The word hung heavily in the room. Stacey sat quietly across from me. A new patient referral from a friend, she had just finished telling me that it had been 8 years since she has had a period. Being of an unrestrained temperament, I blurted out my surprise.
Several trips to the gynecologist and endocrinologist had yielded nothing abnormal. Looking at her one could not discern any sign of illness or unhealthiness. Stacey was a beautiful and intelligent woman who had a clarity to her speech and movement. She possessed a level gaze but had an overall warmth and friendliness. Nothing about her mannerisms suggested any kind of emotional or physical restraint. Often times patients have a “tell.” In poker parlance, a “tell” is a form of unconscious body language that is associated with a winning or losing hand in poker. It’s used by card players in their deciding to fold or press forward against an opponent. It is essentially a nuanced expression of “thought energy.”
Sitting across from this woman, there was no obvious “bluff” or reservation that I could discern. As our conversation flowed from one thing to another, the topic of her relationships came up. This is where something interesting happened. This once glowing and vibrant woman’s posture morphed from an enviable loose and comfortable ease to a grimace inducing ball of tension. In a tight voice she told me about two very intense, successive marriages that ended badly. In her own candid words, early insecurities lead her into unhealthy relationships. She had largely come to peace with her first marriage as product of being young. Her second marriage was more of an adult drama filled with acrimony that had ended only a year ago. She was separated, not divorced yet.
“No children. Thank God” she finished.
She had taken birth control intermittently throughout both relationship and largely blamed the amenorrhea on the medication. She sat quietly for a time, her focus drawn inward, gazing on private images and scenes to which I wasn’t privy. I broke the silence asking if she could clarify her statement about children. With a sigh, she said, deep down, she feared having children with these men. They weren’t individuals she felt could be loving partners and fathers even from the very beginning.
Now it was my turn to sigh deeply.
We often forget that we are a manifestation of our internal energy (emotions). Even if you think you aren’t physically inclined, you are constantly expressing something deeper with your body. The length of your stance, the tilt of your posture, the ease or hardness of your breath, the tightness of your muscles. The shape of your physical person tells a detailed narrative about the events that you have experienced in a lifetime. This occurs regardless of our state of awareness.
The danger is that without awareness our constraints in energy don’t lead to insights but externalized narratives; “My back pain is caused by my uncomfortable bed.” “This TMJ is caused by tight muscles.” “I can’t do this posture because my arms are too weak.” “I have no energy because my hormones are too low.” “It’s genetic.” These are rationalizations by an intelligent mind. In the beginning, all these reasons may be valid but if the pathology never heals, the body never changes, or we frankly never evolve, then a deeper question must be asked. How is my internal environment expressing itself in my body.
If I were to break your femur with a crowbar, it will heal in as little as three months. In a year, with regular exercise, the leg will be as good or better than new; This is a medical fact. So, knowing the previous statements to be true, the healing powers of the body to be magnificent, why do we suffer back pain for several years or more? How come our body never gains strength or flexibility with frequent exercise (especially yoga)? Where do pains and injuries originate in the absence of physical insults? To be sure, there are genetic causes to real illness but in my clinical experience that makes up only about 5% of all cases.
By focusing only on outside abstractions (mind) we absolve ourselves of the responsibility to address the intimate issues (heart) that may be at the root of our maladies (body). We are truly creatures of the heart, mind, and body; All three need embraced for real healing to occur but it starts with the heart.
Stacey listened intently as I shared my experiences with energetic constraint. I wasn’t certain if she believed me but she had the rare quality of being open to a new approach. She began treatment along with a regimen of yoga, breathwork, and meditation. That started three months ago. Yesterday she came for visit and I noticed something different about her. During the exam the difference in her pulse was obvious. I asked her what happened. With a smile, she told me her that the divorce was finalized three days ago; It was the last time she would ever have to see lawyers or deal with her ex-husband. Afterwards, she cried for what seemed like hours followed by the first peaceful night of sleep she’s had in years. Two days later she had her first period in eight years.
Finishing the story, we had a hug and she gave what could possibly be the lightest and happiest laugh in history. I smiled and said the only thing I could possibly say:
image via Gabriella Camerotti / Flickr