Humans experience trauma, large and small, throughout our lives–and surely we’ve all been through a form of trauma during the pandemic. This is why we chose to focus our minister’s retreat last week on healing trauma, and specifically on healing emotional trauma that resides in the body.
This approach is called somatic healing. When we recognize the ways that we have been through trauma and become aware of how we are holding that in our bodies, we can begin to heal. Our presenter for the workshop was a wise and gifted healer named Elisheva Simon Wolff. They taught us techniques to use for our own healing and things we might try in offering pastoral care to others through our ministry. And Elisheva shared a particular piece of wisdom that has stayed with me more than anything else: It is a radical and subversive act, in this culture that teaches us to override the needs of our bodies so habitually, to prioritize those needs.
How deeply we have been taught to stay awake when we’re tired; to sit still when our bodies need some movement; to ignore pain; to put off eating, drinking, going to the bathroom. What would it look like if we listened to the messages of our bodies and acted accordingly – if we put the needs of our bodies first and didn’t apologize for doing so? This would look like a lot more standing up and stretching at meetings and church services. A lot more turning the screen off during Zoom meetings. A lot more going for walks in the middle of the work day. A lot more massage, singing, hugging.
As we learn to listen to and honor these needs of our bodies, (eat when hungry, sleep when tired–what a concept!) we become aware of deeper patterns. What happens in my body when I’m anxious? And why does that feel so familiar–from what point in my childhood did I start feeling that in my body? And: when I start to feel that happening, how can I tell my body that it’s OK and I don’t need to get tense like that?
These are some of the basic concepts of somatic trauma healing. I’m grateful to Elisheva Simon Wolff, to other somatic healers, and to my colleagues at the retreat. May we all know health and healing in our bodies.
Gracious God/Goddess, creator and sustainer of life, force of wonder and joy in the universe, may this body be blessed. May I have the courage and wisdom to listen to my body and to unlearn what I have been taught – that I should override the needs of the body.
May new wisdom take hold in the nation and the world: that bodies are beautiful, precious, and wise. May we learn to heal from old trauma and to resist holding new trauma in our bodies.
In the name of all that we hold holy,
Rev. Andrew Frantz
Rev. Andrew Frantz
Drew's office hours are suspended until further notice. However, he is reachable at any time via email, phone, or text.
Day off: Monday
Pastoral Care Concerns
For support with life's challenges, please contact Drew during his office hours or make an appointment with him.
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