How We Hold Stress In Our Body



The approach of Eastern and Western medicines are often very different and are many times

incompatible to one another. But here, they line up beautifully. In both approaches of healing and understanding the body, it is clear that the center of our body is where all the action of the nervous system happens.


In Chinese medicine, the flow of “qi” in the body are called Dantians which loosely translates to “energy center” and there are three of them. Although Western medicine does not differentiate the centers spatially, the vagus nerve is the longest nerve of the autonomic nervous system and is responsible for both sensory and motor function. It is clear from both illustrations that they depict the same system.




Think about the manifestations of stress and anxiety in your body.


When you feel activated or are worrying about something, where is it that you feel it?


Have you noticed the location of how your body holds onto stress?


Of course, different kinds of stress may show up in different places.


Consider the following:


The Upper/Cranial Dantian

Responsible for stress headaches, clenched jaw, ringing ears, grinding teeth, esophageal

disorders, neck and throat difficulties.


The Middle/Solar Plexus Dantian

Holding stress here results in heartburn, chest pain or tightness, back pain, shallow or difficult breathing, ulcers, nausea, and shoulder tightness or knots.


The Lower/Naval Dantian

When the lower dantian is activated, it can wreak havoc on a digestive tract. Diarrhea,

constipation, IBS, cramping, and other bowel inflammation can happen. Sexual dysfunction,

nervous legs, and sciatica pain all can be manifestations or made worse by stress held here.


Guided Meditation


The first time you do this you can do this sitting or lying comfortably, focusing on soft and even breathing as you read this. You are invited to consider your cranial dantian. Imagine it however you would like, perhaps as a ball of light or energy. As you breathe, draw a deep inhalation through your nostrils and imagine it traveling up into this ball of light. Hold the ball of light in your mind’s eye, feeling it in the center of your head.


Next, focus on your solar plexus dantian. Imagine it as another ball of energy nestled in the shadow of your heart, in front of your spine. With each inhalation, follow your breath from your upper to the middle dantian, connecting them with your breath. Next, imagine your naval dantian. It lies in your abdominal cavity in front of your spinal cord. Again, picture this ball of energy, and breathe deeply all the way down to it.


Drag each breath from the top to the bottom dantian, and back up again with each exhale.

Imagine the three balls of light to be aligned in your body, and feel them connect with one

another through your breath, sending light to each other in order of your breath.


Breath slowly and deeply several times, the rhythm of your breath slow and steady. Now close your eyes and feel into these three areas as you see each ball of light with your mind.


Jeanne Wickham, LPC, LAC

Contact: 719-581-3126 ext. 703


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