When I woke up with a stabbing pain in my left knee five years ago, I immediately felt irritated. I thought to myself, “Why is this pain getting in the way of what I need to do today?” I reached for a couple of Tylenol, got out of bed, and tried to ignore the pain, hoping it would just disappear as I went about my day.
When the pain didn’t disappear that day but continued into the next day, my frustration continued to grow. “Seriously, I didn’t fall down or bang into anything so why is this happening to me???” I thought with a great deal of impatience.
When the pain returned day after day, I started exploring all the alternative healing tools in my toolbox: chiropractic, acupuncture, massage, yoga therapy… all of which brought a small amount of relief but nowhere near enough and none of the relief seemed to last.
This situation went on for several months. It became increasingly difficult to sit, stand, and walk. I was growing more and more frustrated that nothing was making the pain go away and more and more desperate to find a solution. I knew I didn’t want to start taking prescription pain-killers but I also knew that what I was doing wasn’t working and I couldn’t continue living with this pain.
It was at that moment that a lightbulb when on inside my brain! I remembered a woman I had met the year before who called herself a “BodyTalk Practitioner.” When she told me that, I had no idea what it meant but it had sounded kind of interesting and now, a year later, I wondered if it was the answer to helping me understand this pain that felt like my knee was angrily talking to me. I was growing desperate and willing to try anything.
I booked an appointment, anxious to find something to help me feel better.
The Story of My Left Knee
As I laid down, fully clothed, on the massage table in her office, snuggled under a blanket, she began to use my arm to do some muscle testing. Within a few minutes, she asked me what trauma I had been through before the pain had come on and I had a moment of insight! I remembered that just before this pain had started, my parents had come to Portland to stay with me and seek a second opinion for my dad who was going through a significant struggle with severe depression and anxiety.
What had occurred before the pain appeared was a very challenging and overwhelming two-week period where my dad was in and out of in-patient mental health care and where I struggled with seeing him so depressed and anxious.
However, after my parents left, I had simply jumped back into “work mode” and focused on my business, never giving myself any time to process what I had just been through.
In this BodyTalk session, the practitioner also helped me to understand why my body had chosen to get my attention through the pain in my knee. She told me about how in Chinese Medicine, the knees are ruled by the Kidneys and the Kidneys represent issues around fear, willpower, and control, which were the themes of this story that had been triggered by my dad. My body had stored my trauma and emotions in my knee as a clue to the story behind the pain.
My mind was blown by this process (seriously, how did she know everything that came up?!) and by the end of that session, my pain was at least 95% gone!
This pain in my left knee started me on a journey to truly understand the wisdom that our bodies hold and have to share with us. While I was already someone who believed in holistic and alternative approaches to healing and I was already helping others with pain, stress, and anxiety through biofeedback, yoga therapy, and Reiki, it was this pain in my knee that became one of the greatest gifts on my path.
Your Body Is Talking… Are You Listening?
Over the past five years, I have come to understand on a deep and profound level that pain and other symptoms are simply intelligent communication from our bodies in the only language that they have—that of sensation.
Unfortunately, we have come to live in a world where symptoms are viewed as inconveniences and we want to quickly resolve them and move on with our lives. It is estimated that Americans spent over $34.3 billion on over-the-counter medicines in the year 2017 alone! Instead of understanding that something like a headache can be a communication that we are dehydrated or that we have stared for way too long at a computer monitor, we reach for a couple Tylenol or Advil and continue on with our day.
We have become conditioned to view pain and other symptoms as something to get rid of without ever understand their messages.
However, with the continual focus on silencing the body’s communication through the symptoms we experience, we enter into a game of Whack-a-Mole, as the message tries to find other ways to get our attention. Suppress a headache and you might find the pain popping up somewhere else in your body. Keep suppressing pain repeatedly and your body might resort to more serious illness to get your attention.
What if, instead of silencing a symptom as quickly as possible, we instead got curious about what it is trying to tell us?
I believe the more curious we can become about the messages that our body is constantly delivering to us, the more we can work with our bodies and see them as extremely intelligent creations. Our bodies aren’t on the other team trying to frustrate us or ruin our plans but instead they are trying to help us.
Anything that we don’t process and resolve (like grief or trauma) will be stored in our bodies, waiting for the time when we will come back and heal. – Lyn Delmastro-Thomson (Click to Tweet!)
By learning to listen to the body’s wisdom sooner, we can avoid days, months, or even years of suffering and we can help prevent ourselves from developing life-changing illnesses that result from ignoring the messages for way too long.
The next time you experience pain or other physical symptoms, I invite you to take a few minutes and get quiet. Begin to ask your body what it is trying to tell you through the pain or symptom you are experiencing. It may take a little time to receive the message but I guarantee you it is worth it. The more you practice this process on a regular basis, the more you will quickly receive the messages and the pain can simply disappear.
I would love to hear what message your body is sharing with you through pain or other symptoms. Comment below with what your body shared with you.
Lyn Delmastro-Thomson, MA is a Certified BodyTalk Practitioner and author of “You Are Not Your Diagnosis.” In her practice, she supports women in understanding the messages their bodies are communicating to them through pain, symptoms, and chronic illness. Sign up for her free “Body Scan Meditation” here.
Image courtesy of Xavier Sotomayor.