Trauma and PTSD are subjects we don’t tend to talk about.
In his book, The Body Keeps the Score, Bessel Van Der Kolk shares story after story of courageous souls who have experienced unspeakable traumas, and often at the hands of their caregivers and people who claim to love them.
Van Der Kolk shares that trauma survivors learn to hide from themselves. As they ignore the warning signs that bombard their bodies, which often results in a wide range of physical symptoms. It includes fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, allergies, and other auto-immune diseases.
The two essential keys for healing trauma are:
- Mindfulness practices, and
- The presence of an empathic witness.
Mindfulness practices are often the starting point for healing for trauma survivors.
In an environment of both compassion and curiosity. They can start to see their way forward clearly enough to recognize their need for self-care.
What mindfulness practices are helpful for trauma and self-healing?
Meditation, yoga, and deep breathing are wonderful mindfulness practices to engage in on a regular basis. They allow us to focus on remaining in the present moment, which is most helpful for trauma survivors.
The presence of an empathic witness
Peter Levine (clinical psychologist) describes trauma as “what we hold inside in the absence of an empathic witness”.
When survivors are able to work through their traumatic experiences in the presence of an empathic witness. They are able to re-frame the trauma in a way that allows them to integrate that experience into their lives.
This allows them to make the shift from being stuck in the past, within their traumatic experience.
Many of us have experienced trauma in one form or another. And the good news is that there is hope for all of us to recover from our trauma.
Van Der Kolk shares this hope in his book, The Body Keeps the Score, that within each trauma survivor is an “undamaged essence, a Self that is confident, curious and calm.”
And with the support of an empathic witness and mindfulness practices, that Self is safe to emerge which allows the healing process to begin.
One aspect of my work is in the capacity of an empathic witness, where I provide a safe space to help sensitive people heal from trauma.
If you have experienced trauma and feel that I could be an empathic witness for you. Feel free to book my FREE 20-minute Get-To-Know-You session (available to prospective new clients only).