by Cinnamon Cranston
I talk a lot about how early childhood trauma, as well as any later life trauma, affects our body’s nervous systems by setting in motion unconscious patterned survival responses to specific stressors or circumstances throughout the remainder of our life until they are addressed.
Through the research of neuroscience we know now that we cannot connect and affect change to the emotional, nonconscious, reactionary part of the brain with rational thought, but only through noticing bodily sensation and connection with the sensations and experiences happening within our bodies in a process of what is termed mindfulness.
Through the work of Rosen Method Bodywork and Somatic Experiencing, I have learned a lot about how to heal trauma. Learning to listen and allow the sensations within my body that were still acting out of past survival responses of fear, rage or shutdown, while also discerning and reaching for the sensations available to me in the moment (such as supported, safe, not alone) has been a life changer for me. I now feel more present and freer to make choices that support me instead of reacting and living from a place of old survival habits.
So what happens when something scary and overwhelming happens now? Recently I experienced a cancer scare and spent a week and a half thinking I might very possibly have breast cancer, which it turns out I do not thankfully.
Because of all my training and experience in the field of trauma recovery I was very aware of what was happening in my body. My initial response came very much from an old childhood pattern (shutting down, having to be strong, carrying the burden of fear all by myself and not telling anyone) and then it shifted into gearing up to fight for my life with such an intense vigilance that my whole body went into super high alert. The tension and restriction in my body was unbelievable.
Upon noticing these sensations I sat down and began my mindfulness practices, allowing the sensations to be fully experienced. I realized then that my body was reacting as if the threat or danger was coming from outside me. Then I remembered that the threat was not from outside me but potentially from within me. This brought some comfort to my body as I then invited myself to feel into all the love and support around me now. My body began to relax a little. The vigilance shifted and I could let my body be supported by the chair.
So what about this potential threat coming from within? What was I actually feeling in my body about that? Well I had some soreness and pain, fatigue and the feeling that something in my body was very unhappy. Maybe it was cancer or maybe it was something else. I also could feel that other parts of my body were well and working toward healing.
I took comfort from this sensation. I had no shame or blame feelings for my body, just compassion. From there I could invite acceptance and lean into my spirituality more and trust that no matter what was going on inside my body, I would be okay. At that point I could return to a softer and kinder approach to my body and myself.
I am so grateful to both Rosen Method and Somatic Experiencing for freeing me from the past so that I can meet the present, no matter how challenging, with presence, kindness, trust in myself, trust in others and ultimately trust in the universe itself.
Cinnamon is a Certified Rosen Method Bodywork Practitioner and the Co-owner of the Rosen Method Institute Canada. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 780-203-5159.
Note: This information is for educational purposes only. It’s intended to supplement your current health program, not to replace the care of a licensed medical doctor. Thoroughly research all topics for yourself.
Originally Published in Mosaic Magazine, August, 2018 edition.