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Healing happens in and through the body

Updated: Apr 11




As I continue to engage in offering healing spaces and participating in my own healing, I more deeply understand how the felt sense of safety serves as a gateway or portal to healing. When we encounter trauma or stress in the absence of, or the inability to orient to, safety, we are overwhelmed and the natural cycle of a stress response does not complete. Our body’s response to threat remains “on” in multifaceted and layered ways:


Physically (body): protective mechanisms through connective tissue, muscles and ultimately posture, such as tension, holding patterns, lack of tone or the inability to connect with or feel certain areas.

Mentally (mind): protective mechanisms through narratives, dialogue, and scripts that help us make sense of the experience or suppress it altogether

Emotionally (heart): protective mechanisms through the presence of anger, rage, anxiety, desire to please or appease, or even the absence of feeling

Spiritually (spirit/sensation): protective mechanisms of ungrounded connection to or disconnection from core values or virtues like compassion, humility, or forgiveness.


Experiences that are too overwhelming for us to stay present to the experience of often remain as unresolved or stuck experiences within our body because. This happens because the protective mechanisms that arises as impulses in our body in response to the overwhelm are unable to complete their natural cycle of turning on, being expressed, and then fizzling out. They get interrupted in a certain phase of the stress response cycle. This creates obstacles and internal interference that hinder present-day embodied living. This can result in feelings of stagnation, numbness, anxiety, depression, and a general disconnection from life, including positive experiences. Unresolved or uncompleted, these once effective protective mechanisms remain active and become inhibitory. We become unconsciously trapped in those incomplete protective impulses or patterns of tension or detachment across body, mind, heart, and spirit. Those impulses unconsciously become the way move through life. In other words, incomplete stress response cycles take away our choice of how to engage and be with life because our bodies are stuck in a pattern of movement or reaction that until fully processed or completed will continue to play out.


All life operates in cycles, and our body is no different. Natural responds to stress: fight, flight, freeze, fawn etc are cyclical experiences that we have to allow the felt experience of those impulses move in and through our body. This does not mean we act out of or on the impulses, rather as we orient or connect to the sensations of safety: slow, soft, and warm, the body relaxes and the impulse of that threat response is allowed to move and be expressed through the body to completion. These natural cycles can interrupted or inhibited when the bodily sensation or impulse is not allowed to continue due to muscular contraction, an internal dialogue that says its wrong, or a feeling of shame towards that response. When these responses are halted before completion, new growth, development, or maturation is also inhibited. Additionally, the uncompleted cycles continue to drain the body of vital life force because the treat response requires tremendous energy to operate. As the stifled threat responses remains on, it begins to feel like a normal state of being and the body creates a sense of homeostasis around that way of being. This leads to maladaptive and dysfunctional ways of having to deal with circumstances because the growth and maturity needed are inaccessible. Completion of the cycle requires supporting and allowing the threat response to happen while bringing safety online in the body. This allows what wanted to happen in response to a situation to happen. It allows that impulse to move and be expressed through the layers of the body. Just as animals in nature follow natural paths to completing stress cycles, our bodies require the same. Through welcoming and patient presence, we can create space for unresolved experiences to unfold in and through the body. The idea is that sensations of safety create a pathway for that threat response to move in and through the body without being with out being interrupted. As we create spaces to connect to the sensations of softness, slowness, and warmth, what has been inhibiting the completion and the original stress cycle impulses begin to re-surface. Once this energy begins to flow again, bodily sensations and emotions associated with the experience can also be seen, felt, and allowed. This process leads to digestion, completion, and integration of the entire cycle. As the interference of the incomplete cycle clears from the body, there is very often a simultaneous felt experience of relief and grief. Relief that its finally over and grief for the time spent feeling it. This experience ripples through our entire system: body, mind, emotion, and spirit with a softening, sense of lightenness, and growth or blossoming that has been waiting to happen. Research has named this a period integration and post-traumatic growth.


Physically: softer, less tension or pain, more open, better alignment and with more ease

Mentally: less looping stories and rumination, different perspectives and scripts about the experience are available, certain concepts now suddenly make sense

Emotionally: increased body presence of and connection to joy, relief, calm, AND less resistance to grief, anger, anxiety. Ultimately we gain the capacity to have both joy and grief together

Spiritually: greater embodied or felt sense of compassion, grace, and forgiveness. These virtues are no longer something one thinks they should do or feel, but become an more instinctual way or state of being


Sensations of safety or “what feels ‘good’ in the body, often correlates to the sensations of slowness, softness, and warmth. Feeling these sensations or bringing awareness to the presence of these sensations is a catalyst for moving stuck and incomplete cycles toward completion. Just as the body needs to be in a relaxed or unclenched state to digest food, it needs the same to process other forms of energy. Moving through cycles of completion is a courageous, beautiful, and tender process that demands respecting the wisdom of how the body initially responded to stress and trauma and the presence of a compassionate and intuitive observer to encourage the completion of that process. By navigating these cycles, we enhance our capacity to feel, understand, and connect with ourselves in a deeply embodied way. Meaning what we know to be true intellectually or rationally, can also be felt and connected to as true in a 'deeper' or more embodied way. Moving through these processes fosters a sense of coherence and resonance to who we know ourselves to be AND capacity to become that version of ourselves. As we learn to embody and rest in sensations of safety, we can better digest and integrate past experiences and connect with ourselves and our world in more fulfilling and meaningful ways.


When working with clients I incorporate safety through presence, gentle touch, and intuition understanding of this process. If you are feeling stuck in your life or have a desire to work more somatically and intuitively, it would be an honor to work with you. 

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