Mourning In Your Muscles

Mourning In Your Muscles
A cardiologist asked the hospital Chaplain to see a patient, about to undergo yet another, particularly risky, heart surgery. In a brief conversation, the Chaplain found out that that as an adolescent, the patient had studied diligently for his Bar Mitzvah. At the last minute, for reasons unknown to him, his parents cancelled the event. He was still vehemently angry about it. He had never reconciled with his parents, now deceased. He hadn’t spoken to them at any time in his adult life. They had broken his heart, and harboring those feelings was now, literally, killing him. He was 35.

A woman well into her forties was dealing with her rape in college for the first time. She was assigned to write about it. Reliving it as she typed, she took a deep breath and sat back when she was finished. It was only then she noticed that while typing, she had scratched her left forearm nearly raw, breaking the skin in several places. It was the arm the rapist had twisted behind her to submit her.

Speaking about physically abusive parents, a man recalled a particular incident at age 4. He recalled vividly being yanked across his father’s lap, and the rage with which the man wailed on the child’s back and buttocks. He remembers not being able to breathe from crying so hard. He remembers the bruises, and how long they took to heal. Every time he gets scared, the muscles in his lower back and buttocks tingle.

This phenomena is known as muscle memory.

Western medicine has touted the body - mind connection for about 60 years. Eastern medicine a lot longer. Using advanced science and some really expensive equipment, it is known that the body, nervous system and brain are interactive. They communicate. What happens in one place gets translated to all systems. All systems file the information, can recall it, and use it, at any time.

That’s why you don’t want to set off firecrackers near a war veteran.

Why 12 women respond when a small voice yells for Mom.

Why some people are afraid of water.

Why some people won’t go back to church.

Emotions also get filed in all systems. A woman was fixing a beef roast for her husband when the phone rang with bad news. She couldn’t cook or eat beef for months. The thought of it set off the panic she felt after the phone call. It gave her a heaviness in her chest that made it hard to breathe.

A woman was stung by a bee while eating strawberries in her childhood back yard. For the rest of her life, she was convinced, and told everyone, that she was allergic to strawberries. She said they caused painful swelling.

Crisis gets stored in all the systems mentioned above. And, as we all know, anything that causes grief is a crisis. Loss of a loved one, job, divorce, financial crisis, health issues – any change, really, causes some level of discomfort. And it all gets filed in your body, your brain, your nerves.

Here in the Bereavement community we have a saying (all together now) – TALK TALK TALK!. Working through this stuff as adults can shed no end of new light on things.

Here’s an idea that is just catching on, and you are invited to be trend setters.

While we are talk talk talking to rearrange learned behaviors into more productive responses, we could also be unlocking what is stored in muscles and nerves to coincide.

While we consciously admit that the roast beef didn’t cause the bad news (psyche-logic), we have to somehow stop our bodies (soma) from still acting as though it did (somatic).

Stop and ask yourself – where am I physically feeling this emotion? This often comes up in grief therapy. Once you know where, what then?

How do you deprogram your physical systems?

Embrace the fields of Chiropractic and Osteopathy. Their primary focus is the musculo-skeletal system.

When all your bones are in the right place, they aren’t pulling any muscles out of whack. When muscles are relaxed and flexible, they aren’t pulling bones awry. When bones and muscles are all functioning as designed, no nerves are being pinched or compressed, and blood flows freely. Then, the next time you see prime rib, you stop. Breathe. Brain says “Roast beef is not evil”. If your chest is getting tight, you repeat the truth about beef, breathe, and force those muscles to relax. Your brain, which went to plan A at the sight of the brutish brisket, can now go to plan B, which is to go on your merry way, unaffected. Crisis avoided. Systems reset.

Does this happen after one adjustment? One counseling session? NOT. Talk talk talk. Practice practice practice. Remember getting back on the bike after you fell? You were deprogramming and reprogramming your systems! Good job!

Anyone who has (tried to or) quit smoking knows the addiction is only half the battle. When near your triggers – coffee, beer, the phone, the car – your arm knows it’s time to put something in your mouth every few minutes. Retraining that arm is very, very difficult.

Osteopaths are medical doctors with emphasis on osteopathology. They have D.O. after their names, rather than M.D. They focus on optimizing body function, and the body’s natural ability to heal itself, along with any medications that might help short term.

Chiropractors don’t usually prescribe drugs, though some are certified. With a D.C. after their names, they manipulate your body as near to its original design as possible. There are a lot of misconceptions about chiropractic. You don’t have to hear bones “crunching” if you don’t want to. You don’t have to take herbal supplements if you don’t want to. You don’t have to understand Chi or shakras. Your insurance may cover it.

Getting adjusted by a D.O. or D.C. can help unlock the grief issues and responses stored in your nerves and muscles. If you can tell either of these doctors you are grieving, and where you feel it, the healing begins sooner.

Holistic healing equals


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