Trauma is held in our nervous system and bound together in symptoms.
Focusing on sensations/movement/energy/feelings in the body begins to tease apart that bound up energy. Sensations lead us to the wisdom of the body and to releasing the trauma. The story of the body allows us to access the ways in which the trauma is held in the nervous system.
The verbal/cognitive story has less impact on the body but can be an indirect way into the trauma. We do less analyzing and more experiencing. We work with what is happening in the present moment
Focusing on body sensations and awareness has to be done in a manageable and tolerable way. Experiencing sensation needs to be accompanied with the support of the relationship with the therapist, and building resources and regulation of the nervous system.
Regulation is the way in which we stay in our window of tolerance. Through regulating our nervous system we can come out of being too activated or immobilized, and release the energy of the trauma. We stay regulated by the resources we have built up.
Resources are anything that helps us stay regulated. Some examples may be; relationship with your therapist/others, soothing gestures, anything that grounds us, music, images, pleasant feelings in the body, movement. Building resources that are particular to you is one of the focuses in therapy.
The window of tolerance is the place where you can stay with your experience even if it is painful without being overwhelmed and need to cut off from it in some way. When we do this ‘energy’ (often experienced as emotion) can flow through us and transform.
Being activated means that our fight/flight response in our nervous system has become energized. Heart beats faster, feel heat through our body, breathing becomes shallow, body tenses, feelings of anxiety – these are the common signs. Feeling overwhelmed by these sensation and emotions is when our nervous system is over-activated. Often therapy is focused on regulation to bring down this over-activation into the window of tolerance.
When we are immobilized with fear we have little response to the world around us, we have retreated, and there is a sense of giving up as things have been too overwhelming. In this state it is difficult to access feelings/sensations, feel ‘here’, connect with others, take action in our lives. We can feel spacey or unfeeling and cold. Here therapy is focused on regulation that brings up the under-activation into the window of tolerance.
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