What can animals teach us about trauma?

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Did you know that animals in the wild don’t suffer from trauma or PTSD?

In his book, Waking the Tiger, trauma therapist, Peter Levine shares that once prey animals (like deer and gazelle) are out of danger, they release the trauma from their bodies by shivering and shaking. This releases cortisol and adrenaline, the stress hormones that flood both human and animal bodies when we believe we are in danger. 

In humans, stuck trauma that is not dealt with can lead to depression, anxiety and other mental and physical dysfunction. Levine’s work agrees with the findings of research studies that advocate the use of physical exercises to help us focus on bodily sensations, healing the trauma we have experienced naturally.

What exercises are helpful for trauma?

Trauma becomes stuck in our nervous systems and the cells of our bodies, so physical movement is therapeutic and activates our parasympathetic nervous system (promoting calm and relaxation in the mind and body). 

Another beneficial practice for releasing trauma is shaking, as shared by Kim Eng (counsellor and spiritual teacher) (click here to view her 4-minute video).

Reach out to others for support if you need to!

When you are in a traumatised state, it can also be helpful to have outside help. As Peter Levine says, “trauma is not what happens to us, but what we hold inside in the absence of an empathetic witness.” 

Having the support of someone you know and trust can provide you with a more complete perspective on what happened to you. I would be more than happy to work with you in a personal session if you need support.