Unresolved trauma is like undigested food in our gut. We need to improve our digestion to allow it to move through. How do we do that? We could eat healthier food in an appropriate amount, in a calm atmosphere and at the right time of day to optimize digestion. If we don’t and when we become aware of our gastric distress, we can still manage the effects. We could drink some hot water, go for a walk or do some gentle yoga. We have many options. Then we recommit to eating in a way that better supports health.
What is the parallel with trauma? Traumatic events happen and our nervous system responds by going into fight/ flight/ freeze. This can be a subtle numb feeling or intense. When we feel powerless or overwhelmed, we can’t fully be present with the experience. We check out of the present moment through dissociation (mentally leaving), projecting anger onto someone, addiction or being triggered into compulsive, catastrophic thinking. Processing the initial traumatic experience is blocked and then stored in our body as energy with the associated words and memories.
To heal trauma we need more than talk therapy. We need to work somatically, to feel the energy and sensations in our body. The Living Inquiries help us to undo the Velcro between thoughts and feelings in our body. They are the most effective method I know for this. Yet there is more to healing than an effective method and tools.
“Safety is not the absence of threat. It is the presence of connection.” Stephen Porges
We can’t afford to see what we can’t afford to feel. We can’t afford to feel what we’re not sure we’ll survive. The prescription for overcoming this fear of the trauma stored in our body is to gradually have the experience of safely being in our body. This can happen in so many ways – walking, yoga, breathing, warm comforting hugs and through deep relaxation practices.
It is the direct experience of being present within our body in a range of situations and with a range of feelings that gradually reduces the fear and instills in us the confidence to stay. We become interested in the sensations and energy in our body, especially when we’re triggered by someone. We see clearly and set up our lives to stay away from dangerous people.
We drop into the body and notice where we feel it. Does the sensation feel threatening? If so, let’s look at the words or images that give it that feeling. We notice there is space all around the energy. We attune to it and ask – why are you here? What do I need to know?
We learn to connect within. We attune to ourselves. We become kinder, less judgmental and more compassionate. As we fully digest past experiences, the energies in our body settle and they don’t come back to trigger us. We are stable, mentally strong and resilient. As we are not pulled about by the past, we are able to be fully present to ourselves and each other in each moment.