"Traumatic symptoms are not caused by the "triggering" event itself. They stem from the frozen residue of energy that has not been resolved and discharged; this residue remains trapped in the nervous system where it can wreak havoc on our bodies and spirits." Peter A. Levine
As humans we are wired for protection, and in times of perceived threat, huge amounts of survival energy are pumped into our bodies equipping us to attempt an escape through fight or flight.
If fight or flight is not an option, due to size, age, environment or various other vulnerabilities, we are biologically programmed to freeze.
Whilst this has important survival advantages,
the vast amounts of unused survival energy remain trapped, with the potential of causing debilitating traumatic symptoms that can inhibit our potential and
hinder our experiences of joy and fulfilment.
The body has an imperative to complete what is has set out to do. The survival energy needs to be discharged in order for an escape and thus safety to be perceived and a sense of empowerment and resilience to be realised.
Dr Peter Levine has spent the past four decades developing and refining the practice of Somatic Experiencing® to facilitate the unlocking of the
body’s innate healing capacity, allowing the completion of these biological responses to occur.
His theories were inspired by his study of wild animals in their natural
environment, who despite facing routinely threatening experiences
were largely immune to traumatic symptoms.
He observed how they would literally "shake off" the survival energy released
in these life threatening encounters and as such
remain free of traumatic symptoms.
Not being too dissimilar to our animal counterparts, he believed humans might hold the same innate capacity for healing.
When put to the test he noticed not just the healing of trauma
but that trauma experiences could be transformed to one of resilience, empowerment and mastery.
"Fortunately, the same immense energies that create the symptoms of trauma when properly engaged and mobilised, can transform the trauma and propel us into new heights of healing, mastery, and even wisdom." Peter A. Levine
Our bodies know what needs to be done to restore peace and harmony within. However our rational mind will often judge these responses as unacceptable, inconvenient or strange, overriding our natural healing response.
When incorporating Somatic Experiencing® into my work with children, my aim is to help them tune in to their bodily sensations - the survival energy within, (butterflies, tingles, tightness, warmth, prickles, etc) that if given time, space and attention can be facilitated to move towards discharge and complete it's cycle to facilitate healing.
The body will tell the story of trauma, it holds the memory even when our minds don't remember. It can be supported to complete what it set out to do so that an escape from the threat is registered and our well being is restored.
"We must pay attention to our animal nature to find the instinctive strategies needed to release us from trauma's debilitating effects." Peter A. Levine