Many people feel that counselling only consists of the “talking-cure”, in the hope of bringing relief to distressing situations and relationships. Let us explore what building blocks and tools might be useful in creating healing and growth.
Living involves learning, growth, joy and love. Inevitably it also involves physical and emotional wounds which result in pain, loss, anger and shame. All beings have an inherent blueprint of resilience toward healing and repair. Sometimes we get stuck or frozen in a state of avoidance or distress.
Two of the fundamentals to healing are emotion and connection. This implies we need to feel the emotions while connecting to OTHERS.
This can be done via various communicating channels such as:
Talking to share the experience and create meaning (your unique story).
Through physical movement such as exercise, massage, dance or yoga.
Through creative expression such as painting, singing, sculpting or poetry.
Being in nature and with animals – sunlight, water, pets, horses, dolphins.
Through quieting the body and mind in relaxation, meditation and prayer.
Through books and film that bring certain inspirational messages and images.
Therefore, this shows that there are other healing modalities besides “just talking” that can be used to enable the inherent natural wholeness to come forth.
These may include Art Therapy, Movement Therapy, Laughter Therapy, Play therapy, Music therapy, Light Therapy, Wilderness Therapy, Animal-Assisted Therapy, Hypnotherapy and Mindfulness.
The goal of therapy is to acknowledge our experiences, gain a broader understanding of it, gather new insights and perspectives and compassionately take responsibility for our choices and reactions. This process of healing can be done by one’s self, however, it is easier to share the journey with another caring person.
To understand psychological healing, we need to understand a bit of the evolution of the brain and body. We have all heard about the reptilian, mammal and human brain centers that govern our body reactions and thoughts. The more we operate from a particular brain center, the deeper the grooves and neuron pathways are. The wonderful thing is, through repetition, we can build new neural pathways to increase psychological flexibility.
The oldest part of our brain involves survival, and centers around flight or fight (reptilian). The 2nd to evolve was the mammal brain of pleasure seeking and pain avoidance. The third part of our development, is the neocortex for connection, nurture and compassion. It is this part that has the potential to govern and regulate the older parts.
When we have experienced something that feels overwhelming and triggers our helplessness, our mind and body may become stuck in a groove of a limited range of emotion and motion. It’s as if we have body and heart armor on, in attempt to protect us from full, or further impact.
Unfortunately, the older structures can “hi-jack” the neural pathways, not allowing access to the newer, more regulating functions of our brain.
To restore the flow and flexibility, we need to release the energy of these trapped and frozen experiences. Next time we will look at a mindfulness exercise that fosters radical acceptance and compassion for ourselves.
Psych Central Menlyn