Trauma healing with breathwork and body awareness
When we experience extreme stress, the body’s protective response of the nervous system, the fight/flight and freeze response gets triggered for our safety.However, our brain stores traumatic and stressful memories of such experiences in a different way to ordinary memories because overwhelming emotions during the events stops the brain from processing it.
This unprocessed trauma causes the fight/flight or freeze response to be stuck and remain in the body. This is why we may not be able to talk about events, and instead we experience them in our body as uncomfortable sensations, tightness and pain, which leads to deregulation of the nervous system.
That means that our nervous system is then navigating through highs and lows without ever returning to a calm state. As a result we become unable to effectively use coping strategies to manage our uncomfortable feelings of anger, frustration, sadness, shame, grief, and hurt.
We often use addiction, procrastination, disconnection, overeating, overworking, and many other unhealthy habits and behaviours to then try and deal with our supressed feelings. In the long term, these kinds of unhealthy strategies can cause depression, anxiety, PTSD, social anxiety and many other psychological problems.
Why work with the breathing body?
“The body, not the thinking brain, is where we experience most of our pain, pleasure, and joy, and where we process most of what happens to us. It is also where we do most of our healing, including our emotional and psychological healing.” ~ Resmaa Menakem.
Deep breathing and other body oriented holistic therapies take us out of perpetual states of flight/fight/ and freeze and teach the body to relax when it’s safe to do so and to mobilise when necessary.
Deep breathing stimulates the vagus nerve, often referred to as the “soul nerve”, which extends from the brain stem down to the abdomen. It’s a major nerve of the parasympathetic part of the nervous system which is responsible for the state of calm.
Its activation signals safety and moves us out of the physiological stress response (lowering heart rate, blood pressure, etc.). Using conscious connected breathwork, we reboot the nervous system by proactively helping it to complete unprocessed or incomplete cycles & processes and discharge locked up energy, so that we can move into states of healthy, deep rest and renewal.
This is why people report feeling peaceful, grounded, and spacious following a breathwork session. The body is relaxed, and energy that had been previously held in tension patterns is released.
This way, we also support the body in becoming more adaptable and responsive, allowing the nervous system to respond appropriately to any present situations at hand instead of automatically reacting with past unhealthy & limited patterns.
Therefore, when our nervous system functions in this healthy way, we benefit from better emotional regulation, stress resilience, increased capacity for connection and friendship, increased compassion to oneself and others as well as healthier regulation of physiological processes of the body. Apart from Breathwork, other body healing modalities to restore our nervous system, so that we regulate our emotions include movement, sound, yoga and other spiritual practices. The ultimate aim is to strengthening our physical and emotional core and resilience allowing us to fulfil our potential.