Exercise and soul retrieval

by Jennifer Stevenson

The other day my buddy instinctive mind directed me to an interesting site about using the idea of soul retrieval in psychotherapy.   She’s been practicing soul retrieval by going through her old journals and poetry and her mother’s voluminous files.

Soul retrieval was not covered when I was in grad school studying therapy.  We did discuss therapies like Rolfing, where a trained physical therapist does radical and painful bodywork, such as separating layers of  muscle by force.  The process can result in traumatic flashback, so this work must always be performed in tandem with a “talking cure” therapist, who can help the patient grapple with emotions that have been buried in the body and are released during the bodywork. 


It occurred to me that if emotion and memory reside in the body, then surely the soul is in there too. 


So is what I’m doing now with my body–swimming, riding horses, and roller derby–a form of soul retrieval?


I do find I am experiencing flashback from time to time, as I break through some athletic barrier–master some new derby move, conquer fear while jumping a horse, swim more than 150 feet underwater on one breath. 


At first it seemed that the triumph of getting  my body to do what I never could do before was somehow reversing itself, crashing and burning in some dreadfully ironic, negative way.


Then I recognized the feelings as flashback.  And now I know that I’m not losing the triumph.  I’m getting two triumphs for the price of one.  To quote Jerry G Bishop (“Svengooli”), Sometimes ya gotta dig the mummy up before you can bury it again for good.


If I can get strong, after a lifetime of being told “stay weak,” what else will I recover that has been lost to me?




Has the universe taken away parts of you, long ago?


What are you doing to say give it back?



Exercise and soul retrieval — 3 Comments

  1. Awesome post!
    I think that some of us older women (those heading for mid-life, in mid-life, or beyond; not so much the younger set) have been so conditioned to be caregivers and nurturers that it’s inevitable some parts of ourselves get lost along the way. Double or triple that effect dealing with any sort of trauma.

    We’re taught that we can “have it all”, which means taking care of children, families, house, paying the bills, working our butts off trying to lift the glass ceiling at work, and (if your lucky) maintaining a social life. This leaves little time to pursue our inner life which needs nourishment as well, and the end result can leave one feeling like a robot on autopilot and Valium.

    For someone like me it took a long time to learn to say the word “no”. Once I did that along with learning to ask for help when I needed it, and demanding some sort of recognition for my achievements, I started feeling more human again.

  2. Hi, Kittent!

    IRobotNoMore–Let’s hear it for the power of “No”!

    I know a lot of people who are willing to work themselves literally to death. How many of them can look back on all that work with satisfaction? How often do they find themselves grumbling, “I’m not getting appreciated here”?

    This isn’t a pattern exclusive to women. I was reading an article in Conscious Choice gosh, ten years ago, in my chiropractor’s office. Some men’s writer, might have been Robert Bly or that guy Sam, was saying something like this:

    If you want to overwork a bull until his heart bursts, you don’t tell him so. You tell him instead: You are the big guy. You are special. You are so special we are going to give you work that nobody else can do, and we will reward you with privileges and special food and goodies and make much of you, oh yes we will.

    Men die in harness believing in that, uh, bull.

    Women do it without even getting the privileges.

    HOORAY for you for saying No! and for demanding recognition!