An imprint is a memory, or recording, of an event, experience, or environment, which is stored in both your physical and energy body’s – your body-system. Your physical and energy bodies are integral. Imprints are your way of storing experiences, some of which may have been traumatic, stressful, or difficult. You may have no conscious awareness of these imprints, but they are profoundly present in your life in many ways. You have a stored body memory of the environment in which you grew, and all that happened there in your first 9 months. Prenatal and birth experiences in particular are recorded in this way because they are preverbal, and are stored in your body-system, remaining there until you consciously connect with your young self and bring support to her/him. However, many later stages of your life experiences, after birth, infancy and early childhood are also stored this way in your body-system. This kind of memory is often referred to as implicit memory, which refers to your emotional brain. Anything stored in the emotional brain has its physiological and energetic expression in your mind-body-Soul system, this is just another way of talking about the same thing.
Imprints can Express Themselves Through: physical symptoms, emotions, relationship choices and dynamics, attachment dynamics, parenting, over-emotional reactions to certain situations, movement patterns, postures, tactile sensitivity, illness, nervous system regulation and dysregulation, how safe you feel, your resilience levels, whether you are calm and resourced or not, and more.
Imprints from the past feel real when they come up, and as if they are happening right now, in present time. Often you will have no idea that this is what is happening, and it can be confusing. One of the skills I teach people is how to recognize when they are in an imprint from the past. They also learn how to resource themselves so they can have the choice to do something different about it now. You don’t have to keep repeating painful, difficult, or traumatic imprints. They can be healed and re-patterned. Your Little One within is often having a reaction to life, as s/he perceived it to be in the womb, and acting out of responses learned in the womb that are no longer serving you as an adult.
Imprints remain in your body-system, affecting you on all levels. If you had a bad knee, you would change the way you are moving and walking to compensate for that knee, and would soon forget that you are doing this. It simply becomes ‘normal’ for you to walk that way. Likewise, with imprints you may think ‘oh this is just the way I am’, and actually it is not the way you are, it is an imprint around which you are unconsciously organizing. Often your life would be well served by dealing with the imprint directly so that you are not acting out of compensation and unconsciousness, but out of healthy choice grounded in the present. E.g. your Little One within may have had an experience in the womb that left her feeling unsafe in the world so she now feels fearful and anxious and as if she is unsafe. It is very familiar for you to feel this way, it feels real, and as if life really isn’t safe. Your adult-self can be discerning and make an assessment in present time about whether you are safe or not. Your Little One can’t do this with this imprinting, without help. Working with your imprints creates phenomenal new levels and depths of consciousness, grounding, centering, wholeness, and true choice in your life.
Imprints do not have to be permanent; they can be re-patterned, even though they can feel as if they are a part of you that is unchangeable. I liked something that Ray Castellino said when asked to explain an imprint, “If you look at these new pants I have on, you can see the cloth, the weave in the cloth, and then you can see the creases in them caused by life. The creases are the imprints, they are not of the main body of the pants, but have been imprinted upon them, like a motif on a tea shirt, and they can be healed and changed.”
What is a survival imprint?
Survival imprints happen in situations in which our very life is either literally, or perceived by us to be, under threat. This can arise from an actual life-threatening event, or from a generally toxic environment in the womb in which survival is difficult, and thriving is not an option. These mechanisms can have a very powerful influence on our perceptions, and on all areas of our life, and are often unconscious. One way to know if you have survival imprinting is to notice if you feel threatened a lot, or are unable to feel safe, or if you are hyper-vigilant, frightened, or terrified with no seeming explanation for these feelings. I was terrified a lot when younger, and even when I understood why I felt that way, it didn’t make it stop happening. I needed somatic prenatal work for that imprinting to change, as my core wound was a prenatal survival imprint. If our survival mechanisms are triggered in present time, we can feel as if our life is under threat, or feel terrified for no apparent reason.
Our survival mechanisms and the Little One’s inside of us who still hold the memory of the life-threat must be honored; without them we would not be here. And, it is also true that living our life this way may not be serving us any longer. Re-patterning a prenatal survival imprint requires careful work by an appropriately informed and trained prenatal and perinatal practitioner, so your Little One can learn to feel safe and relaxed.
© 2016 Karen Melton