My healing journey began at age 19. As I’ve written about before, my path has involved serious grief, an abusive intimate relationship, disordered eating, as well as healing from moments of childhood (not abuse, but harm was still done to my psyche). The time I consider the beginning of my healing journey was when I finally admitted I needed help outside myself and went to a therapist, and then a partial day hospitalization program.
I say this, not to make myself seem mentally unwell, but to emphasize my pursuit of a holistic healing experience – one that uses a combination of modern and ancient medicine, science and spirit.
Fast forward to today(ish). I’m 25 years old, struggling to grow my business in a way that feels ethical and aligned, and still struggling with aspects of my identity as a person. One thing, in particular, keeps coming up, in several forms – feeling worthy/qualified/confident, aka Imposter Syndrome.
I recently had the opportunity to experience this unique psychological healing tool with Heather at Simply Be Therapy in Wichita, KS. When she brought up that it might be helpful for me, I immediately began researching it.
What is Brainspotting?
It has similarities to EMDR (Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing), yet it is its own distinct thing. In both, you use physical actions as well as cues to work through traumatic (or otherwise negative) past experiences to reduce how they affect you in the current moment
With brainspotting, you find the physical manifestation of the emotion/experience (for example, this issue lived in my stomach/solar plexus chakra area and in my shoulders. From there you find the place in your visual field where the experience lives, your “brainspot.” You lock your gaze there while listening to audio that has binaural aspects (it sounds like the music is going around your head in circles). You continue to gaze at the brainspot, listening to the audio, and slowly go into a healing, semi-trance state, supported by the therapist.
My experience with Brainspotting
*** Note: The next few paragraphs reference my experience during this session, and include memories that may be triggering, proceed at your own risk. ***
At first, I assumed this emotion was another holdover from the grief of losing my parents in adolescence. I saw a skull in the ball of the tool used to mark my spot. As I continued, however, it became something else.
I was taken back to an experience when I was probably 9ish, and I’d gotten in a fight with my parents. I don’t remember much of that time now, but I remember that at one point, I must have said something very disrespectful to my mom, because my dad charged out of their bedroom and pushed me against the hallway wall, holding me by my throat. He said something like “Don’t you ever talk to your mother like that.” That’s honestly all I remember of this particular experience, and my parents were never violent at any other time that I remember (like, I got spanked once or twice that I remember, and nothing like this happened ever again), but it has obviously affected me strongly.
The even more interesting part came next. Once I had identified this experience of my throat being physically blocked, I felt the areas of tightness shift. The part in my shoulders fell gently down my arms and out my fingertips, while the part in my stomach went up to my throat. I felt the pressure of hands on my throat again, very intensely. I used Reiki to kind of push the lingering bits in my shoulders and arms out, as well as to release the hold on my neck. At some point during all this, a single tear fell from each eye. Soon after, this part of the session was over.
Heather checked in with me at this point, and I told her about the part still remaining in my throat, so we did another, shorter session.
Now that I knew better what to expect, I went into the trance-like state a little quicker and easier, and was prepared to use Reiki again to finish the work on my neck. What I wasn’t prepared for was what actually happened.
I relived that experience with my dad, but this time it was adult me in his place, still choking child me. As I realized this, I also realized I was capable of taking my hands off her, and I did. At that point, the tightness began working its way back down and out my body. I helped it along, pushing it out my legs this time. It felt very physically exhausting in a way I haven’t experienced through my energy work in a long time.
As the tightness left my body, I felt free and light in a way I hadn’t felt through this process. I felt like I was supposed to leave my body (in a journey/astral projection type of way). As that sensation flooded me, Heather picked up on the muscle tightness I was experiencing and brought me back, where I just focused on smoothing my energy flow as much as possible until this second session was over.
I spent the rest of the day a little high from the experience, exhausted but retaining that light and free feeling I had. And honestly, the rest of the day was completely average for a day in Wichita. But the healing hadn’t finished. Stay tuned for part two!