Why We Hold Stress
A little over twenty years ago I attended a seminar taught by world renowned healer, Dr. Donald Epstein. He spoke about the damaging effects of stress physiology on the body. In addition he offered the idea that one could learn to release those stresses from their body and learn to adapt more effectively to future stresses. This was much more intriguing to me than the prospect of being a natural panacea for neck and back pain.
Before we delve into releasing stress and tension we should probably talk about how and why we hold stress and tension.
By simply observing an individual’s posture, you can tell how that person is feeling or experiencing their life. This is because it is completely natural for the body to hold itself in particular postures that correlate with the emotional experience someone is having. For instance, a forward positioning and tension in the lower neck is commonly observed when one is angry. A tailbone tucked, like a dog with their tail between their legs, would indicate a feeling of fear or victimization.
When a situation or trauma occurs that is overwhelming, or when a person experiences repeated stressors, these stress postures become what we call spinal stress patterns. It is commonly referred to as “holding onto something”. That something being a past event or even worry about the possibility of a future event. What’s really interesting is that these stress patterns can actually affect our future experiences.
The degree of flexibility in one’s body is proportional to the degree of flexibility in their life. Flexibility in life means the ability to adapt to life’s inevitable changes. If we can’t adapt effectively, we call it stress. This of course builds upon and reinforces the spinal stress patterns leading to more inflexibility and more stress. Unless we can find strategies to release stress and tension and adapt more effectively to future stressors, we are bound to continue the downward spiral toward perpetual survival mode.
Next time, we’ll talk about how to break the cycle and turn survive into thrive.