What do Lady Gaga, the start of spring and your bodies have in common?  So much.

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If you were like so many of us who witnessed Lady Gaga’s amazing Oscar performance of “Til It Happens to You,” you were moved.  The song is amazing, but it’s her passion and power that make it so riveting.

I later learned one of the reasons this song affected her so much was that she, like the people she sings about, was sexually abused.  In an article about her story, she explains how the trauma of the abuse lasted for years and manifested itself in her body.  She was in chronic pain for years.

The idea that feelings and memories can bury themselves in our bodies may sound a little “hocus pocus” for some of us.  And I get it.  Aren’t feelings all manufactured in our brain?  Where do our bodies fit into this?

Well they do.  And I, myself, have spent that past year starting to explore my own feelings via my body.  I’m fortunate enough to have an executive coach who employs some techniques of Somatic Experiencing.  What is S.E.?  Wikipedia defines it this way:

Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a form of therapy aimed at relieving and resolving the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental and physical trauma-related health problems by focusing on the client’s perceived body sensations (or somatic experiences).

Psychology Today further explains: “When any part of this normal cycle (cycling between alertness and stress) is interrupted, the charge of energy gets ‘stuck’ in our bodies. We can then fail to fluctuate easily between states of different intensity. And the charge stuck in our systems will likely be triggered when in the future we encounter events, people, or things that remind us of the earlier experience that was never completed.”

Fortunately I am not suffering from major stress like that of Lady Gaga.  But my coach and I still feel the techniques could help me be more aware of how my body is holding emotions that are preventing me from experiencing happiness and progress.

I’m not writing this story to compel you all to try out Somatic Experiencing.  Rather, I’m continually struck by the strong connection between our emotions and our bodies.  Our bodies are not just vessels or shells.  They shouldn’t be ignored unless we’re hungry or cold, nor should they be turned into the only reflection of we are.  

Are bodies are ARE us.  We are intimately connected to them. And so we must nourish, care for and connect with our bodies as much as possible.  And certainly when we experience trauma — both physical and emotional, we can’t will away the pain, we have to face it in mind and body.

Spring has sprung and it’s a time for new beginnings.  It’s also a time when we are more physical again.  Let’s celebrate this time by re-connecting with, listening to and caring for our whole selves — mind, soul AND body.  


Weekend Observations: the double-edged sword of being so “connected to our bods”

All the work I’ve done over the past few years on body-image, weight management and health has definitely made me much more aware of my body’s response to stress, food, exercise and self-love.

But there’s a downside to this awareness.

These past few weeks have been full of Jewish Holidays. With the exception of Yom Kippur — a fast day — these holidays have been about family, friends, prayer and food, drink and more food. And I’ve loved it!

But perhaps a bit too much.

And I had no idea that my body would respond so quickly and vehemently to what I ate.

I’m not talking about gaining weight (which I did, but I expected that). I’m talking about my stomach hurting after EVERY meal. I’ve always enjoyed food and have eaten my fair share of feasts. But I never experienced this. It was almost as if my body was saying, “Now that you and I are better acquainted, I’m going to say what I’m feeling loud and clear: you’re eating too much and I don’t like it damn it!”

What could possibly be different now than all the other times I gorged? Could it be that now that I have a more “close and personal” relationship with my body,  I can feel it communicating with me more “loudly?” Does that even make sense?

I really don’t know how to explain it but after weeks of feeling the repercussions of eating too much at 1 sitting, I have a newfound appreciation for the advice of eating smaller, fewer portions.  And a new-found respect (even fear!) for the power of my body’s “voice”.

Comment or tweet me your thoughts @beautyskew