. I told him he will probably be doing that for a while. It’s body memory. It’s a habit that will take time to change.
Body memory is more powerful than we realize. We tend to take it for granted. Once we’ve gotten the hang of walking, bicycling, or other forms of activity we simply go through the steps. We’re not so focused on every little shifting of our weight. Learning to play an instrument becomes a body memory. We aren’t paying attention to every single hand movement. Instead, our concentration is on being creative to make the music we want.
We can go through our whole morning routine in our sleep and then try to remember if we put deodorant on. Okay, that may just be me.
Our bodies hold our emotional memories as well. Thinking about someone we love will make us smile and feel like our hearts will burst. Thinking about someone we miss will makes us sad and feel like our hearts will burst. Our physical and emotional well-being are tied together. Our fight or flight response wouldn't work otherwise.
Our bodies and our mind work together to protect us. When we are in danger chemicals are released. Adrenaline is pumped in throughout our body to put us in motion. Many times trauma and tragedy get locked into our bodies. We aren’t always aware why, even after years later, we struggle with panic and anxiety. People who suffer from PTSD - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder feel the need to be hyper vigilant even when there’s no present danger.
I know for myself that I’ll suddenly feel depressed, anxious and sick. I will try to figure out what is happening with myself physically. If everything is going well, then I will look at the date. Sure enough, it’s an anniversary of a traumatic event. We all have them. I recognize that my body is reacting to an old memory. I realize that I still have some emotional healing to do. It does help to be aware of how strong the mind-body connection is.
I believe in getting a professional therapist or psychologist to help. Many traumas, especially from childhood, live within our bodies. Having a professional guide us through our past and work through the pain may alleviate many health issues. Doctors and researchers have shown a correlation between chronic pain and emotional pain. I recommend reading Dr. John Sarno’s book Healing Back Pain. He explains the mind-body connection and how it can affect our overall health.
I’ve learned valuable tools that have helped me keep the stress and panic down to a minimum. It’s cookies. Lots of cookies. It’s also taking a few minutes to pay attention to my breathing. Closing my eyes, relaxing my shoulders, and taking in slow, deep breaths will bring me back to the present. I’m a big believer in meditation. It’s a wonderful way to find peace and gratitude. Dancing and exercising are always the perfect remedy to feel better physically as well as emotionally.
Take a few minutes out of your day and focus on how you are feeling. Pay attention to how you’re standing and sitting. Make yourself smile. It’s the fastest way to bring up positive memories. We have more control over our thoughts than we give ourselves credit for. Bring yourself into the present moment by taking slow, deep breaths. Relax your neck and shoulders. All of this helps reduce stress for your mind and your body.
If anything else, you can always hit me up for some chocolate chip cookies. I have no problem sharing.