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The Role of Body Awareness in Emotional Healing

Dr. Lisa Cooney, is a dedicated psychotherapist and published author. Passionate about facilitating soul therapy, life coaching, and spiritual transformation, she specializes in guiding individuals towards inner healing and personal growth. With a wealth of experience in guiding individuals and couples on their healing odysseys, She is here to ensure your journey to wellness is enlightening, empowering, and filled with ease. 

In the intricate journey of emotional healing, body awareness emerges as a profound and often overlooked component. It’s not merely about recognizing when we feel pain or comfort; it's about understanding how our bodies communicate deeper emotional truths. For individuals seeking personal and financial growth, cultivating body awareness can be transformative.

Understanding Body Awareness

Body awareness, or somatic awareness, refers to the ability to notice sensations, actions, and the physical state of our body. This awareness connects directly to our emotions, serving as a bridge between the physical and emotional worlds. For instance, a clenched jaw or tightened shoulders may signal stress or unexpressed anger. Recognizing these signals is the first step in addressing underlying emotional turmoil.

Research supports the connection between body awareness and emotional health. A study by Mehling et al. (2011) found that higher body awareness is associated with improved emotional regulation and reduced stress levels. This suggests that by becoming more attuned to our bodily sensations, we can better understand and manage our emotional responses, leading to a healthier, more balanced life1.

The Connection Between Body and Emotions

Dr. Lisa Cooney, a seasoned therapist specializing in body psychotherapy, emphasizes the significant role of the body in storing and expressing emotions. According to her, "Our bodies hold onto past traumas and emotional experiences, which can manifest as physical discomfort or disease if not addressed." The concept of 'body memory' suggests that experiences, especially traumatic ones, are not just recorded in our minds but also in our cellular memory.

Supporting this, research by Van der Kolk (2014) highlights how trauma impacts the body, showing that traumatic experiences can leave physical imprints that contribute to chronic pain and other health issues. This underscores the importance of addressing not only the mental but also the physical aspects of trauma to achieve comprehensive healing2.

Practices to Enhance Body Awareness

Mindful Meditation

Engaging in mindfulness meditation helps individuals become observers of their bodily sensations and thoughts without judgment. This practice can illuminate how emotions affect the body and vice versa. Studies have shown that mindfulness meditation can significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression by promoting better body awareness3.

Yoga and Movement Therapies

Yoga, tai chi, and other movement-based therapies encourage a deeper connection with the body. They allow individuals to explore and release emotional blockages through physical expression. Research has demonstrated that yoga can decrease symptoms of PTSD and enhance overall emotional wellbeing. This indicates that movement therapies can serve as powerful tools for both physical and emotional healing4.

Focused Body Scanning

This technique involves mentally scanning your body to identify areas of tension or discomfort. It promotes an understanding of how emotions might be influencing these physical states. A study by Kabat-Zinn (1990) found that body scanning can improve psychological health and decrease stress, highlighting its potential as a self-help technique for emotional regulation5.

Benefits of Body Awareness in Emotional Healing

Improved Emotional Regulation

By understanding the physical signs of emotions, individuals can better manage their emotional responses to various situations. This awareness facilitates a more balanced emotional life and can contribute to better personal relationships and professional interactions.

Release of Trauma

Body awareness techniques can aid in the release of stored trauma within the body, often seen in therapies like EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and somatic experiencing. These methods help reprocess and release the emotions associated with traumatic memories. Shapiro (2001) has extensively documented the efficacy of EMDR in trauma resolution, demonstrating its effectiveness in helping individuals process and move past traumatic events6.

Enhanced Personal and Financial Growth

There is a clear link between emotional health and financial success. Individuals who are emotionally balanced and aware are more likely to make sound decisions and maintain stability in their professional and personal lives. Research by Tang et al. (2016) shows that emotional regulation skills are linked to better financial decision-making. This suggests that by improving emotional health, individuals can also enhance their financial stability and success7.

Incorporating Body Awareness for Healing

For those beginning this journey, Dr. Cooney suggests starting small. Regularly practicing mindfulness or engaging in gentle yoga can significantly enhance body awareness. Over time, these practices can lead to substantial changes not just emotionally but also in one’s overall lifestyle and interactions. By integrating these practices into daily routines, individuals can gradually build a stronger connection between their physical sensations and emotional states.

Conclusion

The role of body awareness in emotional healing is indispensable. It serves not just as a tool for personal growth but as a foundational element for overall health. As we continue to navigate the complexities of our emotions and relationships, turning inward and listening to our bodies can guide us toward a more balanced and fulfilling life. Recognizing and responding to the signals our bodies send can help us address underlying emotional issues, ultimately leading to more profound and lasting healing.

  1. Mehling, W. E., Wrubel, J., Daubenmier, J. J., Price, C. J., Kerr, C. E., Silow, T., Gopisetty, V., & Stewart, A. L. (2011). Body awareness: a phenomenological inquiry into the common ground of mind-body therapies. Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine, 6(1), 6.
  2. Van der Kolk, B. A. (2014). The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. Penguin Books.
  3. Khoury, B., Lecomte, T., Fortin, G., Masse, M., Therien, P., Bouchard, V., Chapleau, M. A., Paquin, K., & Hofmann, S. G. (2013). Mindfulness-based therapy: A comprehensive meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology Review, 33(6), 763-771.
  4. Van der Kolk, B. A., Stone, L., West, J., Rhodes, A., Emerson, D., Suvak, M., & Spinazzola, J. (2014). Yoga as an adjunctive treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 75(6), e559-565.
  5. Kabat-Zinn, J. (1990). Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness. Delta.
  6. Shapiro, F. (2001). Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Basic Principles, Protocols, and Procedures. Guilford Press.
  7. Tang, N., Baker, A., & Peter, P. C. (2016). Investigating the Disconnect Between Financial Knowledge and Behavior: The Role of Emotional Regulation in Investment Decision Making. Journal of Consumer Affairs, 49(2), 376-406.

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For many years now, in classes all around the world, people have heard me say, Hi Body, Hi Body, Hi Body, from English to Spanish, to Portuguese, to Turkish and on and on. It's one of my favorite things when I visit another country. I like to learn that phrase in their language even before "where is the bathroom" 馃槀

On a more serious note, connecting with your body is very rewarding and often avoided.聽I am a thinker and getting into a routine with my body, my self and my creations took work for awhile and NOW, it's a morning routine that I just can't miss.

I created a 21-Day challenge where I share exactly what I do to Cultivate Energetic Presence with myself and I'm excited to share this with the world. It's available on my newest website, One Degree Shift Academy鈩.

You've Got This!!! 馃┓ just a #onedegreeshift is all it takes.