I have been reading Professor Candace B. Pert’s book, Molecules of Emotion. She was a Harvard Professor and the first person to identify that every emotion in our body has a chemical equivalent. Pert had found through extensive research that every emotion creates a neuropeptide – even in our greatest joy and in the throes of ecstasy. We rarely find ourselves stuck in joy- maybe as a child when we can’t stop laughing and our stomach hurts but you don’t hear someone saying ‘Oh no, I have so much joy, its too much please dial it down”. So joy is not typically a problem. However, at the other end of the spectrum is trauma.
We all have trauma somewhere in our lives. Some is conscious but often its unconscious as it happened when we were very young. If for example you come from a family where there was an addiction of some kind for example alcoholism, you will have experienced trauma in ways that you may or may not be familiar with. Pert writes that if we are conscious enough to resolve the trauma when it occurs then the neuropeptide is metabolised through the typical processes of urine, perspiration, breath and saliva and the trauma no longer becomes an issue for the body. If we don’t have the tools to resolve that trauma, our body store the chemical, the neuropeptide in the tissue of a specific organ and it will keep it there because it thinks this is the best thing to do. It doesn’t know how to release it.
Lets take the example of 3 year old who has watched his/her parents having a terrible argument and has been shouted at to get to their room and then hears load noises that sound very frightening. The emotions of the child will create a flood of neuropeptides and the young body has no tools with which to deal with this so naturally and instinctively it stores these chemicals in an organ or several organs. This incident may be forgotten as the child get older and there is no awareness of the fact that the body still feels the trauma as it’s a survival mechanism in the moment. This may be forgotten for 40, 50 or more years.
We do not outgrow these experiences of trauma and at some moment, if that trauma hasn’t been resolved in some way, its not uncommon for the tissue to let us know that the trauma needs to be addressed and this is call disease. This is not what you will hear from a medical doctor although there is a growing body of research to add weight to this school of thought. A doctor may suggest that you bombard the disease with chemicals or you excise the tissue. If we see disease as the tissue lighting up, asking for our attention we can see that the resolution of the trauma will allow the release of the chemical into the bloodstream to be metabolised by the body and become free of that tissue. This is true healing.
How do we arrive at this state? There are various ways but the one I wish to focus on is breathwork. This is a method of oxygenation of the body. It seems benign at first and uses specific rhythmic breathe techniques. One may be lying down thinking what is the big deal? Nothing is happening and it is hard work to keep breathing like this. Then all of a sudden, waves of emotion and perhaps images of the trauma (memory) begin to surface and one wonders what’s happening. The trauma doesn’t know the difference between the experience of what’s happening in this moment and what happened decades ago because its been waiting for this healing – this vehicle that can detach it and take it out of the body – in this case the breath.
I often mention ancestral healing in the breathwork sessions. It is something I am convinced has a huge impact on our lives and how these unfold. I used to think there wasn’t much in it until my mother died and I began to explore her life and then her mother’s life and further back and I began to see a clear thread that ran don the female side of the family. As is so often the case, I wish I had asked questions while she was alive because it is the key not only to my own healing but that of my mother. I urge you to look into this both on your mother and father’s side if they are alive.
Ancestral healing is not just on a DNA level but it’s in the chemicals we store in our bodies and in the belief systems of the trauma that can perpetuate the way these chemicals are stored. We have heard and read stories of people who are convinced they will die at a certain time or of a certain illness. Unless we have a rock solid emotional and spiritual anchor in this world, we become vulnerable to the opinion and perceptions of those closest to us and that can include institutions such as the church, academia and the medical profession. Once we embrace the deepest truth of our existence and know that we are not an accident of biology and that there is an intentionality behind our existence, we are wired to thrive in times of extremes and become bio-elastic.
This is why I passionately believe in the magic and gift of breathwork. It is totally in our control. We are our own healing apparatus. We have the ability to shine a light on the dark recesses of our bodies and to release the impediments that lie hidden so we can return to health. We are not locked into the biology that helped us begin life in this world from our parents. It serves us but we build upon something more than we were when we arrived – it is our greatest level of mastery and what true ancestral healing is about. This is why its possible in one generation to heal the alcoholic hurt or the abuse, the addiction and the beliefs that have led to these things so that it stops with us because we have the wisdom, the will and the capability to transcend and not just to heal but to come into our full potential. How fortunate are we to have the power of breath and to know the extent of its healing abilities – its always there and can be accessed at anytime.
Finally, it is worth noting that when we have group breathwork sessions, the energy and power of the group accelerates our individual ability to access trauma. I currently use Clarity Breathwork as I qualified in this method but in the autumn I will be adding a trauma release aspect to breathwork which is more hands on and includes greater movement.