Harnessing the Power of Your Body’s Memory

Dear Everybody,

Now to test your wisdom:

#1 Be careful about reading health books….. You may die of a misprint.
~ Mark Twain

#2 By all means marry. If you get a good wife, you’ll become happy; if you get a bad wife, you’ll become a philosopher.
~ Socrates

#3  I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury.
~ Groucho Marx

From my perspective the factor which determines what transpires in your life is whether you felt loved by your parents. If you feel self worth you care for and about yourself and do not spend your life worrying about what other people think of you. I will also make you an offer; if you need a new father I am available. I have a CD degree. It means a Chosen Dad.

Norman Vincent Peale was a friend of mine for many years and he and I had similar mothers who gave us mottoes to live by; not mottoes to die by. He was able to live his message, “Every person is born for a purpose. Everyone has a God given potential, in essence, built into them. And if we are to live life to its fullest, we must realize that potential.” The word potential shouldn’t scare you and relate to failing but to giving you hope and a chance to make a difference.

His Mom said, “Norman if God slams one door further down the corridor another will be opened.” And I would add if all the doors are shut you can go through a window. My Mom’s message was that troubles were God’s redirections “And something good will come of this.”

So imitate therapeutic parents and give your kids love and faith and hope.

Why? Alice Miller says it well, “The truth about our childhood is stored up in our body and though we can repress it, we can never alter it. Our intellect can be deceived, our feelings manipulated, our perception confused, and our body tricked with medication. But someday the body will present its bill, for it is as incorruptible as a child who, still whole in spirit, will accept no compromises or excuses, and it will not stop tormenting us until we stop evading the truth.”

Yes, we must face the truth and reparent and rebirth ourselves by abandoning our past and its wounds and use them as energy to move us forward.

If you question the truth of the above believe me they speak the truth. I know from experience. Dreams can be about our bodies too and what is stored there emotionally and physically. Many decades ago Carl Jung interpreted a dream about the obstruction of the flow of milky fluid and correctly diagnosed a brain tumor obstructing the flow of cerebrospinal fluid. Medical students and doctors are not told about that.

We also know from patients who have received organ transplants that they know about the lives of their donors when they awaken after surgery. If you want to read about some experiences Claire Sylvia, who I knew at Yale after her heart lung transplant, wrote A Change Of Heart. It describes her meeting her donor in a dream, who introduced himself, and learning his name allowed her to search the obituaries and contact his family who confirmed all she had felt from desiring beer and chicken McNuggets and more. Also The Heart’s Code by Paul Pearsall shares these stories. The heart and every organ has the ability to store memories.

Why do I share this? So you will be careful about what you store within you. It is called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. If you do not externalize your feelings they are stored within you and do damage to your body and life. When your body stores your anger, despair, fear, loneliness and more it is far more likely to develop an illness because of what these feelings do to your immune system and internal chemistry. Your body tries to protect you but when it is in a crisis mode and it is not helping you to heal and grow. On the other hand when you experience joy, happiness and laughter you are more likely to be healthy, recover faster from and resist illness.

I learned this on a personal level too. When I was in pain, as a surgeon, because of all the things I couldn’t fix or cure I started making short notes during the day to write about in my journal that evening. What amazed me was that in the evening when I looked at my notes I couldn’t remember what they were about. If I wrote, boy in emergency room, I would sit there wondering what boy and what was it about. I realized all the pain was stored in me and I was not dealing with it. So I began to write a full paragraph explaining things in detail and then that evening I would recall the details and feelings and express them in my journal. I learned later that it is therapeutic to write down your feelings in a journal versus writing down events and schedules in a journal.

Then one morning, after forgetting to hide my journal the night before, my wife found it and read it. And I never forget her saying to me, “There’s nothing funny in your journal.”

“I know. There’s nothing funny about my life.”

She then went on to tell me several jokes, which I had told her and the kids at the dinner table, about things that happened to me, or my patients, in the hospital. And she was right they never got into my journal. A simple example; One of my patients had a man come into her room dressed in a scrub suit and so she assumed he was a doctor and started to get undressed. After a while he said, “You don’t have to do that for me I’m here to mop the floor.” They became close friends. Wearing street clothes, on rounds, I walked into what I thought was my patient’s room and pulled the curtain back only to find a naked woman who started screaming because she had no idea who I was. I was in the wrong room so I apologized and left. The next day, when I came on the floor, all the women were in their doorways waving handkerchiefs, “Yoo Hoo, are you coming in today.” That stuff never got into my journal. My wife taught me to be aware of the good things which happened too. It is not easy to erase the painful memories. Decades later I can still recall them more easily than the joyful outcomes.

Do not internalize your feelings to make things easier for, or to please, those around you. Express your appropriate anger and painful emotions, with your family, friends and therapists or in a journal but get them out, so they are not stored within you. And don’t forget to share your humor and joy too. Keep the kid in you alive.

Now for your homework if you finish these quotes properly you will be smiling too:

#1 If you are supposed to learn from your mistakes, why ……..?

#2 My wife has a slight impediment in her speech. Every now and then she ……

#3I have never hated a man enough to ……..

Bernie Siegel, MD

I finally figured out the only reason for being alive is to enjoy it.
~ Rita Mae Brown

Learn as if you were to live forever, live as if you were to die tomorrow.
~ John Wooden

Never lose a chance of saying a kind word.
~ William Makepeace Thackeray