Bodywork and dreams

Bodywork and dreams Jane Teresa Anderson

When was the last time you had a good, deep, foot, neck, shoulder, or back massage? If you closed your eyes and surrendered to the process, what feelings came up for you?

Were you able to name those feelings – relief, grief, foreboding, panic, bliss, vulnerability? Or did you notice tears flowing but find yourself unable to say why? When painful knots were found and massaged, did you see any images, symbols, or experience dreamlike visions?

What did you dream that night, or the next night?

Our muscles and other tissues can hold our painful emotions and associated memories in an often unconscious attempt at protecting ourselves from being hurt in the same way again. Imagine gripping the ground with your toes in an effort to stand your ground, to not budge, to stay put for fear of letting go because of a painful letting go experience in your past. Or because you learned this fear from your parents or guardians or the culture into which you were born. Imagine those toes never really relaxing, never really letting go, even when you’re sitting down or sleeping, partly because you’re on alert whatever else is happening, and partly because your muscles have forgotten how to stretch, or have stiffened and become limited in their range of movement.

Now, what happens when that massage therapist stretches out those muscles for you, cajoling them to release their hold? Perhaps you feel the fear or panic of letting go, perhaps you feel the accumulated pain of holding on, of standing your ground, of victories won or opportunities lost. Perhaps you feel the vulnerability that you have kept under lock and key of muscular tension so long that you can’t even name this strange feeling. Perhaps you feel foreboding, sure knowledge of forthcoming danger, or perhaps you feel relief, discovering that when you are made to let go you find yourself safe, or you find yourself as excited as you were as a one year old when you took your first steps into a whole new and wonderful way of being.

Sometimes the massage is enough to move you forward, to release you into the discovery that it is safe to move beyond your previous limitations, that there is relief in letting go, in change. Sometimes the massage is enough for now, but you return to the status quo, to your comfort zone, to gripped toes, and holding your ground, to fear of change, because the unconscious beliefs you hold remain the same, and the unconscious painful emotions and memories those beliefs are built to protect you from remain in need of healing.

This is where dreams enter the picture.

Dreams are the result of your mind processing your conscious and unconscious experiences of the last 1-2 days, comparing these recent experiences to your entire past, either consolidating your beliefs (your mindset) as a result, or changing them. When we experience highly charged emotions, our dreams can be extremely vivid, and their content extremely revealing and potentially healing.

So your dreams following the foot massage in this toe-gripping, ground-gripping example, might find you comparing the released emotions you felt during your massage with similar situations in your life now, in your life past, and even as far back as the original experience that created the unconscious belief that has had your toes grippingly limiting you ever since. Once analysed (for the dreams will be surreal and symbolic), such dreams can help you to understand why – in this example – you tend to grip, to stand your ground, to resist moving forward in wonderful, life-enhancing ways.

Once you are aware of your pattern and you understand its genesis, you are on the road to healing. You may choose various healing modalities, but with the blessing of a dream to work with, dream alchemy would be a good choice, working deeply and directly with your unconscious mind.

Toe-gripping is just an example. Foot massage may release all kinds of protected emotions and memories, as may massage of any part of the body. A person who is rather ungrounded, who lives in the head, who has lots of ideas but can’t make them happen, may find that a deep foot massage brings them back in touch with the emotions and memories they have been trying to flee. Their dreams may help them to understand their disconnection, and ready them for healing, grounding, feeling safe to put down roots, to manifest, and grow.

Other forms of bodywork, apart from massage, can feed your dreams in a similar way, by actively or passively encouraging your body to move beyond the limitations that it has habitually adopted in the name of protection from painful emotions, or as a result of unconscious limiting beliefs acquired from parents, guardians, or society. Keep your dream journal handy following a massage or bodywork session, and go to bed with the intention to recall your dreams to deepen your insight and open the way for healing and long-lasting positive change.

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