I used to be skeptical when people talked about the body holding emotions, trauma, or wisdom. When an acquaintance suggested that perhaps my chronic illness was connected to stress and unprocessed emotions, I thought she was crazy.
After trying every conventional medicine treatment available for my decade-long illness though, I was willing to try anything. And so I went to see a somatic therapist and other mind-body healers. While I wasn’t sure these treatments would help, my curiosity was intrigued and I went back every week.
At the time, I was working in academic medicine and held closely to a western understanding of the body. After a couple of years of weekly mind-body sessions though, my skepticism had melted and I could feel the emotional and energetic dimensions of my body.
After sessions with these healers who my friends lovingly called “the witches,” I’d tell them over wine the crazy things that happened.
They’d hear about my chakras lighting up in sound healing sessions and about emotional releases after bodywork. This healing world had been foreign to my friends and me; we thought it was crazy and fascinating and we wanted more of it.
While my curiosity was engaged at this point, it up-leveled after a particularly bewildering experience.
I had an important decision to make and was losing sleep for weeks. After finally making up my mind, I lost my appetite, and felt nauseous and weak. A few days later, I shared the news with my best friend. She asked me to imagine making the other decision just to see how it felt in my body. Reluctantly, I obliged.
In that moment of imagining that I’d changed my mind, my appetite came roaring up from the depths of my being. I was ravenous. At the time I was at a park near my house, so I ran home with strength and energy that had been missing for weeks. When I got home and satiated my appetite, I thought how weird this all was. Why was my body reacting so strongly to a thought in my head?
As an experiment, I imagined that I was returning to my original decision. This time, I became nauseous and weak once again. While I was perplexed by this whole situation, I also recognized that my body had a clear opinion of what I should do.
After studying the mind-body connection for years by now, I knew conceptually there was wisdom in the body. But this was my first experience feeling it and basing a life-changing decision on it.
After this experience, I went on a quest to understand the mind-body connection. I read every book in the library on the topic, signed up for classes, studied with more healers and mentors. All the while, I kept this fascination on the down-low because by day I was now a director for a medical school. I didn’t want my interest in alternative healing and this more mystical understanding of the body to jeopardize my reputation or career surrounded by physicians and researchers.
As time went on though, my body started giving me signs that it was time to explore a new career path. My ego was stubborn – I didn’t want to quit my job, leave colleagues, and move into the unknown – yet my belief in the body’s wisdom could no longer be ignored. My back started hurting, my stomach would clench, and I would feel exhausted throughout the workday. And when I left, these sensations would quiet down and I’d feel like myself again.
I mustered the courage to move on and start graduate school in a mind-body psychology program. After one day there, my body once again communicated this wasn’t the right fit either. While I was shocked and sure people would judge me as flaky, I knew at this point there was no turning back. I now trusted my body’s signals and realized this embodiment was intertwined with my intuition.
While my ego was mortified by this change of events – walking away from a successful career, quitting grad school after one day, now being unemployed – I also knew there was nothing to lose. At the encouragement of my somatic therapist, I gave myself one year to let my body call the shots.
I’d let my body decide how I’d spend my time and what career path I’d pursue. Much to my surprise, my body was delighted at the prospect of going to massage school to explore through my hands this mind-body connection. Studying anatomy and physiology grounded my curiosity and understanding of the body in a scientific way.
At the same time, I went to a coaching program grounded in somatics and based, unsurprisingly, in Boulder. During this yearlong experiment of letting my body call the shots, Sound Somatics came to being, I started teaching workshops connecting people to the wisdom in their bodies, and I discovered the incredible healing art and science of craniosacral therapy.
This yearlong adventure became the most transformative time of my life. It served as the foundation for many more years of study and letting my body’s wisdom guide me through life. Through Sound Somatics, I now support others in connecting to the wisdom in their bodies so they too can heal, flourish, and lead from this embodied way of being.