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Overcoming Trauma Held in Our Bodies: A Journey to Healing and Wholeness

Trauma is a profound experience that can leave deep imprints not only on our minds but also on our bodies. The effects of trauma can be long-lasting, influencing our physical health, emotional well-being, and overall quality of life. However, with compassionate awareness and intentional practices, we can begin to release the trauma held in our bodies and move towards healing and wholeness.

Understanding Trauma and the Body

Trauma can stem from various experiences, such as accidents, abuse, loss, or any event that overwhelms our ability to cope. When trauma occurs, the body reacts instinctively, often entering a state of fight, flight, or freeze. While these responses are natural and protective, they can leave residual tension and stress in the body, even long after the traumatic event has passed.

The concept of the body holding trauma is supported by research in the fields of psychology and somatics. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, a leading trauma researcher, emphasizes that "the body keeps the score," meaning our physical bodies store memories of traumatic experiences. This stored trauma can manifest as chronic pain, tension, anxiety, and a range of other physical and

motional symptoms.

Signs of Trauma Held in the Body

Recognizing the signs of trauma held in the body is the first step towards healing. Some common indicators include:

  • Chronic Muscle Tension: Persistent tightness, especially in the neck, shoulders, and back.

  • Unexplained Pain: Aches and pains that have no clear medical cause.

  • Digestive Issues: Problems like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or stomach discomfort.

  • Fatigue: Constant feelings of exhaustion or low energy.

  • Emotional Reactivity: Heightened responses to stress or triggers.

  • Sleep Disturbances: Trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing nightmares.

Healing Trauma Through Somatic Practices

Healing from trauma requires a holistic approach that addresses both the mind and body. Somatic practices, which focus on the connection between the body and mind, are particularly effective in releasing trauma held in the body. Here are some somatic techniques that can aid in healing:

  1. Breathwork: Conscious breathing exercises help regulate the nervous system and release tension. Techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing, box breathing, and alternate nostril breathing can be beneficial.

  2. Body Scanning: This mindfulness practice involves systematically focusing on different parts of the body, noticing sensations, and releasing tension. It helps increase body awareness and promotes relaxation.

  3. Yoga: Trauma-sensitive yoga combines gentle movement with mindful awareness to help release stored trauma. Poses that open the chest and hips are particularly effective in freeing trapped emotions.

  4. Progressive Muscle Relaxation: This technique involves tensing and then slowly releasing different muscle groups, helping to alleviate physical tension and stress.

  5. Grounding Exercises: Grounding techniques, such as standing barefoot on the earth, focusing on the senses, or engaging in physical activities, can help reconnect with the present moment and reduce anxiety.

  6. Somatic Experiencing: Developed by Dr. Peter Levine, this therapy focuses on processing and releasing trauma by exploring physical sensations and allowing the body to complete its natural response cycles.

The Role of Compassion and Patience

Healing from trauma is a deeply personal and non-linear journey. It requires patience, self-compassion, and a willingness to listen to your body's needs. Here are some tips to support your healing process:

  • Be Gentle with Yourself: Understand that healing takes time and that it's okay to move at your own pace. Celebrate small victories and be kind to yourself during setbacks.

  • Create a Safe Space: Ensure you have a supportive environment where you feel safe to explore and release your trauma. This may involve seeking the help of a trusted therapist or support group.

  • Practice Self-Care: Prioritize activities that nourish your body and mind, such as healthy eating, adequate sleep, and engaging in hobbies that bring you joy.

  • Set Boundaries: Protect your energy by setting boundaries with people or situations that may trigger or overwhelm you.

  • Stay Connected: Reach out to loved ones or a supportive community. Connection with others can provide comfort and reduce feelings of isolation.

Moving Forward: Embracing Healing and Wholeness

Overcoming trauma held in our bodies is a transformative journey that leads to greater self-awareness, resilience, and wholeness. By integrating somatic practices into our daily lives and approaching our healing with compassion and patience, we can release the weight of past traumas and embrace a future filled with greater peace and vitality.

Remember, you are not alone on this journey. Seeking professional support from therapists specializing in trauma can provide invaluable guidance and tools tailored to your unique needs. As you continue to heal, you’ll find that your body, once a vessel of pain, can become a source of strength, wisdom, and profound connection to your true self.

By prioritizing your healing and embracing the journey with an open heart, you pave the way for a life free from the constraints of past traumas. Trust in the process, and know that with each step, you are moving closer to a state of wholeness and inner peace.

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