How Embodied Processing Has Changed My Life & BusinessNov 29, 2023
How embodied processing has changed my life and business
“Home is not where you are born; home is where all your attempts to escape cease” ― Naguib Mahfouz
In March 2022, I invested in business coaching despite my ambivalence towards my past experiences with coaches. In hindsight, perhaps my assessment back then was too harsh and ignored the benefits I’d experienced from working with coaches from a personal development perspective.
While I’m grateful this coach worked with me to validate my niche (I was genuinely surprised that anyone would consider paying money for writing to heal services), they did something else that has proven far more transformative: they encouraged me to enrol in the embodied processing training because although I have lived experience (keep reading), I had a lot of self-doubt about my capacity to help people considering I wasn’t qualified in anything besides journalism.
At that stage, I’d tried so many things to make my business fulfilling over the course of seven years (I also work full-time for transparency) that I was very uncomfortable with investing in something else that was destined to be a waste of money. Thankfully, I was dead wrong. Becoming a certified Embodied Processing Practitioner and joining The Centre for Healing community has been one of the best decisions of my life. For those who aren’t aware, Embodied Processing is a body-based approach to working with trauma.
Where it all started
In the end, what really got me over the line and making the commitment to study embodied processing was completing the Trauma-Informed Certificate for Coaches. I completed the entire course over an Easter long weekend because it connected so many dots for me in terms of my personal experience that I didn’t want to stop.
While my motivation for enrolling in the training was initially driven by my business goals, I have benefitted so much on a personal level as well. From about 13 until my early 20s (my memory is a little hazy because I was so unwell), I lived with anorexia nervosa. Things were very different back in the ‘90s when my mum first suspected something was wrong. No one really knew or spoke about eating disorders like they do now. Early intervention may have prevented the spiral I embarked on over a decade as my will to eat declined rapidly.
To say I was unwell is an understatement. I have no idea how close I really came to not being here, but it’s no exaggeration to say the situation was serious. I refused professional treatment. The compromise I agreed to was seeing a psychologist for however many sessions were subsidised back then and regular (fortnightly, from memory) visits to my general practitioner. I don’t recall much about the sessions with the psychologist besides going around in circles about needing to eat but not being physically capable of eating. People never really understood I wasn’t making a choice to be sick. One day in high school, I vividly remember another student who I rarely spoke to and had no relationship with asking me, “What are you doing to yourself?” Eating disorders are challenging for people to understand but shaming people is never the answer.
Speaking of shame, embodied processing helped me to understand the nervous system and Polyvagal Theory. These days, I view anorexia in line with addiction. Anything can become an addiction - some people choose alcohol, drugs, eating or not eating, but at the end of the day, we’re using our chosen vice to help regulate our nervous system. Shame is part of the problem, as is stigma. Sure, we talk more about mental health issues such as eating disorders now but in my experience, the stigma is still very much alive among certain pockets of society.
I was fortunate enough to consider myself recovered by around 23 but I treated my experience like a dirty little secret until recently. I refused to speak about it and lived in constant fear that my employer at the time would find out the ‘truth’ about me. When I hit 30, for some reason, ignoring the past was no longer an option. On several occasions, I recall waking up in the middle of the night sweating with my mind screaming at me that turning my back on my past was no longer optional.
Connecting the dots
From there, I began learning more about eating disorders and just how lucky I am to be alive. The mortality rates for anorexia in particular are grim. So, I started asking myself, how am I here? Like everything in life, the explanation is complicated and while many factors were at play, including sheer dumb luck, I believe writing provided me with enough relief to get me through life until other things became more important than avoiding food.
Back then, writing was the only thing I really cared about and enjoyed doing. I could be as angry and frustrated at the world as I wanted to be in my journal. And then I could destroy what I’d written, making my words for my eyes only. While I wasn’t exactly thriving, writing helped get me to a point where having friends/work colleagues, socialising with food and drinks and my career became more important. This isn’t everyone’s experience but for me, it was like anorexia gradually faded away into the background naturally.
For many years, I lived with the shame and guilt of my past. It’s not always easy feeling like you’ve lost a decade of your life but embodied processing has taught me that the key to healing is feeling and processing rather than stuffing everything down. Through their own unique experiences and vulnerable storytelling, the co-founders of embodied processing, Ryan and Matt, have inspired me beyond words. Not to mention the student community where quality connections and help are always one Facebook post away.
Embodied processing is about much more than theory
While the theory component of embodied processing is extensive (as it needs to be) and has provided me with the necessary understanding of the nervous system and foundations to take my healing through writing work to another level, there is so much more to be discovered through this training. The magic happens through practicing embodied processing and for me, weaving it into my writing teachings. Additionally, Ryan and Matt always encourage students to take their own unique medicine out into the world. For me, that’s embodied writing through healing, and I have never felt more supported in my business.
How embodied processing has changed my life and business
For the first time in my life, I understand why certain things may have happened. Understanding the nervous system has been a relief. Learning about survival physiology has given me an understanding that I’m not some strange anomaly that has been built ‘wrong’; I am simply human. My lived experience is an asset.
From a business perspective, I now feel confident in my knowledge and ability to provide a trauma-informed service. Something I once believed was a pipedream–that people are interested in writing for healing–has very much been validated. Most importantly, I have the tools I need to support people as best I can. It’s not my role to ‘fix’ people and I’m not scared to refer people on if I feel out of my depth. My goal is to provide a safe space for people to feel, heal, evolve and grow.
I don’t feel we ever reach a point where we are done baking; healing is an ongoing journey. Circling back to Naguib Mahfouz’s quote, “Home is not where you are born; home is where all your attempts to escape cease,” I may not be home quite yet but I am well on my way.
- Written by Sarah Cannata
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