Posted on Jul 06, 2022

“She was a stranger in her own life, a tourist in her own body.” ~ Melissa de la Cruz, The Van Alen Legacy

Dear Readers,

NOTE: Today's part 2 of the gentle trauma healing path is about returning to your body.  Please read cautiously and with compassion for yourself, only if you are in a place where you are safe and can resource yourself and not become triggered.

When Leaving Is the Way to Safety

When a traumatic event occurs, some people respond by “leaving” their bodies. It’s a survival mechanism we all possess. It is a biologically appropriate strategy to be safe.

“How can one do this?”, you might wonder. 

If you interview one of thousands of people who’ve survived sexual trauma, many of them will tell you that they floated up to the ceiling or watched what was happening from above. Others will say they escaped to a place they found peaceful or calming until the harm was over. 

And still others may have numbed out all sensation while the harm was going on–completely dissociating from physical awareness of themselves while the trauma occurred.

These are  just a few of the ways that humans can “leave” their body when a trauma happens.

And if this trauma is not healed effectively after the event, that coping skill of “leaving” can keep happening any time you feel stress, anger, fear, or sadness later in life. We maintain any strategy that has worked to have our needs of safety met.

And when you “leave the scene” when you feel ANY big emotion start to build, this coping style can leave a trail of failed relationships, unexplored adventures, or unrealized dreams and goals in it’s wake.

Most of us would agree that it’s no way to live a fulfilling life, but few of us know how to get beyond the automatic “flee” or "freeze" response that can be overwhelming in the face of emotional discomfort of any kind.

Steps to Take

How do you STAY in your body when the emotional or physical landscape gets tough?

Try this simple tool this week and see how you do with it:

When you sense a big or uncomfortable emotion coming on, and you’re ready to “run,” take a pause and do the following:

  • Breathe deeply (think long and slow breath) and feel the air moving into and out of your throat and lungs,
  • Look around you–what do you see? Either to yourself or out loud, describe in detail three items you can see in your field of view. This helps you BE in the present moment and not leave.
  • What does the space around you smell like? Try describing the aromas you notice.
  • Touch 3 things near you–pay attention to the textures under your fingers, notice the ground beneath your feet, perhaps even pick up a few small items and move them around.
  • If you’re still in “flee” mode, try dissolving a strong mint in your mouth–or a small bite of something that tastes both pleasant and strong to you.
  • BONUS: While doing this, you can also tell yourself, "I am safe, I am loved."

Ongoing Practice to Embody Safety

It often takes practice to feel safe in your body after not feeling this way for some period of time.  I recommend taking time to practice mindfully being in your body outside of times of stress, so that you can use the above tool more easily when necessary.  Start with some gentle mindful movement practices from this playlist. And join us live weekly for more practices like these on Thursdays at 7:30 am Eastern time.

If you’d like an additional support, it would be my honor to hold a safe space for you to process the trauma so you can move forward with less suffering and more ease. Consider the personalized support of a private hypnotherapy session

I’m with you, Readers, and we can heal TOGETHER.

In our next Gentle Trauma Health Path piece, I’ll cover how to look inward at your trauma with compassion and get support with your self-inquiry. Healing trauma is possible. And it all goes better with help. Until next time, be well, Friends.

*Remember that trauma-healing often requires a mosaic of recovery modalities. Meditation and hypnotherapy can be useful and effective resources as part of a healing path. Please be sure to tell your medical and mental health care team about any new healing resources you’d like to try as part of your trauma recovery journey. Hypnotherapy and meditation are not intended to replace your current medical or mental health care protocols.

With care and support,

Sara and Les

The Mindful Movement

Additional Resources:

Members Oasis for: Unlimited access to all Mindful Movement Meditations and Hypnosis Practices; Exclusive Members Only Content added EVERY month; Practice anytime, anywhere.

Purchase your favorite Meditation and Hypnosis practices from the Mindful Movement. You can download an MP3 file to listen to anytime, anywhere with no internet access necessary.

A personalized hypnotherapy session can support you in making a change you desire.  It would be my honor to help you through the process of change that you are looking for.

Let us know how we can help.  Please feel to leave a comment with any other suggestions, comments, or questions for the community!