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Why We Carry Trauma In Our Bodies, And How To Heal It

Why does Acupuncture and Reiki work, in ways that Western Medicine does not?

That’s a loaded question, and one that some would consider controversial.

But, the explanation is simple – because Acupuncture and Reiki are healing modalities treat the whole body. It considers that not only is there a disorder in the physical body; but, somewhere before it even manifested physically, an imbalance already existed in the energy body, which was already wrecking havoc on our emotions, mental state, and Spirit.

When we experience trauma, this is exactly what happens.

I often see patients from many walks of life, various socio-economic backgrounds, spanning blue-collar to white-collar careers (and beyond).

But, no matter where we come from, or how our bodies manifest it, our bodies all hold onto trauma, unless we’re given the tools to release it and channel it from our system.

Those who were in abusive relationships, who grew up with violence in the household or on the streets, who were constantly fending for their survival during childhood, or who have otherwise experienced soul-gripping events in the lives, all have learned how to hold trauma in their bodies. For those with not as dramatic a childhood or upbringing, we still hold disappointments that linger and are hard to shake off.

What are ways we hold trauma in our bodies?:

  • We are hyper-vigilant
  • We are hyper-reactive to our surroundings
  • We hold some level of consistent panic or anxiety in our abdomen, usually in the Heart, Solar Plexus, or Sacral Plexus areas
  • We have localized (or generalized) aches and pains that are not caused by physical trauma (or linger long after the physical trauma has been resolved)
  • Our emotions are on the surface (because they’re either ready to release, or overflowing with intensity that it’s hard to suppress) – especially anger, rage, or sorrow
  • We get easily confused about what’s going on in our lives
  • If the trauma has gone on for a very long time, we may disassociate from ourselves, our Hearts, thus fostering lack of trust in our abilities to thrive or love as human beings
  • We may have vivid nightmares where we are constantly reliving the painful memories, or feeling disempowered
  • Our thinking goes on overdrive

There are so many disadvantages to holding trauma in our bodies. Why do we do it?

Sometimes it’s done subconsciously, in an effort to “soldier on” and move forward in life, which ends up robbing us of feeling our emotions around a given situation. This doesn’t make the pain go away, it just tucks it away for safe keeping, where it festers and builds a life of its own.

Sometimes we do it on purpose, to punish ourselves for things we’ve done that we consider unforgivable.

And, lots of the time, we don’t even realize that we’re doing it. All we know is that we feel terrible, and we don’t know how to get past it.

How does trauma physically manifest in our bodies, where there is no direct physical explanation?

  • Digestive disorders
  • Back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Joint pain
  • Frequent colds
  • Lowered immune system
  • Reproductive system disorders
  • Thyroid issues

And, these are just to name a few.

In Chinese Medicine, the Lungs physically deal with respiratory disorders, such as bronchitis, emphysema, asthma, and shortness of breath. Emotionally, the Lungs deal with grief and letting go.

This is exactly the reason why, when we’re getting over the loss of a loved one through death of life or relationship, our immune system runs a bit low, or we have a stubborn cough that lingers, despite all attempts to remedy it.

One woman I know, who lost her young child to a sudden illness, had a lingering cough that doctors couldn’t explain, despite many routine tests. It began when her child died, and stayed with her for at least two years. It was unproductive and dry, and never got worse or better. Until, one week, it just dissipated on its own, with no intervention. Sometimes the wisdom of our bodies help us move through what we need to move through in our own time.

Oftentimes, our body pain is relevant to what is happening in our lives. Neck pain and/or shoulder pain can often indicate shouldering responsibilities, and resentment towards doing so. It may also be telling us that we are not speaking our truth (that’s Throat Chakra energy, right there!)

Our bodies are so wise, and they are always speaking to us. It is up to us to listen to them. That is a key to owning our wellness. (Click to tweet)

How can we release trauma from our bodies?

  1. Receive regular Acupuncture and/or Reiki treatments. I’m a little biased, of course! I have seen how these modalities help to unlock the pain and suffering that patients have carried in their bodies. Sometimes it takes a while to unravel it. At other times, it is on the surface, ready to be released. Acupuncture directly taps into the energy meridians, and I use particular points to gently open into energy and heal with grace. When it comes to trauma, common Acupuncture points that may be used are on the Lung, Pericardium, Liver, and Spleen channels. Not to mention that Acupuncture effectively rebalances our bodies when we are experiencing physical pain! Reiki is deceivingly subtle – patients simply lie on the table as I perform a gentle placement of hands to clear chakras (or energy centers) – but the results are palpable and often create great impact. It gently, yet powerfully, helps you release all that no longer serves you.
  2. Channel it. In order to move the trauma from our systems, we need to give it creative outlets: journaling, poetry, spoken word, art, painting, knitting, drawing, and crafting are just a few of the things we can do to move the energy. This helps release the pent up emotions from the Sacral Chakra, and gives momentum to our Throat Chakra to speak up and tell our truths.
  3. Work it. Whether it be dancing to Missy Elliot’s song of the same name, or busting a style all your own, getting physical is an excellent way to channel Qi flow. Physical movement, dance, martial arts, other sports, and working out all get the Liver Qi moving. And, since the Liver is in charge of the free flow of Qi in the body, the release that movement brings is vital to healing from trauma.
  4. Speak it. Surround yourself with support, and seek professional counseling, if needed. For those of us who hold trauma in our bodies, it is typical to silence our voices. Sometimes it’s because we got used to not having our needs met, we were conditioned not to speak (or learned that our speaking would bring negative consequences), or because we were taught our voices weren’t important. Whatever the reason, speaking up, even in quiet ways, is extremely healing.

If you’ve held trauma in your body, what has worked for you?
If you still struggle to move through it, what has been your biggest challenge?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments, below!

In light,







P.S. Polls results are in! It was almost a tie between the MP3 meditation for stress reduction, and the PDF guide to reducing stress with Acupressure Points. As a result, I have freshly created an MP3 meditation called, “Spirit Grounding Meditation”. It’s 8:42 minutes of juicy goodness and love towards your day (or evening), designed to ease tension through your body and melt away stress, as you move through each chakra/energy center, and rebalance on a deeper level. It’s my new opt-in gift! So, if you’re not yet signed up for my newsletter, now’s the time! All of my present subscribers will receive a link to download the MP3 in today’s newsletter. Enjoy my gift to you!

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Copyright © 2015 by Alcantara Acupuncture & Healing Arts. All rights reserved. You may quote, copy, translate and link to this article, in its entirety, on free, non-donation based websites only, as long as you include the author name and a working link back to this website. All other uses are strictly prohibited.

All information on this website is my own opinion, and not to be taken as medical advice. Reliance on any information provided on this website is solely at your own risk. Please refer to your medical practitioner before making any medical decisions.


  1. Teri Hall
    July 29, 2015

    Love this article. First of all need to accept that it is there then move it, speak it,energize it away. It is all energy just waiting to be transformed.

    Thank you for your wisdom.


    • Margarita Alcantara, M.S.Ac., L.Ac., Reiki Master/Teacher
      July 29, 2015

      Hi Teri,

      I’m glad you enjoyed this article! Ah, yes, the acceptance, then moving it, speaking it, and energizing it. So important. Thanks for reminding us all of this.


  2. Margo
    November 13, 2017

    Thank you so much for this wonderful article. Very thoughtful…

  3. Dorothy
    January 20, 2018

    Good article and so true. I recently attended a health retreat iback home here in Africa and got curious about Reiki and signed up for a session. My reaction blew my mind off and the therapist recommended a follow up traumatic release session, it became a major release of all my life long traumas that I had no idea where held deeply within, that day I let it go and still feeling the effects up to now

    • Margarita Alcantara, M.S.Ac., L.Ac., Reiki Master/Teacher
      January 20, 2018

      Hi Dorothy,

      Congratulations on your deep healing! It is truly liberating to release the trauma from your body and soul.


  4. Christine
    April 1, 2019

    Thank you so much for this wonderful article. Very informative! It makes so much sense to me. I’m sure I’ve been holding on to trauma my whole life. Now I know I have to release it.


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