Healing the Body/Mind with the Willingness to Feel


Focusing” is a wonderful method of body-oriented meditation. Will Hall writes about it here. I was influenced early on by reading the book about it. Today, I came upon the below quote by Eugene Gendlin,  the author of the book, and thought I would share it here with some additional thoughts and links to related posts. Certainly this sort of meditative process is part of my own healing experience.

Many of us spend a lifetime avoiding our emotional pain, and it does become more and more toxic as long as we keep it buried. It will literally make us ill, physically and mentally, as Bessel Van talks about in the book, The Body Keeps Score. The little quip, “What you resist, persists” has proven very true in my life. The only way out of that trap is to stop avoiding and learn in whatever way makes sense to us as individuals to feel once again and to embrace and absorb and therefore transform the pain of our lives. This is how I am healing.

healingWhat is split off, not felt, remains the same. When it is felt, it changes. Most people don’t know this. They think that by not permitting the feeling of their negative ways they make themselves good. On the contrary, that keeps these negatives static, the same from year to year. A few moments of feeling it in your body allows it to change. If there is in you something bad or sick or unsound, let in inwardly be, and breath. That’s the only way it can evolve and change into the form it needs. – Eugene Gendlin

More by Will Hall: Focusing: Felt Sense Meditation

This seems to be a theme today as I just made some related comments in one of my chronic illness groups. Here are a few of those comments, edited just a wee bit:

Coming back into the body has been critically important to me as well. I have a practice of deeply diving into the body sensations I have . . . even and most especially painful ones . . . not all the time (not in a masochistic fashion) but often . . . because my body speaks to me…somatic trauma release . . . it’s full of information in my experience that allows for growth and healing both.

I’ve found several programs that are focused on this work that helped inform what became my own version of what I now do with my body. I’m happy to share those — different spiritual teachers teaching body oriented meditations . . . they were all very helpful to me. Really what they did was help me understand what I was already sort of doing and they gave me permission to trust what I was doing. They are not taught (mostly) by folks who’ve been seriously ill like most of us have been, but that didn’t matter to me.

*NOTE: if you are in the throes of early and/or acute psychiatric drug withdrawal syndrome spending much time in the pain of the body is truly impossible. For ideas of how to begin when the body is screaming with that sort of chaos perhaps this post will help:  Life as a meditation: my contemplative adventure. The fact is when our body is in crisis we need to start with tiny, baby steps and let the body take its time to heal, too. Please be gentle with yourselves. The information in this post may be something you’d like to revisit in the future when you might be ready for it.

I will share the programs I mention above here since I’ve done previous posts on them:

These too may be helpful:

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First posted on Beyond Meds


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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  1. Hi Monica,

    I am a Quebecer (french canadian people) live in Quebec. I just look at many of your writings today and it is very good and helpful and encouraging for me. It is like to discover a person who thinks like me, so near my proper journey and healing (fibromyalgia, central nervous system problems, histamine intolerance, etc.). Thanks a lot for your work. Many lot of thanks, dear Monica.

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  2. “Many of us spend a lifetime avoiding our emotional pain, and it does become more and more toxic as long as we keep it buried. It will literally make us ill, physically and mentally”
    This sounds like a truism these days but there is actually some data showing that this may not be always true – not for everyone, not in every circumstances. Sometimes accessing your “inner pain” leads to disaster, much more so than keeping your demons bottled up at the back of your brain.
    It reminds me of the Lord of the Rings – if you dig too deep sometimes you wake up a Balrog.

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    • sure I agree…it has to be done if and when appropriate or need be, yes…and clearly not everyone manages this sort of thing successfully nor is everyone meant to have such a passage…life is messy and risky too, no doubt.

      I imagine Nietzsche alluded to something similar when he said “if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you” …

      I had no choice but to look long and hard into the abyss…it was my only way out and through and I truly don’t think I had a choice…this has been a matter of survival quite literally…

      Anyway, I don’t assume my experience is appropriate for everyone. It’s what I had to do and some others seem to find it helpful to hear about it so I share it. I don’t believe anything is ever true for everyone and that is why we all need to develop our own sense of discernment and live and let live.

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