Dancing in the Shadows by Laura Bryannan

Chapter 12


A survivor must work with many different levels of healing in order to free herself from the negative aspects of her abuse. Therapy can address mental and emotional trauma. Spiritual practices can cultivate soul-level healing. The one area that often gets neglected during all this work, however, is the body itself.

Poisons from fear, anger, disgust, shame and pain often get stored in the cells of the body, there to sit for years and years, untouched by the survivor. It is important for anyone who has suffered abuse or physical trauma to understand that the body may be holding immense amounts of stuck energy.

Anyone who has witnessed this energy coming up to be released knows how bizarre this kind of healing can be at times. I call this type of healing a "body flashback": the cells and muscles of the body take control temporarily and produce all sorts of behaviors and symptoms that the survivor cannot stop.

I've heard tales of strange rashes that erupt on the mouth or the genitals, blood blisters and bruises on the genitals that come from nowhere, uncontrollable throat spasms when the tongue behaves as if it's being forced to give oral sex, and total body convulsions that appear (I imagine) like epileptic fits. In fact, if you're a survivor and have been seeking medical attention for something the doctors can't figure out, it is possible your body is simply releasing cellular-level trauma and there is nothing seriously wrong with you physiologically.

Of course, nothing can help body issues more than finding a worthy massage therapist, shiatsu or acupressure practitioner. Try to find one who understands the energy system of the body and has knowledge about healing blocks and knots of stuck energy. Having a safe and loving person touch you in a healing manner can break down more barriers and armoring than any amount of traditional discussion-based therapy.

The following exercises are aimed at helping survivors identify and eliminate poisons from the abuse they received that is being held in the physical structure of the body.

Create your Shadow

This exercise involves making something physical that will represent all the pain, shame, anger, darkness, guilt, grief, etc., you can feel in your body. The idea is to take everything you're feeling inside your body and put it into the object you're creating. Then, after sitting with your creation until you feel neutral about it, you destroy or bury it.

The healer who shared this exercise with me told me this story: "I was working with a client who had been sexually abused by her father, her mother and her older brother. She made three representations of these people, creating them to look as dark and evil as she had experienced them. When she finally felt ready to let the statues go--they no longer upset her--she dug a hole to bury them. She put them in the hole, and as she threw the first pile of dirt on top of them her bowels and bladder voided. The healing involved in this activity was so powerful that her body responded in this literal way."

This extreme example shows how a little bit of time, effort and attention can pay off big in terms of cellular-level healing. In the groups I run, we spend one session beginning this project. Participants then continue to work on it at home. If someone finishes their's before the end of the group, they are encouraged to bring it in to share with the others--always a very moving experience.

CAVEAT: You may get to a place in which all negative reactions toward your shadow project are gone and you feel proud of what you have created. If you have urges to keep your shadow project as a testimonial to your healing and creativity, please honor these feelings. What is important is the change of feeling tone in your body. This may be achieved through the process of creating your project, and not in the destruction of it. Trust your intuition, and know that destroying your creation may not be correct or appropriate in all cases.

Take it Back

Sometimes survivors get swamped with painful emotion in reaction to certain activities that remind us of our abuse. One minute we're feeling fine, the next minute we've got a knot of shame in the pit of our stomach. Often, these kinds of emotional reactions are amped up by psychic residue dumped on us from our abusers. Survivors pick up their abuser's guilt, shame and blaming energy as children and often experience it in adult life as if belongs to them.

For example, during the course of gentle love-making you suddenly begin to feel grossed-out and afraid. You know there is nothing happening in present time to cause these feelings, so what can you do? Chances are, your consciousness has just hit a pocket of energy that belongs to your abuser. The best thing to do is to get rid of it!

CAVEAT: Some survivors feel uncomfortable about sending energy back to their perpetrators, no matter how horribly they were treated. This is a concern that should be honored, as this technique is very effective and powerful. Survivors are usually carrying incredible amounts of toxins and crap for their abusers, which enables the abusers to live longer and be happier or saner than they might otherwise be. Sending their own toxic energy back to them when you become aware of it may indeed have a negative impact on the health and well-being of your abuser.

Those survivors who would like to dump the energy but don't want to send it directly back to their perpetrator can imagine it going out into the universe. You can ask the Universe to transmute it into positive energy for the good of all concerned. The Angel Healing technique following this one may also be appealing.

Angel Healing

"Ask and ye shall receive." The above meditation rests upon this truth. There are many, many beings willing to help around us at all times. Because of the law of free will, no higher entity can interfere in the life of a human being without being invited. But, once asked, they can then give us the support and guidance we need.

This meditation works best if you call in an entity you love and feel safe with (or already work with in some other way). Some survivors have a hard time believing that the energies of the Christ, the Virgin Mary, Isis or Muhammad are accessable to us, but they are! Sometimes it takes trying a meditation like this for someone to get back in touch with the loving help that is out there for all of us.

Shower Healing

One of the simplest ways to cleanse energy from the body is to take a conscious shower. One of the reasons we feel so refreshed and renewed after a shower is because the water is cleansing our more refined and subtle bodies (our aura) in addition to our physical body.

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Last Updated: 1 feb 99
Laura Bryannan