I don’t remember the first time I felt shame.
Was it at 5 when my parents got divorced and I was the only kid at school from a broken home? Or at 7 when the male baby-sitter slipped his penis into my mouth and told me if I ever whispered a word of it to my parents, they would die? Or perhaps it was age 9 when a man who should have known better, slid his hands inside my pants nonchalantly, as though he were just opening my mouth and checking my tonsils?
Honestly, I can’t pinpoint it, I just know that shame and trauma fragmented me, and I am not alone.
For many women who, like myself, lived with unresolved abuse for years, the knee jerk reaction is to dis-connect. Our innate sense of trust in life and our perception of our self-worth is destroyed. Shamed, trapped and powerless against our abuser, we retreat into our mind and dis-associate from our bodies to avoid the emotions raging within us. In our heads, no-one can touch us, but what we hold in our minds is felt in every cell of our body and, over time, our suppressed anger and shame become illness if they are not released.
We do our best to live “normal” lives but part of us is numb and we struggle to feel whole, or even confident in situations that trigger our darkest fears. For while we hide in our heads, we cannot release the shame and trauma created in our cellular memory.
Don’t get me wrong, the traditional approach of counselling is invaluable, but, as always, the real answer lies within. When we get out of our heads and re-connect with our bodies we can begin to feel whole again. When we fuse mind and body to re-associate the parts that feel unloved and shamed, we can take back our power and own ourselves fully again.
Here are my 3 Simple Self-Care Rituals to Re-Connect You With Your Body
Try one of these every day for the next 40 days (this is the time required to change old thought and belief patterns.) Spend anywhere between 5-15 minutes and allow yourself to be present to yourself throughout, without judgement.
Choose the level that feels right for you and move onto the next when you feel ready.
Ritual 1: Start Slow and Low
If you’re afraid of re-connecting with your body, then start slowly and begin somewhere that doesn’t feel associated to the shame and trauma. For example, start at the bottom with your feet.
Soak your feet in a warm footbath with a few drops of rose oil if you have it. Add petals and Epsom Salt if you feel inclined. Allow the warmth of the water to soothe and calm you while you take a few deep breaths. Wiggle your toes and notice how the water moves around your feet, watch as you move your feet in the water and connect to the sensation.
When you’re ready, remove and dry your feet and gently rub them with coconut oil or massage oil. Enjoy the warmth of your feet and the feeling of connecting with them. Notice the little details, the bones in your feet, the curve of your heel. Rub the oil into your toes, working up and down each one, then massage between them and give some attention to any hard or sore areas that need a little more care.
Consciously channel self-love into your feet. Thank them for allowing you to physically move through this life, for allowing you to stand, when you could so easily fall. For giving you the option to walk away from anything that does not serve you, including shame. For moving you, step by step, towards the woman you’re here to be.
Breathe, release, relax.
Once you’ve tried this on your feet, move up to your lower legs, both legs, your hands, your arms etc. Gradually re-connect with your body.
Ritual 2: Re-Framing Touch
When you wake in the morning, lie on your back, eyes closed and gently slide your flat hands over your body. Don’t overthink it, just go with where feels good. Feel the softness of your skin. Feel your curves. Breathe deeply as you allow your body to relax and experience the nurturing sensation of skin on skin contact.
Notice any resistance you have – if any shame comes up related to an area of your body, lightly place your hand over this area. Acknowledge the shame or trauma and allow it to release. I find saying it out loud helps. Breathe deeply and let it go, filling the space with love and connection instead.
Place your hand over the parts that felt, or still feel wounded. Affirm that, whatever scars you bear outside, inside you are perfect, inside you are whole. If you have scars, either related or unrelated to the abuse, place a hand over them and send that area of your body love. All healing starts on the level of thought so consciously imagine that, as you run your hands over your body, you are sending the vibration of healing deep into your cells.
Gradually move to a lighter touch, tracing your fingertips over your body, working towards the heart. Up your thighs and inner thighs. Up the sides of your torso, along your inner arms, across your collarbone, down your neck and into your cleavage. Just breathe and enjoy the sensation as your body wakes.
Move from shame into appreciation and pleasure. Breathe.
Do not judge yourself. Instead, marvel at the beauty of your body.
Allow yourself to feel perfectly content in this moment. Completely at ease in your body. Completely safe, completely supported, completely feminine.
See yourself as pure energy, encased in an amazing human body that has the potential to not just survive but to flourish and thrive. At your core you are nothing but love. Allow this love to flood your body now. Feel the connection between your thoughts and your physical sensations. Release any tension on your out breath.
Breathe deeply and close by placing one hand on your heart and the other just below your navel on your Sacral Chakra. Imagine any all shame and trauma draining out of your body and being replaced by a beautiful golden light. Feel the strength and support of your physical body.
Ritual 3: Re-Defining Pleasure
As women we are wired for pleasure. We are designed to create through, and receive pleasure, but we can shut this down after shame or trauma. If you feel grounded in your body but still experience sexual disconnection or want to awaken your feminine pleasure centres and raise your sexual energy, try this soothing but sensual breast massage.
Warm some coconut or massage oil in your hands and then gently cup your bare breasts. Hold them, allowing the sensation of safe and loving contact and breathe deeply as you connect.
Gently begin to massage the breasts using anything from a feather-light touch to a firm stroke, depending on what feels good to you. Work down the outside of the breast and up on the inside of the breasts in a circular motion.
Notice where you feel resistance or shame.
If you feel you want to switch off or stop, go back to simply holding the breasts. Affirm that these are your breasts and this is your beautiful body. Allow yourself to take ownership and smile down into your body, focussing on your breast tissue.
When you have massaged in one direction for a few minutes, switch and work up on the outside of your breasts and down on the inside. Again, gently and at the pressure that feels good. Allow yourself to feel the fullness of your breasts, your curves, your femininity. Keep smiling down into the breast tissue, this makes a big difference!
Allow yourself to experience the pleasure of this gentle massage. Vary the pressure and touch and allow yourself to receive this care. There is no shame here, only self-love and self-care. Imagine your heart and breasts filling with love. Keep smiling 🙂
Cup your breasts again to close, feeling connected, knowing you are already whole. Thank your breasts and your body for its beauty and its sensuality. Allow yourself to be filled with gratitude and hope and peace. Be grateful that you are a powerful feminine creator, ready to choose her path. Take three deep breaths and set an intention for your day.
After you’ve completed any exercise, and as you begin to re-connect to your body, hold the space for acceptance. This is where you are. The past is behind you. You are stronger. You are healing and your history does not have to determine your future.
Circumstances may continue to create a shame reaction in you and sometimes when our trauma is triggered we get stuck in the shame and suddenly we’re right back to that angry, afraid, victim state. To release shame and trauma from your body, acknowledge it, witness its presence without giving it any power, and allow it to move through and out. Like someone you used to know that you see across the street and nod to but feel no need to go and talk to.
Choose to be in your body and with your body. Grieve if you need to and know that when you feel broken you are actually most open. Open to receiving healing. Open to the next stage of our journey. Open to re-connecting and re-claiming yourself.
My journey is not over but I am not the woman I was even two years ago. I am more connected. I feel whole. I am empowered by my experience and I know that what is possible for one is possible for all.
Getting back in your body and taking ownership is the path to feeling whole, healed and happy.
Remember this: Shame is a choice. Love is who you really are.
No one can heal you like you can. No one can love you like you can.
Thanks for reading 🙂 I’m a survivor, a rebuilder and an eternal student who really appreciates your comments.
Like this but feel you need to do some forgiveness work first? Try this free Mp3 meditation – just click here.