The Body Speaking To Us

by Susanna Hoare, psychotherapist in Bristol, Bath and Keynsham.

We all live in bodies and yet how often do we pay attention to how our bodies speak to us?  Listening to our bodies can help with our healing in psychotherapy.  Are we listening to it?  Our tendency is usually to try to ignore our bodies or to get rid of any discomfort.  This might go on for a long time before we recognise that our body is speaking to us and needs us to pay attention to what it is saying to help it.

Body and mind are connected through physiology and physical sensations. Our thoughts in our minds affect our feelings and create physical sensations which are felt in the body.  Sensations might be in our muscles or noticed within our chest or stomach.  Negative thoughts produce tightness and constriction and positive thoughts produce lighter, easier sensations.  Our feelings whether they be joy, happiness, sadness, anger, fear, shame all are accompanied by physical sensations although sometimes we are not attuned to our feelings or to how feelings feel in our body.  Instead we might feel numb and unable to recognise feelings

The senses of touch, sight, sound, smell and hearing are also how we experience the world in which we live and our understanding of the world initially is formed through bodily sensations.

Mindfulness is a way of coming into contact with our body and paying attention in a particular way.  This can be through our breath, noticing the rhythm of breath as it enters and leaves our body.   Observing thoughts, watching the ones that catch us, and feeling the changes in our breath as more powerful thoughts distract or disturb us.  In this way we are becoming acquainted with our bodies in a different way.  We are connecting and integrating our bodies and minds.

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In Core Process Psychotherapy

attention is brought to both body and mind in some of the ways described above and by becoming attuned to what are bodies are saying we are able to be embodied and more comfortable living in it.  We also become sensitive to bodily distress and know what is needed to relieve that and to be able to respond with compassion and care .  Paying attention to our bodies and the connection with our minds helps us to recover our vitality.  Listening to our bodies, taking care of what it is telling us can help to make our psychotherapy work better and be more connected.  If we are connected and integrated with all parts of ourselves we are better placed to express ourselves more clearly and be heard.