Updated: Dec 22, 2022
I have had a nagging pain within my right rib space since giving birth to my second child over five years ago. This pain comes and goes and mainly shows up when bending or moving a certain way as if an internal organ gets “stuck”. When I stand up, I feel the organ fall back into place. The doctors have found nothing wrong—nothing out of place, no growths, no reason for this inconvenience whatever it is and I have just learned to live with it. However, I have noticed an uptick in the pain over the last few weeks and last week, the pain finally spoke up loud enough for me to really listen to what it has been trying to tell me.
Holidays, big events, and special moments in life bring a myriad of emotions to the surface. While we can easily explain surface-level feelings, deeper traumas are often embedded without us realizing that they are there.
I’m an intuitive energy healer which means that I can tap into what may be going on inside your body, mind, and soul and by using various tools, I help ‘unblock the gunk’. When I pick up on pain, it is very common for me to be able to associate it with emotional stressors in your life. Meaning, if you work through the negative stressors or emotions, you will see positive physical results.
Yes, emotional pain can and does manifest as physical pain.
Ever hear a story about a person who lost a spouse only to develop heart-related complications afterward? A condition called Takotsubo Syndrome is typically triggered by emotional or physical stress. A person’s heart can quite literally break after experiencing such an emotional loss.
Referred to as psychogenic pain, some types of mental or emotional problems can cause, increase or prolong physical pain. An article in Forbes magazine provides scientific evidence that suggests that our brains process emotional and physical pain similarly. So, when you are going through tough emotional times, it is not uncommon to feel physically “off”.
What prompted this piece was an experience I had resulting from an exercise that a teacher and mentor suggested. Kimo Kepano, The Light Seer, a world-renowned Hawaiian healer, immediately picked up on issues that I was having in my physical body during our Zoom call together. He saw red energy in my solar plexus area, specifically on the right side, and seeing red energy in any part of the body is not typically a good thing.
Different from aura colors that measure your overall energy field, specific regions within the body can also carry their own energetic signatures. Red energy can be thought of as inflamed energy, reacting to some form of stress whether it be emotional, mental, or physical. When The Light Seer picked up on this color in an area that routinely caused me pain and a stuck feeling, he advised me to look beyond the physical and to, in my own words, fix the shit that needs fixing. As discussed above, if people don’t dissect the emotional reason(s) for the physical pain, it often leads to further health issues including cancer which is not something I want in my future.
The color red is associated with love and passion, with anger and resentment, with the root chakra—the chakra governing your basic needs and survival—and the color is connected with heat and intensity. Now let’s connect it to the area for which I am having issues. The solar plexus chakra is the powerhouse of your self-confidence.
Governed by fire and responsible for keeping your ego, anger, and aggression in check. Some organs that are connected to this space are the pancreas, the liver, and the gallbladder, all of which support the body’s natural detoxification abilities. These organs are also associated with specific emotional imbalances, with even external physical features coming into play.
The pancreas represents the sweetness of life, liver issues stem from fear, anger and rage, the gallbladder reacts to bitterness. Even excess weight in the midsection, an issue I have had since childhood, signifies the deep need for emotional protection, specifically anger at being denied nourishment in the past.
Putting this “energetic science” aside for a moment, after my session with The Light Seer, I began the homework assignment that he expected me to complete.
The assignment was easy enough: find a quiet space where you can retreat with no other people or pets around, go on YouTube.com and find a video that will elicit emotion. Happy, sad, it matters not, but the idea is to feel something and allow whatever that emotion is to fully express itself. No “hiding” as he calls it, no wiping away tears or holding back the ugly cry or the insane laughter. Be present in the moment, saying to yourself, “I am choosing to watch this and engage with my own levels of emotion.”
Spending about 10 minutes being witness to whatever emotional video you’ve chosen, spend another five minutes afterward processing it through in whatever fashion is necessary. Then do something to shift the energy, get up, shake it out, and create a “routine” that tells your mind and your body that you are done with this moment and are done with this energy. Step away from the phone or computer for at least 15 minutes, leaving all that intense emotion behind you so that you can now focus on something else.
I have mentioned previously that my mother passed away on January 2nd, 2018—just five months after my son was born and synchronistically, when I first noticed the physical pain in my rib cage. With her five-year “deathiversary” looming, I decided to search for a video that would allow for my grief to come to the surface. I chose a YouTube video of a TedEx talk that centered on not only honoring your loved ones after they’ve passed, but also teaching others that it’s OK to do so. To say I ugly cried was an understatement. However, that wasn’t all that happened.
In the middle of the video, as I lowered my head and allowed the tears to stream, the pain in and around my rib cage, that pain that only sometimes shows up, screamed at me. The pain that generally only shows up when bending over to pick something up or is bothersome during my yoga practice began to fire up as I let out the raw emotions; the grief, the anger, the disappointment, not just over losing my mother but of so many things that have happened in my life, were all present in that sever pinching sensation. All of these rather negative emotions were quite literally “stuck” inside of me.
Needless to say, I was floored by what this exercise allowed to emerge. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t completely ignored the emotional component of this pain, but I instead searched for a physical issue first when all along, I should have been doing more to support and heal the emotional issues surrounding this situation. But I’m human and quite frankly, adding another “fix it” situation to my responsibility list as a healer, business owner, mom, wife, daughter, friend, [insert all other roles here], was just not something I was ready to do. I was hiding from the heaviness of it and rather than deal with some of the hard things, I chose to look for easier reasons to explain the pain because I just didn’t have the bandwidth for much else.
So what the hell am I so angry, bitter, and fearful about? So many things: the lack of emotional protection, support, and nourishment surrounding the issue of food during my childhood (root chakra), self-worth that was never fully developed because I wasn’t accepted “as is” (solar plexus); anger at losing my mom at such an early age and the fear that on one will ever love me in the same way (liver); bitterness at how her passing severed many family bonds (heart chakra and gallbladder); resentment over having my integrity, my character and parenting abilities called into question by those who are supposed to love and respect me unconditionally (all the areas mentioned above).
But I’m mostly pissed at myself for allowing these feelings to percolate for so long without doing the work to release them. I’m angry that I have spent my entire life feeling the need to fix everyone and every situation surrounding me before my health and well-being.
These feelings, this physical pain I bear isn’t doing me any good. While pain does serve a purpose, I am ready for it to be gone. Now that the undeniable connection has been made, that it’s not the physical that I need to fix but rather the emotional, I have no more excuses.
I will continue to set boundaries about what behaviors and respect I welcome and what I will no longer accept. I will opt to back away from what isn’t in line with my soul’s purpose and replace that space with more understanding and most importantly, more love—for myself, as well as others, even for those who’ve hurt me deeply.
I must remember that everyone on this planet is living exactly the way they know how to live and they are doing the best that they can. Accepting that reality is the key to releasing any emotional pain that I may have and I need to take all interactions less personally.
After I completed my video “homework” exercise, I felt freer. I felt a shift had been made. It was a small shift but a step in the right direction, nonetheless. I ordered a new book on Shadow Work—a concept I have discussed in a prior post—as recommended to me by my teacher and I plan on really digging into my shadow self more in the coming weeks. There is no point in hanging onto it and I refuse to let it keep me from my light any longer.
For anyone that has any physical pain, chronic or otherwise, I implore you to look beyond the physical body and ask yourself some questions. Even if the physical symptom stemmed from birth or from a physical accident, it is worth exploring a connection to the emotional body.
Outlined below is a short exercise that will help give you insight as to what may be going on beneath your own level of consciousness.
Allow yourself adequate time and space to do this, without distractions from the outside world. Most importantly, be honest with yourself—keep in mind that the only one suffering from the stuck feelings or the hiding of the real source of pain, is you.
Beginning in a seated position, take a few deep breaths. Close or simply relax your eyes, your jaw, and the muscles in your face. Drop your shoulders away from your ears, sit up tall with your hands on your lap or your lower belly, and feel your breath fully expand and fully contract within your abdomen.
Have a notepad and pen next to you and without judgment or worry, write down the first words, images, emotions, or physical sensations that arise with each question.
What emotion am I currently feeling?
Is there a primary cause of this emotion?
What are possible secondary causes of this emotion?
Do I notice any physical sensations when I concentrate on this emotion?
When did I first notice this emotion?
What area(s) of the body am I feeling physical pain?
What chakras govern these area(s) of my body?
What emotional imbalance governs these area(s) of my body?
Do I notice any theme or connection with my answers?
Notice what comes up for you, make note of it all, and allow your emotions to fully express themselves without limitation. You may even want to repeat these questions if more than one emotion comes to the surface, fully dissecting what your subconscious wants your conscious mind to know.
When you have gotten your answers and allowed the energy to move through you, take a moment to recenter yourself. Breathe in deeply, fully expanding your center body, and exhale deeply, allowing that belly to deflate like a balloon.
And lastly, stand up. Move your body. Shake it out. Stretch. Go for a walk. Do something physical to support the emotional movement you have just witnessed.
I welcome you to come back to this exercise any time you want to check in with your emotional and physical well-being. It is just the beginning but absolutely crucial in getting to the root cause of an issue.
We can do this. We can heal our physical bodies by healing our emotional wounds. And with effort and intention, our emotional and physical pains will give way to a new mindset, a new chapter, and usher in new stories for us to experience. I am finally listening rib cage, tell me more about what you need—I promise you I’ll fix what needs fixin’~