The Challenge of Traumatic Memory
The Complicated Mind-Body Connection
Emotional trauma has “tissue memory” where the memory gets lodged in our bodies. Our cells are like mini computers that can store information and perform innumerable tasks. This is where the pain is contained. Due to the high level of adrenaline and cortisol associated with the trauma, the memory is imprinted both in our conscious mind as well as our bodies, at a cellular level.
Unfortunately, emotional pain can continually wreak havoc on our mental, physical and spiritual health for years following the end of the trauma. Nevertheless, healing trauma that is trapped in your body can occur.
I would often notice incredible tension in my chest and that I was constantly over-inflating my lungs. Then I noticed that my leg muscles were completely contracted. I used mindfulness, relaxation and meditation to quietly reflect on what was happening with my legs, when a spontaneous memory came up—one where my father used to tickle me, squeezing my knees with so much pressure it was painful. I would laugh uncontrollably, unable to breathe and tell my father I was in agony. On several occasions I lost my breath entirely and couldn’t inhale and my vision would darken and, as a child, I thought I was dying. As an adult, I realize that there was no harm intended, but as a child, I felt like I was fighting for my life.
After that memory, I understood why, as an adult, my lungs were constantly over-inflated, and my leg muscles were completely engaged, ready to “fight” against the potential danger.
For more on how to address traumatic memory, be sure to check out my program, The Psychological Abuse Recovery Course, to help to ease these physically embedded memories of trauma in your body.