Something happened to you and you became numb. You stopped feeling. You took your pain inward and banished it to the depths of your mind. You did this as a means of protection. You thought it was an act of self-love, not allowing yourself to feel the hurt.You suppressed the trauma and the hurt became dominant.
But let me tell you this: exiling your trauma to the back of your mind will allow it to become a part of you. And it’s tender, the way it settles quietly into your body.
You will start to notice the body language of trauma: your body tightens and caves in. You fold your arms and tuck your legs to your chest and let yourself become as small as you can be. Your body will become afraid of its own shadow, afraid of the way its darkness takes up space.
The longer you pretend your trauma doesn’t exist, pretend it doesn’t still hurt, the more distant it becomes – but it will also get stronger too. Eventually, your hurt will swell. It will take up so much space inside of you that you don’t even realize it. And it will become nearly impossible to defeat. It will become louder and it will convince you that the trauma was your fault: what happened and how you dealt with it.
This is the brutality of it all: you hold yourself back from feeling that pain, despite how crucial it is. You fawn. You tiptoe around it as if your mind is a minefield: you dodge the memories of how it felt and what hurt the most.
It’s complex, the very thing you’re afraid of is what you have to face the most. In its own twisted way, this “armor” is self-sabotage: by letting your trauma make a home in your body, you’re keeping yourself from true healing.
You have to return to the war. You have to let yourself feel it all: the righteous anger, the quiet grief. Bring the trauma to the forefront of your brain and fight it. Don’t let yourself be numb to it forever. By confronting it, you can then let it go. Don’t let yourself become numb to the trauma forever. Be brave enough to go back to the battlefield and face it head-on. Stare it down until it surrenders. Fight for your healing. Your heart. Yourself. Because you don’t really have another choice.
There is plenty of advice out there about how to heal from trauma and bring more self-compassion into our lives however we don’t often learn WHY we get blocked and how we can use that information to inform our healing.
The 10 key concepts of Resonant Healing are the foundational neuroscience concepts for healing. Understanding these 10 concepts gives us a scaffolding of understanding to stand on as we observe our challenges, and gives us a clear path to heal.
Concept #1: Resonance | Concept #2: Self-Warmth | Concept #3: Neuroplasticity | Concept #4: Default Mode Network | Concept #5: Left and Right Hemispheres | Concept #6: Body-Centered Awareness | Concept #7: Vagus Nerve | Concept #8: Traumatic Experiences Are About Loss of Accompaniment | Concept #9: Time-Travel Empathy | Concept #10: Circuits of Emotion + Motivation
Dive into the 10 Concepts of Resonant Healing
Concept #1: Understanding Resonance
Did you know that our bodies actually vibrate with emotion? And that each emotion has a different vibration? This insight comes to us through the work of Jaak Panksepp and his research into the mammalian circuits of emotion and motivation.
To truly understand resonance, we must understand that our bodies ACTUALLY vibrate with emotion. Anger moves us in a different way than sorrow. We are taken into emotional states that have qualities that are recognizable to other humans… as long as those humans are not stopping their vibrations in response to others.
There’s a diagnostic tool we can use to see where our own resonance is blocked: begin to notice when and why we step out of relationship (with ourselves, and others) and when we cannot be in the fullness of a particular emotion. For example, if we start to grieve and immediately become angry, this means we are unable to resonate with grief, and we have learned that it’s easier for us to respond with anger, rather than feel grief.
One major way humans stop their own resonance is shifting into the left-hemisphere. We do this when there is not enough capacity for self-regulation to be with the particular emotion that you, or another person is feeling or expressing. When we have emotions that we cannot resonate with, when our bodies can’t hold it in resonance, we shift out of relationship in order to care for our systems, to not get “flooded” with an emotion that we don’t want to feel.
Concept #2: The Healing Power of Self-Warmth
Have you ever noticed little humans (or even non-human mammals) who carry tiny stuffed animals or blankets with them everywhere they go? This is often a strategy for little ones to get an additional level of warmth that they aren’t receiving from their primary care-givers. If humans have failed us completely, it is often small non-human animals (including stuffed animals or inanimate soothing-objects) that can support us in having some sense of togetherness, warmth, and affection.
Certainly, we can receive warmth in other ways–whether from animals, plants, experiences of the divine–yet the experience of receiving warmth from humans is hugely important in order for our skull-brains to develop the unshakable self-warmth of secure attachment, through building fibers of attachment in the brain.
In the western world there are many religious traditions and that tell us that self-warmth is selfish or sinful. We are often encouraged to project warmth outward, as compassion for others or for the world, but warned that we shouldn’t turn “too much” of this warmth toward the self.
In my humble opinion, there is an absence of understanding in western culture about how deeply harmful loneliness is for humans, and how important it is that we learn to cultivate warmth for ourselves. I call this nervous system state of not receiving enough warmth, and not having internalized a loving resonating self-witness, “alarmed aloneness.”
Understanding how and why human brains need warmth is a key reason why resonant healing works to repattern our nervous systems toward kindness and resilience.
Self-warmth is about the integration and internalization of experiences of affection, presence, understanding, and kindness that come to us from others. If we haven’t received this as young ones, we can build it ourselves through cultivating our resonating self-witness.
Concept #3: Neuroplasticity is Real
Why is understanding how the brain works important to healing? Because neuroplasticity is the foundation for hope. And for faith in neural change and healing. Neuroplasticity has a number of elements – it is the science that shows us that neurons can find brand new connections between their branches, new receptors for neurotransmitters, and there can be strengthened connections through practice.
Our brains can actually change; we can grow our capacity for self-warmth and resonance, no matter how old we are, no matter what our genetic predisposition, and no matter how broken we feel. Neuroplasticity is real.
Concept #4: The Default Mode Network
Scientists are still discovering the secrets of the default mode network, but we know for sure that the DMN is responsible for integrating new experiences. It’s a bit like a tailor that stitches together our sense of self: who we are and how we are related to each other socially, it tells us the story of who we are. The DMN is our “inner voice” — the voice of the DMN is essentially our sense of self being reflected back to us as a voice that tells us about ourselves, what we’ve forgotten, how we have erred, etc.
The DMN is hugely affected by trauma. The more a person has experienced trauma, the more shaming and self-critical our default mode network becomes. Psychologists sometimes refer to this kind of self-criticism as “negative self-cognition” and we now know through fMRI brain scans, that this voice becomes critical through experiences of trauma. We are not born that way, our experiences of trauma can make our brains more critical and difficult to be with.
Surprisingly, the DMN is actually trying to help us. It tries to sew us together so we know how we experience ourselves in the world, based on what we’ve learned about who we are and what we deserve. It tries to keep us safe, to never be surprised again, to never make mistakes again.
Learning how to heal a cruel and fragmented DMN through resonance is a key concept to building a more cozy brain. But first, we need to understand that we make sense. Our DMN attacks us because it’s trying to help, but it needs to learn new stories.
Concept #5: The Left and Right Hemispheres
For the left hemisphere, other living beings are tools instruments. For the right hemisphere, people are souls, each holding knowledge and wisdom, and what is important is how the collective moves and holds each of our unique voices.
The left-hemisphere cares most about what we are getting done. Checking off our to-do list.
The right hemisphere cares most about how we are received and connected to others. How many other people in this room are connected to me? How can I contribute and belong in this complex ecosystem?
A key piece of understanding the differences between the hemispheres is in body-centered awareness – we find enormous treasures and meaning when we witness emotion through the body. Another reason we pay attention to the body, is that that’s how we know we are in the right hemisphere. The integrated body map lives here in the right-hemisphere, it has the capacity to decode the messages that are coming, to give them emotion words, and to understand a little bit of the deep-longings that are at the seat of deep emotion.
The left hemisphere has little ability to connect action and consequence on its own. Emotions are just inconveniences, they get in the way, they give us stomach aches, they are immaterial and just need to stop. Until it is introduced to the right hemisphere, the left hemisphere doesn’t know or understand the great gifts our emotions and bodies can offer us in accomplishing our dreams.
We have choice in how we live and perceive the world to whatever extent we have received resonance.
Concept #6: Body-centered Awareness
There are several reasons why we might have our bodies closed. We can learn this habit from our parents. And/or from really difficult things that have happened to us and have contributed to our default mode networks becoming lacerating, which then can prevent us from accessing our body’s sensations.
(As an aside, this is why constellations are so beautiful, we get to be somebody else, but in our own body, allowing our bodies to safely experience intense emotions that are not ours. Like doing body-centered awareness push-ups!)
Concept #7: Understanding the vagus nerve
Perhaps you’ve heard of polyvagal theory, the work of Stephen Porges, fight-flight-freeze—etc? The vagus nerve is a huge bundle of nerve fibers that runs from our pelvie to our head and controls much of our lived experience and our perceived sense of safety and belonging, especially in terms of how we relate to other humans.
The term “ventral vagal” refers to the state of our nervous system that we are in when we have a sense that we are safe and we matter. Especially in western cultures, we tend to believe that the brain in the skull is all-knowing and in charge, controlling everything, including knowing when we are safe or not. But actually, only 10% of the vagal nerve fibers run downward; 90% of the fibers run UP to the skull brain from the body, giving us critical information about the world and what is safe (and what isn’t.)
What this means is that we can’t actually tell ourselves what to feel. We can be present, decode, hold and resonate with what to feel, but we can’t tell ourselves to be happy, when we are sad. If we’re neutral, in social engagement, relaxed and self-regulated, we can actually invite ourselves into a different state of consciousness. But not when we’re activated.
When we have a neuroception of safety in our vagal nerve, our body shifts – we see more clearly, we hear more clearly, we decode, understand and we have a sense of both physical and emotional safety. Emotional safety is required for full functioning of humans. Understanding how the vagal nerve works is key to having compassion and understanding for experiences of fear, fight and flee, and freeze that occur without the thinking brain.
Concept #8: Trauma is about loss of accompaniment
Trauma isn’t not necessarily a house fire, an earthquake, a car accident, it’s not necessarily abuse or neglect. What determines if something is trauma is to what extent we are accompanied by warm-understanding during or after a traumatic experience.
Trauma leaves traces in the brain because memories that are difficult—-those that create alarm and are not resolved, where we move through social engagement into immobilization—remain as trauma-knots in human memories. The amygdala has the power of super-glue with memory, and when it grabs a trauma memory, it keeps it forever in present time! It keeps it here in the present in order to preserve our lives and make us safe. It wants us to learn from our experiences so it keeps them fresh, creating bubbles of trauma, the hell of the mean default mode network.
Understanding trauma means understanding that it’s not the event itself that creates trauma. It is how alone we were in it.
Concept #9: Time-traveling with Resonance
When we have traumatic experiences where we are not accompanied, the amygdala super-glues everything about the experience together and stores those memories in present time. It does this so that those experiences of terror/fear will help us to NEVER experience that thing again. Trauma is our brain’s way of trying to keep us safe by remembering all the times we didn’t feel safe so that we can avoid them again in the future.
While this is a hellish thing, to be always present with our feats from the past, this means that the DMN is eternally available for resonance. This is very hopeful! When we are resonating with experiences from the past, time-traveling with empathy to our younger selves, we are bringing resonance and self-warmth, leveraging neuroplasticity to change and organize the right hemisphere, create more body-centered awareness,and moving our vagus nerve into social engagement, so that we become the full people we are.
We can’t really know ourselves until we experience ourselves in a neuroception of safety. Moving knots of memory from implicit, amygdala-held memories, to explicit, hippocampus-held experiences, we’re able to time-stamp and contextualize the things that we have lived through.
Concept #10: Circuits of Emotion and Motivation
Understanding emotional circuitry is a huge piece of beginning to untangle the webs of trauma that keep us stuck.
If there is one thing I could impart to you it would be this; when life becomes unbearable and all you want to do is close down and shut the world out, when grief and trauma do everything in their power to break you, let them break you open instead. Fight to stay cracked wide. Let it in, everything. You cannot imagine the bounty that is on the other side of the mountain. Our greatest lessons are in the shit. Our biggest blessings are on the other side of fear. There will be times, many of them, when you fail at this. And to that I say good. Do so spectacularly. Do it thoroughly and with conviction. The greatest warriors get beaten down and they get back up and they don’t hide their failures. They turn them into fuel and ferocity. They use it to stoke their fire until it is a blazing inferno.
So let it all pour in. Let it fill every bit of you until you could burst with it. Let it devour you whole. Let it light you ablaze and let it burn everything down. And when you are nothing but smoldering ruin, rise from the ashes like the phoenix you are. Reforged and battle born. You are tempered steel now. You have more bend in you than break. Life does indeed have the power to crush you, but only you get to decide to remain dust or be remade. I hope you choose transformation. I hope you choose the sacred alchemy of your soul. I hope you lean into all of it. I hope you learn just what kind of warrior lives in you. And should life grant us the gift of crossing paths, I hope to see a tempest looking out through your eyes.
Trauma is anything that is too intense for the nervous system to process in the moment.
Does this sound all too familiar? You’re going about your day when something catches you off guard. In a flash, your body comes alive with energy, your head is foggy, your thoughts spin, and your emotions feel huge. Shame or fear may overtake you. You want to lash out in anger, hide, or simply run away. Or you might feel frozen in place, like you can’t make decisions or even move.
Common Symptoms of Trauma
One of the best ways to know if you’ve gone through trauma is to look at your symptoms. While there are many trauma symptoms, and everyone experiences trauma somewhat differently, here are some of the most common symptoms:
Intrusive thoughts of the event
Avoidance of activities or places that trigger memories of the event
Lack of interest in pleasurable activities
Fatigue and exhaustion
Changes in eating and sleeping habits
Aches and pains throughout the body
Shame (a feeling that you are damaged or bad)
Denial that certain events happened
Always on the lookout for potential danger
Taking too much responsibility for others
Obsessive and compulsive behaviors
Detachment from other people and emotions
Why Trauma Matters
You might say, why do we need to call it trauma? The bad experience is over, so why focus on it? Yet, there are important reasons we must recognize trauma for what it is:
We can’t heal from something that remains undiagnosed. If you broke your arm but are calling it a sprain, you’ll never set the bone. If you know you’ve experienced trauma, you can get treatment specifically designed to heal it.
It helps us understand ourselves. When we can see that our reactions aren’t part of a constellation of symptoms, we start to understand ourselves in a more holistic way, which invites self-compassion, another important component of healing.
That which we keep inside festers. When we realize we’ve gone through something that’s still affecting us, we can start discussing it with safe people (or a therapist). This is the precursor to healing.
Are Highly Sensitive People More Susceptible to Trauma?
In a word, yes. As highly sensitive people, our nervous systems are more finely tuned than those of non-HSPs. This means we respond to all stimuli in a stronger way, including traumatic experiences.
When we have positive experiences, we have the gift of potentially feeling more excitement and joy than non-HSPs. If we’re lucky enough to have a supportive and positive family, community, or work environment, we’ll flourish more than others would. Researchers call this concept “differential susceptibility.”
Conversely, when sensitive people have a negative experience, we may feel more profound fear and hurt than non-HSPs. And if we grew up in an unsupportive environment, we’re more likely to bear the scars from it. So, because of this sensitivity to our environment, we’re more vulnerable to being traumatized by our experiences.
Only You Can Say if Something Was Traumatic for You
When we define trauma as anything that is too intense for the nervous system to process in the moment, we can view bullying, being criticized frequently or publicly, or feeling chronically rejected or abandoned by a caregiver as traumatic. Other examples of things that can be experienced as trauma are:
The death of a pet
The loss of any significant relationship
It’s also important to take into account how long the trauma went on. If something distressing happens over and over (such as a chronic illness, neglect, psychological abuse, or living in a country in or under the threat of war), it often moves into the category of trauma.
It’s important to note that only you can say whether or not something was traumatic for you. Because our experiences interact with genetics, our nervous systems, and previous life experiences, what’s traumatic for one person may not be traumatic for another.
How You Can Start Healing
Are you ready to start healing from trauma? The first step is a simple but profound one: Recognize that you have trauma. Most importantly, know that it wasn’t your fault, you’re not alone, and there’s help for you.
Start practicing mindfulness and becoming more aware of your physical experiences. Many trauma survivors are disconnected from their bodies, so starting to notice your body sensations is crucial. Trauma-sensitive or gentle yoga can help you come back into your body and start experiencing it as a safe place again.
Practice self-compassion. Healing from trauma is daunting work, so you must approach it with self-love.
Develop safe relationships. Build relationships with people who respond to you with kindness and accept your sensitive nature.
Healing from childhood trauma is possible, but survivors need the right environment. Often, it is not until a child is fully grown and far removed from their toxic past that they have an opportunity to deal with the fallout. Some people never get to escape their abuse, and some people never get to a place where they feel safe enough to do the hard work of healing.
Well-meaning friends and loved ones who want to support survivors often end up doing more harm than good when they don’t first educate themselves on the effects of trauma. Pushing survivors into “forgiving” their abusers or telling them to “get over it” are some of the most common mistakes. Based on my personal experience as well as the journeys of many other survivors, here is a list of five things trauma survivors need in order to heal. By no means is it a complete list, but for those who seek to support their loved one, it’s a good place to start.
1. Distance from toxic people.
First and foremost, survivors of trauma need to get far away from anyone who creates stress and disharmony in their present environment. No other healing can take place until and unless the current environment is free from people who lie, cheat, manipulate, blame, rage or show poor impulse control. Opening up old wounds will only magnify the toxicity that is in the present. For many, no contact is the way to go, but not everyone can do that. One of the most important skills a survivor needs to learn is to remove themselves from anyone who stresses them out, and to do it without apology.
2. A quiet, calm environment.
There is a war raging inside the brain of a trauma survivor, and many struggle with PTSD or complex PTSD. Trauma survivors can easily startle from loud sounds or overly excited energy around them. Even a positive, but chaotic environment, such as a sports game or being around children who are playing, can cause extreme distress for many. Noise feels like static in the brain, and can quickly overwhelm someone dealing with trauma. A calm environment is crucial to feel safe. Some studies show that trauma survivors need up to two hours a day of total silence to decompress and recalibrate.
3. Gentle activity.
It is well known that exercise has many positive health benefits. For someone dealing with trauma, activity is an important part of the healing process, but it has to be the right kind of activity. Too often, competitive sports teams or other high-impact activities are counter-productive, and pushing a traumatized child to achieve in sports can be re-traumatizing. If, say, a survivor has a “rageaholic” father, the coach yelling from the sidelines will do more harm than good. Activity needs to be motivated by what feels good to the survivor, not what feels like a punishment. Individual, “personal best” sports, like swimming, can feel good, or activities that encourage the mind-body connection, such as yoga, are often preferred. The survivor must feel that she is in control of her own body and her experience. For trauma survivors, getting reacquainted with, and allowing them to choose for themselves what feels good to their bodies is an important step.
Trauma survivors are often dissociated or detached from their feelings as a coping mechanism that protected them from extreme terror. It is important for a survivor to decide for themselves what feels safe. It is equally important for any supporters in their environment to immediately honor whatever survivors need to feel safe. Do not try to reason or argue with a trauma survivor about what is safe and what is not. It’s their perception, not yours. If they don’t feel safe, support them to make whatever changes are necessary to their immediate environment. Allowing a trauma survivor to say the words, “I don’t feel safe,” is a huge step toward recovery. If you are someone they don’t feel safe around, don’t take it personally. If you want to support them, do whatever they need you to do to be a safe person.
A survivor needs the freedom to decide for herself what she likes and dislikes. It is extremely important for a survivor of trauma to not feel controlled or manipulated by anyone in her immediate environment. Child trauma survivors do not respond well to authoritarian, “my way or the highway” rules and regulations. Trauma survivors need people who teach them how to think, not what to think. Critical thinking skills can be life-saving for abuse survivors. When survivors are empowered to make their own choices, their confidence and self-esteem grows. Abusers are by definition controlling, manipulative people who twist facts around to suit them. Survivors of abuse need to be supported in reclaiming their own power.
If you or a loved one is affected by domestic violence or emotional abuse and need help, call Lifeline at 13 11 14.
When something happens that scares you, and then you do not ever get over that fear, you become traumatized.
Trauma is the experience of disconnecting with a fundamental source of safety. It happens most severely when our attachment is severed to our primary caretakers. But there is truly an infinite number of ways the world can traumatize you, and to varying degrees.
There are lots of theories about what trauma is, and where it comes from. Many believe that it is passed down physically through your DNA. Others argue that it is shared mentally and emotionally, through learned patterns and observations. Most commonly, trauma is believed to be an interpersonal experience we have in which we were challenged and then lacked the skills and coping mechanisms to rise to it. Instead, we fell.
No matter where it came from, if you have some kind of lingering trauma, you will know, because you will feel it. You will feel it physically in your body. You will feel anxiety, tension, fear, terror, sadness or guilt. It will be displaced. It will not have a clear, direct cause. You will overreact to certain things and even when a problem is solved, you will still panic. This is the mark of trauma.
Trauma is not in your head. It is in your body.
This is the first and most important thing you need to know in order to overcome it: trauma is a legitimate, physical issue. You store those emotions, energies and patterns at a cellular level.
Thankfully, we can use the ripples at the top of the water to trace back down to the problem at the bottom, so to say. You can begin to use your body to help you heal.
First, identify where the trauma is.
You do this by feeling into yourself, and noticing where you are tight, or tense. Our bodies harden in order to protect us. When we have a broken leg, our fascia tightens like a natural cast, so that we do not bend ourselves that way again. Similarly, when our hearts are broken, our emotions tighten, so that we do not let ourselves feel again.
Of course, eventually, we have to walk. We have to love. We have to experience life again. We have to slowly soften the pieces of us that are trying to protect us, so that we can move forward.
Healing trauma is not just a matter of psychoanalyzing it. It is a matter of literally working through it with your breath. The next time you feel yourself overreacting to some kind of stimuli, you will notice that your body is starting to tense up, and create a fight-or-flight response. To heal this, you have to force yourself to take deep, soothing breaths, until the part of your body that was once tense is relaxed again.
You will need to self-soothe in different ways. Meditating, breathing, drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, using aromatherapy or sound therapy or whatever else works for you.
You absolutely must work to take your brain and body physically out of panic, survival mode.
Second, reinstate a sense of safety.
You are traumatized because something scared you and you are convinced that it is still “out to get you.” This is what happens when we don’t face or overcome something difficult, we assume the threat lingers indefinitely.
The psychological aspect of trauma healing is that you have to literally restore the connection that was severed, in the exact same way that it was broken.
If you are traumatized about relationships, you need to build healthy relationships. If you are traumatized about money, you need to get really good with money. If you are traumatized about traveling, you need to travel again.
We do not find the resolution in avoiding these things forever. In fact, just underneath the fear we often find that they are the things we really want more than anything else.
Third, stop taking thoughts and feelings at face value.
Last, to overcome trauma, you have to stop engaging in psychic thinking. You have to stop pretending you are able to predict what will happen, you know other people’s intentions, or that what you feel and think is absolute truth and reality.
This kind of thinking is what takes a triggering feeling and turns it into a defeating spiral. You take one scary thing and make it into a prediction for what the future will hold.
You are not an oracle. You do not know what’s next, though you are always capable of choosing what you do now. Almost always, the thing you are most panicked about is a thing you do not know is happening for sure. It is usually an assumption, a projection, a fear turned into a terrifying potential reality.
You might think that trauma is something that other, more damaged people have, but that is not true. Everyone is traumatized in one way or another, but it is how we respond to it, how we ultimately grow and develop self-mastery from it, that determines the course of our lives.
Emotional healing Techniques: We cannot Heal Physically without Healing Emotionally
Many of us go through life experiencing a whole host of traumatic things. When we are young, there is an especially hard time dealing with any sort of trauma, whether it be abuse, the death of a loved one, constant bullying, or anything else that can impact our life. Childhood trauma itself is linked to so many chronic illnesses (source), but in our society this never really gets addressed. Either the child goes through general therapy sessions that really don’t help the situation or they outright get ignored and told to just move on with their life.
I’ve often read that children lack the ability to even emotionally heal from the traumas they deal with as kids. I really believe this because I have personally gone through many traumas as a child, and I remember never truly understanding why things were happening to me or what to do about them. We are just not mature enough to process the emotions that we go through. Because of this, our health can suffer because most will start to repress these emotions. And we can actually STORE these emotions in the body! Generational trauma is also something else to continue- pain can travel through generations until someone is ready to deal with it.
But when it comes to health, we are all individuals. Because of this biochemical individuality, not everyone will do well with the same form of healing. Here is a big list of healing modalities – do what speaks to YOU!
Somegreatwaysto help HEAL trauma
It wasn’t until I learned about minerals that I started learning about how events in our childhood could influence our health. In HTMA and mineral balancing science, it is well known that traumatic situations (especially long term and unresolved) can wreak havoc on the body. We start to get into that cycle of fight-or-flight that we cannot break out of and we burn through sodium, potassium, and many other minerals like crazy. Eventually, these minerals start to tank and we are left in physical burnout that can lead to illnesses such as fibromyalgia, thyroid disorders, adrenal fatigue, autoimmune illnesses, and more. The trauma creates a stressful situation in the body and uses up our nutrients, which leads to a state of illness. This can be something that happens directly after an incident or something that takes decades to build up. (source). Also, many of these minerals that we can become deficient in can lead to addictions as well, which further messes with our health and mineral balance.
Addressing your mineral imbalances can help to physically strengthen the body, which in turn will help you when you are ready to heal emotional trauma. Many people with severe adrenal exhaustion have reported that they attempted emotional healing techniques when they were still very physically weak and it ended up making them crash further. Depending on where you are in your health journey, you could be one that needs to work on building up physical strength first or you might need to start addressing the emotional before the physical side will even budge.
There are many HTMA patterns that are common with those with prolonged trauma. The most common thing we see is a calcium shell, where calcium can start to build up to extremely high levels (usually as it approaches 200 and above- normal levels are between 40-50). This can create a sort of defense mechanism, so the person dealing with chronic stress will be in an almost numb, apathetic state to help protect them from feeling all of the things they should be feeling during stress. Those with calcium shells eventually feel this shell crack when they begin to heal, and they might have bouts of time where they experience the emotions that they used to hold in.
Homeopathy is energy medicine and works deep to heal the whole body at once. This means physical AND emotional issues can get healed.
EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. This is a “psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences. Repeated studies show that by using EMDR therapy people can experience the benefits of psychotherapy that once took years to make a difference. It is widely assumed that severe emotional pain requires a long time to heal. EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma. ” (source)
Emotional Freedom technique is not new, but it has been garnering a lot of attention over the last few years in the natural health field. This method uses meridian tapping to harness your body’s energy to heal itself. Many people swear by this method. Doing EFT on your own can help too, but some only notice the benefit if they speak with a practitioner. YouTube has plenty of how-to videos too!
Retraining your mindset
For some people, it really is “mind over matter”. Creating a healing mantra can help immensely. Something easy you can remember and repeat to yourself several times a day or just when things are getting rough is good. Mine used to be, “I am happy, healthy, and whole.” When we are constantly thinking about our pain or stress, it really can KEEP us in that physical state of illness. In order to heal, we have to start thinking positive about everything: our situations, our bodies, the people in our life, and how we think (even if we don’t share our thoughts). Sometimes we are the ones responsible for breaking the chain of negative thinking!
Myofascial Release Therapy
Myofascial Release is a safe and very effective hands-on technique that involves applying gentle sustained pressure into the Myofascial connective tissue restrictions to eliminate pain and restore motion.
No matter how big or small, we’ve all experienced some kind of trauma as children.
These traumas can vary from having your favorite stuffed toy thrown in the trash, to being abandoned by your best childhood friend, to being physically or emotionally abused…
Inner child work is a vital component of the spiritual awakening journey because it reconnects us with a wounded element of ourselves: the child within. When we reconnect with this fragmented part of ourselves, we can begin to discover the root of many of our fears, phobias, insecurities, and sabotaging life patterns. This is where true healing and liberation happens!
I can almost guarantee that you’ll be shocked by what you discover through the process of inner child work. Instead of simply looking at a symptom of your pain, you’ll go right to the core to reveal when a fear, phobia, or certain life pattern firstbegan.
15 Types of Childhood Trauma
Firstly, it’s important to understand that there are many different types of childhood trauma. These include the physical (including sexual), emotional and mental variety.
Also, when childhood trauma is severe or repeated enough, it can result in what psychology calls dissociation and shamanic philosophy calls soul loss. The solution to retrieving and integrating these fragmented parts of our being is called inner work (and soul retrieval forms a part of this process).
However, not all childhood trauma results in soul loss — but it can result in a wounded psyche. This can trigger issues such as depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, phobias, destructive behavioral patterns, and even chronic illnesses.
Fifteen common examples of childhood trauma include:
Being hit or smacked by your parents/grandparents
Having an emotionally unavailable parent who withholds affection
Being “punished” by kicking, shaking, biting, burning, hair pulling, pinching, scratching, or “washing out the mouth” with soap
Being the recipient of molestation, shown pornography, or any other type of sexual contact from a parent, relative, or friend
Being the child of divorce
Being given inappropriate or burdensome responsibilities (such as caring for your parents)
Not being fed or provided a safe place to live from your parents
Abandonment (your caretakers leaving you alone for long periods of time without a babysitter)
Emotional neglect, i.e., not being nurtured, encouraged, or supported
Being deliberately called names or verbally insulted
Denigration of your personality
Destruction of personal belongings
Car accidents, or other spontaneous traumatic events
There are many more examples of childhood trauma, but I just wanted to provide you with a few to give you an idea of what inner child work deals with. It’s also important to remember that our parents weren’t the only ones responsible for provoking childhood trauma — our grandparents, brothers, sisters, extended family members, family friends, and childhood friends may have also played a part…
Inner Child Work andSpiritual Awakening
Why is working with the inner child essential on the spiritual awakening journey? The answer is that our deepest wounds are carried by the child within. These wounds create tensions, blockages, or contractions within our hearts, minds, and bodies. And when we’re contracted, we become trapped in a tightly-bound separate self, also known as the ego. (This can also later contribute to triggering a Dark Night of the Soul.)
As you may (or may not) already know, the ego is the source of our suffering as it creates the illusion that we’re cut off from our True Nature. When our inner child is stuck in pain, it fuels this contracted ego. And so, inner child work is a vital practice on the spiritual journey, for, with it, we heal, evolve, and awaken.
Whatis Inner Child Work?
This leads us to explore the definition of inner child work:
Inner child work is the process of contacting, understanding, embracing, and healing your inner child. Your inner child represents your first original self that entered into this world; s/he contains your capacity to experience wonder, joy, innocence, sensitivity, and playfulness.
Unfortunately, we live in a society that forces us to repress our inner child and “grow up.” But the truth is that while most adults physically “grown-up,” they never quite reach emotional or psychological adulthood. In other words, most “grown-ups” aren’t really adults at all. This leaves most people in a state of puerile fears, angers, and traumas that fester away in the unconscious mind for decades.
When we deny and snuff out the voice of the child within we accumulate heavy psychological baggage. This unexplored and unresolved baggage causes us to experience problems such as mental illnesses, physical ailments, and relationship dysfunction.
In fact, it could be said that the lack of conscious relatedness to our own inner child is one of the major causes of the severe issues we see in today’s society. From the brutal way we treat the environment, to the cruel way we talk to ourselves, we have become completely separated from our original innocence.
5 Simple Ways to Work With Your Inner Child(to Heal Trauma)
One thing: learning to work with your inner child isn’t about becoming childish again, it is about reconnecting with your childLIKE side.
In other words, there is a big difference between being childish and childlike.
Being childish can be thought of as behaving in an immature or naive way. Being childlike on the other hand can be thought of as a state of purity and innocence.
We all have the capacity to experience our original innocence; that period in our lives when we saw the world with openness and wonder.
To remove the guilt, shame, fear, hatred, self-loathing, and anger that we carry within us, we have to heal the child within. To do this, we must earn the trust of our inner child through love and self-nurturing.
Here are 5 of the most powerful ways to perform inner child work (please note: for grammatical consistency, I will be referring to the inner child with the pronoun ‘she’ – although this term applies to all genders or lack thereof):
1. Speak to your inner child
Acknowledge your inner child and let her know that you’re there for her. Treat her with kindness and respect.
Some self-nurturing things you could say to your inner child include, for example:
I love you.
I’m here for you.
I forgive you.
Make a habit of talking to your inner child. You could also communicate through journal work by asking your inner child a question, then writing down the response.
2. Practice the mirror gazing technique
Also known as mirror work, the mirror gazing technique is a simple but powerful way to reconnect with your inner child. This is a superb healing path to take alongside the previous point (or speaking to your inner child) as it allows you to open your heart in an extremely direct way.
To try this practice, ensure that you have some privacy. You need a fairly neutral state of mind (i.e., don’t attempt this when you’re depressed or stressed). Find a mirror, place a gentle hand on your heart, and gaze softly at yourself. Do this for at least five minutes.
You’ll notice that thoughts and even unexpected emotions come to the surface at first. Just let them pass. Don’t attach to them. See them as clouds in the sky. And remember, it’s okay to hold yourself, especially if feelings of grief emerge. Then, once you feel ready, call on your inner child. You may do this by speaking out loud or quietly in your brain.
Once you sense the presence of your inner child emerge in your eyes, say something kind and loving to this vulnerable part of you. For example, you might say “I see you,” “I’m so proud of you,” “I think you’re brave and strong,” or whatever appeals to you. Notice what feelings arise inside of you. Most essentially, take this as a key opportunity to practice self-love and compassion – particularly if difficult or intense feelings arise.
To finish this practice, give yourself a hug, and let your inner child know anything else on your heart and mind. Journal about your experience.
3. Look at pictures of yourself as a child
Go through old photo albums and rediscover what your younger self looked like. Let that image be burned into your brain because it will serve you well throughout the rest of your inner child work. You might even like to put photos of yourself next to your bedside table, in your wallet, or around the house just to remind yourself of your inner child’s presence.
4. Recreate what you loved to do as a child
Sit down and think about what you loved to do as a child. Maybe you liked climbing trees, playing with toy blocks, cuddling toy bears or eating warm porridge. Make time to include whatever activity you loved to do as a child in your present life.
Through inner child work, people have told me that they’ve connected to sides of themselves that they never even knew existed as adults. This discovery is truly life-changing. It’s important that you make a habit of this “playtime” and explore any embarrassment or silliness you feel towards it. It’s completely normal to feel a bit foolish at first, but it’s important to keep an open mind.
5. Do an inner journey
One of the most powerful ways to reconnect with your inner child to heal childhood traumas, is to do an inner journey.
For beginners, I recommend two types of inner journeys: those done through meditation, and those done through visualization.
To do these inner journeys, it’s important that you first gain the trust of your inner child through the previous activities. Once you have developed a strong connection to your inner child, you can then ask her to reveal what earlier life circumstances created the trauma you’re struggling with today.
How to do a meditation journey:
Connecting to your inner child through meditation is a passive process: simply breathe deeply, relax, allow yourself to witness your thoughts, and ask your question. For example, you might like to ask, “Dear inner child, when was the first time I experienced trauma in my life?”
Allow yourself to witness the thoughts that rise and fall within your mind. Your inner child may or may not decide to reveal the answer to you. Remember to be patient, loving, and accepting. If your inner child doesn’t want to reveal the answer, embrace that. It’s important that your inner child feels safe, secure, and ready.
You might like to repeat your question every now and then if nothing of significance arises inside of your mind. This process could take anywhere from a couple of minutes to 1 hour or more.
Tips — To successfully do the inner child meditation journey, you’ll need to have experience meditating. Learning to witness your thoughts can take a lot of practice, so if you’re not used to meditating, you might struggle with this technique.
How to do a visualization journey:
A more active way to connect with your inner child and earlier life traumas is through visualization.
To connect with your inner child through visualization, you must create a “power place” or safe place. To do this you must visualize a beautiful garden, or any type of place in which you feel safe, empowered, and whole. After entering your power place, you can then invite your inner child to speak with you.
Here are a few steps:
Relax, close your eyes, and breathe deeply.
Imagine you’re walking down a staircase.
At the bottom of the staircase is your power place or safe place. In this place, you feel strong, safe, and supported.
Spend a bit of time in your power place. Soak it in. What does it look like, smell like, and sound like?
After you have acquainted yourself with your power place, imagine that your younger self has entered, perhaps through a door or waterfall.
Hug your younger self and make them feel at home.
When you’re ready, ask your inner child your question, e.g., “When was the first time you/I felt sad or scared?” You might like to phrase the question in child terminology.
Await their response.
Make sure you hug them, thank them, and tell them how much they mean to you.
Say goodbye to them.
Leave your power place and ascend up the stairs.
Return to normal consciousness.
These are very basic steps, but they provide a good outline for how to perform an inner child visualization journey.
As children, we perceived the world very differently from our adult selves. Because of this, many of the things we presently assume never hurt us as children may have left deep scars. This is why it’s important to never make assumptions about your inner child.
Through inner child work, you can learn to grieve, heal, and resolve any sources of trauma you’ve been unconsciously holding on to for years. This can liberate you to live a life of true adulthood, emotional balance, spiritual maturity, and wellbeing.
I hope this article has inspired you to reconnect with your inner child. Tell me, what ways have you learned to heal the trauma from your childhood?
People often don’t realize they have formed a trauma bond. It’s possible that many of us have had at least one such relationship in our lives. The first step to breaking free is acceptance of such a bond. I wrote the following to explain what a trauma bond is and how it forms.
What Is Trauma Bonding?
Trauma bonding is loyalty to a person who is destructive. It occurs because of cycles of abuse followed by intermittent love or reward. This treatment creates a powerful emotional bond that is extremely hard to break. People often don’t realize they are in a trauma bond while others outside the relationship can clearly see it’s destructive patterns.
These types of destructive attachments are known as ” betrayal bonds” and can take place in any context where a relationship can be formed. They can occur in romantic relationships, friendships, within the family, and the workplace.
The 7 Stages of Trauma Bonding
1. Love Bombing: They shower you with excess love, flattery and appreciation in order to gain your affection.
2. Trust and Dependency: Try to do everything to win your trust and make you depend on them heavily for love and validation.
3. Criticism: They gradually start criticizing you. They blame you for things and become more demanding.
4. Gaslighting: When things go wrong they tell you that it is your fault. They make you doubt your own perceptions and manipulate you into believing their narrative.
5. Resigning to Control: You no longer know what to believe but your only way of experiencing the good feelings of Stage I is by giving in and doing things their way.
6. Loss of Self: When you fight back, things get worse. You settle for anything to have some peace and make the fights stop. You lose all your confidence.
7. Addiction: You get addicted to the highs and lows. Your body is on a constant cortisol high (stress) and craves dopamine (pleasure). This creates a cycle of dependency that feels a lot like a drug addiction.
Signs of Being in a Trauma Bond With Someone
— A pattern of non-performance: the person constantly promises you things and constantly lets you down.
— You feel that you don’t even like or trust the person anymore but you cannot leave.
— Your friends and family have advised against the relationships but you stay.
— Others seem disturbed by things that happen to you but you brush it off.
— You have tried to leave, but it makes you feel physically ill, like you will die or your life will be destroyed if you do.
— You know the person is “sometimes” abusive and destructive, but you focus on the “good” in them.
— You feel protective about the person because of their “difficult past” or “childhood” and find yourself caring for them despite their abusive behavior.
— You know you are being manipulated, but you’re often in denial and block out or quickly forget bad things.
— The relationship is intense and inconsistent. You do everything to please them and are unconditionally loyal while getting nothing but heartbreak in return.
— They say things you want to hear to resolve issues temporarily— “I have learnt my lesson,” “I will prove my love for you everyday,” “Life is impossible without you.
— You are driven to the point of self-destruction and often harbor thoughts of self-harm.
If You Identify Yourself in a Trauma Bond, Remember:
The first step forward towards breaking free from a trauma bond is recognizing it, reconnecting with reality and deciding to leave.
Trauma bonds can occur because of childhood or unresolved past trauma. Because of its addictive nature it can be difficult to break free on your own. It is recommended that you seek the support of a psychotherapist or recovery expert.
This article is going to be jam packed with information about trauma responses, how it gets stored in the body and the necessity for talk therapy in CONJUNCTION with body – based therapies.
Although this article does not include specific examples of trauma from real life people, it may still be triggering to some. Pay attention to your breath, and if you find yourself tensing, take a break and come back to it when you are ready.
But please do come back…because trauma education is the number one thing you can do to gain a sense of empowerment and let go of the shame around completely natural trauma responses.
Are you ready?
Before we get into the itty bitty details, I want to talk a little about the concept of trauma.
I feel like so many people misunderstand the word trauma. And that is because of the stigma we have around mental health. And I mean…the fact that the psycho-therapeutic community as a whole has a billion different definitions of trauma…
There is a lot of misinformation, and the language around it has actually been found to cause more harm than good.
First off, I want to stress the fact that trauma is a completely natural response to highly adverse emotional experiences. Trauma symptoms are just your brain and body trying to keep you safe from it ever happening again. It is simply something we have to work through to live our most full lives.
So what is trauma?
My most holistic and all encompassing definition is by Mastin Kipp:
Notice how he states trauma is an experience and that it dysregulates you?
Well dysregulation is just a call to get back into a regulated state. Plain and simple.
We do that by having different healing tools in our back pocket. Ones that work for us, not ones that are forced upon us.
That means if you can’t meditate, then you don’t have to do it! Forcing yourself to meditate when you have an overactive thinking mind and haven’t cleared out the emotional “debris”, actually does more harm than good.
There are so many tools you can use that work specifically for YOU. There is no one size fits all approach to healing.
There does have to be the desire to heal though, because I’m not going to say that trauma work is all sunshine and daisies, at the end of the day it is WORK. You will look at parts of yourself that are painful to look at, feel into emotions that you have been avoiding for most of your life and sift through some heavy shit.
But at the end of it all, you will come out lighter, happier and freer.
I also want to be clear, trauma is not about the event, it’s about the individual perception of the event. Meaning, everyone can experience a traumatic event differently, make different meanings out of it and create different beliefs around it.
That is why trauma cannot be “measured”. It impacts everyone differently. Just like everyone has a unique DNA sequence, and unique bodies with different shapes and sizes, we also have different ways our brains and bodies process emotional experiences.
The current mental health model is lacking. It does not take into account people’s background, culture, how they grew up or the way they may process trauma.
There is no one size fits all approach to healing because every individual is so profoundly different.
That’s where Somatic Psychotherapy comes in…
The word Somatic means “relating to the body” and psychotherapy is regular talk therapy.
In other words… what you normally go to a therapist for. To talk about what you want to work on and intellectually process these thoughts in order to form better behaviors.
Many may have heard the term “we carry our issues in our tissues”…and science is truly backing it up.
For those of you that are in your heads a lot, hold anxiety and intrusive thoughts, body based therapy is especially beneficial because there is no way for you to “overthink” and run a scenario in your head a billion times.
Whatever we suppress gets expressed. If we have a lot of anger, and we suppress it, it’s going to seep out of us in our everyday life.
There’s a lot of freedom in “releasing,” and somatic therapy can help access the places in the body where we are holding onto things and experiencing physical, psychic, and emotional discomfort or pain.
It mixes body based therapy and talk therapy as one, treating the individual as a whole as opposed to separated parts.
What this means for the current medical paradigm, is that it puts the healing on the individual’s body. Meaning that since we all process and hold trauma in different ways, somatic therapy utilizes the wisdom of their body to unlock it. Personalizing healing to that person and releasing what needs to be released. You see, when trauma occurs, our bodies activate a protective mechanism. A stressor that is too much for a person to handle overloads the nervous system, stopping the trauma from processing
This overload halts the body in its instinctive fight or flight response, causing the traumatic energy to be stored in the surrounding muscles, organs and connective tissue.
Whenever we store trauma in our tissue, our brain disconnects from that part of the body to block the experience (this is called disassociation), preventing the recall of the traumatic memory.
Any area of our body that our brain is disconnected from won’t be able stay healthy or heal itself. It is thought that the predictable effect of stored trauma is degeneration and disease, in some capacity.
There is ample scientific evidence proving memory storage in locations other than the brain abound.
Three examples of the body containing extraordinary memory capabilities are:
1. Immune system response is enhanced by memory T-cells maintaining information about previous attacks by specific foreign antigens
2. Muscle memory
3. DNA/cellular memory possess a complex information storage system
When considering the vastness of our body’s intelligence, it is no wonder that our muscles and fascia are capable of holding memories
This is why verbal therapy alone isn’t enough to clear stored trauma, somatic (meaning body-based) tools are needed to help regulate the nervous system and emotionally heal trauma.
A simple example of how the body and nervous system have a mind of its own, is when you “logically” know something, yet your body reacts in ways that say otherwise.
This could look like a socially anxious person logically “knowing” they are safe and that the people at the party won’t physically harm them, yet their body is holding onto emotional trauma most likely caused by other people.
The body then increases their heart rate, their breath quickens and they start dissociating or entering into “fight or flight”.
It’s one thing to logically know something, and it is another to wholeheartedly FEEL it. Or in more precise terminology, for your nervous system to know it.
Believe it or not, we see this trauma response in other mammals as well…
Dr. Peter Levine, one of the originators in the field of somatic therapy, and author of the book Waking the Tiger, describes how after a hunt, female lions (who do all the hunting for the pride), wrestle around with each other extensively to help their bodies “complete” the stress response that comes from the hunt itself.
When you have that much adrenaline in your system, your body has to process it.
In a society where we hide our emotions and are GO, GO,GO, that just doesn’t happen.
We are all a little guilty of this, when we get stressed, we tend to hold it in—and then we go to coffee or alcohol or social media or whatever it is that we use to check out a little bit. But that cortisol, that adrenaline, stays in our system and the only way to release it is through movement, just like the female lions do with wrestling.
If we fail to release the excess energy, it stays in our bodies and wreaks havoc on our nervous system. Which is responsible for regulation.
You could look at the wrestling of the female lions as a form of somatic therapy. Things we used to do primitively to get away from a threat include running, climbing, jumping, swimming, shaking, dancing—all kinds of movement help to complete that stress response, to move it through. Otherwise, it gets stored somewhere
Somatic Psychotherapy not only takes into account what you are thinking, but it pays attention to what the BODY has to say; rather than whatever “logical” explanation the mind concocts. Since our bodies store SO much information, more often than not our bodies can tell us more than our thinking mind.
Why is this?
Because our bodies don’t have a perceptual filter. And sometimes, our unconscious mind will intentionally block traumatic memories from resurfacing to keep us safe.
But our bodies remember.
This is why combining somatic (meaning body-based) and verbal therapy can successfully bring a trauma to completion.
Somatic Therapy taps into your unconscious memories, past trauma and repressed emotions. It unlocks them.
Then talk therapy instills you with the development of the inner resources needed for navigating and responding to the traumatic experience.
The Somatic therapist is trained to help you do both. Tap into your body to release the trauma, then make meaning out of these experiences and integrate them in a way that allows you to live a lighter, anxiety-free life.
Some forms of somatic therapies include: Breathwork, certain bodywork styles, trauma-informed yoga, and embodiment practices.
Just please make sure you do your research, read reviews and make sure you feel SAFE with them. Always ask if the facilitators if they are trauma-informed and how long their credentialing program was for.
Lastly, before you do any of this work, Three things are necessary for the body to release stored trauma:
The inner resources to handle the experience that were not in place when the experience originally occurred. Also, this can be an expanded state of awareness as breathwork induces. If you don’t feel like you have any inner resources or tools in your back-pocket, I recommend you see a somatic psychotherapist or see a regular therapist in conjunction with your somatic practices.
Space for the traumatic energy to dissolve into when released. Being full of tension and stress does not allow the necessary spaciousness for the stored trauma to move.
Reconnection of the brain with the area of the body where the trauma is stored. (i.e Full Embodiment)
For all of this to even start occurring, a sense of safety has to be present.
Safety is the key
If we don’t feel safe in the world, we can’t fully engage with another person—be it a friend, family member, lover, or therapist.
On a physiological level, if we don’t feel safe, our body won’t function optimally, our nervous system is running haywire and there is no room for growth or expansion because your body is just trying to survive. We want to get you to a state of THRIVING. Not just surviving.
So, if you’re experiencing anxiety—or you’re stressed or depressed—any of the emotions that society deems as “bad”, really what it comes down to is that physiologically, you don’t feel safe.
And when you’re not feeling safe, coming to a place where you can feel safe within, is the most important thing for healing.
Again, this could be different for everyone, so trying out different regulation practices until you find one that’s right for you is so important.
Wow that was a mouthful! Lol
I do hope this article helped clear up any questions you may have around somatics, trauma, and the mind + body connection.
Also, always feel free to send me a DM on instagram or shoot me an email if you have any questions. I’m here to help.