I watched a friend pass away a few weeks ago. He had been striving to beat cancer for eight years.
Len was in his seventies when he passed. While he was more than twice my age, we shared something unique in common: the same mentor.
Nearly five years ago a seventy-year-old man walked into my mentor’s office and said, “I’ve tried everything else. But something tells me you’re different.”
Around that same time, I, at age thirty-one walked into my mentor’s office and said, “I’ve tried to do everything right. I’ve read all the books. But why do I still feel this way? Maybe you can help me.”
Len had been retired for years and had just received a cancer diagnosis.
I had been back in the U.S. for nearly a year after serving in the Peace Corps, but still my psyche and body were greatly imbalanced.
Len and I had lived very different lives, except for one thing: we had both been driven by an underlying feeling of not being loved or accepted.
Len’s underlying feelings expressed as being highly sensitive and withdrawn from deep social connections and long-term intimate relationships.
My underlying feelings expressed as being highly sensitive and obsessed with working and caring for others in an effort to prove my worth.
These underlying feelings had caused so much stress for both me and Len that our bodies began screaming at us.
Both of us lived in such constant fear of not being accepted, and chronic anxiety of being judged, that our nervous systems were always operating as if we were running from a tiger.
Hormones such as adrenaline, cortisol, and testosterone surged through our systems on overdrive until our physical bodies began to weaken, sicken, and shut down.
Our mentor, Tom, has over thirty-years of experience in body-centered psychotherapy and holistic health.
Tom explained to me and Len that our physical imbalances did not originate in our physical bodies, but rather as imbalances in our psyche. Since none of the allopathic methods for eradicating our symptoms seemed to be working, we opened our ears to hear more of what Tom had to say:
“Your issues exist at the level of your feelings and emotions. Once you bring your psyche into balance and harmony, your body will also have an opportunity to harmonize.”
Having exhausted all other obvious options for recovering our health, Len and I agreed – separately – to begin working with Tom to uncover the mysteries of our psyche and to explore the emotional depths of our human journeys.
We learned that talk therapy is limited in efficacy. While it made us feel good to be heard and acknowledged during those sessions, we still experienced the same extremes of chronic stress and anxiety afterwards. In fact, Len was struggling with severe insomnia and my feminine cycle had started going haywire.
“You must go deeper. You must be willing to feel the emotions you have been carrying with you for your entire life,” Tom guided.
There was just one problem: our minds were always trying to analyze life situations, to find resolutions, to make sense of past events, and to push ourselves to “just forget about it and move on.”
With our minds relentlessly focused on either the past or the future, Len and I struggled to become fully present with the sensations, feelings, and emotions existing within us in the moment.
Then we began body-centered psychotherapy sessions, which allowed us to zoom-in on the current conditions of our body and emotions. Suddenly, we began emoting in ways that we had never allowed ourselves to emote.
After each session, we felt clearer, emptier, as if something debilitating that had been attached to us for years had finally left.
It was astonishing to learn that our power to transcend pain was dependent upon our willingness to face it, patiently and consciously.
To be continued…