More about Trauma Healing
More about Trauma Healing
People often need help to find an inner calm, to come to a safe middle place. I looked for ways to heal the trauma in my clients and myself and explored many methods in order to develop my own way.
Derived from Tibetan Pulsing Yoga, the latest discoveries in neuroscience and Somatic Experiencing (developed by Dr. Peter Levine), this is a natural approach to the resolution and healing of trauma.
WHAT IS TRAUMA
When affected by past trauma you probably move between extremes:
Either feeling and doing too much, hyperactive and feeling raw
Or shutting down and feeling numb, feeling nothing, not able to do what needs to be done.
That is how we react when trauma still affects us.
In contrast, animals in the wild are often under threat yet rarely traumatised.
They have a built-in “immunity’’ that enables them to return to normal after highly ‘’charged’’ life-threatening experiences. An antelope that escapes from the lion that was in pursuit stands awhile and trembles. Then it rejoins the herd as if nothing had happened.
Human beings have lost the ability to ‘handle’ trauma in such natural ways. If you were chased by a lion and got away, you'd probably be a nervous wreck for weeks. Our task is to restore that natural ability to come back to a harmonious state.
We don't have to do it with a real lion. And you don't have to relive the pain or scream it out of your system. There is a gentle way of reaching to the core of our experience, moving slowly from the periphery to the centre in small and manageable steps.
Rather than re-live trauma or act it out again and again, we feel what has happened and allow it to pass through.
As our ability to tune in to the "felt sense" of the body develops, the survival fears that have stuck around for so long, keeping us in a state of agitation or anxiety, can be safely experienced and gradually discharged. The anger and the pain are released and transformed.
WHAT IS THE FLIGHT FREEZE RESPONSE
We work with fight, flight, freeze or collapse responses that are stuck in the nervous system.
When exposed to a threatening experience, humans respond by fighting back, by running away or by collapsing into a frozen or dissociated state. This is an automatic response.
When we become stuck in the freeze state, we space out and cut off or we can't remember our childhood and early years.
When you cannot protect yourself, when in a sudden fall there is no time to use your arms to protect yourself, or when you can't get away from the angry teacher or parent who threatens you, trauma results. Trauma is transformed when that experience is resolved.
WHAT IS DEVELOPMENTAL TRAUMA
One may respond to threat by finding support from friends or other helpers, having a chat. Then there is relaxation. Our first experience of such social engagement is learning to smile at Mum as a baby and feeling reassured and happy when she smiles back. If she keeps on failing to smile or to respond positively, that does create shock and may result in developmental trauma. Neglect and abuse will certainly create damage to the system.
When there is not enough love, when the baby does not fell cared for, the brain cannot develop certain functions. This leaves the person unable to bond with others. When home did not feel safe, we are unable to feel at home anywhere. Normally as adults we are able to reassure ourselves when things feel shaky. Developmental trauma leaves one unable to self soothe or self-regulate and afraid when others get too close.
HOW TO HANDLE AND HEAL THE FEAR OF NEARNESS
In relating this shows up when the deepest wish is for nearness and the deepest fear is also of nearness. It is felt in the body whenever you get (too) close to your beloved, you almost want to run away.
It is felt in the body and we meet it in the body, feeling the sense of separation. We learn that we can decide how close we want someone else to get to us, we create healthy boundaries.
Being held in a safe space, the fear of nearness begins to dissolve.
EFFECTS OF TRANSFORMING TRAUMA
Here's an example of traumatic stress:
I'm arguing with my partner, dealing with the boss or feeling depressed. My ability to comfortably manage these experiences is affected by my past experience. Suppose I had a teacher at school who humiliated me in front of the class. I couldn’t run away and I didn’t feel safe to fight back. I needed the support of a friend who wasn’t there. I felt ashamed and frozen.
Now, when my boss treats me badly I want to stand up for myself. Instead I feel numb and dissociated, I feel echoes of that frozen state I experienced in the school room. In that state, I still think I need the support and understanding of someone else. The nervous system doesn't know that I have grown into an adult who has the capacity to support and understand himself.
When such a situation transforms, one slowly finds feelings of hopelessness and numbness transform into triumph, self-empowerment and a sense of being the master of one’s own destiny.
Inner balance is restored, vitality and resilience to stress increased and the capacity to fully engage in life can emerge.
You come back to an innocent and natural state, where you have the resilience and the inner strength to enjoy life. That is what we are looking for.