Occasionally, we introduce you to a guest blog that we feel is in line with the mission of BeWell, and which supports your intention as part of the BeWell family to live a healthier, more holistic life.
My dear friend, Rose Bohn, has been teaching embodied writing as a form of life coaching for many years. Here is a sample of her approach. You’ll find her contact information at the bottom of her blog.
Hello fellow Vessel of Flow,
I love to participate in other people’s learning. One of the fun things I get to do is pose questions that my students (or readers) haven’t asked, and then watch the question crinkle their brow, tilt their head, shift their eyes to a distant non- focus. “Yeah, what about that?” I also love being on the receiving end when someone poses a question I haven’t thought of.
Have you wondered, what does she mean by “healing the nervous system” and what is “survival wound”?
We all learned in high school biology that the nervous system has physical components, chemical components, mental components, and emotional components. The nervous system is ALWAYS taking in stimuli and interpreting it. Healing the nervous system means becoming aware of the automatic responses to certain stimuli—fight, flight, freeze responses—and through acute and long-term practices, re-training those automatic responses that don’t serve, that aren’t based on a true need for survival. When the nervous system responds to innocuous stimulus as if survival is threatened, the unconscious, automatic patterns are called the survival wound.
For example, sometimes when I was lecturing in a classroom, I would suddenly notice that no one was looking at me, no one was acknowledging that I was talking to them, and my gut would feel tight, heavy, a bit hot—not nice. I might feel a kind of sinking in my chest. Then thoughts would intrude like, “they think this is pointless, stupid, a waste of time.” “Nobody is even listening. Nobody cares. I’m wasting my time.” That was a freeze response in my nervous system. My physiology was responding as if my survival was threatened, like I wasn’t safe, like an opossum when a coyote attacks. When there were no eyes to meet mine, I suddenly didn’t feel safe, but that awareness didn’t register in my consciousness before I started reacting. The beginning of healing my nervous system was noticing my safety cues, my personal signal of fight, flight or freeze.
My personal nervous system triggers are highly sensitive to my feeling unwanted, and I interpret (project) “they don’t want me” in all sorts of situations because rejection is my core wound. Core wound is created preconsciously through early experiences that shape our beliefs and behaviors. My core wound of rejection is like a lens that I see everything through, until I bring my physiologic and emotional responses into conscious awareness.
When we are babies, before we are conscious, rational thinkers, the nervous system interprets experiences and stimuli from sensations (sound, taste, touch, sight, and smell) and some of those nervous system responses will become a dominant pattern that can be felt as one of three core wounds: abandonment, rejection, or betrayal. When I developed a rejection core wound, there was no thought—I wasn’t conscious. And I didn’t develop this core wound because I was neglected or mistreated. Everyone has a core wound—this isn’t about the external circumstances; it’s about the internal experience and interpretation of sensory input. We could call it a “core pattern,” if we took a Holy Neutral perspective, but from inside a human body, it feels like a wound.
When I was unaware of my core wound, it caused me to seek approval and agreement and to suppress my needs or get my needs met in manipulative ways. In that classroom example above, I would try to get the students to talk, not because that was useful to their learning process in that moment, but to reassure me that I wasn’t unwanted in the classroom. Or I would resent them for not being more responsive, and I might clam up or use sarcastic humor as self- protection. Those survival wound responses in my teaching drained me, so I felt no joy or energy.
As I’ve been healing my nervous system, I see that my core wound of rejection has given me compassion for others and a capacity for tenderness. I desire to invite people into belonging and doing so feels natural to me. However, truth be told, when I first became aware of my core wound, I felt deeply ashamed and uniquely broken. I believed I really was unwanted by my parents. Confronting that level of shame and pain took immense courage as well as the guidance and support of a skilled mentor. Healing this core wound has impacted every aspect of my external life, but more importantly, it has changed my inner experience. It was foundational to letting my light shine, discovering my true dreams and desires, and then beginning to embody them—like writing a book and launching a career as an embodied writing coach.
What are some take-aways for today?
- Healing the nervous system starts with noticing the automatic fight/flight/freeze responses that happen to every human, all day long, every day, in reaction to all sorts of stimuli because we all have survival wounds.
- It’s not easy to become aware of these automatic responses, so we need practices to help us slow down from the insane pace we keep in modern life, slow down enough to notice “I feel like running away. I feel like telling them off. I feel like collapsing, shutting down.”
- Then you need in-the-moment practices and daily practices to begin to develop a supportive, loving response to yourself when you don’t feel safe, when your survival pattern is activated.
What does this have to do with embodied writing?
If it doesn’t feel safe to be in your body as you are creating (if you experience writer’s block, numbing self-criticism, can’t finish a piece or share it with anyone), healing the nervous system can allow your blocked energy to flow again so you can embody your dreams and desires. I can work with you, to make creativity your fast track to healing.
- If you’d like to chat about healing your nervous system, survival wound or core wounds.
- To let me know how I did answering my questions.
- If you have a question you would like me to answer in a personal email or in a newsletter.
- If you have a question you would like me to hear your answer to.
If you would like to learn more about healing the nervous system, I encourage you to join me in participating in (my mentor) Elisha Tichelle’s (free) master class series on Nervous System Regulation. Follow this link to learn more or sign up: https://elishatichelle.lpages.co/regulate/
Connected we shine!