Effective Trauma Resolution is a Physical Affair…

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Lois Grasso

scary dog faceWhen you experience something overwhelmingly scary and threatening, your body generates a truckload of energy so that you can have the resources to survive. You have three possible ways to react: fight, flight (run away), or freeze. If you fight or run and get away from the threat, you have expressed the fear energy, often by turning it into anger. Doing so empowers you, by giving you the energy to fight or run for your life.

Studies show that those who successfully and actively escape a threat usually don’t develop the same degree of symptoms of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) if at all.

If, on the other hand, you realize that fighting or running will make things worse, or you try and it does make things worse, chances are you’ll then go into freeze mode and therefore experience yourself as powerless. This leads to PTSD and lots of related problems, such as anxiety disorders, depression, panic attacks, paranoia, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, chronic illness or chronic fatigue.

For example, my client Rachel’s father (see previous post) was her abuser. She was often tied down and, as a child, had no where to run afterwards — no way to sustain herself outside the family.  Her mother dismissed her complaints and made it clear she was not available to help. Rachel had no choice but to freeze and dissociate from the torture. So the energy of overwhelming fear became frozen and trapped in her body, mind and involuntary nervous system.

Like a wild animal trying to escape a small cage, this trapped energy can be very damaging to the body and mind. It can cause severe mental stress in the form of panic attacks, anxiety, depression, hyper-vigilance and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and even more severe mental illness, due to the inability to trust anyone.

Unresolved trauma can also cause physical stress and illness. In fact, I would wager that a dominant portion of all mental and physical disease in this world has its roots in unresolved trauma. I believe this is why Transformational Breathing™ and EFT are so effective. They resolve trauma at the core energetic level, underlying all physical and mental/emotional processes.

EFT and Transformational Breathing™ are body-oriented therapies that can cross the bridge between the conscious and subconscious minds, as well as allowing us to voluntarily access the involuntary nervous system.

We are moving massive amounts of energy through the meridians by tapping on acupressure points to stimulate the flow. At the same time, the deep, connected breathing pattern of Transformational Breathing™ generates a powerful circuit of energy that cleanses the body, mind and soul.

After a few minutes of Transformational Breathing™, Rachel gets into a kind of altered state, in which she shakes, trembles, punches, kicks and sometimes yells or cries uncontrollably. Many mental health practitioners would get nervous and try to calm her down, but these are natural responses to trauma. They are needed to move the stuck energy, so it can be pushed out (aka “expressed”).

As a Transformational Breath™ facilitator for 14 years, I am trained and experienced in supporting this process. It’s messy, but it works for most people and, contrary to popular fears, it does come to an end when the innermost being finds self-acceptance. Acceptance comes from me, at first, and eventually the client begins to give it to themselves.

These involuntary body movements and vocalizations are welcomed, accepted, even encouraged with my full-hearted support, appreciation, and TLC.  I like the way Dr. Levine describes this in his book, Waking The Tiger… “To move through trauma we need quietness, safety, and protection similar to that offered the bird in the gentle warmth of a child’s hands.”

Rachel often alternates between a quiet state and kicking and punch as much as her body wants to. No matter what, her feelings and expressions are honored and encouraged. Even growling, yelling and cussing are okay, as Rachel’s internal freedom to express anger slowly returns to re-empower her.

 

This natural trauma relief process is the key to pushing out (aka expressing) the chaotic, emotional dynamite of trauma, so trauma survivors can truly calm down inside. But only after being restored to their natural, self-empowered state of peace and balance.

“With this support and connection,” Dr. Levine says, “we can begin to trust and honor the natural process that will bring us to completion and wholeness, and eventually peace of mind.”

Know someone who has been traumatized in some way? Do them a favor and pass this along to them. This works for all kinds of trauma, not just sexual abuse. Of course, no one method works for everyone. But if this can work for sexual abuse, it can work for just about anything.

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