Most of my clients that have experienced trauma are not in their bodies. I know what it’s like because there was a time when I was not in my body either and it was a long, hard trek to find my way back.
Sure, I was physically present, but my mind was off somewhere else and I wasn’t aware of my feelings. I was absent and numb. I sought ways to remain numb and my response to anything difficult or challenging was to just disappear. This could happen through the use of alcohol or drugs or by smoking or eating. It could also happen in a seven hour movie binge or by reading an entire book in one night. Regardless of the medium, I just sort of energetically fled my body. It seemed to be the safest place to go. What really happened, though, was that all of those emotions that I wasn’t dealing with just resurfaced in a much larger and more frightening way. Emotions cannot be denied, and if we attempt to do so, they will do whatever is necessary to make themselves heard, including expressing themselves as illness and disease.
Eventually I realized that this wasn’t the answer. The first step in healing myself and now helping my clients to heal is to get back into the body. By being connected to our bodies and to the Earth, we can connect with our sense of belonging in the world and our right to be here. Grounding ourselves enables us to feel while also granting us the ability to remain stable and safe yet flexible at the same time.
Here are three simple ways to get back in your body so that you can FEEL your way into healing.
Breathing: This is really the easiest way to get back into our bodies but it is probably the most overlooked. When we experience fear or stress we tend to start breathing shallowly, out of the top of our chest only. This creates more stress and anxiety in our body. The first thing to do when your emotions are feeling overwhelming is to check your breathing. Stop, close your eyes and feel your breath. Take a long, slow breath in through your nose starting down in your tummy and let it ride its way up to your chest. Now slowly release it out of your mouth allowing it to slide from your chest to your belly. Your stomach should rise on the in-breath and fall in on the out. Breathe out your mouth for the first two or three breaths and then switch to the nose. Feel yourself relax and allow the emotions to pass through you. For added benefit, you can place your left hand over your heart (in the center of your chest) and your right hand on your solar plexus.
The Hug Technique: I love this one! I just learned it. It’s taught to trauma survivors as a way of dealing with overwhelming emotions. It is simple yet highly effective. Take your right hand and place it under your armpit, alongside your left breast. Take your left hand and place it on your right arm, just above your elbow. Bow your head and close your eyes. Give yourself a nice hug and allow yourself to feel and process whatever is going on. Ultimately, just feeling the emotion allows you to step into the healing process.
Grounding: Allowing your chaotic energies to run into the earth and then pulling the grounding and energizing energies from the earth into your system can help to bring you back into your body while also providing healing. Stand barefoot on the grass with your hands down at your side. Close your eyes. Really allow all energies and emotions that no longer serve you to flow out of your feet and into the ground. Then feel the earth energies rise up into the soles of your feet and travel up your body. Do this for five minutes every day until you begin to notice a shift. You will feel more centered and present in your body immediately and the effect will increase with practice.