When a trauma occurs in a person’s life, it is often held in the body, as Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk writes in his book, The Body Keeps the Score. Trauma actually rewires the brain that can causes constant states of stress or numbness, which lead to a host of different physical problems, such as migraines, neck and back pain, digestive issues, chronic fatigue, heart disease, and many others.
In order to manage the trauma because it can be so overwhelming, a common tactic is that individual suppress or hid both their emotional and physical sensations. Therefore, in healing trauma, it is very important to notice sensations, particularly in body. Somatic healing is a type of healing that centres on the body often through physical techniques, like meditation, deep breathing, and relaxing exercises. The following are some ways to connect to your body to feel the awareness:
- Get in a relaxed position, either laying down completely or sitting in a comfortable chair. Some people prefer to close their eyes.
- Focus on your breath, feel what your body does as you inhale slowly and exhale slowly.
- Start at crown of your head and slowly scan down your body, feeling any sensations of tingling, temperature, discomfort, pain, tightness, etc. Notice them and continue down your body. If you don’t notice any sensations or things feel neutral, you can simply feel that too.
- If your have any drifting thoughts, don’t worry about it. Maybe think or say the word “noticing,” “thinking,” or “wandering,” and then go back to concentrate on the area you were just on.
- When you have finished, slowly release your focus on your surroundings.
- Find a path that you are familiar with and start walking at a slower pace. It is a benefit if the path is surrounded by nature.
- Start by focusing on the sensations in your feet as you lift one foot than the other. Feel the weight and the pressure as your foot touches the ground.
- Look around you by moving your head to the right, and then slowly to the left. While doing this, notice the environment around you.
- Notice and name four things you see, three things you feel, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.
- Find a snack or meal that you would like to eat when you are hungry. Turn off any distractions including phone, TV, and computer.
- First look that the food you are about to eat, focus on the smells, colours, textures, and temperature.
- Think through and honour where the food original came from, how it was prepared, and who prepared it.
- Take the first small bite and chew it without swallowing it. Try placing the food on all sides of your mouth as you chew. Notice the food’s textures and taste change as you chew.
- Swallow your first bite and take the same process as the first. Continue this pattern until you feel full or until you finish your food.
- Sit down in a comfortable chair and cross your arms on your chest, so that the tips of your middle finger are placed just touching the collarbone. Your fingers should be pointed up towards the neck rather than the arms.
- Interlock your thumbs so the hands look like a butterfly.
- Start to slowly tap your hands on your chest, alternating left and then right, left, right continuously.
- As you tap, breath slowly and deeply.
You may find that there are some improvements to stress and anxiety immediately, or you might find no effect at all. Even if you don’t love it, studies have proven that mediation regularly is helpful for individuals through improved focus and greater ability to cope with trauma.