My favorite part of this healing work so far has been supporting women in healing feminine wounds; reclaiming trust in the masculine; and thereby reclaiming feminine power.
Did you know that the left side of your body is classically ‘feminine’, and the right side ‘masculine’? So, a proliferation of issues on one side can signify work to heal around that side. It can be the relationship to the parent of that gender, or a partner / previous partner, or the ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ in oneself. I didn’t believe this, naturally, until I’d experimented with it for years with clients.
Alternately, the side where the issues show up, is sometimes the side with less energetic ‘baggage’. It is being felt because it has been overcompensating for the ‘shut down’ side. That side feels like 'emptiness', so the other is overly full. As we open it, often this shifts. As I touch points and sensations filter in, life force flows back into that side, usually with tears. I use words at this point to anchor in the 'filling up.' Something like 'I take my arm back' or 'I take my body back.'
Often, while working on the psoas or the feet and legs of a client, memories of traumatic events, often associated with a parental figure, show up. Parents are our introduction to the masculine and feminine principles in our world, generally, so it makes sense that our fundamental lessons might show up attached to them. This is what most psychology comes back to, again and again’; childhood patterns.
I facilitate healing through somatic methods, meaning touching into the bodily experience physically, because I find that this facilitates the deepest healing possible in the shortest amount of time. There are no short cuts in healing; but this is one of the most direct paths.
How can a male practitioner support a woman in healing feminine wounds?
I never dreamed that this would become on of my specialties. I stumbled into it. I'd assumed I'd work mostly with men. Men haven't been as open to the work, though many of us need it as much, perhaps more so.
Through touch, I stand in for the masculine during sessions. This can sometimes ‘trigger’ the body and mind on various levels. It is common for a client to project something onto me during our work together, and as we work through it, whatever story is running under the surface gets exposed. If they are feeling hurt by me, for instance, I ask if the pain is familiar, and often this links back to the original wound (or an iteration of it).
Sometimes I can touch a tender point, and the pattern shows up. 'Why are you doing this to me,' for instance. Or 'touch me as hard as you want, I won't react.' As these come to light, a layer of armor is shed.
Through the body learning to trust mine, deep healing happens. Often relationships transform, or the body and mind open up to love in new forms. It is a beautiful process, and I'm always continually mystified to see how it shows up in the context of different lives.
I work with clients in the redwood forests of Sonoma County, about two hours north of San Francisco. I find this idyllic setting also facilitates the healing of feminine wounds. Over time, I hope to invoke the power of nature in more direct ways.
Examples of the wounds somatic work can support includes symptoms stemming from sexual trauma, either physical or emotional. Painful, repeated love patterns, or physical symptoms involving the sexual organs; an inability to climax, or a feeling of disconnectedness during intercourse. Often during our work together, women experience making love to their partner differently, often feeling their body during intercourse for the first time.
The truth is, we can never know what will register as a traumatic experience in the system, until we experience it directly.
A rough touch or disrespectful sexual experience, even with a loved one, can register as traumatic. Or the boundaries not being honored, even with a husband. Some people carry the trauma of a harsh word for decades or across lifetimes. An unexpected event is more likely to register in the system as traumatic, particularly by a trusted person. The word 'betrayal' often shows up.
Years ago, while I was working on a client's thigh, she suddenly remembered how her stepfather had looked at her once, in an oddly sexual way as she entered her teens... her system had registered this as traumatic.
She had been partially shut down to men ever since, and couldn't quite trust them. It affected the way she stood and moved and spoke. She shuddered and shook as we released it with a flood of tears, by a slight rotation of the thigh, and the available space for a relationship with men opened up. I'd noticed it because her thigh appeared energetically 'soft' and 'empty' to me, so we explored from there.
In other words, THE key to healing at the root, is discovering what the root is.
Another example is taken from my book, Flow: An Illuminated Training Manual:
Lucy and her Father
• • •
Lucy (name changed for anonymity) was in her early twenties. She came to me complaining of a vague pain and a lack of mobility in both of her shoulders, as well as an “inability to cry.” She wondered if she “felt enough.” Even at her father’s funeral, she said, she hadn’t cried at all. These were signs that this might be a session focused on healing trauma.
I begin to work gently around her body, getting to know how it moves and how it responds to me, my energy. To men, to people in general. Some of us are very guarded. This work can be done standing or lying down. In this case I lie her down on a cushion and we begin the exploration. I guide her into deep, abdominal breaths as I gently take her arm rotate it at the shoulder joint. She has complained about her shoulder but that’s not why I’m there. I see something. Usually what a client thinks is the issue is not. As I rotate the shoulder, I notice that the breath halts and her forehead furrows just slightly. It is so subtle that I almost gloss over it.
I return the arm to that position again and give a persistent tug. Lucy is frozen.
She becomes a child in the hologram. I don’t know how to explain this phenomenon, but I see it. Her face, her entire body regresses in time, back to the source of her trauma. It was once too subtle for me to witness. Now it seems obvious.
“Take a deep breath,” I say. She hesitates, and then tries to get away with a very shallow breath.
“One more time,” I say, smiling. “A little deeper.”
As the breath floods her lungs, there is a shudder and a rush of tears. I allow them to flow for a moment; to cleanse her.
“Where did you go?” I ask.
“My father passed away about a year ago,” she replies. “And I never cried. He used to pull me by that arm when I was young, to cross the street.”
So little Lucy had connected the tissues around the gleno-humeral joint to her deceased father. When we made this connection, and she was able to emote, the shoulder stiffness and pain vanished. Will it ever return? The honest answer is, it may. But with the new awareness, it may not, or it may pass quickly. Itno longer holds Lucy in its bonds. Healing has never been a point in time; it is a process, an unraveling. Sometimes a healing is delivered with a beautiful cure. Sometimes not. Either way, the world around us transforms.
Healing trauma can have far reaching effects. I like to say that our lives are like a hologram, and adjusting one area can ripple out into all areas of our life. Having released her emotions about her father, Lucy was able to begin to trust men again. She was married a few months later to a man whom she had been with for years but had been unable to fully commit to.
There really are only two emotions; Love and Fear.
Healing trauma involves releasing emotional baggage. This allows us to overcome our fears of repeating the past; in essence, to fear less and love more.
The beauty of this work is that, instead of simply addressing the complaint (a relationship pattern or physical symptom, for instance), it also gets to the root of the issue) which we often never suspected consciously. What we think is the problem is not always the problem.
A lack of self worth in relationships, for instance, could come from a prior partner, but also from a parent or grandparent; a sibling or a stranger. Trauma could be 'taken on' via the glance of a relative or a scene in a film. Until we get in touch with the root, the pattern haunts us.
We might have forgotten, if we ever knew. The body never forgets.
The body remembers everything.
When the mind is spinning in circles, we can touch the skin to find the truth, and call upon the body's innate wisdom.
Suddenly, after all this time, the healing can reveal itself, finally.