In a society that tends to place much weight on the physicality of illness and injury, it is often difficult to fathom the idea that emotions, the intangible, behind-the-scenes kind of stuff, can impact healing, much less the actual onset of an illness or the occurrence of an injury in the first place.
In her book, Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, Dr. Christiane Northrup, MD, suggests that pain in the body is intrinsically linked to an emotion and that the pain is the body’s way of trying to get one’s attention to look at the emotion. When one dismisses that idea, and does not look to the emotion behind the pain, the body will eventually talk louder with dis-ease.
Following a conventional medical model, confronting a physical diagnosis may appear easier to cope with than having to delve deep into one’s emotions. Imagine if you had fallen and sprained an ankle and your family physician said, “Let’s immobilize the ankle so it can heal; in the meantime I’d like to prescribe meditation and energy therapies to help you unravel the emotion that is linked to the injury.”
While the concept seems foreign, that is precisely the approach Sudbury resident Karyn Geeza decided to take after doctors labelled her depressed and manic, and, after a year of physiotherapy and pain medications to help heal a shoulder injury that didn’t even register as a physical injury in diagnostic tests.
“I had been dealing with insurance companies because of my shoulder injury, and they weren’t interested in natural approaches to healing,” Geeza remembers. “They wanted me to keep going through physio and keep taking pain medications. After a year I finally said to them “I’ve done it your way for one year, and it hasn’t helped, now I’m doing it my way.”
She attended a BodyTalk Breakthrough class – a form of energy medicine – a process that takes one through to what is going on subconsciously in the mind or body.
“It was through that course that pain started coming up for me and I started to understand the pain at a deeper level,” Geeza says. “At one point (while volunteering for a demonstration during the course) we got into an area on the heart meridian and I went into a huge emotional release. It was like a flash of different incidences in my life where I’d experienced disappointment and sadness that created these experiences that I’d never really dealt with. I sobbed uncontrollably. We were in the middle of a class and I couldn`t stop crying. The interesting part was that it was such a huge release for me that I didn`t even trust my legs to carry me. Three hours later I had full mobility of my arm for the first time in 13 months and 80 per cent of the pain was gone after this emotional release.”
Her journey through illness began in 1994 while working as a mine clerk at a mine site in her early 40s. The daily grind of her job, coupled with the one-hour commute to and from work, left her feeling exhausted. At the time, someone had introduced her to a nutritional supplement line – a network marketing type of business. She began a course of supplements and nutritional cleansing, and her energy levels shifted, so much so that she found herself vacuuming in the middle of the night, with extra energy to burn.
But her turning point was really in the research she delved into while taking the supplements, not only on the physical side of nutritional supplementation on the body, but also on understanding how the mind works and how dis-ease is linked to emotions.
In 1997 she suffered a breakdown. The company she was working for had decided that she would train to work underground, and the thought of working underground left her fearful, she remembers.
“At the end of the first day of training to work underground, the very thought of it threw me into PTS (post traumatic stress),” Geeza says. She has no recollection of what happened that day, only that she was emotionally and mentally immobilized, which led her to take a leave of absence from work.
Doctors diagnosed her with depression, and one had even diagnosed her as manic-depressive. But Geeza had another explanation for her symptoms. She says it was cognitive dissonance – a term she had learned through courses she had taken through the nutritional supplement company.
She was living two realities that were very different – one was her current reality working as a mine clerk in a dirty mine site, she explains. The other pulled her towards helping people.
“I was introduced to this nutritional supplement company and it became a vision of mine to help people,” Geeza says.
“The two realities were very different and it created a lot of tension – tension that our society calls anxiety or depression.
“That tension exists for the energy to move you from your current reality to your vision.”
During her leave of absence, her doctor had helped identify that a portion of what was leading to her depression was in fact job related. She had approached the company to see if there was some way to continue working with the company without having to work underground.
“The whole process was frustrating as I had worked for the company for 14 years,” yet there didn`t seem to be a solution that would enable her to keep her job.
“At some level I understood that the whole process was a piece of the movement to get me to shift to doing what I was meant to do, which wasn`t sitting at a desk ordering mining supplies,” to bringing her vision to current reality.
Was clinging on to her belief that she should be able to continue working with the company she had devoted 14 years of her life to worth her “health going down the tubes”? It wasn`t, she says. She left her job, with a supportive husband by her side, and spent several months reacquainting herself with who she was and where her interests were.
“I have a great interest in the whole human dynamic – the way we work from the mind level and how it affects our whole,” Geeza says.
“I never wanted to be hugely medicated because I wanted to find out what was really going on,” Geeza says. “When we experience an injury or illness we look to the physical cause that will demonstrate why we`re hurt, but there is an emotional side to consider.”
“When I injured my shoulder (in 2004) I had tripped off a curb,” Geeza explains. “I had a physical injury where I couldn`t move my shoulder. One could say it was the fall that made that physical injury. What I started to question was why the fall or the illness in the first place.”
Interestingly, she points out, the fall off the curb occurred at a time when she was heading to an appointment she didn`t want to attend. There was an emotion linked to the fall, she says.
“I`ve gotten to the point where I try to stay aware of what`s going on around me and how I am feeling about different situations,” Geeza says. “When I have symptoms I ask myself “Is there something really stressful going on around me and what is my response to that situation?” For example, if I`m feeling like the responsibility is on me, then I start getting tension in my shoulder.”
“We’re basically a society that doesn’t deal with our emotions, and yet the body needs to release that emotion to heal.”
Feelings provide clues as to what is going on. Pay attention to them, says Geeza, who now works as a BodyTalk practitioner in Sudbury, in her journey to help others.
By Sari Huhtala, Publisher, Alive+Fit Magazine