Yoga, Trauma, and Somatic Healing

Somatic Experiencing is a therapy methodology which mindfully centers on freeing emotions from trauma that have been stored within the body. Eastern philosophy and preventative medicinal practice like acupuncture believes that all emotion acts as energy within the body. Not expressing ourselves, or completing the cycle of a feeling experience, results in the congestion of emotional energy in our muscles. Prevented from truly, actually, being in the flow, we act out of our best behavior and selves. Somatic Experiencing was established by Peter Levine who developed the theory by studying animals. In humans, he discovered, when a traumatic episode is experienced, like animals, there is a fight-or-flight cycle that takes place. Adrenaline is a hormone of survival that kicks in to help the brain make a decision based on life or death. Unlike animals, humans do not often complete the cycle. In the face of trauma, humans do not always fight, and they aren’t always capable of running away. According to Levine’s theory, the trauma lives on in the body. Until the physical trauma memories can be accessed, completed and liberated, they stay stagnant, like still water.

Trauma is overwhelming. It is hardly a wonder that when the brain is in overload and cannot cope with traumatic input, the processing is delegated to the body, which graciously takes on the burden. Though the thoughts may be gone, the energy is not. Silent, the weight is carried for years. Yoga is increasingly becoming a therapeutic treatment to relieve that burden. Beyond mindfulness and health-related properties, yoga as healing body work can be geared toward releasing physically stored trauma. Ever been to a yoga class, gotten into a position, go to take that big inhale, and find that the exhale is full of tears that seem to be pouring out from muscles in the toes? That is somatic yoga. Healing is possible through bodily compassion.

As Refuge Recovery founder Noah Levine recently said in a recent podcast for Against the Stream titled “Happiness is Possible”, Buddhist practices are not about finding freedom from pain itself. Instead, it is about learning how to “be in pain, in a wise way”. Indeed Buddha said that suffering is pain, and our attachment to pleasure causes our suffering. Somatic experiencing and trauma work are about moving, literally, through the pain; thereby alleviating some of our attachments to the pleasures we compensate with.

Healing addiction, co-occurring disorders and trauma, Refuge Recovery opens its doors to those seeking a way out of their suffering. Offering services from detox to sober living, Refuge Recovery has a holistic program of treatment for recovery. Call us today for more information (323) 207-0276

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