Emotional and Physical Energy

2015 brings to the end a very difficult year for me, so what better way to start my first chapter of 2016 than going away with a Psychologist? Not just any Psychologist, but one that has studied performance breakdown as a result of trauma experience! Dr Jenn Bennett and I have been friends for over 10 years, back when we were University ‘freshers’ unbeknown to what the World would hold for us. Now we’re sitting in a Bangkok airport; Trauma Traveller and Psychologist looking at the World through very different eyes. As we chat on the bus to the airport we talk about a lot of things but stumble across the topic of The Meridian Energy System.

Although I don’t have it at the moment, one of the things that I’ve been struggling with this year is a pain in my left shoulder. It stems from the back of my neck, down my shoulder and sometimes down my arm all the way to my fingers. It feels like all my muscles tighten up and there seems to be nothing that I can do  to get rid of it on my own, no matter how much yoga I do or Epsom salt baths I take.

I used to suffer with this problem a few years ago but I had had it again directly after being attacked and then more recently in the last few months. To try and diagnose the pain I went down the usual route that most of us might – back to physiotherapy and acupuncture, after deciding that it was bad posture brought back on by the attack. I was given exercises by my Physiotherapist to do daily, but the pain would still come back sporadically, regardless of whether or not I did my exercises.

During the last year, I’ve read up on a lot of different theories about our bodies and how pain can be manifested by emotions. The most impressionable book on this subject was You can heal your life by Louise Hay that was given to me by a Sports Masseuse who I was visiting almost weekly to try and manage the pain. Other avenues that I was looking into were Colour Therapy, Spiritual Chakras and Reflexology, which after a few conversations with Dr Jenn led me to on to the Meridian System. In Chinese Medicine, it’s believed that energy (“qi”) flows through the physical body via a network, called the Meridian System. Although Western medicine hasn’t typically adopted this stance (as science hasn’t proved that ‘spiritual’ energies run through a physical body, however, it hasn’t disproved it either), having studied an element of science myself it makes perfect sense that different energy systems would be connected and that energy between the two would transfer. Anyone who has studied physics would know of Newton’s law – that energy is neither created or destroyed, it just transfers from one form to another. So, if emotional energy was suppressed – which is quite normal to do in a Western conservative society – then by following Newton’s law, it seems logical that this energy would transform and manifest somewhere else, like the physical body.

Back to my shoulder and the weird on and off pains… In Louise Hay’s book, the left shoulder is symbolic of feminine energy and the same thing came up when looking into Meridian System. When I found this out it was obvious to me that something was triggering this kind of physical pain but I just couldn’t work out what. That’s  when I decided to take a step back and look at things in a wider perspective. First question was, when exactly did I get the pain? What things were similar in my life situation during these times?

When I look back at when I first started getting the pain I remember that it was when I was travelling with my ex-fiancé, back in 2011 and it coincided with the argument that marks the start of our breakup. I continued to have this pain for the year and a half after, during which we stayed together but both weren’t happy. I don’t recall having the pain much in the 2 years following the breakup and during this time I was travelling around, working in a variety of jobs and generally being young, free and single. So when I started to get this pain again this year I started to dig a little deeper into what it could be. The attack obviously threatened my feminine energy in a large way because this was a direct threat of female violation so having this pain following the attack made sense in this context. However, it wouldn’t explain why a year down the line I was getting the pain again and somewhat sporadic, or was it? What I’ve failed to look at was other things in my life – I’d recently started dating again with someone who was committed to staying in the UK for a while. This person was very special to me I wanted to make it work and was considering how I could do this. Ultimately to give this relationship a chance it meant that I would have to give up travelling and this thought process coincided with when I would get the pain. To back this up, a topic that frequently came up in the counselling that I had after the attack and losing my father was that of commitment. Specifically, how a commitment of any kind seemed to compromise my desire to travel, thus compromising an integral part of who I am. This is probably why I have spent the last few years fine-tuning different skills to get to a point in my life where I can travel and work freely, however, relationships don’t really work like that, especially not if one-half is tied to a location or career, hence the pain.

This is just one example of a physical pain that has turned out to be directly linked to a suppressed emotion and after learning more about the link between emotional and physical pain I’ve actually become aware of a few other examples in myself and I now make sure that I take a good look at my emotional state if I feel a physical pain. It seems strange to write this having studied science, grown up in a family of medics and lived in a Western culture where there is an awful lot of shame and weakness connected to showing vulnerable emotions, but when looking at it from an objective point of view it actually makes a lot of sense. I guess if you want to know more you can try it for yourself, the information’s out there.


“Chinese meridians” by KVDP – Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chinese_meridians.JPG#/media/File:Chinese_meridians.JPG

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Christmas Eve

A year ago today I fought.

It was Christmas Eve and I was in St Maarten (the Caribbean), in between jobs when a local man tried to rape me on the way home to my accommodation. There are some parts I remember and some parts I don’t but needless to say, the event somewhat traumatised me. I’ve spent the majority of this year trying to deal with the post-traumatic stress that wrestles with me regularly.

This Christmas I’m home but there’s someone missing – my Dad. It’s quiet in the house with one less person and it’s left a gaping hole in all of our lives. Being a Muslim, he never really celebrated Christmas, it was a camaraderie that he went on with for my brother, myself and my Mum, who’s Catholic. Being a Doctor, however, he worked every Christmas and when I was a kid I would go to his hospice to give out the lunches to the terminally ill patients that he was taking care of. Everyone seemed to love my Dad. I remember how the patients would fondly talk about him and tell me what a compassionate man he was, something that I would also be reminded of in the wake of his death as ex-patients and colleagues stop me, to talk about him when they see me.

The experience of giving out hospice lunches at Christmas made me very grateful for what I had – two amazing parents and my brother, all of us well and healthy. I think that’s what Christmas should be about too, being grateful for the presence of our loved ones. It’s only when we no longer have this that we realise that the presents, the dinner and fuss don’t actually matter at all.