Tag Archives: pain

Psyche & Soma

Psyche, in Greek, means soul or spirit, especially that part of the soul which manifests in the mind, in the conscious and unconscious parts of our wholeness. Soma refers to the body, especially to the nerve cells of the body. Psychosomatic is a combination of these two root words, meaning that which the spirit manifests in the body.

In my books, comprising the series called The Recapitulation Diaries, I write often about the incessant pain in my body. As real as the pain was, excruciating and debilitating at times, I discovered that it was really messages from my spirit, my psyche, directing me to what needed attention as I progressed on my journey. I discovered that during recapitulation what is manifesting in the body must be explored.

At first, I had almost every pain checked out by one doctor or another. I was doing this long before I even knew about recapitulation or began my journey of change and transformation. I’d go to a doctor and describe my pain, but there was never any diagnosis that those doctors could come up with to pinpoint what was causing the pain.

When I was in my early forties, I developed a skin cancer, a small red spot that turned out to be two types of cancer, basal cell and squamous cell. It’s unusual to have two types of cancer manifesting in the same area, the doctor who did the biopsy told me, but as soon as I had developed the red spot, and as soon as I was informed that it was cancer, I knew immediately that it had nothing to do with my exposure to the sun as a child, as was repeatedly questioned. I knew it had to do with what was festering inside me, that there was something much worse, that that little red dot was just the beginning of something far greater.

I knew, instinctively, that I had some dark thing inside me that I had been trying to forget my entire life. By the time I was forty, I had been pretty successful at forgetting, though I suffered in numerous physical, mental, and spiritual ways. That small red spot was just another indication that I might have to remember.

It was then that I acknowledged that my psyche was hiding something from me. It had protected me up until that point, but if I was to not get more skin cancer, or any other disease, I knew the time had come to face what it really meant. It took another five or six years before I finally took the leap, the leap into my own darkness and what lay there waiting for me to discover.

Pain is an indicator that the body has something to tell us. It might indeed be that we have a serious illness, or it might be that it is trying to protect us from that which we do not want to know. Pain can be a defense against that which is too painful to know.

As I recapitulated, I began to look at the pain in my body as a message from my spirit. I would ask it to show me what it knew, to guide me where to go next. I developed nerves of steel so I could face what my body had to tell me, what it knew and what it meant.

As I faced the pain and asked my body to be my guide, I also discovered that I always had the strength to face what it had to show me. I knew that it would not be asking me to face it if I was not ready. Whenever the pain showed up, and it showed up incessantly, relentlessly right to the very end of my recapitulation, I used it to heal.

That’s a strange idea, to imagine that our pain is actually our healing balm, but it’s true. Without my pain showing me what I needed to face I might not have freed my spirit and my body from the torment of years of abuse that had been so well-hidden inside me.

I often thanked my body and my unconscious for showing me what it knew, for revealing to me the truths not only of my own past but the truths of what the spirit and body are truly capable, how they inform and guide, how they really only want us to heal and discover the magical beings that we all are.

Even today, I still use my psyche and soma to guide me. I constantly question any pain I might have. Often, I realize, it is what I call “stuck energy,” a thought, idea, or attachment, a conjuring of the mind that I’ve latched onto that does not belong to me, stuck energy that needs to be moved along and out of my body, tension that when allowed to naturally release brings instantaneous relief.

Or it might be something that my psyche, my spirit wants me to be alert to, something that needs recapitulation. Perhaps one of the biggest lessons of recapitulation is that we are always being asked to grow and evolve, to confront our deepest issues and resolve them so we can move on into even greater freedom.

Our minds and our bodies, our psyche and soma, are amazing partners as we take our journeys through life, as we seek to know ourselves at the deepest of levels and as we seek to find the meaning in our lives.

I highly recommend any of the books by Dr. John Sarno, especially The Mind Body Prescription, as guides to understanding how psyche and soma work together to bring us to consciousness, to help us heal.

Our defenses are incredibly strong but our spirit is stronger. That is what we discover as we recapitulate.

I wish you all well on your journeys, and I send you love,

J. E. Ketchel, Author of The Recapitulation Diaries

Soulbyte for Monday July 29, 2019

Get in alignment with your body, your companion vehicle through life, the home of your Soul. Listen to what it has to tell you. Your body has its own means of survival, not the least of which your Soul has access to, though your mind may not. Sit quietly and speak to your body in a serious manner so that it knows you are serious too. Find your way to taking better care of it, naturally, and with your Soul guiding the process allow for better balance inside the wonderful machine that is you, body and Soul humming along. Ask your body how to do this and it will tell you in the most natural way, as only a body can, pain being its loudest language. Pain, whether mental or physical, is your body trying to tell you something. What does it mean? Only you can find the answer, and only you can do something about it that is in alignment with your Soul. Listen, pay attention, and react in a manner that is right for you, body and Soul.

-From the Soul Sisters, Jan & Jeanne

A Day in a Life: Pathways to Change

This deer has constantly challenged itself to come closer and closer, coming by several times a day to raid the bird seed! - Photo by Jan Ketchel
This deer has constantly challenged itself
to come closer and closer,
coming by several times a day to raid the bird seed!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Living a healthy life, for as long as we are here, is all about care of the self, striving to know the self at the deepest level, learning to love and to receive, giving the inner self and the outer self equal attention and importance. It’s about valuing who we are and what we have to offer, because we all have something to offer. It’s about fully embracing the real self—the true self that we all know we are but are often afraid to express—allowing it live to the fullest.

This is not an easy task! We must struggle to maintain balance, both internally and externally, while we simultaneously must wrestle with our human desires and appetites. If we are to succeed, we must pay attention to our bodies, our minds, and our spirits, as well as all the parts of ourselves that constantly vie for our attention. We must learn to be okay with where we are. We must remain fully aware that life itself wishes us to grow and change. We must be okay with what comes to us from outside, knowing that it is there to guide and teach us. I see both negative and positive aspects of life as obstacles because whether they are harsh or difficult challenges and confrontations, diseases and physical impediments, or even if everything comes easily to us, they all challenge us to individuate and mature so that we may reach our fullest potential.

If we can begin to accept that life is more than just a mundane, sad, unfulfilled existence; if we can embrace it as an exciting experience in a most fantastic realm, we open ourselves to something far beyond the norm. In simply deciding that the life we are in is enough, in acknowledging that what we must contend with everyday is our necessary pathway to change, we begin to experience life in a new way.

I create my own reality, and so, if I constantly complain about my life then I will never experience life in a new way. I will only experience what I say and tell myself. But if I shake off the negative speak that runs through me and contaminates my experience, I offer myself the possibility for a new experience. This is what Jeanne speaks of in her messages. Each week she asks us to be open and willing to face life in a new way, not viewing it as a horrible or frightening experience, nor as a tiresome task or depressing situation, but as an exciting adventure. She asks us to be energetically available to life in a new way.

Living a healthy life, and gaining awareness of who we are and where we are really being led in our personal lives, entails constantly seeking balance, paying attention to what our bodies tell us, honing our skills of self-communication and dialogue with the inner self—all parts of that inner self. A good way to begin intending and asserting a new attitude toward life, is to pay attention to our physical bodies. In simply paying attention to our body’s messages, we might just have the first big breakthrough to new life.

Recently, I have been struggling with a lower back ache. It’s due to heavy lifting of 40 pound bags of pellets and the hauling of firewood. I have had to pay attention to it, as it will not let me do otherwise. It’s forcing me to stay in my body. I already know that this is one of my greatest challenges in this lifetime, to be present in my physical body. Through my entire recapitulation, being present in my body meant facing the pain and humiliation of the sexual abuse I suffered as a child. As a child I got really good at leaving my body—it was a means of escape from the pain it carried—so good that for most of my life I was never really in it. My recapitulation taught me that my body was a good place, my vehicle through life, absolutely necessary if I was to evolve. And so I struggle constantly to remain present, to not drift off as I am naturally wont to do.

We honor our guidance from the universe... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
We honor our guidance from the universe…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

To change a habit that once saved my life has been challenging. And so, I am thankful for the aches and pains of my lower spine, reminding me every day to pay attention to what my body is telling me. I am addressing it constantly in a multitude of healing practices, but my biggest healing has been to let it be present, to work with it, to let it guide me to what I should and should not be doing at this time in my life.

I have always been physically strong, able to do exactly what I wanted, and so I never limited myself in anyway. Now, I must face that I am limited and sometimes, I must admit, it has been a real pain—pun intended! I can’t just do anymore; now I have to think before I do, and that is both a challenge and a contemplative process. I must stay in my body basically all the time, in every moment of the day. If I do not, it reminds me —OUCH!— to come back! And so, I am constantly present, paying attention to what I am doing in each moment. Life has become a constant walking/sitting meditation. I am paying attention to the fact that my back, always so strong and readily available, is now saying: Don’t take on so much for others; don’t give away your energy so easily, protect it, use it for what is most important. You are not allowed to bear so much anymore. You are important—take care of you!

Each morning, Chuck and I begin the day by each pulling a card from our favorite Tarot deck. It’s a way of anchoring ourselves in our intent—the intent to remain balanced, aware, and open to life. Each day we ask the cards to supply us with what we need most to guide us. The answer, whatever it is, always reminds us to pay attention to our internal worlds as well as our external worlds, as they mirror each other perfectly. Each day we both pick the perfect response to where we are individually, and as a loving, growing partnership as well. How could it be otherwise? The universe is always in alignment with us! The challenge is for us to get in alignment with it!

My little back ache is asking me to pull back from too much experience in the outer world, to hone my skills in my inner world in a new way. And so I have been daring myself—as you know, if you’ve been listening to my weekly channeled messages—to deepen my experience as an energetic being. Yes, I must live life fully in my body, accept my strong physical self, but equally my strong spiritual self as well. And that is why I have a backache!

I see this as part of my process of growth and change, in alignment with my spirit’s intent to constantly grow. I don’t believe we are here to just grow once and then plunk down and say, “Okay, I did it, I changed.” No, the challenge is to keep growing. Likewise, if all I do is moan about my aching back, nothing will shift for me at all, all I’ll have is a painful back and a depressing life. But, if I elect to use this challenge, then I am doing something to shift myself, to change my perception of life, and hone my awareness. In fact, I create a new reality for myself.

Watch those backs! - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Watch those backs!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

I hope you all find out what your little or big aches, pains and challenges are trying to alert you to. Mostly, they ask us to confront something, to get to the bottom of who we are, to make amends, and move on to the next challenge. We just have to be ready to face and accept the truth of that challenge, and act upon it in a positive, healing way. Acting upon it is often the greatest challenge. Many times I have had to feel the searing pain in my lower back to remind me of just how I am being asked to act upon the messages I receive.

Good luck! And be careful out there if you are shoveling all that snow today!

Chuck’s Place: Meet The Body Where It Is At!

Startled awake, I am taut and tense, my mind spinning it's tales… - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Startled awake, I am taut and tense, my mind spinning it’s tales…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

I awaken with a start from an action-packed thriller dream. As the storyline reassembles to waking consciousness, I survey the state of my body. My jaw and throat are tightly clenched. The muscles of my legs and arms are tight as well. My pelvis, abdomen, stomach and chest are all frozen. In my stilled state I breathe slowly, lightly, and intermittently from my upper chest. My body lies in utter stillness. My emotions are sadness and fear. My overall body sensation is one of pensive anxiety.

I begin to review the dream, what it means in this dimension of waking life. What are the parallels, the synchronistic implications for life in this day? My mind begins to tell me a story to fit the theme of the dream, to account for the vigilant state I experience in my body. My mind concludes that indeed, bad news must be on the near horizon; I must remain on alert, brace myself.

I remind myself of the many stories my mind has generated in the past to account for similar physical states of heightened alertness. I remind myself how rarely those stories have turned out to be true. I remind myself that the storyteller mind is quite creative, however, its genre is essentially fiction, not to be trusted to guide the daily ship.

These reminders, I notice, have little impact on releasing my body from the vice grip it finds itself in. I appreciate the mind’s attempt to help the body release through these reflective reminders, but I also realize that my body needs a different approach.

I direct my consciousness away from the storytelling center of the mind and enter into the state of my abdomen. I notice the tension of its grip. Slowly, I direct my breath into my abdomen, allowing it to expand like a balloon. With that, I notice the tightness in my pelvis and stomach gladly asking to follow the lead of my abdomen. They all release and my abdominal energy flows in harmony once again. I notice my breath beginning to fill my chest cavity, the muscles around my ribcage relaxing, allowing for deeper expansion as my heart opens as well.

I shift my focus to my still-clenched throat and jaw, releasing the tightness of my jaw, directing air slowly into the channel of my throat, allowing it to expand slightly more with each breath. I notice my fingers and toes spontaneously uncurling. I feel warm blood flowing throughout my body. I notice my mind is quieter, as it listens to my body, how it questions whether there is, in fact, danger at all. That thought sends a spark of alertness through my body. I quickly shift my awareness back to my body and take in a full breath, allowing all parts to release as I exhale. I’m good to go now.

My mind and body at ease, flowing once again… - Photo by Jan Ketchel
My mind and body at ease,
flowing once again…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

I realize that had I not gone and met my body where it was at, I would have held its tension, however, subliminally, throughout the day. It’s message to the mind would have generated an ongoing epic story, reinforcing its conclusion that I must remain on alert. That would have been the dominant experience of the day. Without awareness brought to the body, to release it from its reaction to the world of the dream, I would not have been freed to be fully present to life during the daytime.

It’s not enough to tell ourselves to relax. We must go to the body and meet it where it’s at. We must free it to accompany us through the day, so that it may correctly perceive and communicate its reactions to the here and now, offering a true gauge of the reality of the moment. I know, from years of study and observation, as well as personal experience, that like the animals who sense and communicate the momentarily arriving danger of an earthquake or oncoming storm, that the body will tell me when there is real danger. We can trust it, but must first go to meet it where it may be stuck and preoccupied with old reactions to old stories, which must be cleared if we are to be fully present and aware.

As my dream and subsequent experience reveals, we must go and meet the body where it is at, listen to its findings, and help it release old reactions if we are to fully benefit from its ability to assess and react to real and present danger. To merely shout commands from above, telling it to relax, will not suffice. We must go inward and tenderly treat ourselves to a natural release. Once we have accomplished that, all can proceed from there!


Readers of Infinity: Body-Mind Communication

Somewhere in between the shadows lies the aware self

Dear Infinity: What message of guidance do you offer us today?

Be mindful of the body self. Be aware that pain signifies a need for change. Be also aware that in change itself there is indeed pain. Pain may be a catalyst to change and change, in turn, may trigger pain, but either way, in offering pain, life is suggesting that change is necessary.

Why must we change? As human beings life is all about change. From the moment of conception until death, change is constantly taking place, both incrementally and in leaps and bounds. Sometimes we find ourselves perfectly happy to be along for the ride and at other times quite reluctant. But, in the end, change happens anyway.

There is a determining factor, often overlooked, in the changing process and its outcome, and that factor is the self, the aware self. In training the aware self, one becomes attuned to what the body self indicates in its daily alerts.

Pay attention to pain, not as something to be suppressed and gotten rid of, but as a challenge to raise self-awareness. Pay attention to what pain is trying to tell you, often on a very deep level. Pain may come in the form of physical pain, but it is also likely to come in the form of emotional or mental pain as well.

Allow the self to treat pain differently now. Attend to it differently. Ask it to clarify its message. Ask it to guide you to understanding and release—for pain requires a response on your part if it is to truly be released. In release comes greater clarity and growth, the kind of growth that leads to more acute awareness of the self, both the physical body self and its messages as well as the higher, aware, self and its messages.

Inner work can begin simply by bringing attention to pain in the body—physical, mental, emotional, spiritual—in whatever form it appears. Ask it to let you in on why you must suffer. The higher self and the body self communicate quite well already, but you lie somewhere in the middle of the communication, often not privy to the real messages being sent. Learn to speak the silent language of body-mind communication. It’s not really that hard to do.

Somewhere in the folds of self lies clarity

Ask pain, in whatever form it comes, to lead you to clarity. Know that it is necessary, first of all, and know, as well, that it is equally necessary to acquiesce to the release of it. It is what happens in between that matters. Old pain left behind creates blockages and communication between the body self and the higher self suffers as a result, leaving you feeling distant, in muffled unawareness.

Find time for quiet talk within. Learn the secret language of body-mind communication. Begin with that. Sit with quiet mind and wait for insight. You will receive it. Decide what needs to be done to begin a process of change that is right for you alone. If a course of action is not clear, ask again. Receive another message and ask another question. In patience, await your body-mind response. It will come.

There is always a part of you ready to give the answer. There is another part of you that must be ready to receive it. Once you begin to recognize these two parts and the language that they alone speak, you will be well on your way to changing in a different way, all aspects of self—body, mind, spirit, physical, mental, emotional—communicating nicely.

Oh, and don’t forget to enjoy the process, one of the most engaging and enlightening, that of being human with awareness!

Thank you infinity!

Most humbly and gratefully channeled by Jan Ketchel.