Though this conversation often flows between yogis or those who work with chakras, there are scientific explanations for emotions stored in the body as physical pain and tension. Your body’s physical reaction to emotion – especially consistently repressed emotions — is founded in the inner-workings of your mind-body connection.
For example, when you feel sudden fear, your body engages in fight-or-flight. Adrenaline increases, you have shortness of breath, you break out in a sweat, your digestion processes slow, and so on. If you dislike public speaking or are holding back your words, you might feel a lump in your throat in those moments. These familiar examples remind us that your body reacts to your experiences.
Your body shows up for you every day, giving you the option to take advantage of your functions and potential. You wouldn’t be able to go about life without your internal functions, digestion, or a pumping heart. One of the best ways to repay your body is by considering: how can you in turn take care of it?
How Emotions and Experiences Become Physical Discomfort
Unaddressed emotions don’t disappear, but rather, show up in different ways. Resistance to feelings you experience creates electromagnetic charges that over time become stored at a cellular level. These charges affect organs and glands negatively, explains P.h.D. Theresa Dale, working on neuro-emotional remedies.
Not all physical discomfort is psychosomatic of course, but if this is the case for you, unlocking this pattern could be a game changer for easing or curingchronic pain.
The process of unlocking resistance is nothing to beat yourself up about. It’s perfectly natural to avoid unwanted feelings to go about your life. However, it’s not a sustainable way of living if you never address the experiences that caused you pain. When you continuously ignore or suppress emotions like fear, resentment, anxiety, oppression, loss, hurt, or burdens of responsibility — the problems could be buried into your organs, muscles, tissues, nerves, or joints.
Connecting “The Discomfort Area” to Emotion
Self-diagnosing this could go one of two ways, beginning with the emotion or the physical discomfort, and it will likely be the latter. Where is your body signaling pain or tension? The most commonly expressed areas of chronic pain are the lower back, shoulders and neck, head or stomach aches, and joints such as hips or knees. If you begin with your area of discomfort, try examining how the pain may coincide with what you are facing in life.
For example, psychotherapist Sean Grover suggests that burdens and overwhelming responsibilities fall on your shoulders. Who doesn’t have responsibilities with an occasional side of neck/shoulder pain?
The other approach, if you’re a very emotionally intelligent person but always on the go, is bringing awareness to things you swept under the rug. Force yourself to be still and rested for one whole day and see what comes up, if anything, in your joints, head, chest, etc. You might notice aches or tightness that you hadn’t paid attention to if you’re always rushing.
Releasing Your Discomfort
1) Soften your mindset about how to address physical discomfort. Regardless of whether you think a solution is “for you” or not, the goal is to feel good. Imagine facing every aspect of life with more ease because you’ve eliminated chronic pain. It doesn’t have to be a sappy process, and you don’t have to commit to anything you don’t like.
Focus on your goal of feeling better, and just take what you like from what you try. There’s no hurt in trying.
Many people say yoga isn’t for them, or chakras are too woo woo and that’s perfectly acceptable. If you don’t like spiritual yoga, many studios are geared towards solely increasing flexibility and exercise. Pay attention to stretching and releasing your muscles and joints. Pick and choose what works.
2) Guided breathing exercises can equalize your body chemistry and bring clarity to emotional framing. Personally, I’ve found Wim Hof’s guidance to be groundbreaking for overall health, and many have found their lives transformed by his work. Under him, studied Niraj Naik, who makes awesome music that he combines with breathwork to help you equalize your body chemistry.
Check out Check out article by Dr. Bianca Inirio on how breathwork affects your health – and this guided meditation by MAPS’ Laura Araujo to take a breather and reflect on emotions you might be repressing.
3) Yoga combines breathing, stretching, mobility, and strength that your body craves. You may think you dislike yoga, but step out of your mind and consider that your body might really like it! Many people’s hesitation is that they aren’t flexible. That’s the whole point!
Becoming more mobile, little by little, is how you increase longevity and ease in your life. I like @maysyoga on Instagram, who shows you simple movements you can do at home to address specific areas of emotional tension.
4) Acupuncture is recognized as a treatment for chronic pain that stimulates your nervous system and invites your body to use its natural painkillers. This is ideal for addressing internal issues, for example, fear gravitating to the kidneys as suggested by the expertise of the mentioned Dr. Dale.
And the most fun:
5) Address the feelings you’ve been resisting. In whatever form that best suits you.
There Are No Negative Emotions
One of the most important things to remember going forward is that all emotions contribute to the human experience. It’s important and inevitable that you experience all of them. There are no better or worse emotions, no positive or negative.
We as humans actually like it all – that’s why you watch sad movies, risk a broken heart for love, listen to sappy music, face your fears however big or small they may be, and that’s why you enjoy meeting your goals even though the road was hard. Facing life with the spectrum of easy and difficult experiences it brings is what differentiates you from a robot.
Burying your feelings might seem like the easier road for short-term relief – but try to embrace everything, face it when you can, with help if necessary, and enjoy the long-term peace. Be gentle with yourself!
5 Areas In The Body That Are Prone To Chronic Pain: Maryland Pain & Wellness Center: Pain Management. (n.d.). Retrieved July 30, 2022, from https://www.marylandpainandwellnesscenter.com/blog/5-areas-in-the-body-that-are-prone-to-chronic-pain
Araujo, L. (2022, August 1). Overwhelmed, Overstimulated & Ready For A Beginner-Friendly Pause? Try This Short NSDR Practice. The MAPS Institute. Retrieved from https://themapsinstitute.com/overwhelmed-overstimulated-ready-for-a-beginner-friendly-pause-try-this-short-nsdr-video/
Are Your Emotions Making You Sick? | What You Can Do. (n.d.). Www.wellnesscenter.net. Retrieved July 30, 2022, from https://www.wellnesscenter.net/resources/sickemotions.htm
Dakota Mays (@maysyoga) Instagram photos and videos. (n.d.). Retrieved July 30, 2022, from https://www.instagram.com/maysyoga/?hl=en
Dave, H. (n.d.). SOMA Breath Meditation. SOMA Breath. Retrieved July 30, 2022, from http://somabreath.com
Grover, S. (n.d.). Where Do You Store Stress in Your Body? Top 10 Secret Areas | Psychology Today. Www.psychologytoday.com. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/when-kids-call-the-shots/201807/where-do-you-store-stress-in-your-body-top-10-secret-areas
Inirio, B. (2022, April 12). Our Breathing Alters Our Posture – But Our Posture Alters Our Breath. Are You Ready to Breathe and Feel Better Today? The MAPS Institute. Retrieved from https://themapsinstitute.com/how-deep-breath-can-alter-our-posture-and-affect-movement-2/
Nummenmaa, L., Glerean, E., Hari, R., & Hietanen, J. K. (2013). Bodily maps of emotions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(2), 646–651. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1321664111
Welcome to the Official Wim Hof Method Website. (n.d.) Www.wimhofmethod.com. https://www.wimhofmethod.com