I have been seeing a somatic experiencing therapist, and all I can really say is wow. I’m left so speechless by the subconcious thoughts, actions and behaviours I have, and the emotional trauma and baggage I’m carrying around with me everywhere I go. So together, let’s learn a little about somatic experiencing, what it is and where it came from.
What is Somatic Experiencing?
The word somatic means “of or relating to the body”. It identifies where someone is stuck in fight, flight, or freeze responses, releasing stored trauma and restoring balance. Peter A Levine is the founder of this approach. For more information, please visit the website.
Why Should I Care?
You may think that all of this is great and amazing, but perhaps you haven’t experienced a significant trauma or been to war, so you might not be interested. However, I want to assure you that without a doubt, you have been affected by some form of trauma. It’s a frightening thought that this trauma may be influencing your behavior at a subconscious level, even if you’re not aware of it. This is something we all need to address.
Unpacking the Hidden Wounds of Childhood Trauma
During the first 7 years of our lives, we use Alpha and Theta brainwave states, similar to hypnosis and meditation in adults. This suggests that we are in a trance-like state, which makes us highly vulnerable and adaptable to our surroundings. Seemingly harmless events can become traumatic experiences with different interpretations.
For instance, as a child, you might want to play with your dad and his toys. But if he says, “I’m busy” because he’s working to provide for you, it can make you feel neglected and unimportant. Although the father is trying to care for the child, the child may not understand this.
Our hypnotic upbringing stores an imprint in somatic memory that subconsciously controls our actions. To reprocess the experience, it is essential to bring awareness to and somatically experience the trauma. Studies have linked early-life traumas, such as those measured in the ACE (adverse childhood experience) study, to negative outcomes in adulthood. These outcomes include self-destructive behavior, heart disease, obesity, depression, and suicidality.
So speaking more on my personal experience, what a session is actually like for me, when I see my therapist and try to somatically experience.
Connecting Mind and Body: Somatic Experiencing in Action
It starts off like you’d imagine any therapy session; pleasant greetings, how are you, and then to the juicy stuff. Even though I may feel anxious about the topics we’ll discuss, they usually aren’t what I expect. As I start talking, my therapist will often ask, “Where do you feel that in your body?” This question elicits a distinct physical sensation, such as numbness, a sense of something missing, or tingling heat.
Transforming Emotional Trauma Through Body Awareness
My therapist guides me to pay gentle attention to my physical sensations, allowing them to unfold at their own pace. Sometimes simply becoming aware of these sensations helps them fade and provides insights about actions I need to take or lies I’ve been telling myself. Other times, this awareness triggers intense and seemingly irrational emotions like heartbreak, detachment, isolation, and fear.
During a therapy session, I felt like a child looking at the world without any names, everything felt whole and less individual. Suddenly, I was paralyzed with fear. My therapist reminded me to stay present and keep breathing, and after a few minutes, the feeling passed. It felt like waking up from a strange nap, but I felt different, more confident in how I held myself and my posture.
My sessions may sound scary and daunting, and I won’t deceive you, they were. It took me just about all the bravery I had to go back and face those issues. But working on these issues, I’ve developed my ability to experience feelings I haven’t felt for years. Joy, contentment, even elation! And lots and lots of gratitude.
Overcoming Emotional Trauma and Regaining Control
In intense emotional situations, I can stay centred and in control of myself. This helps me create a force field that shields me from being affected by others’ emotions. I used to doubt intuition, but now I have no doubt in its reality. I’ve noticed improvements in non-emotional aspects, like feeling less tired, sleeping better, and recovering faster from setbacks. However, I still have work to do on my understanding of love. Childhood trauma and past relationships make this challenging. But, I’m confident that with time, I’ll overcome this obstacle.
Rising Above: Overcoming Emotional Trauma and Finding Joy Again
Imagine the amazing potential you’ll unlock once you free yourself from the weight of past traumas. Your emotions and heart are powerful tools, and somatic experiencing can help you harness that power to empower yourself.
Integrated. Your Shadow Work Playbook
Take charge of your emotional well-being and begin the process of healing past traumas through shadow work. Download the playbook now and take the first step towards a happier, more fulfilling life. Don’t wait any longer, start your journey today.