In Biodynamic work I have often been fascinated by the effects of grief and how
it affects the body and the mind, and how it can guide us, often not very comfortably, to grow in a different direction.
Actually one of the reasons I trained in Biodynamic work was through a client who could not jump. My client was unable to jump at all or leave the floor as her feet seemed almost magnetised to the ground. Over several sessions and exploring different ways to leave the floor we spoke more and though she was perplexed as to why this was occurring (remembering being rather good at jumping in ballet) she said her body had begun to feel completely differently over recent years.
She then shared with me that two years ago her father had passed away. He had
been her best friend and the glue and the anchor to the family. It got me very curious and I questioned that perhaps her inability to jump and physical capability was not just based around her physically fitness, but also reflected how her emotional body could affect her physiology. Was this grief restricting her from jumping and disconnecting her feet from the ground both literally and emotionally? Perhaps this was the time she needed stability and grounding after losing a person who was such a big part of her foundations.
Those who have felt grief at some point in their lives can hold a place for it in their memories and in their bodies. It is experienced in different ways for different people and it has often paved the way for what comes next. Grief is a response to a loss of something we hold in a connective bond and though people often marry it with death of something or someone, grief can show its face in many different realms. Grieving for the home we have been torn from, grieving for the community we once had, grieving via touch, grieving for a part of our body that has been removed, environmental grief and grieving for a relationship that has broken down.
Grief can show its face in many different realms
Grief has many aspects and can manifest itself in many ways. Grief is a form of stress and indeed can affect our bodies at a physiological level. It can trigger adrenal fatigue by overwhelming our cortisol levels, making our bodies tired,
making us feel lifeless, and can often result in in numbness and depression. Sleep patterns can be compromised, resulting in slow cognitive function. Some people need time away from others and will physically remove themselves from social gatherings. Others may respond physically, curling forward in the body so as to
feel hidden and safe and protected. Grief can also manifest itself in anger, frustration, guilt and sorrow. In Dr Lam's article "The Effects of Grief on Your Body: Grief as Stress" (https://www.drlamcoaching.com/blog/effects-of-grief/), he says, "Chronic inflammation can be one of the effects of stress in the form of grief, and it can have many consequences on one’s health. Inflammation causes the gut lining to become more permeable. Because of this, harmful toxins can more easily enter the body and negatively affect the gut’s microbiome. As a result, immune function can also become compromised as well."
Dr Lam states that grief can have such an intense effect on the body it can compromise the immune functioning, starting in the gut lining. The gut becomes more vulnerable to harmful toxins entering the body, and we, as a body and person in the world become more vulnerable. It is important for us to protect and nurture rather than punish ourselves.
Mourning can seriously test your natural defence system
Interestingly many Biodynamic clients I work with are often in a freeze state somewhere within their bodies and have become emotionally overwhelmed to the point that their bodies are searching for a resting place. This often manifests in a freeze state or a feeling of numbness. When our body holds onto such an intense and all-consuming felt sense it can then become imbalanced both emotionally and physically. Very often, by holding onto grief we may experience symptoms such as stomach pain, loss of appetite, intestinal upsets, sleep disturbances and loss of energy.
Of all life's stresses, mourning can seriously test your natural defence systems. Existing illnesses may worsen or new conditions may develop. When we listen to the gut rumblings in Biodynamic work we are connecting with our inner body and life inside ourselves as well as a reminding ourselves that we have a body and it's ok as it is functioning. The rumblings also help identify where there is muscular tension and emotional holding and we work together on a nurturing journey to bring this inner space the attention where it needs it.
Over time and through exploration in this practice it is also interesting to note that grief often shows itself hidden within the strong structural systems of the body such as the bones, muscles and connective tissues that help us keep upright and stable. One example of this is the serratus posterior superior, which is found deep between the borders of the scapula. This muscle also helps keep our shoulders back and has the psychological function of giving and receiving from the heart as our chest and heart are more open and forward facing to the world.
In other cases grief has revealed itself between the ribs in the intercostal muscles that when used, inflate our chest, making us appear bigger than we are and perhaps bigger than we feel. These muscles help regulate breathing and have the psychological function of regulating space as well as containing emotions. Space is very important for growth. Without space, our roots can't grow and nourish themselves. When we open up the space within the intercostals we are are also creating a sense of vulnerability between ourselves and the world in terms of being seen; we are breathing into the world. When they experience grief some people want their space to be smaller and physically to make themselves smaller in the process. When attention is given to these areas it can also create different responses in the rest of the body as well.
One very important factor in health, and even survival, is the ability of the body to maintain homeostasis – the equilibrium between different organs and systems. Stress is a threat to the maintenance of this homeostasis. Grief, though painful, has an important part in our growth in the world and also shows and teaches us a lot about our body. Grief in the body can become a very confusing, lonely and painful place to process but by connecting with ourselves and acknowledging and nurturing our felt senses, whether alone or with others, we are growing internally and returning to homeostasis.
It is difficult to ignore what the world throws at all of us daily, and often
confusing as to where to direct our feelings and emotions. Grief can be long and sometimes chronic but it is also important to remember that growth is always happening throughout this process. It can be slow and windy or fast and straight.
For more information on help with grief there is a great website below:
If you want to speak to me further in regard to exploring Biodynamic massage then
email me: email@example.com
Written by: Miranda Jankowska