Thoughts

I sat in conversation with a woman two years ago who spoke a line of wisdom that absolutely blew my mind: The body is the unconscious.

With my background in psychology, I was familiar with Freudian and Jungian approaches to studying the unconscious, but what I frequently encountered was reference to the unconscious “mind”. So up in my head I stayed: learning, analyzing, thinking, researching, writing, talking and otherwise engaging with the human experience from my intellectual happy place.

I began to incorporate somatic approaches to healing after reading Walking the Tiger: Healing Trauma by Peter Levine, When the Body Says No by Gabor Mate, and The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk. I learned how trauma manifests in and through the body and how thinking and talking about our trauma may not always be effective for unburdening ourselves.

Some trauma is pre-verbal and if we weren’t able to understand what was happening to us or communicate at the time the trauma occurred, it’s likely we’ll have trouble understanding or talking about how we are feeling or impacted today. Some trauma is passed down to us from our ancestors and we might carry emotions, predispositions, and behavioural patterns that may have been adaptive at one point in time, but are no longer serving us in the present moment.

Psychedelic medicine is a beautiful companion for the somatic healing journey, as it often calls us back to our bodies through our emotions, senses, and physical reactions. We might begin to feel the emotions and sensations that our nervous systems stored pre-verbally and start to release them. We might gain insights into ancestral wounding and begin to gracefully return all that we are carrying that isn’t ours to hold. Along the way, we can notice and observe the mind’s activity without attaching to it as truth.

Our bodies know the way. All we need to do is listen. A simple, but not easy, journey. 🙂

Reflection

What thoughts, emotions, and sensations arise for you when you read about healing through the body? Do you have experience with somatic approaches to healing?

What is your relationship like with your body? In what ways do you connect with your body? In what ways would you like to explore connecting with your body? As someone with a history of eating disorders and abuse, I understand that this can be a very challenging area to explore and I encourage you to seek support with this process.

If you are in a preparation phase, I recommend weaving in somatic practices before and after your psychedelic experience. This could look like bodywork sessions (e.g., reflexology, massage), nervous system regulation strategies (e.g., breathwork, cold exposure), movement (e.g., dance, yoga) or somatic therapy (e.g., somatic experiencing, somatic stress release). 

If you are in an integration phase, I invite you to reflect on your physical experience while in the psychedelic space. What emotions and physical sensations arose? What was that like for you? Perhaps now is a good time for some extra care and attention towards your body.