Audrey Jolly Therapy

Trauma & The Body - Part II

Posted May 24th, 2015 in Mental Health, Depression, Shame

Trauma & The Body - Part II
The year that I graduated from the Integral Healing Centre, Toronto, in 1992, I delivered a 7-hour presentation on healing trauma from the level of felt sensation. Felt sensations are what we experience in the body versus what we experience emotionally or intellectually. For example, one might feel tension or flutters, chills shakiness, tightness, stiffness, etc.  

These are 'felt sensations' versus emotions such as fear, sadness, anger, etc. These body sensations are felt in the physical body and may link to blocked energy or emotional trauma.

Through working with the sensation in a gentle, respectful way, emotion can be accessed and healing can occur.  Unresolved trauma from the past gets released and integrated. There is relief experienced along with the release of energy and emotion.

Also, very importantly, we come to a deep understanding of why we did what we did in response to the situation in the first place. The intellectual, emotional, physical resolution of the experienced is completed. It can be laid to rest, as it were and we can move longer needing to 'actively' carry the experience with us. 

Often we have had to shut down our sensations as a way of coping so our work in therapy is to open and reconnect to feelings and sensations in order to feel fully alive again. We are able to connect with our natural vitality, sensuality,spontaneity, joy, and creativity. 

In this video Pat Ogden discusses what happens in the brain and body following trauma. It’s content beautifully describes the heart of my therapy practice. Pat Ogden's 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 react. 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. We fear letting our guard down.  This vigilance is a bit like revving the gas pedal of a car that's in neutral.  It will burn up a lot of gas but go nowhere. This inner body state of 'hyper arousal' gets us nowhere as well.  We may feel fatigued, depressed, anxious, etc. as a result of past trauma we have experienced.  This internal state affects our ability to respond appropriately in current day situations. 

We live from the inner wiring of our past threatening moments. You may think of trauma and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) as something experienced mainly by war veterans but it is very common.  I experience PTSD symptoms in many of my clients. I would say most of us have some past trauma that is shaping our present day behaviors.

Once these traumas are worked with from the level of the nervous system and emotional body as well as understood on an intellectual level, we are free to return to a more authentic self experience of the world around us. The past remains in the past and the present becomes more fully experienced.

Certain learned techniques can be very helpful in getting us into the present, grounded and out of the past reaction.  A conscious thought, a breath, an image that is comforting and supportive can make all the difference in the moment.  We are able to control our escalations into anxiety, stress and overwhelm.  Different techniques offer different benefits depending upon what level the stress reaction is being expressed from.  It may be show up as thoughts, emotions, physical tensions, nervous system jitters, etc.

If you have an understanding of what’s happening in the moment of stress and what level it is showing up on (thoughts, beliefs, emotions, physical sensations) you can respond quickly with a correct inner response. This is a soothing, comforting, reassuring response. This brings you back into your present moment with a body feeling of calm and in control.

It only takes knowing some techniques, understanding how you, uniquely, respond to stress and what to bring to the moment of your distress. I can help you get there.


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