We all know massage feels good, right? Easing tension from those sore, sometimes overworked or injured muscles, helps to nurse them back to health and of course, that can leave you feeling very relaxed. But what if bodywork could also boost your overall well-being, not just physically but mentally and spiritually as well?
So we know that massage can be truly relaxing, head to toe and we’ve gone over the numerous advantages to injured or taxed muscle groups and we know that the benefits of relaxing the nervous system are huge but we’re not just talking about relaxation and stress reduction. We’re talking about more than the benefits to overall health like lowered blood pressure, reduced migraines, resolution of TMJ disorders, help with circulatory issues and other such positive effects.
What we’re talking about here is something that allows the body to realign itself energetically.
Though eastern philosophies have long held the belief of mind/body connection and the effect one has upon the other, western science is just beginning to catch up. We’ve spoken about how body awareness and PNI (how thoughts and feelings can affect your well-being) are being explored in western medical arenas now but have you heard about something called cellular memory?
Cellular memory is the theory that the brain is not the only organ that stores memories or personality traits. It asserts that memory is a process that can form in systems throughout the body including being stored in organs, such as the heart. Some of the evidence, especially that put forth by transplant patients like Claire Sylvia in her book A Change of Heart, is extremely compelling. I encourage you to read more about this theory in greater depth.
For our purposes though, we will just be referring to your own cellular memory, not those of transplant recipients, which takes into account those from their donors as well. In order to talk about cellular memory though, we must first acknowledge something most athletes, dancers and musicians refer to, which is muscle memory.
Muscle memory is a form of procedural memory that involves putting a specific motor task to memory through repetition. As a movement is repeated over and over, a long-term muscle memory is created for that task — such as bike riding. This muscle memory allows you to ride your bike without the conscious thought, concentration or effort you had to use when first learning to ride the bike. Artists, dancers and musicians (like jazz pianist and author of Effortless Mastery, Kenny Werner) can often be heard to say that their feet or hands remember things that their brains have forgotten, they are referring to muscle memory.
A similar thing happens in our bodies with emotions. Strong emotions create strong memories and if memory is more of a whole system process (like the theory of cellular memory puts forth) than just the brain storing information then it reasons that it might store some of these strong memories in the cells within our body.
Just think about your sense of smell and how closely intertwined that sense is with memory and emotions. There are smells we remember fondly that, within a moment of smelling, like your grandmother’s fresh baked cinnamon rolls, can transport us back to childhood or can link us with memories of pain, like the antiseptic smell of hospitals. Smell is such a powerful memory activator that businesses, such as real estate agencies, have been using it to manipulate clients for years, advising home sellers to freshly bake cookies or spray vanilla scent throughout the house in order to tap into those memories and evoke warm, homey emotions in potential buyers.
So once we have linked muscles and smell (one of your five senses) with the system of creating memories in the body and sensory memories like the smell of your grandmother’s rolls, with emotion you can see that other senses could easily be linked to the process of memory (taste, touch, sight, sound) as well. Armed with this information, it is not such a stretch to believe that the intertwined communications of this system could inform your body’s cells to hold memories of these sensations or emotions, good or bad.
While we probably wouldn’t object to happy memories being locked away within our cell walls (assuming their activation, like sensory memory would re-fire a positive experience or association) most of us would probably prefer to not have to relive the traumatic or painful experiences of our lives. But the truth is that memory is memory to this process, it is not viewed as good or bad but rather as strong — meaning any strong feelings, physical or emotional, can leave it’s impression on us. And since science is now willing to admit that stress affects our physical state of being, to our detriment, it makes sense to want to purge any and all of these negative cell memories, in order to minimize disease.
Think for a moment about the times when you’ve felt really on edge, like the next person who walks through your door is gonna “get it” or maybe you just felt inexplicably weepy. These are the effects of stress, conflict and possibly sublimation. Now, there are many ways in which to exorcise these kinds of feelings like meditation, exercise, counseling, Tai Chi, food, sex, music, baths, whatever your coping mechanisms are. Some, obviously, work better than others. But what all of these mechanisms and the stress itself illustrates is, the undeniable mind/body connection.
In bodywork every day, we see the mind/body (and spirit) connection with our clients. We listen as clients suddenly reveal deep or long forgotten memories and emotions, unseated as a result of the work we are doing. As we work these muscles, tapping into both your physical and emotional with the simple act of pressure on flesh, we are in a ideal position to be able to guide you through the process of purging and assimilation of these emotions and experiences.
Some clients are happy with the mere exchange of physical energies, purging the old stagnant and a infusing with new vibrancy, through the modality of massage. Others may wish to work further and deeper, clearing not only the stored cellular memory but to push forward into energetic clearing and coaching. Our clients comfort levels, desires and openness to this type of work is always respected.
If you’d like to learn more about what Guided Life Coaching and Energy Bodywork with Tara can provide, please give us a call at 503-781-2531.