Artist Sacred Dancer Author
Mama of Sanctuary Forest Garden
Mama of Sanctuary Forest Garden
Our body holds and carries memories of the experiences we had from the womb till now, in fact, in DNA too. Looking from the angle of dance movement therapy (DMT) perspective (since I was trained as a DM therapist and underwent therapy in DMT), I learnt and studied how our memories are triggered by current situations from babies to elderly. We may react from the memories stored in our body we associate from the past, often without consciousness or awareness. I have also witnessed many clients are brought back to the suppressed memory they had as a child. It just surfaces. It also happened in my silent retreat before I became a therapist. When I sat in silence, my trauma of the past emerged again and again until I healed myself. Now I can say the trauma no longer haunts me or I do not get easily triggered off after I am healed. My parasympathetic nervous system has been reinstated as I set clear boundary and take very good care of myself.
What is regression?
Regression, according to psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, "is a defense mechanism leading to the temporary or long-term reversion of the ego to an earlier stage of development rather than handling unacceptable impulses in a more mature way. The defense mechanism of regression, in psychoanalytic theory, occurs when an individual's personality reverts to an earlier stage of development, adopting more childish mannerisms." (according to the Wikipedia)
I can only share my regression from my experience not of my clients (as it is confidential). Here is the story of a very distinct regression when I was a DMT student in the environment of the education system.
I took years to gain self-confidence and found my own voice in my early 20s. I had major breakthroughs from my study in speech and drama education. I went through pain too. It was a painful struggle. My voice was usually very high-pitched and nasal. I only discovered in therapy later, it was the voice of a frightened little girl whenever I was anxious, nervous or stress. My true voice in reality was very low and strong. My drama teacher was so pissed off with me and told me off one day, "Either you work hard or you quit." My heart sank. Walking home with a heavy heart and feeling so hurt, my tears uncontrollably welled-up and rolled down profusely. As I walked and dragged my feet along the roadside to the bus-stop, crying, my whole face smeared with tears, with my head hung low, broken inside, feeling so lousy and disappointed with myself. I was such a failure. Why was I so stupid! I never do well in studies. Yet with my stubborn, persistent and determined nature, I was not a quitter and refused to quit just like that. I worked very hard. Those hard work and efforts paid off and in return I actually connected to my true voice. And later after some years, I went on to be trained as an educator, a primary school teacher, my confidence in self grew. However deep inside, I still felt I was not good enough. The perfectionistic and critical voice often beat me up. I always felt I was never good enough in anything I do.
When life grew hectic and stressful, barely did I had the time to listen to myself, not to say to slow down. I could only rely and find strengths in God to survive. Well, the past did catch up on me, creeping in more and more, haunting me. I could also remember I shut myself out from the world one day. I came to a point where I did not want to have any contacts with the outside world. Sound like I was depressed. My Godma was so worried. I didn't know where I find the energy again to go on. But I did. It was a roller coaster ride. Ups and downs. I found solace and peace in God when I prayed. I am grateful that I have God in my life. I could not imagine whether I would be alive if it was not for God. Again I still felt this dull feeling inside me. I could not really put my finger in it. After studying psychology in DMT, I think I had post traumatic stress overhaul from the past traumas.
What was this regression then?
It was so strange to find myself regressing and lost my voice again, timid and shy, when I was a DMT student. I barely could speak up or voice out. That was so strange! I felt I was the same school girl in primary and secondary school.
I became a very different person, withdrawal, after I was traumatised by a teacher in school at 7 - 8years old, adding other traumas happening at home. So you can imagine the image my peers and teachers had of me - a very reserved quiet person in the DMT education. Recently, I was clearing my study room and read all the comments my teachers wrote. I laughed. Yes I can laugh now.
Part of me is introvert, part of me is actually extrovert. After I graduated, I regained my confidence. No more in the environment of education. My supervisor, Penny saw the confidence in me suddenly blossomed. And when I presented in the first conference, the university coordinator of my DMT programme were surprised I could articulate very well. I was puzzled by their reactions. I was like, "That was me all along." Nothing changed. Only then as I processed, then it became crystal clear that whenever I was under the authority - such as education system, I regressed to being a good obedient student who would not give my teachers any trouble. I could not even speak to my teacher openly when we had lunch at the canteen. What was happening to me? This was like 11 years ago.
In the last Authentic Movement, this came up again as I healed the anger inside me. I healed my relationship with authority figures and authority top-down system. There was still some healing needed here. I also understand why I always stand up for the voiceless like children especially with special needs, the weak, the under privilege and do not like labelling and have the gift to look beyond and look within. I can now see my gift as a blessing. My AM teacher said to me that I will always hold it in my heart because I can see it not everyone can. Because I was in the shoe once and knew exactly how it was to be labelled, misunderstood and misjudged and not seen for who I am. This theme has been an on-going healing process as I was never seen as who I am and accepted since I was a little girl. Now I am securely intact and no longer need the approval of others. I love myself and am my own best friend. Anita Moorjani who died from cancer, had a near death experience, spoke about love for self. I heal and come back home to my true self as Nita and Celine journey with me in these last 2 years.
Imagine even after so many years, the memories my body carried which needed healing surfaced when I was put in a similar environment again. We get triggers when we have not healed ourselves. Thus, I often share we keep having lessons that need to be learnt until we learn it and part of the lesson and journey is healing self. Probably some of you may feel that you are going round and round and stuck in the same problem over and over again?
When we are not healed of the traumatic experiences we had; or some unhealthy mindset are still lingering in our belief systems; or we have no understanding about the issues we have like what was actually going on; or sometimes we are not even aware of it at the conscious level in the first place, we can find ourselves being triggered off again of a similar situation. Even just by reading news.
If I have not made time to look within and healed, I probably will be going round the round the merry go round even till now. Now I could separate, differentiate and understand what it is. Instead of getting angry when I am being judged and misunderstood, I could be more compassionate towards others. Because in the first place, my supervisor, peers and coordinators do not even know who I was in the earlier days. I do not blame them for having such a perceived image of me. However this taught me never to judge and reminded me not to label a person. And to take time to understand the person's history and background and not to jump and conclude about a person immediately and to give the person the benefit of doubts.
I hope in sharing this, I encourage you to heal yourself and look within so we can get out of the merry-go-round circle we are stuck in. Make time. Take time to heal self.
I am no longer afraid to write or speak about my own story. I struggled before with all the rules as a therapist. Am I going to let the rules control me then? No. I have come a long way and heal in regards to authority. I have learnt to discern what is to be revealed and not. The way I minster or work is no longer the same in the last 2 years, how the way I work now has helped my clients tremendously. I come from a place of love. I come from a place of being fully human. I live life only once. If my story can inspire, touch, encourage or heal even it is only 1 soul, it is good enough. I am clear how I want to live my life and I walk the talk as a living human on Earth. My love and blessings to you! <3 <3 <3
Shalom! Blessings! Love To you!