The notion of mind-body connection can be misleading. It suggests they are separate but connected, whereas I would rather say they are existing within the same matrix, two sides of the same coin. It’s the frequency of energy that makes them feel separate (or if you’re inclined to want a footnote, we could call these Gamma, Beta, Alpha, Theta, and Delta states).
On the one hand we have consciousness that we may consider the “thinking brain,” which is represented and animated by a physical structure of neurons, axons, regions of the brain as an organ (white matter, grey matter, etc), and of course the electromagnetic field of the brain. And on the other we have the unconscious, which is a part of our consciousness that is both of the body and beyond the body. Your unconscious process allows your body to function in almost every sense: breathing, digestion, adrenals and nervous system, kidneys and cell regeneration, and so on. But also, there is a mind element to the unconscious, such as dreams and daydreaming, various trance states that we enter intentionally and unintentionally, creative process, play, imagination, and I would even say love. Both are simultaneously mind and body.
The human mind often functions with distinct layers of consciousness, which also hold unique energy qualities. It sometimes feels like a cosmic joke that while the mind has the greatest potential for seismic change on demand (the amount of time it takes to say a sentence to yourself or have an “aha” moment), our thought and belief patterns can become highly rigid and calcified, and feel immoveable. Those patterns often are rooted into stuck emotions, trauma wounds, and societal programming. They can remain stubbornly unwilling to budge even as our conscious awareness has already evolved. This identification is so strong we someone consider them part of our personality.
One of the reasons why trancework is so effective at changing patterns or habits, is because trance can initiate a collapsing of these layers of consciousness. When we engage in hypnosis, deep diaphragmatic or holotropic Breathwork, or even theta waves states in a sound bath, it’s not that we have become fully unconscious so much as the space and separation between those states becomes flattened. Or as we might say in Ericksonian terms, it’s not that the conscious mind slows down or becomes less active, but the unconscious moves into the foreground and becomes more active.
I gristle sometimes at the emphasis currently on somatic work as the new “technique that always works,” because though it has historically been relegated to the outskirts of research and practice (and dismissed offhand in its indigenous origins, or viewed as only spiritual), it is also essential to also carry that movement through into the mind. And for some, it is easier to begin with the mind. Because both the emotional layers and the mind layers root into the physical. I don’t think one is better, because both are necessary.
If we work through trauma purely on the somatic level, without having any contextual understanding of what tends to activate your nervous system and why, it’s very difficult to address the hypervigilance aspect. Knowing how certain situations, people, and relationships can aggravate old wounds helps us to be more prepared as we move into situations and collaborate with our nervous to navigate what emerges. Understanding what happened to us and how it impacted our sense of self and unconscious beliefs, is necessary to untangle those beliefs from the realities in front of us. And ultimately, it leads us to those core emotions that need soothing and repair.
Without a cognitive frame, we can become locked in a pattern of reactivity even though we become more skilled at moving through those reactions.
In theory this could be worked through just on the somatic level and those reactions would become less acute, but in my experience without a clear repatterning on the level of mind those reactions have a way of reappearing in new contexts.
If we only focus on understanding the what, why, when, and how, and we don’t start to address the emotional states as they live in the body, we end up in the classic therapized dilemma: we know why this is happening but we feel stuck in the emotions and feel terrible. We lack catharsis. We don’t really heal, we just learn how to cope better. Some of this can happen verbally, through approaches like parts work and inner child work, but we need to actually learn how to be with the full range of emotions- in their raw form, not “why I feel this way”– in order to change our relationship to them and ultimately increase our capacity to hold joy, love, excitement, ease, and receive care.
The energy of these layers are part of the same axis but distinct in feel. As I develop and understand my own style of facilitating this work, I am finding that is necessary to use the right tools to work with the frequencies that have surfaced. Just like you wouldn’t untangle a knot with a broom, you can’t repattern beliefs with only hand positions or crystals (though maybe I would still use those as well😅). You would need to use words and language and patterns, to untangle beliefs that are expressed and contextualized in language. Similarly you can’t just analyze an overwhelming feeling of heaviness in your chest and throat, you need to connect with it, feel into it, and move/express it. Increasingly I find that being flexible and weaving these modalities together based on what’s happening is the most helpful. And I’m feeling called to bring that general spirit into my healing arts practice just as I had in therapy.
More recently I’m describing what I practice broadly as Trancework and Energywork, with some understanding that the two flow together and often coexist or overlap. At the same time I’m making more of a distinction between releasing and expressing vs stabilizing and restoring, which are different frequencies to work with in the moment. And the magic eight ball thrown in is that when you work with guides and universal energy your plans are heard but sometimes adjusted to be even better suited to what’s needed in that moment 😏🕸
How do you experience that mind-body-spirit axis, are there unique qualities energetically when you feel blocked or flowing in certain areas?
If you resonate with having intuitive gifts, do you find they are more oriented towards certain senses, or physical vs mind-oriented?
Where do you distinguish between your raw emotions and patterns/beliefs?
Do you notice a relationship between your emotional, mental, and physical state of health? And if so, how do you feel into what can support you into a space of healing and change (physical, mental, emotional, or somatic coping)?
If you work with others, can you discern what level is experiencing disturbance or difficulty, and orient yourself towards that level? How do you notice that in your body, or mind?