On a fundamental level, there is no separation between the mind and the body; consciousness is an effect of the brain which is intimately connected to and constantly communicating with the body. What we do with our bodies informs our minds and what we think in our minds informs how we use our bodies. We experience our somatic feelings and emotions in our bodies and don't forget about the wisdom of our "gut" (intuition). However, when we experience trauma, we often attempt to protect ourselves by disconnecting our conscious awareness from the experiences of our bodies.
Trauma involves an event, or set of enduring conditions that overwhelms our ability to cope and one of the ways that we attempt to survive these unbearable experiences is by cutting ourselves off from the feelings of our bodies. We may become disconnected by dissociating, becoming tense, or using drugs. If we learned during traumatic experiences that being aware of and/or using our bodies is dangerous, then we may become frozen and inert and avoid using our bodies in ways that we otherwise would like to. We may become chronically stuck in protective postures that negatively impact our health and reinforce the sense that things are still not OK. In these ways, unprocessed trauma becomes stuck in our bodies.
If we adapted to protect ourselves by disconnecting from the body, then in self-work and therapy we may find ourselves doing the same by unintentionally seeking safety in the intellect. This isn't to say that the intellect isn't an important part of who we are and a vital aspect of how we can heal, however, we can only achieve so much when we engage the intellect alone. When we stay disconnected from our bodies, we are missing a huge part of who we are, cut-off from what it feels like to be us. Incorporating things into our self-work and therapy that help us to re-connect with our bodies is key to allowing us to live in a way that is vital, spontaneous, and integrated.
In addition to re-connecting with our bodies, re-claiming them is an important aspect to healing from trauma. Trauma often involves a lack of control over our bodies, if not an outright violation. By making body-work a conscious part of our healing process, we can begin to change our relationship to our bodies; making autonomous choices with and experiencing efficacy through them. Having personal control over and experiencing efficacy with your body are vital elements of incorporating the body into the healing process and living as a whole human being. There are many different ways to engage the body in our healing process, such as mindfulness, breathing exercises, yoga, and a plethora of body-based therapeutic interventions.
At one time, we may have needed to disconnect from our bodies, because not doing so was unsafe or too overwhelming, and it served us well to adapt in that way. We may still find ourselves avoiding our bodies even during our self-work and therapy, by staying in the safer-seeming zone of our cognitive worlds. Once we are safe, and the overwhelming event(s) is(are) no longer happening, we may not be able to really understand that safety, and feel it in our very bones, by the will of our intellect alone. If we can find a way to engage our body, to experience it more fully, and to sense how we can control it and use it to effect our world, we can truly exist in the world in a more fundamental way.