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A Gentle and Progressive Approach to Trauma Recovery

When we can release the leftover survival energy from our previous encounters, we are less likely to feel intimidated and overwhelmed. We no longer freeze in fear. When we are in a frozen state, any action can be frightening and confusing. As we shift from rigidity to fluidity, we begin to experience a sense of coordination. We start to feel reconnected with life. We become more peaceful and harmonious with others, the world, and ourselves. We are no longer trapped in past events, and some events may even fade from our memory.

This points to a crucial fact: you don't need to remember what happened to heal.

Healing trauma is entirely different from reliving it. Since trauma primarily occurs at an instinctual level, memories of the events are stored in fragments within our bodies, not in the rational part of the brain. When we can access "body memory" through sensory awareness, we can start releasing the instinctual survival energy—energy we didn't have the chance to use during the traumatic encounter. No matter how unique your situation is, you can learn to release and transform this energy. The release might be surprising and noticeable, or subtle and calm. It might involve intense shaking or a slight internal tremor, or perhaps changes in temperature, feeling warm or cool. Subsequently, you may find that things become clearer, simpler, or that you are calmer and more relaxed. Things that used to anger you may seem less troubling, and you may be less critical of yourself. Or you might experience a subtle sense of happiness.

Profound changes are also possible. Chronic pain may disappear, and you may find yourself doing things you've never attempted before. Your relationships with loved ones and others might become freer and more relaxed. You may feel a strong sense of passion and personal power. When trauma heals, transformation occurs. This approach to trauma recovery is not a substitute for psychotherapy. Psychotherapy can be an essential tool for many who suffer from trauma. Professional assistance is necessary at times.

Extracted from “Healing Trauma: A Pioneering Program for Restoring the Wisdom of Your Body” by Peter A. Levine

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