Movement is our first language, words come second. Growing up we tend to repeat movements that feel right, keep us safe, and help us to belong. As we continue moving in this way, we come to identify with the familiarity of those movements. Over time, we internalize their story until they become features of our identity.
As a result, our body physically holds a record of our history called body memory. The way we gesture, look down as we talk, or smile at strangers all reflect our history of relating to others, enacted through the body’s movement and habits.
It is common for unresolved trauma to get caught in body memories. This usually occurs outside of awareness and is what makes trauma survivors jumpy, dysregulated, or numbed out in ways they can’t explain. Mindfulness-based, embodied therapy involves sensitively tracking body memories as they reemerge in treatment. A casual flick of hand or withholding of breath can uncover deep, unconscious wounds.
Present Moment Awareness
These conscious movements, experienced within the safety of the therapeutic relationship, can generate a new story of self. This updated narrative is more accurately reflective. It resonates deeply and empowers survivors, freeing them from the grip of their body memories as the driving force of their identity.
Thankfully, you don’t have to experience severe trauma for this style of therapy to heal. To a lesser extent, most of us can get stuck in our body memories. This can be due to accidents, every day stress and poor sitting habits. In such cases, encouraging the body to tell its story can bring insight and validation.
In this way, therapy is not unlike being a parent. Most parents tend to get really good at knowing exactly what their baby’s cry is about, because they care so much and get a lot of practice. Imagine a safe space in which we gave that same level of caring and practice to our own body signals?