Somatics, anxiety, anger & neuroplasticity

A Blog Post by Judy Thompson, Director Mind Body Services:

Sometimes when I feel alone or sad or misunderstood I want to run. Run away from my life, people who don’t understand me, people who I’ve decided look at me funny, and the pressures and pain of my failures and non-accomplished goals. The thoughts come, I pay attention to them, and I spin myself up in a fury of anger, fear, sadness, worry and despair. Emotions are very good at controlling our attention, after all, they are energy in motion. But all of these emotions, especially the anger, fear, sadness and worry, don’t really present well, feel good, nor bring us closer to our authentic self.

For me, when I allow these emotions to exert greater control, I feel my face and body plastered with falseness, disingenuous remarks escape from my lips, terse responses abound, and coldness from my eyes feel like daggers. In the moments when these emotions are in control, I feel more in control, and I feel more empowered, but in actuality it is the opposite, for I am the one being controlled by the energy in motion within my body.  This is the power of the flight or fright response, which for some people, those who have been victims of trauma, abuse, grief, addiction or mental illness, the circuitry and path is that much quicker, and that much more reactionary and felt, really felt.

The process of repatterning one’s neural pathways, one’s circuitry, habits and reactions, is possible through traditional psychotherapy and techniques such as EMDR, EFT tapping, yoga and yoga nidra (iRest) guided meditation.

In the example above, I can invite senses in my body to bring me back to the present tense, rather than remain lost in the fury of anger, fear and sadness, I can tune into the somatics of my body….what my body is saying….as a pathway to bringing me back on a path of awareness to self. I can listen for sounds, I can notice smells, I can feel my feet on the ground, I can place my hand on my cheek, and I can invite in a 1 second pause. The pause is the positioning and launch into streaming, strengthening and building the new neural pathways within the brain.  The most difficult part is finding the pause because even 1 second is an impossibility when the energy in motion of the emotion is in control.

In the examples I gave, this is the role of the somatics and working with the body. The body has the ability to send the message to the brain that I am safe now, there is no real danger or imminent threat. If I can somatically connect on this level, then I am the one who has regained control of the energy in my body, and I can find that 1 second pause to exhale and inhale and come back to myself, my true self, who is calm, rational, and full of light and love.

This is the beauty of recognizing and working with the opposites in psychotherapy and meditation. Both exist. Both serve a purpose. Both can be acknowledged and accepted, but both do not live in that place of my authentic true self.

I can know the difference, but more importantly, I can feel the difference.

I invite you to allow this information and my words to come into your awareness. Sense how they settle.  Anger, fear, sadness, worry and despair are real emotions that have power, and if these emotions are present in your life right now, then know that you are not alone in your suffering. Do not be afraid of these emotions, they are merely messengers, and it is not what you do with them when they are present, but rather how you handle them.

The tools, techniques, and resources we provide at Integrated Care are the how, and learning them is possible for you.


I honor the path you are on, in gratitude-
Judy Thompson
Director, Mind Body Services