A scar, as defined by Webster’s dictionary, is a mark left behind as a result of damage or wear or, as a verb, to do lasting injury to. The tendency is to consider a scar as simply physical and overlook the emotional toll it embodies. As human beings who interact with a challenging world, we are often harmed from external forces as well as internal forces, which can sometimes resulting in surgery.
In my view, scars represent what has happened TO us; those events and experiences that were in some way out of our control and therefore remind us of our vulnerabilities in this journey of life. This emotional sense of exposure, coupled with the physical trauma, can result in a numbing around the scar, as though the reminder of our susceptibility is too powerful to accept and we “dumb down” the senses in that area. Unconsciously allowing a breakdown of connection to that area, we dismiss the injured area as cut off or almost dead to us. And that can, in fact, be what we create with that attitude – a death of feeling and function in the area in and around scars. Whoa. That’s a whole lot more that a “mark” and can become a lasting injury in a variety of ways.
My own abdominal surgery happened long before my knowledge of the human body expanded through yoga and the study of movement; and my scar tells that very story. It is about six inches long across my low belly as a result of an oophectomy (removal of my left ovary. The ovary had a terratoma growing on it). The tumor was the size of a grapefruit and weighed in at over a pound so full abdominal surgery was needed.
Now, at 12 years old, the scar had developed a bulge above it and a thick density across the seam. Truthfully, before I discovered Yoga Tune Up®, manipulating the scar simply never occurred to me – I could bear to rub a flat hand over it but pulling, pushing, pinching the area brought up a strong feeling of discomfort for me. Squeamish is the best word for it, but it felt as if I was kicking off my gag reflex when I considered the idea at my Core Immersion last year. But after that training, my curiosity was piqued, not only from stories shared but also because the bulge really bugged me. It was ugly, a part of me that I wanted to ignore and tamp down instead of innervate with stimulation. Yet, as I traveled the road of Yoga Tune Up®, the very thought of rejecting a part of my own body began to create a new type of discomfort, one that trumped the grossed out feelings I got when I moved the scar around. So I started to skin roll.
I began with Coregeous ball techniques directly on my skin (as written about here) and graduated to direct contact of my fingers to my scar. Because “all surgery carries a risk of adhesions between tissues resulting in dysfunction in the form of restricted tissue glide, muscle imbalance, weakness or loss of flexibility” (Fascia: The Tensional Network of the Human Body, Schleip, Findley, Chaitow and Huijing, p. 412), I knew I was beginning to untangle years of bunched up layers in my belly and likely beyond, because “disturbed patterns may even become evident some distance from the scar” (p. 412).
At first, the method of skin rolling taught in YTU trainings was too intense for me, but I found a series of step-up techniques that allowed me to work at my own pace and level of tolerance for the emotional and physical changes I was seeking. These techniques will be addressed in a follow up article on the blog later this week.
Not only will it build your arsenal of tools to approach your healing of scars, both old and new, but these will also empower you to face those difficult experiences in life that happen TO us and make us feel defenseless and vulnerable. Vulnerability is a necessary part of life that can make us wiser, kinder and more whole but it sure can leave scarring in its wake. By addressing these scars with compassion and self-care, we can absorb their wisdom without further damage.