mwotw womb surround

Womb Surround

It was time to pair up for the exercise. 

I looked over at my friend A and caught her eye. 

I expected a nod, but instead she looked down, seeming nervous. 

As people started to split off into groups, someone walked up and asked her if she had a partner.

“Well I think Rachel wants to work with me, but I’m scared.”

I gave her a confused look.

“You just were part of the demo, and you had really high energy,” she said. “I don’t know if I can handle that much energy right now. I’d rather work with K.”

K, who was sitting nearby, nodded, and off they went, leaving me to search for another partner.

That’s when my body started reacting.

(And by reacting, I mean freaking out.)


Some context: A and I are VERY good friends.

I have ZERO doubt about her love, care, and respect for me.

We have a solid history of supporting each other to follow what’s true for us — no obligation, no resentment, total trust in our connection. 

Meanwhile, the other people in the room were all friends of mine, too.

Within about 10 seconds I had partnered with D, whom I also know well.

There was actually no problem, no threat, no danger going on.

But my body was telling me a different story.


Even as D and I headed to our spot in the room and set up to do the exercise, I could feel something in me collapsing.

A familiar twisty shame rose up my shoulder blades, and my solar plexus was tightening into a hard knot. 

My breath started getting shorter.

“She rejected me!” a voice was whispering.

And that’s when something incredible happened.

I noticed I was in a memory.


Some of you wondered about the retreat I was at last week. 

This is the best way I know how to explain it.

I was participating, for the second time this year, in a workshop called a Womb Surround Process.

It’s a form created by a man named Ray Castellino, and now facilitated by a few dozen people around the world. 

For 4-5 days, a small group (4-6 people) gathers with 1-2 facilitators and/or assistants.

We go slow, and we go deep.

Each person gets a chance to be skillfully held (emotionally and physically) for several hours as they name intentions and meet the obstacles.

The purpose is to contact, and start to heal, the preverbal wounds that so many of us carry. 

This trauma lives in our bodies, and can impact our lives in ways it’s hard to see until we start this work. 

This trauma can happen even to people with relatively “normal” childhoods and loving, capable, well-meaning parents. (That’s me, hi Mom.) 

It can stem from difficult births (including C-Sections), and from early attachment wounds, which are common in a society not particularly set up to cater to the needs of babies.

When these preverbal imprints are met skillfully, we begin to start to differentiate from them, and they stop running our lives so much.

Like what happened the other night with A.


Even in the moment of trigger, a miracle happened: I was able to KNOW that the strong reaction in my body wasn’t about A.

I totally trust our connection and her love for me, remember?

The feeling of rejection and shame was from some other time. 

A time that really happened. 

A time that was stuck in my body.

I didn’t need to know the story of that particular memory.

My body was clear enough: Something had happened, and this tightening was how I’d handled my experience.

As soon as I noticed I might be in a memory — that the reaction my body was having didn’t match the truth of what was happening in the present moment — it dissipated. 

I snapped back to right now. 

I felt fine, and had fun for the next 10 minutes playing with D.

Later I told A about the experience, and we laughed. 

Her “rejecting” me wasn’t actually scary, or even personal. 

But until doing all the work I’ve done with Womb Surrounds, I wouldn’t have been able to see or know that in the moment. 

My body was screaming drama at me in ways that I needed it to, once upon a time, to stay alive.

Now, I could make a different choice.


I’m writing this email because I’m in awe of how powerful these workshops are, and because I think our world would be a better place if more people got support to unravel these early injuries.

If you’re interested in learning more about this work — which is also called pre/perinatal therapy (PPN) —  you can check out the Castellino Institute’s nightmare of a website (I’m so itching to get my hands on it someday)!

Or hit reply and I can tell you more.

Presently yours,


PS – My friend & client Elan has a pretty solid page about Womb Surrounds on his website, with some helpful videos. It’s one of few pages on that site I DIDN’T write though, so it probably could be clearer 😉

This post was originally sent as an email to the Magic Words of the Week newsletter list. Every week, I share reflections on a word, quote, or phrase I think will help you thrive in your life’s work.

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