Healing is an Inside JobJan 15, 2017 06:14PM ● By By Hilary Bilkis
The body can heal itself. Our bodies—by divine design—are self-healing organisms. Programmed within our cells is the knowledge of how to heal certain injuries. Whether it is healing a scrape, fighting off bacteria and viruses, purifying the blood, eliminating waste, calming inflammation, producing T cells or creating antibodies, the body knows how to take care of itself. When our bodies work to heal, it occurs outside of our conscious control. In fact, many symptoms associated with disease or illness are the body's attempts to send us signals to take better care of ourselves; they are messages we often misinterpret or ignore.
In order to activate our innate healing potential, we must learn to listen to what our bodies are really asking for. Additionally, we must be cognizant that these self-repair mechanisms function optimally when the nervous system has quieted from being in a stress response and has moved into the relaxation response.
Stress is the enemy to healing. As a society and a culture, we have an unhealthy relationship with the very idea of stress. We often think it means that we’re too busy. We wear our stress like a badge of honor. Stress, however, is much more than demands on time and energy. It is true that most people feel like they are running around like “a chicken without a head” with so much to juggle. As far as the nervous system is concerned, stress is also connected to our emotional state, which, in turn, affects our overall well-being.
Stress is navigating the world of social media and the caustic political landscape. It’s pretending to be something that we’re not. It’s the effort to keep up appearances of perfection. Stress is feeling social isolation and loneliness or being in toxic relationships. It’s having negative beliefs and obsessively worrying about health. It is feeling powerless. Stress is knowing we have a song within our soul that has yet to be sung, feeling out of touch with life’s purpose, and feeling disconnected from a higher power. Whether it is being chased by a mugger, hating our job or feeling unlovable, our brains and nervous system have a hard time telling the difference as they all signal imminent danger. For each of us to be able to quiet our stress reflex and activate our relaxation response, we must first be able to explore our inner emotional landscape.
This internal exploration requires us to surrender our to-do lists, get quiet and reconnect to our inner wisdom; we can then listen to the whispers of our bodies and souls. They are always speaking to us, but very often we are not listening to the simplest of cues. We often ignore basic biological needs of drinking enough fluid, eating at regular intervals and getting enough sleep. As we ignore these requirements, our energy gets depleted, our mood fluctuates and our immune system functions less optimally, resulting in potentially getting sick or experiencing pain.
The other aspect of our internal landscape that is often neglected is our emotional state. Our bodies store memories and emotions in the tissues and organs on a cellular level. When we have some sort of physical or emotional trauma, experience an upsetting event, or find ourselves in a perpetual state of worry, those memories can be stored in the body. They then function like computer programs running in the background, yet we are unaware of their existence. It takes an extraordinary amount of our vital energy and internal resources to contain and run these programs; they are, in essence, functioning in a time warp. These energies do not comprehend that time has passed, that the trauma is over, that we have grown up and survived the ordeal.
With light touch bodywork, we can connect to our inner wisdom, which guides us to the place in our physical and emotional bodies where we are having the greatest struggle. This type of therapy allows the body to easily move into a relaxation response. Gently, we connect through touch, bring our awareness to that hurting place within us; we listen to the tissues express themselves through movement, heat, energy release and verbally sharing memories. This inner exploration is like an archeological dig; we go layer by layer at a pace which our inner wisdom determines. Similar to Hansel and Gretel’s journey through the forest, we follow the bread crumbs—or the paths of connection between seemingly unrelated places in our bodies—to unwind and release the stored tension and pain. Freeing the body from this “stuck stress” allows us to have more clarity of thought, feelings of peace and ease, freedom of movement and less pain.
Healing is an inside job. It is not something that we can only intellectually talk about. Healing requires us to reconnect to the deepest part of ourselves, and acknowledge and listen to our pain. We must honor our struggles, not dismiss them. By listening to the whispers of our soul, we can release the thoughts and energy that tells us that we are not enough, not worthy or not lovable; we can step into the truth of who we are, so that we can live vibrantly and shine in the fullest expression of our true self.
Hilary D. Bilkis, LMT, MS, CST, owner of Morristown-based Awakening Wellness, has been in private practice since 2000. Her training includes healing therapies such as craniosacral therapy, visceral mobilization, SomatoEmotional Release and Reiki. Connect at Awakening4Wellness.com.