“Traumatized people chronically feel unsafe in their bodies: The past is alive in the form of gnawing interior discomfort. Their bodies are constantly bombarded by visceral warning signs, and, in an attempt to control these processes, they often become expert at ignoring their gut feelings and in numbing awareness of what is played out inside. They learn to hide from their selves.” Bessel A. van der Kolk
“The paradox of trauma is that it has both the power to destroy and the poser to transform and resurrect.” Peter. A. Levine
Unresolved trauma gets under our skin, literally. We carry the effects of this trauma in our bodies and feel the impact throughout our life. Trauma and toxic stress can cause lasting changes to our brain. Trauma can be defined as a psychological, emotional response to an event or an experience that is deeply distressing or disturbing and overwhelms our coping capacities. Part of the healing of trauma means having connection again with our own bodies. We begin to slowly and gently start the process of accessing our interoceptive world- and getting to know ourselves. A shift of focus inward, accessing the wisdom of the body to regulate the nervous system and better learn to stay within our optimal zone of nervous system arousal.
It is essential in therapy to begin to develop mindful awareness of the body, particularly in the midst of trauma processing. Compassionate, non-judgmental awareness of bodily sensations and feelings can help us to regulate and respond to emotional intensity by recognizing early warning signs of overwhelm or shut down and staying in our window of tolerance.
The incredible gift of this work is that we begin cultivating a more loving relationship with our body, and as we experience healing from the trauma, we find we are more open again to the happiness and joy we had been missing in our life. When we are forced, due to trauma to abandon connection to our body to survive, we also had to shut down from even from the good stuff. This work is a homecoming of sorts, leading you back to yourself.
“The big issue for traumatized people is that the don’t own themselves anymore. Any loud sound, anybody insulting them, hurting them, saying bad things, can hijack them away from themselves. And so what I have learned is that what makes you resilient to trauma is to own yourself fully.” Dr. Bessel van der Kolk