Embodied writing for healing 

By Sarah Cannata

The word ‘healing’ is sometimes tossed about carelessly. My definition of healing is simple: to become whole again from a physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual perspective. To feel at home again in our own bodies. 

Wanting to heal does not mean we are broken or that something is wrong with us. We all experience things in life that take their toll on us. And often, we place our attention on the things we find most disruptive. However, there is always more to every situation than what we realise at a surface level. I’ll give you an example.

This feels vulnerable to share, but it won’t surprise anyone who knows me. I’ve always struggled with public speaking. I can’t remember a time when I thought, “Hooray, I get to stand up in front of everyone and speak.” Having a public speaking fear is hardly ideal for someone working in communications. I’ve done all of the things people usually do. Several public speaking courses. I’ve tested the notion that practice makes perfect (spoiler alert: it doesn’t, at least in my case). Years later, if I am honest, nothing has changed. I’d even go as far as saying my fears have escalated. Being aware of the flight-fight response helps, but I’d be lying if I said I’m not currently frustrated by this situation I find myself in. Through my writing, I’ve learned that I’m unsure if my bodily reactions are about public speaking. Now is a time to be patient and work with my nervous system according to its pace, however terribly inconvenient that happens to be for me. 

A powerful tool for healing and self-expression       

When I want to explore my thoughts, emotions and experiences, I write. What I teach takes journaling a step further. Embodied writing encourages people to connect with their physical sensations and bodily experiences as they write. This fosters a deep connection between the mind and body, promoting emotional healing, self-awareness and personal growth. It’s important to understand that this practice helps people grow their capacity to explore experiences that may be more traumatic as they become more confident in their ability to pay attention to the sensations, feelings, and physical experiences that accompany the writing process.

Growing in capacity

As a certified Embodied Processing Practitioner, the notion of growing in capacity is central to the embodied writing process. Embodied processing is a body-based approach to working with trauma. Before we even start writing, we take the time to cultivate a resource, which is a place of safety, comfort, support or, said in another way, the opposite of overwhelm. We return to our resource whenever we find ourselves overwhelmed as we aim to avoid re-traumatising our nervous system at all times. 

Through lived experience and with my clients, I have witnessed first-hand how embodied writing can release pent-up emotions and unprocessed trauma. With embodied processing, we are not turning away from any feelings that surface. We are turning towards emotions so that we can feel and process them. By providing a safe space for emotions such as grief, anger, anxiety (which is a state) and frustration, we can feel whatever we need to while leaning into acceptance.

The mind-body connection

It’s strange how some people split the body in two (mind and body). If you are anything like I was before I started engaging in this work, you may not be aware of the connection between physical sensations and emotional states. As we become more aware of our bodily responses while writing, we gain invaluable insights into our emotional well-being. This self-awareness is crucial in the healing process, enabling us to identify and address underlying emotional issues. Awareness is priceless.

Self-compassion and self-trust

Most of us have done things we regret and feel ashamed about. Making poor decisions (in hindsight, anyway) is part of the human experience. Embodied writing provides different perspectives that can lead to self-compassion and self-acceptance. I’ve worked with numerous people who are often surprised by their writing and have no idea how certain situations impact them. People usually begin identifying patterns when writing about past experiences. This shift towards self-compassion can be a pivotal factor in the healing journey as people start to understand there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with them: they are human.

Embodied writing can be a transformative practice that harnesses the healing power of the mind-body (and spirit) connection. By encouraging individuals to pay attention to their physical sensations and emotions while writing, embodied writing provides a path to emotional recovery, self-awareness, and personal growth.

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Learn the basics of embodied writing to embark on a journey of self-discovery, healing and growth.

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Membership includes:

✍ The Write Your Way to Healing Quick Start Course, which includes videos, guided meditations and personal development tools

✍ Access to our private student community on Facebook so you can connect directly with Sarah and other students as our community grows

✍ Additional courses, workbooks, affirmation cards and resources added over time at no extra cost

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