Understanding Trauma

Understanding Trauma
Understanding Trauma
Understanding Trauma
Understanding Trauma
Understanding Trauma


Trauma is any event, series of events or set of circumstances that overwhelms our capacity to cope and is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or threatening.  Each persons capacity to cope is different and depends an an individuals window of tolerance.

Experiencing trauma can having lasting adverse effects on an individuals ability to function effecting the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of an individual. Trauma is not the event itself but how we as humans respond to the event. This means that trauma is in our nervous system the very fabric, fibre and tissues of our bodies not in the event.

""The first truth, Buddha taught his disciples, is that suffering is part of the human condition. If we simply try to avoid confronting painful experiences, there is no way to begin the healing process. In fact, this denial creates the very conditions that promote and prolong unnecessary suffering."

― Peter A. Levine, Healing Trauma: A Pioneering Program for Restoring the Wisdom of Your Body

Trauma is frequently defined by big life events, often with extreme and disastrous consequences such as war, natural disasters, and near-death experiences. What a lot of people don't realize is that you don't need to live through an extreme experience to hold unconscious trauma; trauma is not defined by what happens to us but by our ability to cope. There is no barometer to what exactly constitutes a trauma, because as individual as our life paths and experiences are, so are our traumatic experiences.

It is for this reason that trauma is not defined by the event or series of events that lead to the emotional and mental sense of overwhelm that creates a trauma response. This is why children are more susceptible to experiencing trauma as they're coping mechanisms, abilities to process are less mature than that of adults. Additionally, prolonged exposure to difficult experiences increases the likelihood of experiences becoming trauma. There are protective factors that can help someone to cope in these circumstances: a strong social network of close family and friends, hobbies and sports that provide an outlet of emotion and focus, and even a therapeutic relationship with a therapist can alleviate the intensity and duress associated with the trauma.

The long-term consequences of storing trauma in the subconscious and the body plays out later in life. Stored trauma may present as difficulties maintaining relationships, self-sabotage, intimate relationship avoidance and projection; challenges in our working lives, keeping a job or over-working; addictions to alcohol, drugs, food, or eating disorders; anxiety disorders and panic attacks; sleep difficulties such as recurrent nightmares, insomnia or even sleep terrors. In young people, stored trauma can play out as regressive behaviours such as bed wetting, thumb sucking and responsibility avoidance at a biological age where these behaviours would not be expected. Often the only way to face the trauma is to unlock the emotions, tension and memories from the body and subconscious.

It is in this essence that the experience of some trauma is inevitable in life. To go through life without hardship is non-existent, however the degree of which is entirely personal to everyone. When we have enough of these experiences that have overwhelmed our ability to cope, the trauma becomes stored in our unconscious collective. The experience of trauma overwhelms the nervous system and often there are four trauma responses: fight, flight, freeze or fawn.

The fight response is characterised by fighting or facing the situation with aggression and or violence, The flight response is essentially pressing the eject button and getting out and away from the situation as quickly and by any means possible, including jumping out of a moving vehicle for instance. When the fight of flight response becomes too much,

we have a failsafe called the freeze response which is a dorsal vagal response is characterised by a complete overwhelm of the nervous system. You don’t run away, and you don’t fight instead you become immobilized and the parasympathetic nervous system spikes while the sympathetic nervous system is over activated but it becomes overwhelmed by the strong parasympathetic response. It’s like hitting the brake and the accelerator at the same time. When someone goes into freeze its creates an inability to move or vocalise anything, often this can precede dissociation from a situation in which the body and mind separate as a defence mechanism

Big trauma and little trauma gets stuck in the body and held there in the tissue of your body often causing a whole range of issues and challenges and sometimes can remain their implicitly which means we actually have no idea it’s there but it’s the root cause of many problems in our bodies.

Being trauma informed is vital for breathwork practitioners as when I work with the breath it’s a fast way into stored trauma in the body. It’s essential that I know how to regulate myself care and own healing to be able to hold space for you. Its fundamental that I understand trauma and its impact on the human body and how that shows up for you. I will help you to become empowered to communicate your needs and reclaim your power and support you to move through your traumas and challenges in a nurturing and loving way from a place of open hearted compassion and respect.

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