Managing Pain: Resilient Somatic Response
"Healing and Pleasure" Inked Art by Srimati from the coloring book "Cosmic Wonders"
Healing and pleasure are intimately connected. The more I focus on my enjoyment of life and live a "Venus" lifestyle, the more supported I feel, the more resilient I feel, and the more supported my fertility cycle, the more balanced my body feels. This action is even more necessary for females because female bodies are uniquely wired for social bonding via the ventral vagal system (which both males and females have, but which affects female social bonding in different ways). This social bonding system, part of the parasympathetic system, supports healing when it is in a safe space and is experiencing wholesome and safe connection and enjoyment.
Living a Venus lifestyle is not about indulging in harmful pleasures, but is about seeking reparative experiences, relational connection, and wholesome pleasures that work with our bodies naturally to elicit healing hormonal secretions like oxytocin, endorphins, and dopamine. When we receive support and connection, for example, our bodies feel naturally responsive and well. Connection, more than any other factor, is a powerful determination for health. Therefore, when we are seeking pleasurable experiences it is ideal that these experiences would also be connective in some way. When trauma is present, it is also ideal that these experiences would help repair connection by decoupling connection from violence or threat.
In Somatic Experiencing, there is a concept taught called pendulation, moving from pain to pleasure, from threat to safety. It is natural for humans to pendulate in conversation and thought. We may move from topics of pain to topics of pleasure and vice versa. Healing happens the longer we can sit in safety and wholesome pleasure. This helps us repair. In pleasure and safety, our nervous systems and bodies enter into healing states. When we find ourselves trapped in trauma loops or narratives of pain and fear, it can be helpful for us to track this experience and guide ourselves to self-care practices that center us back in the present moment and help our bodies to experience joy and pleasure. This is a responsiveness skill we can develop.
When fully relaxed, the body can focus on repairing inflammation and cellular/tissue damage. When we sleep, the body recovers energy, and vitality, and goes to work repairing systems. For a more detailed understanding of what this looks like, I recommend viewing this chart discussing poly-vagal theory here.
The parasympathetic system is responsible for this resting/digesting state that aids in assimilation and restoration of the system.
If you are suffering from chronic illness or pain, this repatterning of moving more deeply into pleasure and relaxation will be foundational in supporting your healing journey.
Learning to support and be present with your body in gentle and pleasurable ways nourishes your heart and soul and begins to reach the pain, teaching it to receive love, compassion, and kindness. Pain itself becomes a healing gateway. Pain will teach you to move and rest simultaneously. It teaches you the need to slow down, be gentle, and relax the body into healthy parasympathetic states.
You can move the body to help the body shift and move the energy, allowing the surrounding tissue to support the hurt or damaged tissue. You can rest to allow the body to exist in stillness and restoration. You can eat nourishing, enjoyable, healing foods to restore the body. You can take nature walks or sit with a loving companion. You can laugh at something silly, pet a beloved animal, or just enjoy your favorite hobby. There are so many ways to explore pleasure and enjoyment.
When pain or hurt comes up, part of developing a resilient response is to give ourselves what we need as it arises, rather than pushing the need down and ignoring it and being rough/abusive with ourselves. Move. Rest. Support yourself with pleasurable wholesome self-care and interests. Be present with the inner flow and the movement. Listen and feel into what the body needs. This is resilient-somatic-response.