I'm not a huge fan of exercise for the sake of exercise. I'd much rather get my exercise by getting outdoors and enjoying time in nature. When I move my body, I like to enjoy the process. One of the best benefits of moving your body is that it's a great way to heal from trauma. It's also a perfect way to release trapped emotions and other energies that are stuck. Today I've got a simple exercise you can do that's aimed at healing from trauma, and doesn't require a heart rate monitor!
We've been talking about trauma recently. Here are links to the other blogs so you can catch up:
Why you need movement to heal from trauma
I've got an exercise that you can use to help you release any unprocessed trauma that you may still have in your body. And it's actually the same thing that you can use if you have trapped emotions as well!
Emotions are energy, just like everything else in the universe, and they need to flow and to continue to move. Ideally, when we experience our emotions and our feelings, we allow them to surface and to be expressed in some way. This way, they continue to move. However, sometimes what happens is we have experiences where we're not able to allow those emotions to surface and to be released and they get stuck in the body. And when they become stuck in the body, ultimately, they can create dis-ease in your physical body.
Now, when you experience trauma, you have a similar type of process that happens. And it's happening on a cellular and a chemical level within your body. So if you experienced trauma, and you're not able to process those intense, strong energies and emotions at that time, they also become stuck in your body.
If you go into fight, flight, or freeze mode, and you can't do anything to get rid of all that energy that's there, or maybe you are only partially able to release those energies or express those emotions, the same thing happens and that energy becomes stuck in the body.
Fight-or-flight mode floods the body with hormones and messengers designed to get major action from your muscles, heart, and lungs. If you're not able to expresses that major action, those hormones don't just disappear. They still need to be allowed expression in some form, even if it's at a later time (even years later).
Movement with awareness
The exercise that I'm going to give you is really helpful whether you've experienced trauma, or if you think you might have trapped emotions, or even if you just want to do some housecleaning, emotionally and energetically for your body.
If you're not familiar with or not used to the practice of tuning into your body and having an awareness of what your sensations are that you're feeling in your body, then this might take you a little bit of time to get used to.
Think about going out for a hike or for a run or going for a bike ride. If you do any of those activities, and you're used to them, and you're not learning how to do them still, then you don't have to think about it or pay any attention to it. Many times you see people that go out to do these activities, and they're listening to music, or something on their headphones. They're not really paying attention to their body.
And that's fine, you can go and do those activities and experience them in that way, and get all the great physical benefits. But at the same same time, if you would go out and walk, run, ride your bike, and really turn your awareness into the physical sensations in your body, you might be surprised at what you would experience and what comes up for you as you're going through the physical activity.
How to use movement to release trauma or trapped emotions
There are two ways I want to share with you that you can use movement to release unprocessed trauma or trapped emotions. Both require tuning your awareness into your physical body and what you are experiencing as you move your body. If this is a totally new idea to you, then start with the simple awareness exercise I shared previously.
You want to do this someplace where you feel comfortable and safe and protected, where you don't have to worry about other people and feeling uncomfortable with them watching you.
Sometimes what happens when you express and release these emotions, you don't know for sure what's going to come up. You might start laughing, you might start crying, you don't really know until you allow yourself to experience it.
If you're new to this process and practice, you might want to try it someplace first, where you feel comfortable allowing those things to be expressed. Because of course, the whole goal is to let these things come out.
Here's the first way to heal through movement
Start in a standing position and take a couple breaths and get yourself relaxed and tuned into your breath and just see what you notice as you're breathing.
Allow yourself to stay there for a couple of breaths, and feel everything settle down and calm down a little bit from your daily activities.
Bring your awareness to some place in your body where you have some sort of discomfort, some sort of tightness, some sort of pain, any physical symptom that you're aware of in your body.
Take your awareness into that spot and see if you can keep breathing into that area. And maybe notice what you feel in that spot, you've got a description of it, you might think, well, this spot hurts, it feels painful. That's a wonderful place to start. Then take your awareness to that spot and see if you can maybe garner a little bit more information other than just pain for what it is that you're experiencing in that area.
Close your eyes if you feel comfortable doing so, it makes it easier to turn your awareness inward.
Next, allow yourself to start to move in whatever way your body wants to move for whatever it's feeling in that part of your body.
Let's say your low back is where you have your pain. Maybe you notice when you turn your attention there, that it's the right side of your low back where you really feel most of your pain. Perhaps a couple words come to you to describe exactly what that is.
As you close your eyes and go in and pay attention, see what your body wants to do. Move in whatever way your body wants to move on its own. You have to have this level of awareness of being able to tune into your body and see what your muscles want to do. Allow you yourself to move through whatever postures or positions your body directs you and guides you to go into.
Stay with this process as long as you feel that you need to. As much as you can, keep your awareness tuned into your body and to what you're feeling as you are moving through these motions.
You may only need 30 seconds or a minute and all of a sudden, you might start shaking, or trembling or crying or some other emotion, anger, something may start to surface for you. The idea is to just let that emotion surface. Let yourself cry, let yourself feel angry, whatever it is that is coming out. You may also even have images or memories that may come to you, that will help give you an idea of what experience is being released as you're allowing your body to move and do what it needs to do.
The amount of time is going to vary. You might be done quickly. You may also find that 20 minutes later, you're just finishing up. So it's not something that is really easy to set a timer to. You want to give yourself some time to allow your body to experience these movements.
When you're done, come back to your standing position again. Reset yourself, reground yourself back here in the present. Breathe deeply. Let everything settle. Feel the connection between your feet and the ground, the earth beneath you. Come back to your present space. Make sure you're settled, and then move forward and resume your normal activities.
Here's another option for healing through movement
If it's a little odd for you to stand here and start to allow your body to move, another way that you can do this is by putting on some music that you like.
It's not so much about dancing to the music as it is allowing your body to move to the music. I love to listen to some yoga chant music when I do this for myself, or sometimes it's great to put on some tribal drumming music. You might have a certain energy that you feel like you want to bring out and you can pick your music to go along with that energy.
This is a similar process to the first one, but turn on your music, and then come to standing and just maybe close your eyes, tune in and see how your body wants to move in response to that music. Again, it's not about dancing. It's about allowing your body to do whatever movements it wants to do to express and release any emotions, any tensions, any trauma that is still within your body that needs to be processed. You can continue for as long as you feel that you want to.
Usually, you'll know when you're finished for the time being. You'll feel that you're done and ready to move on.
Give it a shot! These exercises may seem a bit odd to you, especially if you're not used to tuning in to your body. But your body is speaking to you, all you need to do it learn how to listen! It will help you heal and will guide and direct you to release what it needs to.