Do We Carry Our History In Our Bodies?

I am living in south of Spain and most of my clients are from the Swedish community here. We have a monthly magazine called ”Svenska Magasinet” which gives me the opportunity to sometimes write articles for them. I am sharing a translation into English with you all. The article was published this February, just a few weeks before we had to change our daily lives in different ways because of the virus. Many thanks to Susy Joy for help with the translation.

Svenska Magasin

Do We Carry History In Our Bodies

 There is a classic scientific study conducted by psychologists. The subjects were divided into two groups who all read the same comic book. One group had to hold a pen in their mouths that caused the corners of the mouth to be pulled down. The
other group also had to hold a pen in their mouths so that the muscles we smile with were activated. After reading the comic book, all the test subjects got to estimate how funny they thought it was. It turned out that the group that had the pen in their mouths so that the corners of their mouth were pulled upwards, found that the magazine was much funnier than the group where the corners were down turned.

In my day-to-day work as a physiotherapist, I meet people who in some way have problems with their bodies. The diagnoses vary – and the same diagnosis is perceived differently depending on personality. As a therapist, I try to understand and familiarise myself with each patient’s situation. Over the years, I have become more and more aware that we carry our history, everything we have been through, not only in our brains but also in our bodies.

All the lovely moments we have had create a relaxed posture, softness in our breath and an ease in adapting to different life situations. But most of us have also been through hardship. It can be accidents, painful separations or, for example, overly
critical parents, teachers or managers in our working lives.

It’s like we are creating a tension pattern in the body to protect ourselves from unpleasant experiences. And in this, the body does so well. It protects us in the moment, with its effective tension mechanism. The problems arise when the danger is
over and we do not know how to let go of the protection the body has created. The tension pattern is incorporated into our movement pattern and over time it can cause physical pain in both muscles and joints.

Let’s say you have been shouted at and you backed off. You didn’t stand up for yourself. Backing off has a mental component but also a physical one. Muscles are activated and you get a protective posture. These muscle tensions may cause back pain and then you need help for your back strain. Maybe you also have the feeling of
discomfort that created the tension pattern. In my professional life, I often notice that when physical problems give way during a treatment, my patients say that their emotions and thoughts also change. When the tension pattern no longer controls their lives, their everyday life changes.

We are many different professional groups that deal with physical problems and there are a variety of techniques and methods. And it’s good because we’re all different. In my business I have experienced that the softer the touch and the more listening I am, the easier the tension pattern dissolves; tension patterns that have physical, mental and emotional qualities. The name for such a treatment method is Body Harmony. Body Harmony treats the person as a whole but uses the physical body as a tool for change.

Yours in Harmony,

Eva Willenheimer 

Editors Note: Eva Willenheimer is a Body Harmony® practitioner and teacher and a physiotherapist practising in Marbella in the south of Spain.