Ways to Heal From Trauma
How Does Trauma Affect Our Nervous System?
The cortex is the thinking part of the brain. Emotions happen in the limbic part of the brain which is involved in emotional processing of input from sensory systems, it's also where the fight and flight response occurs, precisely in the Amygdala. The amygdala interprets the images and sounds. When it perceives danger, it instantly sends a distress signal to the hypothalamus. This area of the brain functions like a command centre, communicating with the rest of the body through the nervous system so that the person has the energy to fight or flee. The hypothalamus activates the sympathetic nervous system by sending signals through the autonomic nerves to the adrenal glands. These glands respond by pumping the hormone epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) into the bloodstream. As a result, so many physiological changes happen in the body. These include increase in heartbeat, blood pressure, respiratory rate, increased alertness…etc. Epinephrine triggers as well the release of glucose and fat from temporary storages in the body to supply the increased energy demands.
What Happens When the Nervous System is Subject to Chronic Stress?
Your nervous system does not function through thoughts, it functions through feelings. Trauma is often the result of a stressful event and is trapped in the nervous system. When remembering a past trauma, the thought triggers certain feelings and emotions. Emotions trigger certain manifestations in the physical body. (Anger comes with muscle tension, increased heart rate or blood pressure, depression comes with physical pain, exhaustion and sensitivity). The survival mode moves faster, much more than the body can keep up with. And this is where emotions really get stuck and make us sick physically and emotionally. When constantly in this mode, the body does not have time to heal and turn on the immune system, cortisol is constantly secreted leading to adrenal fatigue, leading to all sorts of physical and emotional illnesses, namely long-lasting functional changes in the brain. When you live with a stressful brain, you are only attuned to see threats and memories get stored in your body in the form of ailments.
In her book "Heal your body", Louise Hay says: "For us to become whole and healthy, we must balance the body, mind, and spirit." Both the good in our lives and the dis-ease are the results of mental thought patterns that form our experiences.
You have the ability to contribute to your own healing process and clear old patterns. You can train yourself to move through pain and anxiety or emotional suffering through grace and compassion. It is important to let your body guide you through the process of healing. Conventional therapy sometimes fails for the simple reason that by talking about old injuries it retriggers them, keeps them in a pattern of avoidance without addressing the deep wisdom in the body and the emotions.
By listening to our body, we create space for our emotions and sensations; we can return to calmness through the parasympathetic response and allow our body to turn on the healing system.
Dr. Bruce Lipton refers to the Placebo effect as the Belief effect. In his book " The Biology of Belief" he talks about stress as the result of our perception, thoughts and belief system. What you feed your thoughts impact your behaviour and your body. Because holding on to your fears and your pain can generate chronic stress behaviours, equally, evoking calmness and happiness can generate a relaxation response. A study published in 2013 documented for the first time that the physiologic state of deep rest induced by practices like meditation, yoga and deep breathing can produce changes in the expression of genes involved in immune function, metabolism and physical healing. Many studies are showing that mind/body interventions can reduce stress, enhance wellness and heal the body.
"Trauma creates change you don't choose,
Healing creates change you do choose."