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“Connecting Body, Mind, Heart, and Soul: A Conversation with Tammy Cho”

By Ricepaper, October 13, 2021

Portrait of Tammy Cho with accompanying text on a medium brown back ground with black and dark brown border accents

Having worked as a Registered Nurse and embodying her own spiritual and healing journey for more than years, Tammy Cho realized healing is more than just medication, surgery, and symptom management.  Her own trauma and life experiences led her to journey through traditional and non-traditional therapies.    Empowering individuals to connect to their bodies, heal their past and build emotional resilience to achieve balance, alignment, and authenticity, Tammy uses a unique face and body analysis system to help people to discover their own body healing blueprint, allowing them to embody self-love, acceptance, and compassion.  Ricepaper Magazine interviewed Tammy as part of its Asian Canadian Creatives series.

Ricepaper:  During the pandemic, many of us who work from home or artists who primarily spend time in their studios in solitude, all experienced some degree of being overwhelmed, burnt out, and experiencing anxiety.   Where do all of these feelings come from? 

We have often heard of the body, mind, heart, soul connection. Yet, oftentimes, we focus more on the mind chatter or the challenges and discomfort in our physical bodies, than our heart and soul. When we do not connect with our feelings or even repress difficult feelings like a trauma — whether consciously or unconsciously — the feelings and memories of fear, pain, or grief for example — become held or trapped in our bodies over time, creating what I call “stuck emotions” in the body. Events that occur outside of us, whether it is hurt from a relationship or isolation during the pandemic, stimulate the memory of these stuck emotions and are expressed through the nervous system and results in the feelings we experience. In fact, the amount and degree of the feelings from external events actually point to the feelings that may be held within ourselves.

Ricepaper: You faced a traumatic childhood and adolescence.  Can you share more about your experiences and how they shaped who you are and why you want to help others with your practice?

After entering into this world with a family of seven girls, when I was just ten days old my mother left me and my sisters behind to an emotionally and physically abusive father. Like in many Asian family’s my dad wanted boys, not girls. I tried really hard to keep my dad and my grandma happy. My ability to please worked well, unfortunately, my dad’s and grandma’s affection towards me turned my sisters against me and I was often soloed out. I was bullied at school. I didn’t develop a lot of social skills because I didn’t have a lot of friends and I stopped going to birthday parties because we could not afford birthday gifts. It felt very lonely and helpless. Even at that very young age, I thought that the only way to lessen the abuse was to please everyone. I got very good at it and made the Honor Roll all through high school.

In my teenage years, I was so desperate for love and attention, I did anything to belong, even if it meant giving my body away. My gut feeling told me not to go with that crowd and not to agree to do things, but I ignored my own feelings. Because I didn’t listen to my intuition, I was date raped twice and turned to drugs and alcohol to numb the pain and disconnect from the painful feelings. I suffered from depression and anxiety. I often wondered to myself, “What is the point of me being here?” and “Would it mattered if I stayed . . . ?

Well, because I believed my grandma was the only one who cared and I didn’t want her to go through the pain of losing me, I stayed. And I did well for myself, I graduated from university and became a registered nurse, married a loving husband, bought a house, and owned real estate properties together and we had a beautiful and healthy baby daughter. My friends told me that I have a great life and should be happy, but inside I felt down, anxious, and alone.

I learned to put a strong shell of protection around me and numbed my feelings and my body. I used alcohol to calm my nerves. On the outside of my shell, it showed that everything was good, I looked to be so put together and social, threw parties often, helped with everyone’s problems; but a part of me did not feel good enough and kept on pushing myself to do more for others at the expense of myself. Just to feel good enough. I constantly felt overwhelmed and unhappy with life.

Until the day my daughter turned 6 months old.

For the first time, my daughter intentionally hit one of the hanging toys dangling from the baby Einstein play mat. The community nurse who was sitting next to me said, “Did you see that?” and I responded bluntly, “Yah, kids do that”.

“But the reality was I couldn’t feel anything for my baby daughter. Not even love.”

So, if you’ve been struggling emotionally – perhaps feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or just lacking a true love for life and the world – I’m here for you. Sometimes you can’t see the problem because you’re still in it. If it wasn’t for that community nurse pointing out my lack of connection to my baby and awakening me to a new awareness, I would not have even known I was emotionally disconnected from my own baby. Essentially, I was turning into what my mom had done by emotionally abandoning my baby. This awareness activated a part of myself that said, “I will not do to my child what my mom did to me.” I knew I needed to start getting some help.

From that day forward, I spent tens of thousands of dollars on seeing various psychologists and counsellors, naturopaths, Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture in addition to regular massage therapists and chiropractors. I spent even more money on various personal development workshops in Vancouver and in the United States to really focus on mastering the mind. I spent a ton of time trying to figure things out in the mind and at the intellectual level, but I can tell you that the answer is not in figuring it out or doing more. The answer is to look within to feel and live from the heart.

Continue reading this conversation here.

Ricepaper Magazine is a Vancouver-based Canadian magazine which has showcased Asian Canadian literature, culture, and the arts since 1994.