How to Heal Trauma by Listening to Your Body

How to Heal Trauma by Listening to Your Body: Learn how to identify and heal what doctors can't when you reconnect with your body's wisdom.

Everyone has experienced some sort of trauma in their life, be it major or minor.  When it happens, the body reacts and holds onto it.  If you don’t have effective means of processing the emotions, it stays locked in the body.

This results in long-standing health issues that don’t seem to have cures: a bad back, digestive issues, headaches, joint problems, lack of energy.  While western medicine can suppress the symptoms with pain killers, other pills and procedures, it can’t find or resolve the source of the problem.  That’s actually your job.

Healing Yourself

I’ve written a number of articles where I refer to the emotional sources of physical pain.  Having had a “bad back” since I was 15 (so bad at times that I could barely walk) and a host of other aches and pains that no doctor, traditional or alternative, could accurately diagnose or fix, I had to find another way.

It started with the realization that my “bad back” was cured when I started practicing yoga a few times each week.  Yoga helps you to reconnect your body, mind, and spirit and process the emotions that are locked in your body.  I hadn’t realized how disconnected I had become.

Then I discovered Louise Hay’s book, Heal Your Body A to Z, which lists all kinds of ailments and their related emotions.  She cured herself of late stage cancer using these methods and wrote the book to share what she had learned.  Every time I have something off physically, I consult her book and meditate on how the emotions or thoughts listed could apply to me.

While meditating, I also focus on the part of me that’s trying to speak to me with pain.  Without trying to resist it or make it go away, I listen and open up to whatever is there.  Most of the time, I’ll receive some kind of message, and when I heed the message, the pain disappears.  It’s kind of weird how it works, but I know it does work.

Reclaiming Your Body

Reclaiming Your Body: Healing from Trauma and Awakening to Your Body's WisdomGiven that I have been using these methods for years, I was delighted to read Reclaiming Your Body: Healing from Trauma and Awakening to Your Body’s Wisdom by Suzanne Scurlock-Durana.  In the book, she explains how the emotions experienced during a trauma (especially those forgotten by the mind) stay trapped in the body.  She details how different parts of the body – the heart, gut, pelvis, legs and feet, bones and brain – serve different purposes and why they need to stay connected in order for you to remain physically and emotionally healthy.

While I’ve always thought of trauma as some major life event, Suzanne describes how seemingly minor things like a parent’s careless words in childhood can take a toll on you in adulthood.

“The body has its own language that is older and more primal than most of us realize,” writes Suzanne.  “Most of us are conditioned at a very young age to turn off this inner guidance system of sensation, imagery and inner knowing.  Our priceless body wisdom is getting lost as our culture speeds up and becomes more technology driven.  Compounding this issue is the fact that life’s traumas also cut us off from our body’s wisdom.”

The book explains the process of reconnecting with your body’s inherent guidance system.  It explains how unresolved trauma becomes lodged in your body, blocking the ability of its communication system to share its wisdom and strategies.  This can cause you to make unwise decisions, remain in unsafe or less-than-ideal situations or end up living a life that isn’t yours – all while your body is madly signaling you with the answers and solutions you seek.

Your Body’s Wisdom

Whether you call it intuition, your True Self or body wisdom, there’s more to what’s going on inside you than your screeching monkey mind.  The monkey is only trying to keep you safe but doesn’t understand you on a deeper level.  It interprets the present moment through the past and does everything it can to not change anything.

When you experience a trauma, you freeze up and disassociate from what’s happening in the moment and what’s happening in your body.  That disassociation can last a lifetime if it’s not dealt with.  And when you’re disconnected from your body, you’re only left with your mind to guide you – your monkey.  You stop listening to that “gut feeling” or your “heavy heart” that’s sending you the messages required to heal.

Mindfulness is a great tool to reconnect yourself to your body and the messages it’s sending.  Instead of shutting out pain, you can open to it objectively and with curiosity to listen to the messages.  Instead of judging it as ‘bad’ and resisting it, wishing it would go away, mindfulness allows you to be open to heal yourself.

There are unique chapters in the book that cover each of the six wisdom areas of the body:

  • Heart: The gift of inspiration. The energy of love resides throughout the entire body.  It’s the foundational energy for your creative inspirations.
  • Gut: The gift of instinctual knowing. The worrying mind can take a vacation because the gut is much more accurate and can instantly let you know when something is really right or completely off.
  • Pelvis: The gift of power. “If the pelvis has been injured, compressed or compartmentalized, whether due to trauma or cultural/religious issues, it can have a significant negative effect on long- and short-term health, as well as diminish the life energy available for creative endeavors.”
  • Legs and feet: The gift of movement. Take a walk to ponder something confusing, disorienting or puzzling or to come up with an answer to a question that’s been swirling in your head.  The answers you seek can magically appear while your legs and feet take you on a short journey.
  • Bones: The gifts of clarity and steadiness. Your bones allow you to feel steady when emotions are overwhelming and to see things clearly when issues feel muddy and confusing.
  • Brain: The gift of an integrated system. “Much of what goes on in our brains originates from signals, beyond normal physiological functioning, sent by the heart, the gut, the pelvis and probably other areas yet to be discovered by scientific research.  Intelligence, previously believed to originate only in the brain, is now understood to also arise from what I call the wisdom areas of the body.”  Basically, the brain is the last to know that something is wrong and can frequently misinterpret the messages from the rest of the body.

All of these areas must be working together for you to feel good.  When your heart feels the pull of some endeavor you must take on, you’ll need the knowing of your gut to point you in the right direction and the power of your pelvis to move the mission along.

In times of uncertainty, use your legs and feet to take a walk to ponder what’s swimming in your head.  The answers usually come.  When they do, your bones will keep you steady on your journey.

After all this, it’s time for the brain to put things together.  Using your brain last to assimilate what the rest of your body already knows instead of the other way around will guide you on your right path.

This process won’t work if there are traumas trapped in any parts of your body.  Traumas create blockages.  The book includes specific processes, what the author calls Explorations, to identify the traumas, feel where they reside and release them.  Because the Explorations are a form of guided meditation, Suzanne has free downloadable versions on her site which I’ve found to be quite helpful.

If you have chronic aches and pains or other ailments, can’t seem to get your passion project going, or feel blocked in any area of your life, this book can help you to find what’s been missing.  It can help you identify what doctors can’t find in tests, what your mental blocks are and what you need to feel whole.

The answers are always inside you if you take the quiet time to listen.



About the Author:

Suzanne Scurlock-Durana is the author of Reclaiming Your Body and Full Body Presence.  Her Healing from the Core curriculum combined with CranioSacral therapy and other bodywork modalities creates a complete, body-centered guide to awareness, healing, and joy.  She teaches around the world and lives in Reston, Virginia.  Visit her online at Healing from the Core.





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10 Responses to How to Heal Trauma by Listening to Your Body

    Elle Sommer
    Commented:  08/04/2017 at 7:26 am

    I’m fascinated by this article Paige. Having had experiences early on in life that ended up many years later, making me physically sick with a frightening disease that often becomes fatal, I know the truth of this. My body was definitely sending signals at the time, that unfortunately I was unable to read.

    May this article support others in not getting as sick as I was before paying attention to what their body is telling them.

    I appreciate your excellent review of this book.

      Paige Burkes
      Commented:  08/04/2017 at 11:01 am

      Thanks so much Elle! So happy that you were able to overcome the disease so we can all learn from all you have to offer! My wish is that western medicine learns to accept that everything is related (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual) and we’re not just a compilation of unrelated body parts.
      Paige Burkes recently posted..How to Be Happy When Unhappy Is Your NormMy Profile

    Commented:  08/03/2017 at 5:07 am

    A very interesting reading! Good job!

    Debbie L Hampton
    Commented:  07/31/2017 at 1:14 pm

    Thank you for a fascinating post, Paige. I’m going to get the book. I witnessed the powerful interplay between the mind and whole body when healing from my brain injury. It’s all connected. I have interestingly just developed lower back pain in the last couple of years. Surprisingly, too much yoga seems to aggravate it – but I’ve never gone longer than 5 days in between yoga classes in the past8 years – and it’s usually 4 per week. Makes me wonder how bad it would be if I did not do yoga. Yikes! I’ll have to meditate and stay open to what my back is trying to tell me.

      Paige Burkes
      Commented:  07/31/2017 at 3:26 pm

      In Louise Hay’s book, lower back pain is related to money issues. The new thought pattern she offers for this area is, “I trust the process of life. All I need is always taken care of. I am safe.”

      Regarding your yoga practice, “too much yoga” might be too much of a certain set of postures or a certain type of yoga. Over the years, yoga has taught me to listen to my body and honor its messages. If something hurts, don’t push it. Do something else that supports what hurts instead of trying to “push through it.” That might mean taking it easy in class for a bit.

      Also, our bodies change over time and from day to day, and our practices need to honor those changes. Some days I feel empowered and can do all my poses effortlessly and others I have to modify or avoid some poses. It’s all about listening to the subtle or not-so-subtle cues our bodies are always sending us.
      Paige Burkes recently posted..Why Expectations Are the Root of All EvilMy Profile

        Debbie L Hampton
        Commented:  07/31/2017 at 8:56 pm

        Ooh! Tthe lower back pain being related to money issues (worry/anxiety) is spot on! I’m with you on the listening to our bodies. It’s hard for me not to “push” as I have been so athletic all my life. Being over 50 now, I’m trying to take it easier. It’s a new thing to learn to be “gentle” with my body. I’m getting there though. Some days I even like it! 🙂

          Paige Burkes
          Commented:  08/01/2017 at 5:23 am

          Self-care has been tough for me too. At 50 I finally hit a wall after pushing myself at work for so many decades. With adrenal exhaustion, doing more was no longer an option. I didn’t listen to all the whispers my body was sending along the way. I had to hit a brick wall to get the message. Now I understand the more subtle cues that tell me to take a break, lie down for a bit or go a bit easier. I’m starting to cure myself of my “one more thing”-itis and take care of myself first. And, as you’ve found, it feels pretty good!
          Paige Burkes recently posted..Everything You Need to Start Your Meditation Practice (Free Resource Guide)My Profile

    Sandra Pawula
    Commented:  07/30/2017 at 3:07 pm

    I also feel like the answer to trauma is in the body, Paige. I’m exploring this through Somatic Experiencing Therapy. Often, mindfulness is not easy for people with trauma because they don’t want to be in their body. At the same time, it can be the exact bridge we need to heal trauma. Feeling safe and going at my own pace have made a big difference in allowing me to connect more with my body and heal. I’m definitely going to be getting this book! Thanks for the excellent review.


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