Awakening The Healing Within
The human body is an incredible masterpiece, operating multiple systems simultaneously. It's not just about physical sensations and movements, but also the intricate relationships between tissues, emotions, and deep essence of self. When the delicate balance between the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of our bodies is disrupted, it can lead to problematic conditions like chronic pain or unexplained discomfort. This is why bodyworkers and mental health professionals often refer clients to each other, as they understand that addressing only one aspect may not be sufficient. This chasm of inefficiency misses an opportunity to consider physical, emotional, and spiritual needs holistically in conjunction with each other.
The potential for psychedelics to heal has created a renaissance for these substances. Scientific studies are repeatedly showing the therapeutic value of certain psychedelics such as Ketamine, Psilocybin, and MDMA as being highly effective in treating mental health disorders such as PTSD, anxiety, addiction, and depression. These substances are often referred to as ‘medicines’ because of their healing properties when used under supervised care and with the intention for therapeutic healing. These psychedelic medicines are emerging because of the efficient way clients are able to access their subconscious to identify the root causes of mental and emotional pain and misalignment and bring about insight, truth, healing, and release. Some jurisdictions have already begun to legalize their use in medical settings. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved to fast track MDMA and psilocybin research for the treatment of PTSD and depression. In addition, several cities and states have decriminalized the possession and use of psychedelics, some of which include Oakland, CA, Cambridge, MA, and the states of Oregon and Colorado. Other countries, such as Canada and the Netherlands, have also taken steps to legalize or decriminalize the use of psychedelics for therapeutic purposes.
In this exciting new landscape, Trilome™ was created to bridge the gap between bodywork therapies and the use of psychedelics. As a unique modality, Trilome combines the physical healing modalities of bodywork with the emotional and spiritual healing potential of psychedelics, providing a comprehensive approach to healing. By bringing these components together in a single session, Trilome increases the efficiency of healing, reduces the time and cost of seeking relief, and enhances overall quality of life. The purpose of this article is to introduce how the field of bodywork can capitalize on this new paradigm of psychedelic therapy, utilizing Trilome as an example.
Physical, Emotional and Spiritual Bodies
To understand the utility of connecting bodywork and psychedelics, it is important to understand the connections between the physical, emotional, and spiritual bodies. Delving into the functions of each helps to illuminate the relevance for connecting bodywork and psychedelics for healing. The physical body encompasses our bones, muscles, organs, and senses that allow us to perceive and interact with the world around us. The emotional body, on the other hand, refers to the non-physical aspect of our being, encompassing emotions, feelings, and moods, which greatly influence our perception and interaction with the world. Lastly, the spiritual body refers to the inner self, values, and beliefs and is often tied to a sense of connection to something greater than ourselves. All three aspects play a vital role in achieving optimal health and fulfillment. If one or more of these aspects is unhealthy or imbalanced, it will affect the whole. For instance, physical pain or discomfort can lead to emotional and spiritual challenges, impacting our sense of identity, outlook on life, decreased self-esteem, or lack of motivation. Likewise, emotional imbalance can manifest in the body as tension and unexplained pain. A spirit that is not in a healthy balance can result in feelings of disconnection, purposelessness, or lead to destructive behaviors, which can affect mental and physical well-being.
There are many reasons why these three become unbalanced individually and with each other. One main reason is through patterns developed by our Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) and our cognitive mind. The ANS is responsible for the automatic bodily functions such as heart beat, circulation and digestion. It also triggers reflex actions to protect the body, creating tension in response to perceived threats or danger. For example, the body may tense up in response to stress or a traumatic event as a way to protect itself. Sometimes this tension remains even after the threat or danger has passed, thereby leading to the (unconscious) accumulation of tension over time.
Another protective mechanism involves our cognitive brain filters which determine what is safe or unsafe. When emotions arise, our brains will often suppress or deny certain emotions deemed unacceptable or unbearable. Our beliefs and thoughts can also influence whether we suppress or express emotions and many cultural messages reinforce suppression in statements like “don’t show weakness”, “don’t be dramatic”, “keep it together for the family”, or “deal with it later”. When emotions are suppressed and not acknowledged or processed fully, the pressure builds and eventually manifest as an emotional outburst (road rage, yelling at a cashier) or, especially relevant for bodyworkers, unexplained pain in the body and increased anxiety.
Because of their protective nature, unhealthy expressions of the ANS or mind, including beliefs and thoughts, are hard to recognize. These systems developed while a person is learning to interact with the world in a way that kept them safe, using the tools they had at the time. The glitch occurs when the protective systems and patterns become habitual and unconscious. An adult can be unaware of an automatic protective habit they picked up as a child.
Psychedelic therapies target aspects of the emotional and spiritual bodies. Specifically, they address issues in the subconscious mind where memories and emotions have become suppressed and made unknown to the conscious mind. The subconscious mind operates below the level of our awareness and stores memories and experiences, both positive and negative. This means that not all experiences are easily accessible to our conscious mind. Some memories and emotions can become suppressed, repressed, or even forgotten, making it difficult for us to understand and process them.
The human psyche has the ability to suppress memories of traumatic events as a defense mechanism against overwhelming stress and anxiety. This ability, known as dissociation, results in a disconnection between thoughts, feelings, memories, and bodily sensations. This coping mechanism can become habitual over time, leading to a disconnection from one's emotions and bodily sensations. This can cause mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
During a traumatic event, the body's natural stress response system, the fight or flight response, is activated, releasing stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. However, in cases where the threat is too overwhelming, the body may go into a freeze response, where it shuts down and dissociates from the experience. This can lead to the person feeling numb, detached, or spaced out, as if they are watching the event happen to someone else.
Psychedelic therapies show promise in helping individuals access and process suppressed memories and emotions by altering the part of the brain that controls the ego and belief patterns thereby allowing the deeper truths that have been ‘filtered’ out to come through. Psychedelics can facilitate a heightened state of introspection, allowing individuals to explore and process their belief systems and emotional and traumatic experiences in a way that is safe and supportive. The effectiveness of talk therapy can be challenging if the deeper core issues are locked in the subconscious. One cannot fully process what they are not able to see.
The three separate modalities of bodywork, psychotherapy, and psychedelic therapy touch into the physical and emotional bodies as well as spirit. Traditional bodywork practices can address the physical needs and some of emotional factors. Talk therapy can explore emotional and spiritual issues that are at a conscious level. Psychedelic therapies can work at the subconscious layers of the emotional and spiritual bodies. But none of these practices on their own can address all three effectively at the same time. This is where the integration of psychedelics into bodywork can be transformative.
Trilome offers a promising option as a healing modality for the future. With this method, clients are able to work with the psychedelic medicines to identify the root cause of their symptoms and address the subconscious and conscious mind and deep emotional states, how those patterns got there, and what is needed for healing and release. Then with bodywork, clients are able to fully release what their bodies have been holding through hands-on tissue work. Clients stay fully dressed and great care is taken to ensure safety throughout the session.
Trilome in action: Case Studies
The following case studies offer a window into how Trilome works.
Case Study #1: A 63 yr. old woman presented with a chronic lung infection that had been present for years. She saw many doctors and was on a constant intake of antibiotics. Her neck, throat, back and chest were in constant pain and although soothing somatic work would help for a moment, the pain would persist. During her Trilome session, she remembered how much she loved to paint as a young child but the fumes would make her cough. What she realized during her session was her mother was lonely and susceptible to abuse by her father when they were alone together. By keeping her home, it gave her mother companionship and shelter from an abusive husband. She acknowledged for the first time that as a young child she ‘knew’ this and felt it was her duty to stay home and protect her mother. The client was manifesting infections and sickness in her body with the idea it would keep her family safe. She was able to shift this belief pattern she carried since she was a young child and realize this ‘protective’ pattern no longer served her or her family. She was able to receive hands on work to open her chest and ribs, ease the tension in her neck and jaw, and take deeper breaths than she had in decades. The day after her session, her lungs were clear and she stopped her antibiotics.
Case Study #2: A 43 yr. old male presented with chronic back pain that he suffered with since he was a teenager. He was constantly getting bodywork done as a way to cope with his pain. During the Trilome session he remembered a moment when his dad told him that they (referring to his mom and dad) would have been financially secure had they not had kids. He was a celebrated athlete and his equipment and involvement with club sports was causing a financial strain on the family which was unbeknownst to him at the time. He realized he was carrying the stress and responsibility for his family’s well-being in his lower back. With the aid of the psychedelic medicine and hands-on bodywork, the client released the responsibility of his parents’ financial well-being and the tension in his back was eased.
Case Study #3: A 31 yr. old woman with ADHD and a hypersensitive nervous system. She has a history of early childhood trauma causing her incredible discomfort when touched making traditional bodywork impossible for her. She had a lot of pain in her shoulders, neck, and lower back. She reported she didn’t feel as though she had ADHD but just an overwhelmed nervous system. During her Trilome session, she was able to see her childhood trauma in a new perspective that allowed her the space to let her nervous system settle. She was able to receive bodywork, establish safety in her body, and release generational patterns that kept her nervous system on edge. She left feeling pain free in her body, at peace and more present than she remembers being before.
Bodywork alone is a powerful tool for promoting ease and balance within the body. However, there are certain cases where hands on work is not sufficient enough. Psychotherapy and psychedelic medicines are profound for emotional health, personal growth, and healing. And there are times when the physical body is carrying the emotional trauma so these therapies are not sufficient enough on their own. There is a tremendous opportunity in exploring a partnership between these modalities. While these substances have been maligned and feared for many decades, increasing evidence can invite us to be curious about the various ways by which we can offer a source of healing and help to our clients.
We live in a complicated world and it is safe to assume that most people have some kind of trauma in their history (not to mention epigenetic factors). Introducing anyone to a process that will open the subconscious and releases thoughts and memories that have been suppressed should be done with extreme caution and with professional support. Every Trilome client has a mental health professional who is familiar with their case and can provide professional support before and after the session. Trilome practitioners are expertly trained in bodywork and working with psychedelics and have a professional network of mental health professionals to collaborate with on each case. It should be noted that working with psychedelics is not appropriate for everyone. All clients should have medical clearance checking for contradicted health conditions and medications and all facilitation needs to be done by trained professionals.
In conclusion, utilizing bodywork practices and psychedelics together to increase effectiveness for client healing shows incredible promise for the future of bodywork practice. However, education on the safe and effective use of psychedelics in bodywork contexts is needed in order for bodywork to be part of the rapidly growing renaissance that will likely change the future of mental health services and healing both in the U.S. and globally. Which psychedelics are being used, contradictions, safety measures are essential pieces that must be considered. Trilome is an example of how bodyworkers can be a part of the movement in a responsible and informed manner. We can imagine a new paradigm of healing where clients won’t need to see multiple providers, and spend years in therapy, invest ample resources and time seeking pain relief and optimal health. We have an opportunity to have a seat at the table and contribute to the creative and new ways psychedelics can support our clients. Let’s change the world by providing our unique expertise with these promising new modalities!
By Lisa Parker
With contributions by Ashley Booth and Christy Billock