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Releasing The Past: Four Keys to
Healing from Trauma, Abuse, and Loss
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Releasing The Past: Four Keys to Healing from Trauma, Abuse, and Loss
by Paul Chubbuck
A bird hit my front window this afternoon with a startling and bone-crushing thud. I found it lying where it fell atop a leafless bush, in plain sight and defenseless, neck turned nearly upside down to its body. Its eyes were open and staring while its whole body was rhythmically moving in a kind of panicked panting.
I watched from six feet away, to avoid adding to its trauma. After three minutes, it righted its head and its eyes became more focused. After seven minutes, it started looking around and the panting ceased. At 13 minutes it suddenly jumped onto the sidewalk and hid underneath the bush. Now safe from predators, it stayed hidden there quietly for an hour, then flew away with nary a sign of injury.
That bird won’t be needing a chiropractor or psychotherapist.
What does it know that we don’t about quickly recovering from life-threatening trauma?
It was just such observations as mine which led Peter Levine, author of Waking The Tiger, to discover that wild animals have incredible abilities to rapidly recover from trauma. He came to understand that those same abilities exist in humans, but are often thwarted by our higher, thinking brains. From that discovery, he developed Somatic Experiencing®, a treatment method which frees the nervous system and body to remember what it once knew how to do — respond appropriately to threat and return to completely normal afterwards.
Imagine you are walking in a park barefoot on a summer day. You are content and relaxed, enjoying the warmth and leisure and gently contemplating your life. Suddenly, you feel a stabbing pain in your right foot and as you look down, you see blood.
In an instant, over 1500 physiological changes take place to save your life. Your attention goes to your foot as your nervous system responds with the “fight-flight” reaction. Gone is awareness of the warm sunshine, pleasant thoughts, and any concern with other needs.
Your digestion and immune system go on hold. Those won’t be needed if you don’t get that bleeding stopped soon. The pain is soon numbed so you can focus on whatever is necessary to save your life.
The mind becomes clear and fast. Its job is to identify what is wrong and how to fix it. You quickly assess the seriousness of the injury, whether you need help, who is available, and how to stop the bleeding…..(continued)