Forgiveness, we are taught, is a letting go of hurt feelings for wrongs that have been done to us or when applied to ourselves, done by us.
Sometimes forgiveness feels impossible because the hurt or shame is so great. Sometimes forgiveness is reached for too quickly in an effort to get to resolution. In either situation a crucial step was missed. Only by allowing the fullness of the hurt can we come to realize that we are more than our suffering. In order to do this however we need to be able to access the fullness of our emotional response to our experience and this is often not possible at the time it occurred.
It wasn’t until I experienced Rosen Method Bodywork (RMB) that I came to understand how much my body was holding onto emotional pain from past experiences. I thought I had done all my work after years of therapy and personal growth. I thought I knew of forgiveness. I was surprised to learn that while I had in some ways achieved forgiveness, I had a long way to go before I truly could let go of the past and reach that place of unconditional love for others and myself.
Where there is harm there is pain. While it is obvious that physical harm causes physical pain, emotional harm is not always acknowledged as causing physical pain, which it does. Our bodies respond to emotional pain by activating our sympathetic nervous system, which operates our fight/flight/freeze response anytime we perceive ourselves to be in danger. In this way we protect ourselves from overwhelming emotions such as fear, sadness, desperation, powerlessness, helplessness and rage. Without proper support to process these emotions our bodies remain in these protective states and our nervous systems habitually orient around our particular survival responses, ones that worked at the time they were originally needed.
Unfortunately, continuous survival responses in our bodies (to normal everyday stressful situations) can result in disproportionate reactions either over-reactive (excessive fear or rage) or under-reactive (emotionally shut down or depressed). Often we remain stuck in states of vigilance, “being on” or “ready” and we suffer from anxiety and stress. Over time our bodies begin to break down from the continued depletion created by these reactions and we end up on stress leave or sick, or both.
Fortunately somatic forms of healing such as RMB are excellent at helping the body regain resilience and release the habituated survival responses in the body, in order to access more positive sensations such as safety, wellbeing, presence, support and love.
RMB Practitioners, through the use of gentle, present touch and words, work with the breath as it moves through the body as a way of connecting to the places in the body where there is unconscious emotional holding. Once the client becomes aware of the holding there is an invitation to fully allow whatever emotion, impulse, need or sensation that is being held back.
The client is supported in a way where the client also feels they are safe and supported in the present moment. It is this allowing of past experience while remaining grounded in the present moment that allows the client to fully move through and release the emotional response from their bodies. Clients are then free to experience more of themselves than before. Feelings of spaciousness, presence and peace are common. Sometimes forgiveness is also present as a natural result of being able to fully allow the fullness of the emotion that was being held back.
RMB taught me how to allow my emotions without judgment and accept the feelings I had weren’t good or bad, they just were. This brought me to a place of deep inner knowing, a place of loving essence; this is where I experienced true forgiveness.
Cinnamon is a Certified Rosen Method Bodywork Practitioner and the Co-owner of the Rosen Method Institute Canada. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 780-203-5159.
Note: This information is for educational purposes only. It’s intended to supplement your current health program, not to replace the care of a licensed medical doctor. Thoroughly research all topics for yourself.