Somatic Awakening: Using Our Spirit to Decrease Pain & Heal Trauma
Melissa Patterson, ND
Doctors As Patients
After many years of honing the powerful mind-body-spirit modality that I’ve come to call somatic awakening, I was finally getting ready to present it to the public. I have to admit that I was a little nervous. I began describing this modality to a group of healers gathered before me. I explained that this technique utilizes a powerful aspect of the self, called witness consciousness, and that it brings this healing presence into direct contact with physical pain, as well as emotional and energetic contractions. In doing so, profound healing can occur.
After introducing the technique, I asked one of the participants to volunteer. A 60-something-year-old male came forward. He had experienced knee pain on and off for several years and it had recently acted up again. I asked him what his level of pain was, on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the worst), and he replied that his pain was 8 out of 10.
I took him through the process that I have taken countless others. I connected him to his witness consciousness – a part of his higher self/spirit that has the ability to be with any level of pain, emotion, or trauma, no matter how intense or difficult, from a place of powerful presence and compassion. I helped him bring this awareness into his body and asked him to feel this awareness being magnetized to the place that needed the most attention. He moved right to the pain in his knee.
He gradually recognized that the pain was connected to an old habitual thought pattern of not being able to move forward in his life. I guided him to see, feel, and sense this part of him that felt stuck. I helped him to connect to it in a relational way such that his witness was powerfully holding presence to this connection between the pain in his knee and the feeling of being stuck. He was able to really “see” and understand this stuckness in a way that he hadn’t been able to before, and start to understand how a past traumatic event had triggered this belief. As this traumatized part of himself was allowed to be seen with deep compassion, the stuckness and pain began to dissolve. After about a minute, he reported that the pain was virtually gone. When I asked him about his level of pain at the end of this process, he said that it was 1 out of 10. He also felt a deep emotional healing from the process. I did not feel surprised, although I did feel relieved. This modality, which started out as a simple technique and evolved (as I evolved) over the last 17 years, was ready to share with the public.
The Power of Witness Consciousness
My Own Experience
Even before attending Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine (SCNM), I knew that I wanted to specialize in mind-body medicine and learn everything I could about the topic at school. As I began my practice, I started utilizing a simple mind-body meditation with patients that I had picked up at school. It involved simply closing one’s eyes and turning one’s attention toward whatever ailed the person, whether it was a bad knee, pain in the low back, or an energetic tension held in the pelvis that might be connected to PMS. As a budding mind-body specialist, I practiced this meditation often with my patients and was having mild-to-moderate success with it.
Right around this time, I dove into my own inner healing of childhood trauma by receiving and learning many different types of mind-body modalities. You name it, I tried it (and often learned it). This made me a master of many mind-body modalities. However, many of these modalities seemed to open the trauma memory, which would leave me in a place of re-experiencing the trauma but not really healing from it. I learned a few helpful modalities along the way, but nothing ever really satisfied my yearning to feel peace in my body.
This is when I started turning inward. I found an awakened teacher, Adyashanti, who taught me how to inquire into (through the lens of our spirit) my somatic pain (ie, pain that has its origins in the intersection of the physical, emotional, and energetic bodies). Through this experience, I began to track myself on a deeper level than I had ever before experienced.
I discovered the powerful presence of the witness within me. I found that the more I refined this part of myself, the higher the level of energy that arose. This energy healed my pain, energetic contractions, and difficult emotions. I also found that the higher the resonance of the witness (ie, the more it was connected to my higher self), the more the pain, contractions, and trauma dissolved.
I also found that with my witness powerfully present, I was less likely to lose myself in the painful story or the feelings of the trauma. This is because of the relationship between the witness and the pain. This ability of the witness to “be with” the pain, I discovered, was the bedrock of the healing. The more I refined this relationship and matured my awareness in witness consciousness, the more the energy of my higher self flowed into the pain, contraction, etc. The more this occurred, the more pain and energy of the trauma itself (and the negative emotions attached to them) were going away. They were literally disappearing, and I started feeling the peace in my body that I had always longed for. It felt like I’d landed on the jackpot.
Working with Patients
As a naturopathic doctor, I wanted to see what would happen if I added this technique to my already-present mind-body modalities. When I started using the modality on patients which I had used on myself, a whole new level of healing began to take place with them. Long-term problems in patients, including physical, emotional, and energetic-related symptoms, began to shift and disappear as their painful and contracted patterns began to dissolve. As a result, they were also becoming free of their old stories, patterns, and negative beliefs. Peoples’ lives, including my own, were changing at a very core level. I knew I was hot on the trail of something that was unfolding inside of me, and now in my patients as well.
How It Works
As I looked for theoretical reasons for why this modality works, typical psychological theories fell short. Even though some existing modalities are similar to this one, there are none (that I know of) that utilize the healing power of spirit in the way that this modality does. I therefore looked further afield into the realm of quantum physics for a theoretical explanation. I found that the theories providing the most plausible explanations for this modality included String Theory and the theory of the Holographic Universe (which was born out of String Theory).
String Theory states that all matter, events, time, and space are interconnected into one whole and interact with each other as such. Holographic Universe theory implies a powerful conscious energy such that the whole can invariably be found in the tiniest particles, whether it be an atom of a blade of grass or the most distant galaxy.
In essence, consciousness and information exists in everything, and everything is connected as a whole.
It is my belief that the essence of somatic awakening brings the higher consciousness of our being into direct contact with the pain and/or contractions within our physical, energetic, and emotional bodies. This interconnected field transmits higher information to our energetic and emotional fields, as well as the denser physicality of our body.
That interconnection helps the contractions and pain to “remember” what it was like before the pain existed. The witness – that powerful spirit/soul presence – “conveys” to the contraction an acknowledgement of the pain, that it is now safe enough to dissolve that pain and rest in the peace that we inherently are. In other words, it helps the body to return to its original state of health. My own visceral experience when using this modality has been echoed by many patients, who have commented on their own experience of remembering their original state of who they are.
I have several patients who have had remarkable results from using this technique. Here are a few examples of those whose lives have been changed. (Names and identifying details have been changed for privacy)…
Case Study 1
Cindy, a 45-year-old female, came to my clinic 5 years ago complaining of intermittent chronic pelvic pain for 10+ years. At its worst, the pain was 9-10 out of 10, and she found that she needed ongoing pain medication to help her deal with it. Cindy had tried many conventional routes (eg, physical therapy, as well as surgery to remove scar tissue from a past surgery), but nothing had helped. She also had numerous blood tests, biopsies, and CT/MRI scans along the way, with nothing showing up that led to a diagnosis. She had a history of sexual abuse and had been in talk therapy for over 15 years with several different psychologists and marriage and family therapists. However, she continued to experience occasional post-traumatic stress episodes.
I began by utilizing numerous naturopathic modalities, such as flower essences, nervine/muscle relaxant herbal combinations, homeopathy, etc. All offered some or no benefit. We then started working on her pelvic pain using mind-body medicine. Once I began applying the technique of somatic awakening with Cindy and she was able to connect to and hold witness consciousness, everything started to shift. Because her case involved abuse issues, we moved very slowly. (I have found that it is very important to stay within the capacity of the patient and not go outside of what their nervous system and being can tolerate). Over time, the pain began diminishing. At first, the pain decreased during a session but would then shoot back up again after the session ended. However, over time the pain became much more manageable, often registering at a 2-3 out of 10.
Case Study 2
Sally, a 51-year-old woman, came to me complaining of intense, upper mid-quadrant pain (8 out of 10) accompanied by severe indigestion, and severe food allergies (at the time, she could only tolerate about 15 different foods). As with the first patient, she had a variety of diagnostic tests (endoscopy, blood tests, etc) that revealed no findings that could explain her symptoms.
When we started working together, I ran a test on Sally for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, which was negative. I also tried a multitude of different naturopathic remedies geared to soothe and heal her stomach, indigestion, and food allergies. All of these brought minimal to moderate success, but nothing worked really well. We then started doing the deeper mind-body work. Because of her background in meditation, Sally took to somatic awakening quickly. Within a short few weeks she was unwinding several areas of tension in her solar plexus that were based in childhood trauma (her father had been a rageaholic). Out of fear of emotional abuse, she didn’t feel she had permission to ever convey her opinion. As she began to heal this area using the healing power of her witness, her digestion improved, her allergies decreased significantly, and her pain disappeared. She also stepped into being able to speak her truth to her partner, family, and friends.
Case Study 3
Sue, a 35-year-old came to me with migrating body pains (musculoskeletal and neurological) due to sequelae of Lyme Disease and some of its co-infections. She had already improved somewhat with the help of a naturopathic Lyme specialist, but her healing had stalled and she wanted to see if her symptoms could decrease further using a mind-body/energetic approach. Her pain (both musculoskeletal and neurological) was around a 7-8 out of 10, and it would come and go depending on what was happening with the pathogens in her body.
I put Sue on some specialty herbal combinations for Lyme disease and its co-infections, and I also put her on a solid protocol of detoxification (via supplements and detoxification home-care protocols). We then started doing the deeper mind-body and energetic work. When we began working with somatic awakening, it was as if a light bulb went off in her body. She realized that she had not been present or had taken full “energetic” responsibility of her body for years, due to family trauma issues. Through somatic awakening, she was able to bring her vital force back into her body. The healing was so powerful that she began having Herxheimer reactions – an indication that what we were doing on a mind-body level was literally killing off pathogens to the point of producing die-off symptoms. Over time, these reactions subsided and her pain symptoms became less and less, eventually decreasing to a 3 out of 10 at the point we stopped working together.
In closing, somatic awakening has both changed my life and the lives of my patients. This is a powerful mind-body-spirit healing modality that can help heal both patients and those who practice it. For those who agree that the “Healing Power of Nature,” when working with physical symptoms, includes our emotions, energetics, and spirit this modality is worthy of a close look.
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Melissa Patterson, ND, is the founder of Somatic Awakening® – a healing modality and spiritual practice that has healed hundreds of lives, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Dr Patterson has been in private practice as a naturopathic doctor for 17 years, utilizing naturopathic medicine, mind-body-spirit counseling, medical intuition, and energy medicine. She specializes in working with chronically ill patients who want to identify and heal the core causes of their illnesses. Dr Patterson has taught holistic medicine, consciousness studies, and intuitive medicine. She is currently taking a break from teaching, but will return to it in the fall of 2017. She can be reached at her website: www.intuitive-nd.com.