“Remove the veils so I might see what is really happening here and to not be intoxicated by my stories and fears” — Elizabeth Lesser
I have always felt a call to identify and release emotional veils from my life. The need to travel into difficult places, mentally and spiritually, comes from somewhere within that yields far more power and wisdom than my conscious brain. No matter how many times I try to simplify my quest by having a more convenient diet, choosing simpler exercise modalities, allowing less time to meditate and reducing the amount of alternative therapists I see, I always come back to following what best pleases that call of the deeper self.
Over time, I discovered that our veils are first hung in place when we feel unable to deal with uncomfortable emotions that arise throughout our lives. One early memory, that came to me following a cranial osteopathy session, was having a door slammed in my four-year-old face by my older sister, who was tired of me following her and her friend around. This was a completely normal childhood event, not necessarily “traumatic.” However, in this moment, instead of following the usual protocol (crying, vocalizing my hurt and inviting my sister to apologize), I locked down my feelings of rejection into my tense little body and went on about my day as if nothing happened.
From this point onwards, I employed this approach whenever I felt rejected and “not cool enough.” At age thirteen, my ballet mistress criticized and humiliated me in front of the entire company. Three hours before curtain call on opening night, she decided she had made the wrong decision in casting me in the lead role. Instead of giving her a piece of my mind or getting upset, I went home and, for three hours, hid under my bedcovers before returning to the theatre and performing (to both a rapturous audience and smug mistress).
It is clear that these veils were hung there with the very good intention of protecting me, and it could be argued they taught me tenacity and strength of character. However, I can imagine much less damaging ways of learning those skills. Over time, they kept me small and destroyed my self-confidence. They were supported by seductive external numbing agents (sugar, chocolate, caffeine and alcohol) and activities (over-achieving, over-exercising, over-restricting and over-committing), but eventually these just made me ill.
Eventually, the physical manifestation of their harm came when I developed Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). I suffered mentally by being unable to make very simple decisions. Spiritually, I felt ungrounded and disconnected from myself. Rather than taking the seductive Western medical approach (a pill to regulate my cycle, weight, skin, mood and digestion), I chose to go on a journey of self-discovery. Through my study, research and intuition, I just knew that physical ailments ultimately come from unresolved emotional or psychological issues. I needed to decode what my body was trying to communicate rather than hide its callings within my veils.
Movement-based exercise techniques including Pilates, somatics and Iyenga Yoga helped to bring awareness, circulation and strength to the unbalanced areas of my body. Changing my way of eating radically helped integrate this body work; studying the Weston A. Price and GAPS methods continue to be of huge benefit. When it came to reprogramming and reframing my thought patterns away from the destructive and controlling, my first port of call was Neurological Linguistic Programming. I found the courage to be still and allow my uncomfortable feelings to surface and pass by practicing mindfulness, guided meditation and Transcendental Meditation.
My journey so far has been humbling. I have worked through unresolved memories, dreams and conversations. I have re-experienced symptoms from past illness and pains, which I can only assume was so that I could heal myself fully. I attract opportunities in my daily life to put my new learnings into practice, sometimes rather trying, but always rich opportunities for growth. Although my PCOS has switched off, I will continue to work on all aspects of myself for the rest of my life. I recognize that the practices I have employed to help me better connect to myself are not going to protect me from experiencing difficult things again, but I do know they will help me better weather the storms bare-skinned without so many veils.
There are no coincidences: life is always sending messages through our physical bodies, even through the relationships and environments we find ourselves in. We may not want to hear the messages, since, to heed their call requires mustering up strength, courage and hard work. Ultimately, however, these messages give us bliss. When the veils that hide our brokenness are removed, we can truly rebuild and reconnect back to our truth, which is always naked and always loving.
--Tasha Bermingham. Tasha Bermingham is a movement and wellness specialist, living and working in London. The TASHA/BE method—which incorporates Pilates and yoga, primal and intrinsic movement patterns, dietary advice, massage, assisted release, mindfulness, breathwork and guided meditations—helps people release and reprogram physical, mental and emotional patterns to promote health, clarity and connection.