While the English language frequently refers to what our bodies know — “gut feelings,” hearts “reaching out” to others, etc. — many of us have learned to ignore, deny, or even mistrust our body’s inherent wisdom. Even worse, a lot of people don’t like their bodies very much at all. As a result, we often cut ourselves off from one of our greatest allies. In Reclaiming Your Body: Healing from Trauma and Awakening to Your Body’s Wisdom, author Suzanne Scurlock-Durana provides the tools and guidance necessary to reconnect with our body’s inner guidance system of sensation, imagery, and inner knowing. Her book includes chapters for each main “wisdom area” of the body — the heart, gut, pelvis, legs and feet, bones, and brain — and explores each area’s unique roles in the process of developing full-body presence.
We hope you’ll enjoy this Q and A with Suzanne about the book.
You say the body has its own language that is older and more primal than most of us realize. Will you talk a bit about how it communicates with us? The body speaks to us primarily through physical sensations, such as lightness or heaviness, different temperatures, density, pressure or spaciousness. The more visual among us might also get internal images, while others might get a felt sense of elation or dread, or a wave of emotion that washes through us out of nowhere. These are just a few of the multitude of ways our bodies communicate with us each and every moment.
You say in the book that we all have an inner navigational system. Tell us more. The cellular intelligence of the body is phenomenal when you know how to listen to its wisdom, and when you’re in touch with the signals it’s sending you. There are a number of specific areas where that wisdom resides, and each one has its own characteristics. Think about the inspiration of the heart. Your gut knowing. The power of your pelvis. The steadiness and clarity that your bones bring you when you’re embodied there. These are just a few of the body’s main wisdom areas that are here just waiting to support us.
The subtitle of your book is “Healing from Trauma and Awakening to Your Body’s Wisdom.” What kind of trauma are you referring to? There are many levels of trauma – from the daily assaults of our environment and the speed we’re pushed to operate from, to the childhood traumas, large and small, that we all carry with us. There’s also trauma in abusive relationships, whether they’re work relationships or personal in nature. There’s even trauma from surgery and radiation and chemo – those life-saving events that have side effects that stay with us for a long time.
For instance, I worked on a client today who had a very successful stem cell procedure in her shoulder. But they had to drill into her hipbones to get the stem cells. Her physician was phenomenal and the procedure turned out great. Yet her hipbones were still in shock when I treated her today, 10 days after the procedure. Fortunately, we were able to help them recover in an hour’s time with the right neutral touch and compassion. Now she’s walking much more comfortably. And she’s feeling relaxed for the first time since her procedure.
What does the latest research tell us about how unresolved trauma can impact our lives? Unresolved trauma leaves us vulnerable because when we freeze, tighten up inside or dissociate in response to a traumatic experience, we can no longer accurately feel or sense what is happening in the present moment. We end up much more rigid and out of touch with ourselves. So we’re no longer aware of what the body is telling us, through the wisdom of a gut hunch or the heart’s response, for instance.
Instead, we only have access to the mind. So when something happens in our lives, we can only understand it through the lens of what it looks like or resembles from past experience. For instance, “I know what’s going to happen next because this looks like something from my past. So I need to be vigilant, and maybe even kick into fight-or-flight mode.” In that way, unresolved trauma disconnects us from the rich wisdom of our bodies.
You write about six wisdom areas of the body in your book. What are they? And are there other areas of wisdom beyond these general areas? The six primary wisdom areas are the heart, gut, pelvis, bones, legs and feet, and the brain. Beyond those, there are many other areas that hold wisdom as well.
Tell us about the wisdom of the heart and why it’s so important that it be connected to all the other wisdom areas of our body.
The heart is such a wonderful resource, but it can handicap us if it’s trying to act in isolation. For instance, the heart without the gut’s wisdom is vulnerable. And the heart without a strong connection to the pelvis is lacking the energy and power it needs to manifest our heart’s inspirations. But when the heart is connected to all the other wisdom areas of the body, our deepest inspiration and compassion is fully supported. And that’s when it can manifest in our lives. We get to live from that soul quality of who we are, rather than from all those “shoulds” most people operate from.
Tell us about the wisdom area of the gut and why it’s so important. The gut has a deep wisdom that’s especially powerful when it’s guiding us in what’s needed, what’s safe, and what’s right or wrong in any given moment.
Please share why embodying and activating the wisdom area of our legs and feet is such a vital part of wise decision making.
Our legs and feet help us activate our dreams by clarifying what’s foggy, and then supporting us to make difficult decisions. When we get this wisdom area moving (for instance, by taking a long walk, or any activity where we instigate right-left synchronous movement), it stimulates the two halves of the brain to work together better. This in turn helps in decision-making, especially when we feel paralyzed by too many options.
What do you mean by bone deep wisdom and why is it important in today’s world? Our bone deep wisdom is what helps us stay steady and clear in a world that can be rocky, tumultuous and stressful. When we can settle into the depth of our bones, the mud settles and the water clears.
Suzanne Scurlock-Durana, is the author of Reclaiming Your Body and Full Body Presence. Her Healing from the Core curriculum combined with CranioSacral therapy and other bodywork modalities creates a complete, body-centered guide to awareness, healing, and joy. She teaches around the world and lives in Reston, Virginia. Visit her online at www.healingfromthecore.com.