Emotional Vulnerability & BodyTalk
The world banded together to celebrate noteworthy strides in women empowerment, ‘leaning in’ and groundbreaking movements like #metoo, in celebrating International Women's Day last month.
PAUSE contributed to the global conversation by paying tribute to ‘Women of the Modern World’ in our March issue online as well as through our PAUSE Salon on 'Embracing the Power of Vulnerability', which took place at fitness and wellness co-working space, Core Collective.
The salon panel discussion profiled three female speakers from prominent positions in different industries. They took time out of their busy schedules to discuss this oft-ignored topic of human vulnerability.
The speakers at the salon, in order of speaking, were:
- Dr Cheryl Kam [MBBS (London) BSc (London) GDFM (Sin)] – General Practitioner, Holistic medicine practitioner
- Sufen Paphassarang – Adv BodyTalk Practitioner
- Anita Kapoor – TV Presenter, Speaker and Emcee
This report is on what Sufen Papharassang, Adv BodyTalk Practitioner, shared with the audience. Briefly, her sharing focused on vulnerability from the BodyTalk perspective, the state of the heart in process of grief, as well as fertility and women’s health issues:
MODERATOR: Please tell us more about what BodyTalk is about.
SUFEN PAPHARASSANG: In very short and simple terms, BodyTalk is a healthcare system that looks at the state of the body and mind. From the way we stand, our posture, how each muscle tenses, to the symptoms, pain, illness and diseases, we are looking at what is going on in the mind that is reflected in the physical body. When I am looking at a client’s intake form with the health issues indicated, I am not just looking solely to treat the physical symptoms. The BodyTalk System looks at the health issues as information to allow us to look deeper into understanding what is going on in the mind. In BodyTalk we focus mainly on the thoughts, beliefs and emotions because they have more influence on our health than we think. We observe the life experience of the person which manifests in the physical body and we balance that story to bring about health
MODERATOR: What about the heart? Why is it so important to understand it better, from the BodyTalk perspective?
SUFEN PAPHASSARANG: The heart can be seen as an emotional brain. The emotions we feel can be reflected in the physical body. That is why just looking at a symptom from a physical perspective is not enough. Stress affects the mental, emotional physical biochemical and electromagnetic make up before it actually shows up on our physical body. Stress affects the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of the Body-Mind complex.
The ‘spirituality’ I talk about here is not about a religion; it's not about which God you pray to, but is actually about your ‘Life Path’, what you're supposed to do in this life that is meaningful which will fulfil you. If you're not leading the life that you are meant to live, you are going against your heart desires and that can be manifested in the physical body.
BodyTalk comes in at this point as a window to examine the various stress factors that affect you internally and that eventually comes to surface on your physical body. Our belief is that our bodies can heal themselves as long as the internal lines of communication are intact. We work on improving communication in the body and we create a better environment for the body to heal itself
MODERATOR: What is BodyTalk’s conception of vulnerability? What can BodyTalk do for vulnerabilitites?
SUFEN PAPHASSARANG: Firstly, I must reiterate what Dr Kam has said about vulnerability in the physical sense. This is of course true, i.e. if your body is vulnerable, you get infections etc. However, in BodyTalk, vulnerability is about being defenseless and completely open. To be able to be open and go with the flow of what life presents. This is probably one of the most difficult things to do especially in challenging situations because it is human nature to want to protect and guard ourselves than to be open and vulnerable.
When we look at the musculoskeletal system for example, whatever tension is stored in whichever muscle, it can somewhat reveal what is going on in the thoughts, belief systems and emotions of the person. In BodyTalk we look at everything in a 'deeper' and more introspective way. For example, why did the person sprain the ankle despite walking on flat surface wearing flat soles shoes? A sprained ankle comes from something beyond just the physical - it happened because it is a way the body communicates to bring to consciousness something at a deeper level. It's also not 'just because' you are clumsy. We are looking at the consciousness, one's psychology and emotional factors of what is going on in the mind that is indicated in the physical body.
BodyTalk borrows teachings from Chinese medicine and incorporates mainly the Chinese meridian system. When we look at the outside and inside of the ankle: the outer part of the angle is governed by the gall bladder meridian, the inner part of the ankle is governed by the spleen meridian. Every organ in your body has a role to play in processing emotions and life experiences. The gall bladder works as a catalyst to help us make decisions. An imbalance in the gall bladder can show up in the procrastination or inability to make decisions. The spleen meridian, on the other hand, processes the emotion of worry. So when a person has worry about making decisions, the stress of that has an influence on the gall bladder and spleen meridian which can weaken both meridians that results in the ankle being vulnerable and weak. Hence despite walking on a flat surface with that same pair of flats that is daily worn, the person can still sprain the ankle.
When a person has a worry about making decisions we then go deeper into looking at the underlying belief systems of what makes them this way. We look deeper in the consciousness of the body and mind to facilitate the healing in the body.
MODERATOR: So how about the heart? What does BodyTalk have to say about the vulnerability of the heart?
SUFEN PAPHASSARANG: In Chinese medicine the analogy of the heart is like the emperor. You cannot go straight to the emperor. You need to pass security first in order to get to the emperor. That 'security' is the pericardium. The pericardium is like a 'layer' that covers the heart. We call the pericardium the “heart protector”. When the pericardium is imbalanced, it can tense up and close up to protect the emotional heart.
So, when someone has ‘protection issues’ and avoids being emotionally hurt i.e. don't want to open their heart, then we concentrate not just on the heart but on the consciousness of their pericardium.
The pericardium controls the circulation in the body. When circulation in the body is poor, stagnation occurs and results in imbalance. Poor circulation is not just about blood circulation. We look at circulation in all aspects of circulation and that also includes the Lymphatic circulation as well.
When a person is unable to be vulnerable and open, the heart will “toughen” in order to protect. The consciousness of heart protection is then reflected in some area of the physical body.
MODERATOR: So then how do we take care of our heart so that these bad things don't happen?
SUFEN PAPHARASSANG: It depends and varies from person to person.
BodyTalk looks at the reasons why a person feels the need to protect the heart in the first place. What are the life circumstances that gave rise to the belief systems a person has? To understand this, you will have to come for a BodyTalk session.
No two people have the same state of heart because everyone has a different life experience, which in turn contributes to your unique state of health. It may sound very clichéd, but everything that has occurred in your life, whether it's trauma or stress, all contributes to the state of your health today. What we do is look at the story of the person and balance that story to their health situation.
MODERATOR: You’ve spoken a lot about how BodyTalk incorporates Chinese Medicine philosophes. Are there are philosophies that BodyTalk incorporates? And does it strictly stay within those boundaries?
SUFEN PAPHASSARANG: Yes, there is a lot of Eastern philosophies in BodyTalk. Apart from Chinese medicine, it also incorporates Indian Vedanta philosophy, for example.
But in general, most people regard BodyTalk as a complementary perspective to apprise the health and wellness for each unique individual.
This does not mean that we do not believe in Western/Modern Medicine practices. We do. I do not hesitate to send clients to get checked by their Doctor when I see that their issues are not something best treated by BodyTalk.
Some clients even come to me with acute or chronic illnesses and diseases, saying that they ‘don’t want to see a Doctor’, which is not acceptable in most cases. Moreover, understanding what is going on in the body through medical tests can also give me something ‘tangible’ and accurate to focus on during the treatment.
In fact, I will not see a client that has a detrimental health issue who does not want to be diagnosed by a doctor at all. No doubt, I can still work on the mental and emotional levels, but when there is a serious health issue, I'm not going to hazard any guesses. It is not in my position to diagnose.
From a BodyTalk perspective, we look at the physical ailments and how the story of the person affects their body. We look at how the flow of energy is moving in the different body parts, the expansions and contraction of circulation. We also look to understand the true roles (natural consciousness) that each organ, endocrine gland or body part has to play.
BodyTalk is all encompassing and it helps people to understand why their health is a certain way. It helps them implement the strategies required to bring about balance by facilitating the body to heal itself.
MODERATOR: How about women's issues – could you share a bit more about your knowledge on reproduction and fertility? How does BodyTalk deal with the conception of vulnerability?
SUFEN PAPHASSARANG For women's issues, let’s look at the reproductive system as an example. The female reproductive system is well protected and it sits within the pelvic cavity. So when a woman has fears about trusting her life process, eg. needing to be overly controlling, the pelvic cavity becomes imbalanced and it can be seen commonly as tight hips. One of the many muscles controlling the hips that we will look at is the piriformis. The piriformis origins from the sacrum and insert on the greater trochanter of the femur. In Chinese medicine the pericardium has an influence on the piriformis muscle as they belong to the fire element in the Chinese 5 elements.
Looking further a step to gel everything together, taking the theme of vulnerability as an example. When there is fear and a need to protect oneself, the pericardium naturally forms holding patterns and seizes up. When there is an inability to trust due to the need to protect oneself, the piriformis will also causes the hips to tighten.
We then look at the reproductive system that sits within that tight pelvis cavity - circulation can become poor due to the imbalance in the tight hips. It is no wonder there can be fertility, fibroid and cyst issues for example.
With regards to fertility: A lot of people think that infertility is hard to treat, that they are stuck with that status for life. There are so many emotional factors to look at. Especially when there is nothing physically wrong, infertility is very easily treated with BodyTalk. I have seen women who cannot get pregnant for years who eventually are able to conceive, following a couple of BodyTalk sessions.
When we get down to the underlying reasons, and venture to balance the body and mind, the body is able to get back to its optimum functionality again. Many physical symptoms are psychosomatic and we need to get to the heart of the matter in order to make the optimal shift and changes, to facilitate the body’s ability to heal itself.
Sufen Paphassarang is an Adv BodyTalk practitioner specialising Lymphatic Drainage Therapy, Pre/Post Natal Consultation and Breastfeeding issues. With over 7 years of experience in the field, Sufen’s journey to becoming a BodyTalk practitioner stemmed from a diagnosis of Grave’s Disease, a form of autoimmune hyperthyroidism, in 2010. Medical doctors deemed it an irreversible illness and told her to be on drugs for the rest of her life. Unable to accept her diagnosis, she rejected all drugs prescribed for her condition sought alternatives. A month into her illness, she discovered BodyTalk and felt notable changes in her body. The symptoms started improving as shecontinued to have regular BodyTalk sessions. Significantly, improvements to her illness were validated by the monthly blood test results at her endocrinologist. After 9 months of continuous BodyTalk sessions she made complete recovery and the disease never returned. Since then, she has trained extensively in BodyTalk, with the hope of helping as many people as possible through the modality. Do you have a question for Sufen? Email us at email@example.com or contact her directly on her website, Facebook or Instagram.