What happens in the silence, in the quiet, in the moments of non-doing?
Well, it’s pretty freaking hard to tell. Because WHEN do we experience moments of quiet and calm and stillness?? Even if you meditate, at least in my experience, it’s an experience of a constant hamster wheel of thoughts, from which I am continuously trying to redirect my attention. Not a lot of peace and quiet there some days!
This is where Somatic Experiencing can help.
I spent 4 days last week learning how Somatic Experiencing (SE) can help me, and how it can help me help you. Somatic Experiencing is a type of trauma resolution work. To understand why trauma resolution work is so needed, it’s necessary to understand what trauma is. In SE it’s described as anything that overwhelms the nervous system’s ability to cope. In today’s fast paced world, we are in a constant state of overwhelm. Here’s a fun fact:
“We are bombarded by about 74 gigabytes of information per day. Yet, we can only consciously handle 6 bytes (40-50 bits) of information per second. Our daily info load is more than what the average person of five hundred years ago would have consumed in a lifetime.” Rian Doris, Flow Research Collective.
When our nervous systems get overwhelmed, they can signal DANGER!!! even when there is no active threat to us. The nervous system can get stuck in a self-protection response that the circumstance no longer dictates. When this happens, it’s harder to be in the Here and Now, harder to have access to health and wellbeing. We can feel stuck.
So what to do!?
In SE work, you slow the felt experience WAY down, to give the nervous system time to tell its story (which may differ from the story our minds tell us). It looks like taking time to really notice: What am I feeling? Where am I feeling it? How would I describe the sensation? What colors, textures, shape does it have? Does it have edges? What happens if I just watch the sensation? And, as you experience the sensations, the practitioner is there to help you stay grounded and present by asking questions, by noticing if/when you start to get amped up, and by guiding you back to a safety.
I found that, if I am on my own, I just do not allow myself the time to stay present with what I am feeling and sensing. I feel too busy, too rushed, and the old, “I’ll do it later” thought takes over. But when I have a kind, compassionate witness sitting with me, really SEEING me, really encouraging me to take all the time I need, lending me their stable nervous system when I need it, it’s amazing the universe of sensations and experiences that I begin to notice. It’s a gift.
In this Beginning II training class, we worked with disrupted self-protection responses: Arrest response/preparatory orienting, flight, fight, freeze. If any of these self-protection responses are stopped before they can be completed (think about car accidents, falls, accidents, being hit by something, etc.), the energy mobilized by that response can cause disturbances in our bodies, such as:
- Hypo vigilance – You don’t notice threats, especially coming from a certain direction. This may mean you bump into stuff a lot, feel clumsy or accident prone. You may be unaware of space and time and may get lost easily.
- Hyper vigilance – You are hyper aware of threats, feel anxious, fatigued, can’t connect deeply with others.
- Jaw tension, holding fists, narrowing eyes, aggressive posture.
- Angry outbursts or lack of anger when the context warrants it, due to loss of relationship with the emotion of anger.
- Not really sitting in chair (ready to run).
- Constriction in legs, arms (bracing).
- Loss of connection with legs and/or arms.
- Nervous energy, sense of urgency.
- Tension in body.
- Feeling of not caring and that nobody cares.
- Feeling of being floaty, sleepy, groggy
Interesting, eh?? So many common experiences in our body could possibly be tied back to a traumatic event and an incomplete self protection response.
If this has piqued your curiosity, you can book a free 30 minute coaching session with me here. I am still learning (I have 2.5 years left of classes), and I really appreciate the opportunity to share this life-changing work with you and get some practice at the same time. You can also book a regular session here.
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