An Experiment In Embodied Healing

  • jmcginn 
Text reads "Fancy trying my embodied healing experiment?  I did some writing while healing and integrating insights.  i'd love to know what happens as you read them!"  with a light blue and white paint-splodge background.
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I made a commitment to doing what nourishes my soul so that I live from my soul.  It means that relaxing, resting, all the to-dos, meditating, exercising and all the other activities throughout my day are to support what my soul is here to do.  Logically and intuitively I know that the better I look after myself, the better my work will be – whether it’s soul work, spiritual work or absolutely any kind of work. And I’m sure the same is true for you – the more you look after yourself and your wellbeing, the better everything goes.  

This blog post is a bit of an experiment.  It’s the way I’ve been writing for most of the year and it’s been transformational for me but I’ve really not been sure how to share it with anyone else. I’ve been trying to package it all up in a neat(ish) bow so it’s easy to access.  But however I package it up, your heart, mind, soul and body will take what they need from what I write to help you draw out your own inner truths that heal you. So as you read, I invite you to hold space for yourself and let my words and the energy behind my words work with your heart, mind, soul and body to create some new inspiration that draws out your magic.  I’m sharing my truth and how my body, mind, heart and soul work together to release the past and open up to the present. 

The Digging Begins

At the moment, getting some kind of draft of my book to my coach is my priority.  That kind of work is what I do best at night. Somehow the night feels more alive for getting the compiling work done.  So the night before writing this post, I let myself stay up later to do what I needed to do and set my morning alarm later too.  Oh my goodness, did my psyche react to the change! The guilt of staying in bed later was almost unbearable – even when I only woke up half an hour after my weekday alarm would usually go off.  And then when I thought about starting my day watching “His Dark Materials” the TV series for some soul inspiration, the feeling of guilt went through the roof!  

So I knew there was some interesting gems waiting to come through the writing.  I’ve learned that a surge of emotion means that some kind of message is about to make its way through to my conscious awareness.  I just have to keep feeling into it and writing what comes. So here we go. 

I feel this guilt around the solar plexus.  An interesting thing I noticed is that it’s apparently OK to my psyche for me to do mindless stuff that puts other people’s needs before my own.  It’s OK to watch the kind of TV that is about getting me to listen to someone else and to take my attention away from myself, but anything that would actually fill me up?  No, that’s a reason for feeling guilty.  

So what IS all this feeling guilt about structuring my day how I like and need it to be?  It’s remnants of fitting into a broken system. Fitting into an old way of being that is dying out.  It’s burnout and stress culture of do, do, do and be more and more busy doing “productive” things. God forbid you do something that is fun and that would fill you up!  Whatever next?  

Next a yawn comes.  That’s my body beginning to release the false story behind the guilt.  Suddenly the thought comes “you can’t have too many good things. It will spoil you.” Like there’s some abstract natural law of restricting pleasure and good things.  And what on earth might the dire consequences of feeling too good be?  

According to my psyche, those dire consequences are being rejected from the tribe.  That’s a potential emotional wound that my subconscious mind is protecting me from but it’s more than that.  It’s linked to survival. We’re wired to want to be in community because that way we’re more likely to survive.  It’s been said that the smallest unit of human survival is 2 people because we’re social beings. 

Another big yawn comes as the truth underneath the guilty feeling comes to the light of awareness.  Shame and guilt are natural companions on the road to what Jung calls ‘individuation” – the process of unhooking from social norms to step into being fully yourself, fully who you truly are.  For clarity, I’m going to use shame from now on to describe the emotion to keep it in line with THE best explanation of emotions that I’ve ever come across.  That explanation of shame comes from Karla McLaren’s “The Language of Emotions” and she drops guilt to describe that “I’ve done something wrong” feeling and uses shame only to describe it. 

Shame is a more helpful word because there are 2 types of shame – authentic and inauthentic.  The guilty, I’ve-done-something-wrong feeling that I’ve been having this morning is inauthentic shame, meaning that it’s been socially conditioned into me from the outside.  It’s false. I’m moving away from societal norms to work in a completely “me” way that enhances how I work. So I’m not *actually* doing anything wrong. And even as I type that, I can feel my solar plexus questioning me “are you sure you haven’t?!”  Yes, solar plexus, I’m sure I haven’t done anything wrong!  

If this were authentic, healthy shame, it would be coming up because I HAD actually done something wrong.  I’d have done something harmful either to myself or to someone else. So if I chose to stay up late and then rock up half an hour late to a meeting or client session, or said something hurtful to someone, then it would be appropriate for natural, healthy, authentic shame to come up.  And thank goodness we do have natural, authentic shame. It means that we can relax into knowing that there is a part of our natural makeup that monitors what we do and alerts us to doing hurtful or harmful things. And that means that we can maintain healthy relationships by making amends and changing behaviour when we need to.  

And for some reason, that last sentence caused more pain in my solar plexus area.  The centre of my personal power. Now, what I suspect is coming up now is that I shared an article about little children saying “no” a lot as they learn to exercise their own will.  They’re not trying to be difficult, they’re just experimenting and exploring being a whole person in their own right. Except that for most of us as little kids, we got seen as difficult and contrary when we said “no”. 

So this solar plexus, personal power part is an old memory held in my body since being tiny.  Trying to say “no” to feel into my own personal space and find out who I am. And yet being around caretakers who haven’t studied child development and believe that you have to control the child.  Tiny Jacqui’s “no” turned into a power struggle. But a tiny toddler’s “no” doesn’t have to be a power struggle if you know what to do – make it feel like a choice to give the toddler a sense of their own power in a safe way.  (My solar plexus has responded to writing that truth by easing off. The pain and tightness that was there wrapped up in shame are easing.) 

From Bad Daughter To Simply Daughter

One of the most important things I’ve learned about behaviour and self-development this year is how crucial your self-image is.  The image of yourself that you hold in your mind influences the daily choices that you make. And it can be fragmented into many different pieces by the different roles you played when you were small and the aspects of you that were and weren’t accepted. The acceptable parts of you get pushed forward to be on show to others, and the unacceptable parts get pushed back out of the way and out of sight into the shadows.  But they don’t go away. The inner conflict between the “acceptable” and “unacceptable” parts and pieces of you takes an awful lot of energy that could be channelled into creative projects.  

Yesterday I was writing about being a “bad daughter”.  Saying “no” would have certainly put me in the ‘bad daughter” category.  And that was a shameful identity hiding in the shadows while the “good daughter” shone brightly.  But the “shameful bad daughter” is a vital piece that makes me whole. She carries that willfulness of saying “no”.  She carries a vital spark of uniqueness and being authentically myself.  

Often taking on the “bad daughter/son” identity is to protect the image of our parents – our creators and nurturers – in our minds.  Sometimes it’s just too painful to accept that they couldn’t meet our needs, so our minds idealise them and make ourselves feel bad instead to compensate.  There’s a fantasy image created in our minds of who we need to be to get all the love, acceptance, security, affirmation, nurture and presence that we really want deep inside.  But that image of who we need to be isn’t clear and it changes all the time. It’s always something we’re not and that leaves us with this feeling of insecurity inside that there’s something wrong with us but we can’t quite put our finger on it.  If only we were more quiet, more loving, less willful, less emotional, (and so on), we’d get everything that we really want. We’d get all the love we could ever need. 

But love doesn’t exist solely outside us.  We experience love to the degree that we can experience it within.  In our essence, we are love and came from love. And the problem with our parents is that they didn’t have as much access to childhood developmental research.  Most parents have access only to how they were treated and ‘what’s always been done”. But like anything, there’s research, there’s investigation. There are now more ways than ever to share our wisdom that can help others through formal and informal ways.  

The amount of research and information can be overwhelming, which is why it’s so helpful to bring intuition back into full capacity to help navigate the overwhelm and know which experts to trust for your own individual child.  But what your inner child needs to know is that mummy and daddy didn’t understand what s/he needed but you and I as adults now understand what our inner child needs. S/he needs to know that “no” is OK and she can have choices to help her say “no” without it being a power struggle.  She needs to know that she’s not a bad daughter, she’s simply a child following a natural path of development and so there’s nothing to be ashamed about.  

The defiant child within can relax knowing that her willpower is honoured.  The defiant parts of my inner child can most certainly sabotage a lot of my creative efforts and shut out help from others who could help!  And along with the “bad” defiant child who is part of this bad daughter image I’ve held in my mind, they can all come out of the shadows and integrate with the good daughter identity to just simply be a daughter with no positive or negative charge.  All of the parts and pieces that make up who I am can come out of the shadows and into the light. The defiance can be channelled into a resolve to stick to my commitment to my soul work.  

Healing Energy Flows

With these deeper truths and realisations, my mind rearranges itself around the deeper truth.  The amount of yawning I’m doing while the energy moves and the amount of energy movement I can feel in my body shows me that this was important work.  

That original feeling of shame at choosing to move further away from 9-5 working norms revealed itself to be an entry into some deeper truths that my soul wanted to integrate.  It’s great to have an intellectual understanding of child development and of emotions, but it’s empowering to move that intellectual understanding into applied, embodied understanding.  Body, mind, intellect, intuition, inner child, emotion and soul all working together to bring deeper and deeper peace inside and more and more space for my soul to do its work in the world.

Reading and studying is great and helps prepare your mind for deeper healing and integration work.  But it does need to be taken to those deeper embodied levels where the truth unravels a little bit more of the power and control systems going on.  Setting us free on the path to being the whole of who we really are. 

Over To You

I’m curious about whether my words have had an effect on you.  Have they stayed at an intellectual level or did they work a bit deeper and spark a-has for you too?  You might like to write yourself and give your own inner child some space to be defiant. Have you had that inner split between the good son or daughter that you show the world and then the bad son or daughter that’s been lurking in the shadows?  
I’d love to hear your insights and if there’s anything you’re not sure about and would like clarified, just let me know!  Email me at if you’d like to join in my exploration and curiosity!