Is there a link between our emotions and physical pain?


When we think about pain, it is generally to do with the physical causes – such as an injury caused through a fall, or a headache caused by staring at a computer for too long. But how often do we consider the fact that there could be an emotional reason for our ailments?

There is a growing belief among complementary therapists that our emotional state can often hold the key to the pains or illnesses we suffer from, and this is a topic I’m going to explore in this blog post.

No Water Can Wash Away This Pain
Creative Commons License photo credit: Lotus Carroll

Ailments and emotions
I’ve been writing about spirituality and alternative therapies for several years now, and I’ve discussed the links between physical ailments and emotions with many different practitioners.

The general thinking is that when a person experiences an emotionally traumatic event – for example a bereavement or a relationship break-up – this can bring about a blocking of the body’s normally free-flowing energy or “chi”. If this block is allowed to continue, the body becomes unbalanced, which can lead to pain and illness. By analysing and tackling the emotional cause of the energy block, the resulting ailment can often be eased.

Out of balance
Reiki practitioner Julie Mills uses a mixture of energy healing and conventional counselling when working with her clients. She told me: “Often if a person is in a state of emotional stress then this can lead to tension in the body and the muscles, which in turn leads to aches and pains and even illness, rendering the body unbalanced. I find that it can really help to address the underlying emotional situation in order to tackle the source of pain.”

Meditando / Meditating
Creative Commons License photo credit: eduardo.meza

Holistic healing
Journey therapist Carolyn Brown shares this way of thinking and also uses a mixture of conventional and complementary therapies. Originally she trained as a physiotherapist but became frustrated by the fact that she was unable to fully heal her clients. She looked towards a more holistic way of thinking, and came across the practice of Journey Therapy.

“Through the Journey method I help my clients to find the emotional source of their pain,” she says. “I then use a process of guided visualisation to help them work through the issue and come to a form of resolution. I have had excellent results and found the Journey work to have helped where the physiotherapy couldn’t.”

Personal experience
Spiritual healer Emily Mayfield knows from personal experience how a person’s emotional state can affect their health. When she first started working as a healer she found herself feeling permanently exhausted and run down.

After talking to other alternative practitioners she came to the conclusion that she had taken on board her clients’ emotional problems and that the distress this caused her had led to her falling ill.

“I realised I had to distance myself from their problems and to heal myself before I could carry on healing others,” she says.

Holistic therapies
Here are some holistic therapies which tackle the emotional causes of pain and illness, and which you may find of interest.

Dru Yoga

The philosophy behind Dru Yoga is that there are five layers or “koshas” of our being. These begin with the physical body, followed by the “prana” or energy levels. Next is the emotional layer, followed by the intellectual layer and finally the blissful layer or soul force. Through practising certain postures, hand movements and breathing exercises, the individual learns how to target each layer directly to allow a healing transformation to take place.

When practising Dru Yoga, participants are often said to find that traumas and emotionally distressing thoughts come up to the surface, but are gently and slowly released through the physical body.

Triangle
Creative Commons License photo credit: Nicholas_T

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
Described as an emotional form of acupuncture, EFT involves stimulating various energy meridian points on the body by tapping on them with the fingertips. During a session the practitioner will get the client to tune in to the problem they want to address, then tap the 11 acupressure points along with a series of affirmations.

The belief behind EFT is that unresolved negative emotions contribute to most of our physical ailments and that EFT can help to clear away this “emotional debris”.

Zero Balancing
This hands-on therapy is said to be particularly helpful in treating stress and the illnesses caused or exacerbated by it. Practitioners claim it encourages a feeling of quietness and centeredness within the body and mind, helping a person to cope better with changes as well as helping to resolve past trauma.

Zero balancers believe that physical damage can lead to blockages in the body’s energy flow, resulting in emotional trauma, and likewise that emotional shocks can result in physical symptoms. Therefore practitioners aim to bring about harmony between the physical body and its energy flow.

What do you think about the links between our emotions and our physical ailments? Do get in touch as I’d love to hear your views!

About the author: Liz Parry is a writer specialising in holistic health and wellbeing, personal development and spirituality.




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6 Comments »

Comment by John Walker
2012-01-29 05:25:00

Yeah, but do any of these theories actually work?

 
Comment by Gwynnie
2012-03-21 22:25:16

I actually studied this at university and have always been fascinated by the link. If you search Google scholar there are certainly plenty of studies suggesting a link between psychological factors and physical pain – (i.e. http://tinyurl.com/87czybh). It seems that your subconscious will go to great lengths to get your attention. I’m not sure about the methodology behind some of the holistic therapies suggested, but I do believe that if your mind can make you feel physical symptoms then it can take them away again, and if those therapies work as a powerful placebo or from the beneficial effects of personal attention then they do work! :)

 
Comment by Dr.John
2012-12-25 09:36:17

Oh yes,”it works”, but not until you are prepared to let go of your preconception that your present knowledge and understanding trumps the ideas presented in this article.
Do you really think that your present knowledge and understanding is all there is to know ?

 
Comment by Dr.John
2012-12-25 09:42:15

Well said.
The barrier seems to be that many people are threatened by this concept, and that to accept such ideas would indicate that their present beliefs are “wrong”. And we all know how the species Homo Sap hates to be “wrong”.

 
Comment by Jack Grabon
2012-12-26 17:24:49

Great post on the body-mind as it’s sometimes referred to. I agree that they are intimately connected and wish that more research was done in this area, especially since this is not a new idea by any means.

I’m also particularly interested in learning more about the “journey” method since I’ve never heard of it. Please let me know where I can get more information about it as this modality sounds like it can be useful to my clients.

 
Comment by Liz Parry
2012-12-28 10:58:12

Thanks for all these comments – I think it’s great that this topic has generated some interest and a bit of debate! Jack, take a look at this link for more information on the Journey: http://www.thejourney.com/

 
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