In this video Pat Ogden discusses what happens in the brain and body following trauma. It’s content is very close to the ‘home’ of my own therapy practice.
The year that I graduated from the Integral Healing Centre, Toronto, in 1992, I presented a 7-hour presentation on healing trauma from the level of ‘felt sensation.’ Felt sensations are what we experience in the body versus emotionally or intellectually.
I discussed Pat Ogden’s work extensively along with showing sessions of her work with clients. Her video may be a bit clinical in its terminology…ie: amygdala, cortex, subcortical, frontal lobe, etc. but it’s basic message is that we are wired for survival. In a moment of threat where there is a perceived danger (be it physical or emotional danger) we are wired to act. The instinctual level kicks into action and responds. Then later, after the fact, we can get stuck in that ‘heightened alert’ mode, always looking for the potential danger to happen again. Our nervous system, emotional body and intellect is readying and preparing for return of the threat.
We may possibly loose our sense of trust, spontaneity, ease and flow in life because we fear letting our guard down. This vigilance is a bit like revving the gas pedal of a car that is in neutral. It will burn up the gas but go nowhere. This inner state gets us nowhere as well. We may feel fatigued, depressed, anxious, etc. all from a past (or many) past traumas we have experienced. This influences our ability to respond appropriately to current day situations. We live from the inner wiring of our past threatening moments. You may think trauma as PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) in war veterans but it is very common. In my line of work on varying levels of course, everyone in carrying a level of it in his or her body. All of us have past traumas shaping our present day behaviors.
Once these incidents are cleared from the nervous system and emotional body and are understood on an intellectual level, we are free to return to a state of ease and comfort in our skin. The past stays in the past and the present becomes freer and more spontaneous. Certain techniques can be very helpful in a moment of panic.
A conscious thought, a breath, an image that is comforting and supportive can make all the difference in the moment. It may stop an escalation towards stress and overwhelm. Each technique has its particular benefit depending upon what level the stress reaction is presenting itself from. It may be thoughts, emotions, physical tensions, nervous system jitters, etc.
If you have an understanding of what’s happening in the moment of challenge and what level it is showing up on, you can respond consciously with a soothing, comforting, reassuring response. This brings you back into your body in a calm, controlled fashion. It only takes some the knowledge and practice to get you there.