Your Brain on Trauma, and How to Heal it.

Psychological trauma can happen to anyone, not just soldiers, refugees, or victims of rape. Accumulated micro traumas and chronic stress can have the same effects as those who have endured a big shock/trauma, that is- if you don’t learn how to release it.

I have had the opportunity to work with people all around the world who suffer unnecessarily because of the past. I’ve seen transformation happen in Navy Seals, Prison Inmates at San Quentin, Silicon Valley Tech Elite, homeless, teens, athletes, millennials, and baby boomers. 

The following is a journal of an anonymous client immediately after I led them through a TRE (Trauma Releasing Exercises) session:
Looking back, it seemed like the past 5 years I’ve been in this altered state -A confused fog- lacking purpose and direction. My trauma had happened, life had gone on, but I wasn’t prepared for it- still frozen in the past.

My body would be somewhere, I’d be doing something, but deep down I knew I was actually far, far away. People said I was a bit of a “space case” my attention sporadic, my wholeness shattered, and my presence obscured.

The things that brought me joy before, were meaningless. I was an empty vessel-it was sad, but I never felt sad. In fact, I didn’t feel anything at all. I was in a constant state of numbness, my body’s sick and twisted way to protect myself from the horrors that exist in this world.

There was this feeling of a rubber band contracting my chest- in the exact same place where my surgery was 5 years ago. Also, the same place of my heart that didn’t feel loved or accepted, and shamed. “I am enough” I’d say but I didn’t feel it. My body was tense, my mind overwhelmed, and in a state of survival mode. I didn’t realize it until after my healing, but objects had an threatening, cold, ominous vibe to them. 

Living with trauma is in itself traumatizing-the insidious grip on my body, and the tormenting fluster of thoughts, and seeing the world through a shifted lense. So much anger, so much regret so much unnecessary suffering. HATE.

 In trauma, your body feels heavy and your sleep is light. How could one put themselves in a deep restful state- one that was so vulnerable to being hurt again. The energy it takes to host such this sinister and elusive demon is draining. Anxiety, stress, depression, lack of meaning and purpose, lack of gratitude, distrust, and a general feeling of brokenness were all offshoot symptoms of this syndrome.

When your body betrays you with a host of physical symptoms-you just find ways to stay busy like working, drinking, or drugs to avoid confronting your demons. Or you fight it, but it’s a fight that you will never win. The more you resist the more it persists. Often times I would put myself back into risky situations in desperation to feel alive again

I didn’t know what to expect in the TRE Class led by Spencer. But soon enough after 7 mildly strenuous exercises, my body started shaking and vibrating. It was happening, out of my control, but still in my control at the same time if I wanted it to stop. A paradox of sorts. I didn’t know my body had this ability. It’s quit odd at first, even a bit funny, but something feels deeply natural about it.

Then it started to get more intense. Sweat poured down my forehead and I felt strong emotions arise. Fear, pain, cries of terror. Flashbacks to years ago- the sterile hospital smell, the anticipation of the IV going into my arm, counting down and falling asleep knowing how helpless I was about to be. Not knowing how I would wake up. The knife digging into my back- I screamed “help”. Spencer encouraged me to use my my voice. “AHHHHHH” “AHHHHHHH”. 

 As my body trembled, my mind was just going along for the ride. The body has an amazing intelligence to heal if you trust it and let go.
It all felt so natural, biological, and innate. The grip behind my sternum evaporated- Like the last breath you take before being startled. I felt naked and vulnerable, but free. I reached for as much courage as I could muster- to nurse this new sense of freedom into staying in its new home. I felt safe again. 
Next, a warm smooth flood of gratitude entered. Thankful to have had this rich, healing experience. So much richness in all of this. So much experience. 

I notice the outside world. My clothes were now soaked from sweat. I felt drained of energy. I then relized how deep in an altered state I really was. I realized had lost touch with reality for so long. I felt light. I laughed. Tears rolled. Several minutes passed- I felt so secure, safe, open, and at ease. 

As I slowly sat up in the seated position, I felt a little uneasy in this new world, but now empowered, resilient, awake, and fully alive. The room around me was bright, still, and vivid. I noticed the colors-plants around the room, objects had a warm, comforting, and fascinating intricacy to them. Textures caught my eye. A breeze through the window brought a cool feeling to the skin on my cheek. I was born in a new world and it was beautiful.

When you are so deep in trauma, you lose sight of what’s normal. It envelops your body and psyche and literally changes your brain. You forget about the richness of life that exists in you and in the world around you. I am so grateful to be alive again. Thank you Spencer.

The reason I’m able to get these incredible results is because I focus on the body, and avoid delving into the story or problem (which is often re-traumatizing to the client). Because it is without doubt that the body remembers, and the nervous system is responsible for being on guard regardless of whether it is a current or past threat.

I first learned about trauma healing was when I read Dr. Peter Levine’s “In an Unspoken Voice” who I later had personal sessions with. It talked about how animals in wild are able to live trauma free because of their ability to “shake it off” after a stressful situation. You can find countless videos on youtube of animals naturally shaking, tremoring, and vibrating after a life threatening situation.

According to Dr. David Bercelli, who developed TRE and who later became my teacher, humans too have this ability to shake off stress, but we tend to suppress it turning the the uncomfortable physical sensations into a looping mental story thanks to our overdeveloped and analytical prefrontal cortex. Society has also told us that shaking is socially unacceptable. I beg to differ because it needed to achieve a good quality of life if you have had a stressful past. In just one session, I’m able to get clients to faciliate this same natural shaking response unraveling years upon years of chronic stress.

Every session is different as client’s explore their bodies in new ways and peel through layers upon layers of trauma, it’s quite fascinating. Getting them to feel safe enough to be fully embodied is the goal. The classes I host are about an hour, starting with lecture, physical exercises, the tremor experience, followed with a yogic-like shavasana state. 

As you finish preparing your body through mild exercises, and lay down for the tremor experience, you will notice your body moving involuntarily. There is a range of experiences, some people feel emotions during the process, and others just notice the physical sensations. It works because the excess electricity of your nervous system from a stressful event escapes and you come back to a state of homeostasis.

During the integration phase, you enter a deep restorative state. Sometime people drift into different realms of consciousness and just let go. Every muscle in your body relaxes and your nervous system drops. There’s a stillness and a deep level of relaxation and new sensations. It’s so purifying and rejuvenating.

Real lasting change takes place as new nuerological pathways form. The body learns that the danger has passed and you start to live in the reality of the present. You tap into a new level of intuition, creativity, imagination, and feel deeply connected with your body, to others, and to the physical world. New sensations, clarity, wholeness, feelings of self love. People who I have worked with all report:

  • Less worries & anxiety
  • Better sleep
  • Reduced muscle and back pain
  • Increased flexibility
  • Healing of old injuries, less anxiety surrounding serious illness and relief from chronic medical conditions
  • Less stress at the workplace
  • More energy and endurance
  • Improved marital relationships
  • Less conflicts in relationships
  • Greater emotional resiliency
  • Reduced symptoms of PTSD
  • Decreases symptoms of vicarious trauma

Also, that wall in your life that makes you feel stuck, crumbles as your past becomes your past, and the new moment is filled with possibility. Your inner world feels clean and has better direction and clarity. But as time goes on the inner world is less significant. The outer world becomes so clear and crisp and beautiful. Your relationships, lifestyle, and affairs become so easy- as they should be.
To learn more about how you can access the work, visit spencerstein.c

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