>>I’m so happy to hear you are staying. When I read you were considering moving, my heart got this uncomfortable feeling. We moved five times during our 8 year stay in Israel. Moving is so extremely unsettling and destabilizing. So much change, plus you need to get to know and integrate into a totally new community and start putting down roots all over again. It’s like starting from zero.<<
it’s so true, moving is deeply unsettling – literally! – and I’m very grateful to have made the decision to stay in one place. There’s something very physically and emotionally grounding for all of us about this decision.
A while back I listened to an interesting audio program about the seven emotional centers and their physical effect on the body’s health. This is based on the concept that all illness has an emotional/energetic component, and this component is much more significant than most people would acknowledge.
This is fascinating stuff and if you’re interested in details about all seven emotional centers, look at the link I put up above and you can see a summary of some basic information. (Dr. Gabor Mate also has a great book called When the Body Says No: Exploring the Stress Disease Connection in which he writes about the emotional state and how certain illnesses are later manifested as a result.) What I’d like to do is is share about the importance of the first emotional center and how this was a factor in our our decision not to move.
The first center is what your sense of self is built on, what provides you with a sense of grounding and belonging in the world, rootedness. Physically issues connected to this center are related to the immune system issues, illnesses such as arthritis, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. A person who doesn’t have a strong foundation in his first center with his family of origin will have trust and security issues. Not being balanced in this center will affect a person’s ability to appropriately feel fear, when and who to trust, and how to be appropriately dependent or independent.
These first center emotional issues almost exactly parallel the issues Dr. Gordon Neufeld describes as the outcome for children who are inadequately attached to their parents, though he gives them different names – emotional defendedness/hardening and peer dependency are a couple of concepts that he discusses at length that tie in well to this. It’s all about building a sense of connection and security in the world; when that is missing, you have first emotional center issue that if held long enough without being addressed in some way, will eventually show up in the body. I’m starting to wonder if the real reason that new immigrants tend to get sick when they move here isn’t about our bodies being hit with germs that we aren’t used to, but about our immune system being weakened due to being emotionally uprooted.
The health of this center is the healthy capacity to hold two things at one time: the vulnerability of belonging and depending, and the power of being able to stand alone and be independent. That really means being able to be interdependent, which is the highest level of interpersonal functioning and is much, much more difficult than independence. This is especially hard for those of us growing up in Western cultures, that place a very high value on independence as an ideal.
If you’re missing this as an adult, you can work to bridge the gaps of your childhood by consciously creating relationships, connections and routines that bring a sense of continuity and grounding to your life. If we can provide our kids with a sense of connectedness when they are young, that goes a long way through the years in helping them develop a sense of trust in the world. It’s always more effective to invest in prevention rather than trying to fix something that’s already broken.
Since moving here my kids have gone through some really difficult stuff, things that shook the foundation of our family. When I thought of moving them again after the trauma of my recent burns and subsequent hospitalization, I knew that I couldn’t do that to them. I didn’t want to do it to myself, but for my kids it was clear to me this would create a first emotional center issue that would affect their sense of security and safety in the world. This sense of stability and security is so foundational to a person’s emotional health and future relationships, and eventually can affect one’s physical health.
Does that mean that everyone should stay in one place his entire life? No, absolutely not. Sometimes you need to experience the discomfort of change to get a place that will ultimately be better for you. I firmly feel that moving to Israel in August 2011 was the absolute best decision for our family even with all the upheavals that we experienced afterward. What I do mean is that as parents we need to think very carefully about how to provide our children with a sense of continuity and consistency, both emotionally in how we raise them as well as physically where we raise them. The more deeply rooted we can help them to be, the stronger their sense of security and immune system will be.