What is trauma?
Trauma and abuse are held as patterns in your physical and energetic bodies. When we experience traumatic or abusive events in our childhood or later lives, the central nervous system ‘records’ these events together with any other experiences we may have had at the same time. These can range from significant life events such as the birth of a child, a bereavement, or work issue, to much smaller events like doing the shopping, sitting in a particular chair, walking down a street or listening to music.
Later in life, when we may feel we have forgotten, or learned to deal with our feelings, small triggers which consciously or unconsciously remind us of anything that was happening at the time of the trauma, can lead to a repetition of the fear, stress and anxiety of the original situation, because the brain stores these memories together, and associates them with each other. Sometimes the recurrence of these feelings can lead us to feel we are out of control, or ‘going mad’. Feelings of lack of control tend to make us feel worse, adding layers to the original problem, and impacting our self image and feelings of confidence.
Several years on from the original abusive or traumatic situation, we may wonder why we struggle with life, why things just don’t seem to work out, and why nothing seems to make it better.
How does trauma affect the physical body?
When we are being shouted at, physically or sexually abused or when we experience extreme physical shock and danger, our bodies respond with the ‘fight or flight’ response. Muscles shorten, breathing becomes more shallow, the digestive system slows down and thoughts speed up. We may close down and detach from our bodies for self protection. When we are triggered by small or large memories of the trauma, our muscles and tissues take on the physical patterns that they were in at the time of the danger, even though there may be no danger in the current circumstances. For instance, a loud noise, the smell of someone’s aftershave or a particular piece of music can trigger the body to resume it’s defensive pattern. Usually the body becomes habitually set in this pattern. It’s as though the trauma is ‘stored’ in the body.
How does trauma affect the energy body?
The energy body extends beyond the physical body and resonates with all of our experience. When we are feeling healthy and mentally well, energy flows clearly through us and we can feel motived and happy, as well as relaxed and at ease. But the flow of energy can become disrupted during times of threat and danger. Energy may be drawn in tightly, or flow in an uneven pattern through the body, avoiding particular areas or over-energising in other places. For example if a person’s experience leads her to cut off from feelings, the energy may be diverted away from the abdomen and focused more on the neck, head and shoulders. This could lead to tension and pain in those areas, a ‘busy brain’, and a lack of focus. An excess of energy in the middle part of the body may be associated with a compulsive drive and ambition to be busy and succeed, together with difficulty relaxing and enjoying small pleasures. Losses, heartache and pain tend to cause a sense of depletion or collapse in the chest area, and a dragging downwards of the energy, making it difficult to ‘get up and go’. Over several years, the body may develop a complex combination of these different patterns. Because the energy and physical imbalance mimics the energy and body state at the time of the trauma, it creates the illusion that the trauma is still occurring, and the mind responds accordingly, with apprehension and fear.
How do Body Therapies and Healing help?
Body therapy, applied sensitively, re-educates the mind and body to understand that the traumatic events are no longer happening, so that the body and mind can let go and relax.
Over 25 years in practice, I have worked with a great variety of people, and developed a variety of methods for helping to ease and clear trauma patterns. As a Body Therapist and Healer, I use a combination of techniques to gently begin to unravel the old patterns which are disrupting your life. This process varies for different people as it depends on your own pace of change in your life, and whether you are ready for deep change, or need a more subtle and gentle shift.
Sessions involve a discussion where you can talk as much or as little as you wish about how you feel, and any background. I will ask you about other help or treatments you may have had, and whether you feel comfortable with touch, to establish which kind of approach would be most comfortable and helpful to you.
We can work with you lying on a massage table, seated on a chair, or standing. I often start with clients lying comfortably with a blanket. We can work with, or without physical contact. Techniques used will then depend on how you are feeling from one session to the next, the speed of change that is right for you, and what is helpful at that particular time. Here are some examples:
- If you have pain and tension in your body, for instance back ache or headaches, massage may be used to help to loosen the tension. Tui na (chinese massage) techniques are usually used, while you remain fully clothed.
- When I touch a client, physically or energetically, I start to ‘listen’ to the body through my hands, and feel the trauma patterns. If massage feels too invasive or direct, the session will be adjusted accordingly. In addition, you are encouraged to verbally feed back how you’re feeling during the session, if it’s appropriate for you.
- I will use my hands to connect with your body and help to re-direct the energy flow. This may happen by simply lying my palms on your body and encouraging the body to start to un-ravel.
- Safe touch is used at all times. I am directed by you and the session can be changed or stopped at your request. Using safe touch, you and your body gradually learn to receive the help needed at your own pace. This process is also used to help you to build up a sense of autonomy and control during physical contact.
- Working with the energy around your body, I will use my hands to clear, move and direct the flow. It can feel as if you are being cleaned, revitalised, or calmed.
- You may be encouraged to breathe, move or stretch, as your body learns how to change itself.
- If we are working with Bio-Energy Healing only, very minimal, or no touch is involved and I would be moving around you, adjusting and directing your energy with my hands.
- You are invited to share any thoughts or feelings that come up during, or between sessions, although this isn’t necessary if you prefer not to. For some people, speaking about an event or a feeling while receiving healing, helps to clear the associated memory from the system.
- As I work on and with you and your body, I use intuitive listening to respond to the changing patterns I encounter. As already mentioned, great care is taken to notice when the body needs a break, or to stop the process, as well as when some encouragement is needed. Encouragement could take the form of working slightly more deeply as the muscles begin to loosen, or giving extra compassionate focus to a particularly closed area, where fear may be held.
Working with trauma and abuse recovery normally requires a series of sessions. There is no set regime for the sessions as each person is different, but usually you would need between 3 and 10 sessions initially, about a week apart, followed by less frequent sessions. Other aspects of your life such as changing jobs or relationships, or moving house, are also taken into account, and we would decide between us the pace, timing and if needed, the cost of your recovery process.
This is a fairly brief summary of my work with trauma. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me on 07763 656138 or email email@example.com
To book a session, please text, call or email as above, with your preferred times.
Sessions are held in Mincinglake, Exeter and usually last 90 minutes. Fees are £50 per session. Please ask if you need to discuss reduced fees.