You can free yourself and heal from the residual effects of hurt and trauma
“Trauma is what happens inside us as a result of what happens to us. The effect of trauma is that we disconnect from ourselves, the present moment, and our sense of value.” Trauma expert, Gabor Maté MD
The Stillpoint Method of Healing Trauma has Two Cornerstones
One: Understanding and Reducing Our Fear Response
People have a range of normal responses to ordinary trauma, the pain and sorrow of human life, and some people also know “Big T” Trauma. This method is rooted in modern neuroscience and the 5,000 year old tradition of yoga meditation. We begin with understanding the basics of trauma, how it works in your mindbody, and how it heals. Looking at our lives and beliefs through a trauma lens helps to reassure us that we are not fundamentally broken, that there are ways to heal from past hurt, and that healing is possible for all of us.
We are evidence based and our survival brain remembers danger from past experiences
We have a negativity bias or a “safety first” imperative which causes us to notice and react to danger at all costs
This is how our system is meant to work as it evolved to protect us
A common form of protection is that we disconnect from ourselves, our sense of value and the present moment, and often we turn against ourselves
Our primitive brain has not kept up with the conditions and threats of modern life, which are more social and less “tigers behind bushes”.
Our survival systems activate into flight/fight/freeze/fawn when we sense danger
We store past hurts in the present tense and we are hijacked or “flashed back” into feelings of shame and powerlessness that we experienced as a child
A lack of connection, protection or inclusion in family and community is a survival level threat, especially to a child
“Good enough” parenting with a repair to restore connection after a breach is protective for a child’s sense of confidence and brain development
Childhood strategies and beliefs continue and we lash out or we numb out through binge-watching Netflix, video games, or we abuse food, alcohol and other drugs
We can use present moment mindfulness to bring our resourced, adult self back to reassure our frightened child
This reduces the intensity and duration of these triggers or activation, and our nervous system has the opportunity to calm and settle
“Our brain is like Teflon for positive and Velcro for negative” neuropsychologist, Dr Rick Hanson
Two: Building Resilience and Strength
The discovery of neuroplasticity twenty five years ago helped us understand how to build new neural networks for connection and trust. We are not doomed to suffering because of our past. We are all capable of widening our window of tolerance as we build resilience and strength. These tools are most effective practiced regularly to build strength and so they will be available to you when you need them.
Understand how your nervous system responds to threats, and directly experience what allows your system to settle or down-regulate
Fear causes us to hold our breath – use deep, slow diaphragmatic breathing to let your body know you are safe
We store unresolved trauma from the past in our body along with associated memories and beliefs
Use mindfulness and relaxation practices to become aware of your body and soften tension
We try to improve connection & our survival by taking the blame for our parents, and this leads to false core deficiency beliefs (I’m unlovable), perfectionism, catastrophic thinking, and a mean inner critic
Learn to witness thoughts and use tools like tapping, tracking, tracing and focus shifting to break the trance that holds us captive in the past
Use tools like mining to locate and describe energy in your body and to know why sensations are here (hint – they are not here to hurt you)
Widen your window of tolerance and welcome uncomfortable feelings in your body
End the war of aggression, self-loathing, and learn to trust that your body is doing its best to keep you healthy
Develop new neural networks by focusing on positive experiences, connection and love for 30 seconds to “wire it in”
Through the Reverse and Utility Inquiries, bring forward the deeply held unconscious beliefs that cause suffering and hold you back
A lack of connection with our parents leaves us with the feeling of shame and that we are fundamentally broken and unlovable
We (re)connect with ourselves through mindfulness inquiry, self-compassion, kindness and being on our own side
From this base of connection with ourselves, our trauma heals and we are able to risk connecting authentically with others
“Safety IS the treatment. To feel safe, we need an absence of threat AND a feeling of connection.”
Dr Stephen Porges, author of the polyvagal theory
“Traumatic events destroy the sustaining bonds between individual and community. Those who have survived learn that their sense of self, of worth, of humanity, depends upon a feeling of connection with others. The solidarity of a group provides the strongest protection against terror and despair, and the strongest antidote to traumatic experience. Trauma isolates; the group re-creates a sense of belonging. Trauma shames and stigmatizes; the group bears witness and affirms. Trauma degrades the victim; the group exalts her. Trauma dehumanizes the victim; the group restores her humanity.” ~ Judith Herman, MD, Trauma and Recovery.
“Complex PTSD is a learned set of responses and a failure to complete numerous important developmental tasks. What is learned can be unlearned. What was not provided by your parents can now be provided by yourself and others.”
Pete Walker, Complex PTSD, From Surviving to Thriving
If you are in a crisis, use these orienting and grounding practices
“The nervous system expects and craves reciprocal, synchronous interactions. We’re wired for that. Safety involves connection, not just a lack of danger. A child experiences a lack of connection as threatening.” trauma expert Dr Gabor Maté
Learn and understand how the events in our lives impact us on all levels – body, breath, energy and thought. Experiences of abuse, neglect and feeling unsafe trigger our fight/ flight/ freeze /fawn response. This survival system activation generates a cascade of cortisol, adrenaline and other chemicals. Our central nervous system goes into a state of hyper-vigilance that can last for decades and we naturally seek ways to self-soothe and down-regulate our level of distress. Trauma and our survival instinct underlie addiction, compulsive and catastrophic thinking, anxiety and suffering. What we may see as failures on our part are actually normal responses to traumatic experience that served a purpose at the time.
The Stillpoint Method allows us to freeze-frame and look directly and safely at what is driving fear and anxiety. Associations of thought/memory velcroed with energy are seen and released.
Experience Safety IS the treatment with me. I work with people individually, in groups and during intensive retreat workshops. Detail here.
Join us free any day at 8AM Eastern for a 1/2 hour of free guided practice to down-regulate your nervous system, relax and breathe. http://zoom.us/j/645904638 Passcode: 397228
Click here for details on Women’s Healing Trauma small online groups: We need safe places to speak our truth, to be listened to, believed and experience the trust that grows from a foundation of kindness and respect. This group can be that for you.