Massage Therapy Canada

Features Op-Ed
Emotional pain: fact or fiction

mtblog-reynolds.jpgMy son is 15 years old and he has a philosophy about everything. Mostly based on something he heard in class and interpreted in a way that would have him question the very foundation of life. I was once 15, and completely understand that it is his turn to question the universe, however, I can’t seem to stop myself from getting caught up in his ‘beliefs’ and defending my own. He keeps telling me, ‘It’s not an opinion; it’s proven by science.’

November 3, 2013  By Patricia Reynolds

My belief is that ‘science’ can be swayed by opinion. If I set out
to prove that the bicep muscle will tire after 15 minutes of continuous
contraction, I can prove that by choosing the right candidates for my
study. I’m not implying of course that all studies are a farce; merely
that one can sway results with their opinion. So I’m left with
questioning so called facts like, ‘a recent study concludes there is a
direct link between eating red meat and colon cancer,’ after some
scientists in Japan decided to feed casein (cow protein) to a group of
rats. What I know is that the body has way too many variables to create a
study that would be 100 per cent conclusive. There are genetic
predispositions, age, weight, eating habits, sleep habits, stress
levels, occupations, the list goes on.

I also know what I’ve
experienced. After 17 years of treating patient bodies, I can tell you
there’s a lot more to ‘disease’ than science. I will not claim it to be a
fact, I will not say I’ve conducted a study and come to such
conclusions. What I will say is that day after day, year after year, I
have witnessed people get sick from their beliefs and people get better
after shifting them.

It goes without saying that we are what we
eat. In order for our organic systems to be strong and efficient we need
to feed them appropriate fuel, and part of that fuel includes positive,
clean thoughts based on positive, clean beliefs.

In Anatomy of
the Spirit,
author Carolyn Myss wrote, “In the early 1930’s the polio
epidemic surfaced… Those who felt most economically crippled, either
by the actual experience or by the fear of it, were energetically the
most susceptible to the polio virus.”


It isn’t ‘new age’ to
consider that we control our health and have a say in what life has in
store for us. Great mystics have been teaching us this for centuries.
The purpose of Yoga is to practice introspection. Gaining a deeper
understanding of oneself can increase one’s own ability to tolerate and
accept oneself in an effort to tolerate and accept others, become one
with the universe and all that we are connected to. Similarly, when we
are connected wholly to our bodies, present to it and acknowledging of
it, we are able to feel when something needs attention and have the
ability to address it before it leads to something irreversible.

massage therapists, it is neither our responsibility nor within our
scope to offer psychotherapeutic support to our patients. As a
profession, we’re pretty clear about when to refer out. Yet the intimacy
of our treatments often creates an environment for people to feel safe
enough to express what’s on their minds. In doing so, we often find
ourselves feeling like the couch in a therapy session, holding the
client but not saying a word.

What I have found through my
experience is that when we allow the body’s expression of the emotion
release, we are no longer needed to provide that therapeutic feedback or
supportive opinion. Instead, we can support the body’s own healing of
all layers by connecting with it through our touch and increasing the
patient’s own awareness of its presence. Therapeutic touch is often
enough to allow the body a safe place to process emotion and release it.
The emotions will present themselves as pain, felt by the therapist as
restriction, tension, a ‘wall.’ Once we meet the tension with equal
tension it will dissipate and move through the layers leaving the body.

that the pain will return if the patient does not address the cause of
the emotional pain, but that the physical shift is often followed by a
mental shift, where the perception or attitude toward the situation
becomes less offensive and, therefore, less physically binding. I use a
lot of Yoga in my practice to achieve this goal. By bringing my students
to their physical/emotional edge to meet their pain/discomfort, and
have them remain there in stillness for a period of time, I allow them
the opportunity to explore their thoughts and reactions to their own

Creating their own awareness and making a personal
choice to shift their perceptions is a powerful tool. It allows them to
take control of their life experience and their emotions, giving them
recognition of self and choice. It also allows them to express
deep-seated emotions physically which requires no words or verbal
expression. In that, they are able to process whatever is there for them
without ever feeling vulnerable or exposed. This type of Yoga is
referred to as Yin. It’s the best of both worlds and has been an amazing
addition to my tool belt in clinic.

It is obvious that we are
physical beings. What may not be so obvious to some is that there are
many layers to us – all of which are connected and interdependent. A
dysfunction in one layer will lead to dysfunction in another. As
Catherine died of a broken heart over Heathcliff in the classic
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, so could I experience numbness and
tingling in my left leg when feeling disconnected and unable to relate
to my mother (the legs being connected to the first Chakra, Muladhara
Chakra, that which is related to our roots or tribal origin). That’s not
to say that I’m not experiencing ‘sciatica’ as termed by my medical
doctor. However, if I don’t resolve the situation with my mother, I will
likely see these symptoms return time and again until I deal with the
conflict I’m avoiding. Furthermore, the life lesson will get louder each
time it has to re-appear because I’ve initially ignored it – meaning
that the physical symptoms will get worse, harder to deal with the more I
sweep it under the rug.

Whether it be carpal tunnel or heart
disease, colon cancer or asthma, addressing the underlying cause may
just take you to a whole new level of self-awareness and understanding –
and to a new level of physical health.

As a massage therapist, it may just take you to a whole new level of healing.

Print this page


Stories continue below