Free online class Sunday March 3rd 11AM Eastern

Following the instructions to breathe and relax can be difficult for some people with a trauma history. We’re asking people to let down their defenses and feel.

Our brain and nervous system literally are shaped by our experiences. We develop certain positive neural networks when we feel safe and connected. 

When we experience danger, fear, anxiety or terror we go into fight/ flight/ freeze. When the threat is severe and we can’t escape or fight back, our breath may become very shallow and quiet. Our body “hides” through a parasympathetic nervous system freeze. Many people hold their breath when they experience threat. When someone is experiencing extreme anxiety or beginning to go into panic, practices like Box Breathingcan help break through that and restore our system to normal functioning.

It is helpful to be able to identify our nervous system responses and to know what practices will be beneficial in what situations. Relaxing our body and breath are necessary to heal our nervous system in the moment and from long term stress. Some people can’t “go there” immediately. They may need other ways to ease in until it feels safe enough to attend to the breath and body. Try one of the practices on this playlist.

Watching your thoughts is another core mindfulness instruction. We develop the capacity to witness our thoughts without being engaged in them. With crisis trauma (big T Trauma), people often experience flashbacks. Catastrophic thinking is common with all types of trauma.

Compulsive thinking grabs our attention. We might be drawn into re-experiencing a time when we were in danger or hiding to keep safe. We feel helpless and powerless. 

Catastrophic or what-if thinking is when we entertain the worse possible scenario. We have vivid images and it feels like a threat to our nervous system. The mindfulness instruction of staying with and noticing your thoughts is counter-productive here. We’re not actually noticing thoughts. We’re being held in thrall to fear and terror. 

We need to break the spell. As soon as you notice, open your eyes. Get up and move around. Instead of following catastrophic thoughts, we need to be firm with our mind. Our primitive brain thinks it is in danger in this moment and responds with appropriate alarm. Pick one or two of the Emergency Practices on this page. They will help your whole system to realize you are not actually in danger in this moment.

Control and avoidance are ways we try to cope with trauma responses and humans are incredibly creative. We form Core Deficiency Beliefs with the hope that if it is our fault, we can fix it and feel safer. Addiction to substances and processes/ behaviors are common. 

Join me Sunday March 3rd for a free online class to learn how to monitor your own nervous system. We’ll do some down-regulating practices together. There will be time for questions. Learning about and becoming friends with our own internal systems is a foundation to healing.

This class is free so there is no need to pre-register. Please invite your friends. Click on this Zoom link at 11AM Eastern Sunday March 3rd.

Trauma Informed Mindfulness
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