Healing the Emotional Pain-Body: Order out of Chaos
TRIGGER WARNING: This blog post contains sensitive material, and may or may not be suitable for those with an active PTSD/C-PTSD diagnosis or those who have a history of dissociative episodes. This material should not be used as a substitute for proper mental health and/or medical treatment. Reader is responsible to use discretion and discernment.*
Somatic trauma healing tools and exercises are a cuttings-edge modality used to ease nervous system reactions and release trapped trauma (including anger, rage, and distress) from the pain-body. Examples of somatic self-healing tools include: box breathing (inhaling/exhaling breath to the count of 4), tapping on pressure points while reciting specific scripts ("tapping" or EFT/Emotional Freedom Technique), or linking physical movements with breathing patterns, etc. Not only can somatic healing exercises lead to the completion of a stress-cycle--helping one move from an imbalanced sympathetic state back into the former, parasympathetic state--but somatic tools can also train the mind and body to respond from a state of clarity instead of chaos.
The clarity comes from acting on par with one's "higher mind" or "higher self," which is calm, clear, lucid, and of sound mind. The higher mind/higher self seamlessly weaves together both logic/reasoning with feeling-based, intuitive nudges. Conversely, the lower self, or the ego, is quite easily susceptible to becoming demoted to the Reptilian-brain level of mind. This leads to the opposite impulses and automatic drives to react with defensiveness, frenzy, and fear (chaos). The fearful ego can easily lose its footing, get tripped up by other people's words or actions, and thereby become catapulted into the "reptilian brain," "trauma-brain," or "lower mind." In Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, the lower mind is referred to as the "emotional mind," whereas the higher mind is referred to as the "wise mind." Believe it or not, the ego (lower mind) and the higher self (higher mind) actually do exist on one spectrum, only on staunchly and significantly opposite ends of the same spectrum.
Now, let's discuss what “feel it to heal it” really means. This process begins at the first moment of discomfort, when the subtle layers of the mind, or nervous system, become alert to "trouble" or "danger" within one's immediate mental or physical vicinity. This is where a certain charge or zing occurs within our mind-body, which informs us about how the events outside of us are impacting aspects inside of us. You will know a certain stimulus, or trigger, has just touched upon a tender, delicate, wounded, or traumatized aspect because you may suddenly feel uncomfortable, upset, dysregulated, or otherwise out-of-sorts. Note that no two people will respond identically to stress, nor to the same stressor/trigger. Some will be angered to the point of punching holes into walls and others will be saddened to the point of tears. While nobody can tell another how to feel their feelings, somatic trauma healing tools are beneficial to help folks process the depths of their anger, sadness, and even, rage, in much healthier and more adaptive ways.
In any case, the pain-body (the subconscious record-keeper of our being which holds repressed and/or suppressed traumatic memories) gets a “hit" when a trigger occurs in our environment. In other words, the pain-body goes from its former dormant state to an activated or over-activated state, usually by way of a triggering event that acts as a catalyst to opening up the flood gates, or the can of worms, of our subconscious. When the subconscious becomes triggered, the unconscious mind may act out its default modes to either defend or deflect the trigger (if/when ill-prepared to truly "go there" and thus lean into the severity of the pain/discomfort). I'd like to add here that some--if not most-- may choose to deflect their pain-points much of their lives, which may or may not work up to a certain point in their life. It is up to each individual to decide on their own volition when/if they are ready and willing to face their own shadows. If healing was easy, everyone would be doing it, which means that unfortunately many still (consciously or unconsciously) choose to avoid the pain at all costs. Still, there is no real way to "avoid" the belly of the beast when it comes to trauma that gets stored in the body, as the body knows all our conscious mind refuses to admit. In this way, triggers are an inevitable fact of life, and a blessing in disguise, all in one. Also, triggers are an inevitable aspect of our lived-experience as sentient, sometimes sensitive, feeling beings.
At some point(s) in our life, the sympathetic nervous system may sense "danger!" in response to a triggering stimuli. Unless somatic (or other mindfulness/ self-healing tools) are used and practiced regularly, the majority succumb to the body's built-in modes of response: fight (argue/defend one's case), flight (flee the scene), freeze (dissociate/withdraw) or fawn (people-please/submit to one's offender). In any of these trauma responses, the higher mind shuts off to allow the ego to do its thing (the ego's main role is to keep us alive, meaning it will conveniently "perk up" when it perceives a threat to its safety or a violation of its boundaries).
Sometimes the discomfort of a pain-body activation is strong enough to send our bodies into shock, so much so that it sends our nervous system, and our brains, into overdrive. In essence, our pain-body just received an overload, or an overabundance, of triggering and traumatic stimuli. In certain cases, depending on the severity of the trauma being triggered, a trigger can quite literally “knocks our lights out,” and cause our psyche to split. In other words, the mind may leave the body, psychologically speaking, in that it dissociates for a variable length of time. Most often when we are extremely triggered, we are being energetically catapulted back into the time/space in which we first felt said pain, or first lost time (in cases of dissociation). You could say that triggers act like metaphoric time-machines that propel us backwards in time, to when we were first "taken out" by the original stressor, painful experience, or wounding episode.
In this way, the pain-body activations, borne through triggers, serve to improve our chances of healing on every level--mind, body, and spirit-- which, in turn, betters our chances of evolving our species. Thus, our potential for optimal balance and healing is a natural, built-in, and hardwired process. When we feel our pain and allow our body to complete the stress cycle it never got a chance to complete--due to avoidance, dissociative tendencies, or other defense mechanisms in childhood or beyond-- we are acting in service to, and in conjunction with, our higher self/higher mind. We are creating order out of chaos by rebalancing our formerly imbalanced state, one which was easily swayed by events occurring outside of us. By feeling the pain, we not only relieve ourselves of the pain but also move it out of our body through tears, somatic movement, and/or somatic experiencing. This is how integration unfolds.
You could say that each integrated trigger--each time you lean into the pain-- is a trophy to add to your mantel, your trove of truth, leading you closer and closer to your highest self, highest expression, and highest reality.