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