written by: C. Nzingha Smith, M.S., RYT 200
Journaling, meditation, talk therapy, your Sunday brunch date with your favorite girls, positive affirmations, and listening to uplifting podcasts are all wonderful ways to aid you on your healing journey. However, there comes a time when talk and all the mental focus might not be enough. You might feel like I did, where you are all talked out and feel like there is something else needed to really go deeper.
Often times when I scroll on social media or read articles on health, wellness, and healing, the focus is almost always around healing your mind, thoughts, or relationships. Not as much attention is given to how our bodies help us absorb the blows from our painful life experiences and the healthy ways we should tend to them.
Throughout our lives our bodies react in the moments of our trauma and are intuitively wired to remember to continue to react to the experienced pain and emotional hurt when triggered the same way. The memories are stored in different parts of our bodies as a way to warn and protect us in the future. This being the case and something that happens naturally, it’s common to relive and experience the trauma in our bodies even if we have suppressed the memory in our conscious minds and don’t remember the details of what happened.
While it’s important to heal your mind, emotions, and relationships, it’s just as important to begin paying attention to your body and getting more in tune with yourself so that you can work on retraining your nervous system to stop reacting the same way it did, originally, to past pain.
There came a time in my journey where I felt the need to start getting into my body more. Personally, I gravitated towards yoga as a way to become more in tune with myself and to start to really pinpoint and release my physical pain manifested from past trauma. It’s been an investment of time, patience, and open-mindedness. I didn’t begin in a class or by paying anyone. I started in the comfort of my bedroom with a mat and the silence. There, I started developing my own practice intuitively based on me listening to my body and then doing what it needed. I continued in this way, adding to my practice little by little. I found more peace, more stillness within, and the ability to manage stress better.
Eventually, I built up enough courage to attend a Yin Yoga class that happened to be taught by someone who looked like me, a woman of color. It was such a wonderful experience and I was able to feel the results immediately in my body. I was much lighter, more peaceful, and more centered.
I began looking into other ways I could incorporate bodywork into my lifestyle and budget. I found a deal for a Reiki session. Again, not knowing what to expect and a little apprehensive, I scheduled an appointment and went. To my surprise the practitioner was a Black woman who was warm, knowledgeable, and gave the best hugs ever. The session was also beneficial in helping to clear toxic blocked energy and allowed me to release further.
The biggest things I had to get over was denial, fear, and closed-mindedness. I essentially had to get out of my own way and just be okay with not having expectations, with learning new things, and experimenting to see what would actually help.
Here’s a list of some of the modalities of physical work I’ve tried and that have been the most beneficial for me so far to further release the toxic energy caused by past painful experiences.
This is not an exhaustive list. There are many different practices that you can try based on what works best for you, your body, and your needs. The key for me has been understanding and accepting that “one and done” isn’t going to work. I have to be consistent in order to see lasting results. I’ve made bodywork just as much a part of my healing work as other forms of proposed self-care methods. I try to practice yoga daily, even if it’s only for 10-15 minutes and I schedule at least one other bodywork activity a month, i.e. a massage.
A consistent bodywork practice has helped me move the stagnant energy out and is retraining my body’s intelligence to know that we’re safe now, and we don’t need to react to past triggers.
The important things to remember are to practice spending time with yourself, in silence, and to pay attention to your body and what it communicates to you. Only you really know what’s best for you, and if you listen, you will discover your particular needs, and how to meet them because your body will tell you. Trust yourself and try. You truly do know what’s best and you’re worth it!