από την  Αντιγόνη Τσεγγελή

Trauma is a natural, in the course of life, often unavoidable archetypal experience of existence. Trauma is any event that injures our protective shell, leaving us with a sense of collapse and powerlessness.

It is something we cannot cope with because our system copes with danger but it does not cope with trauma. The brain has not the capacity to deal with trauma as the bodily sensations are occurring during the event have been stored inside the body and on a
non-verbal level of existence.

We could say that trauma is the body’s intelligent form that responds to something which is an overwhelming threat. The whole body stores these sensations and transmits the information to the brain. Eventually, many different responsive forms are happening between sentient (we could say the body that feels but not on the emotional level, is the data base of felt senses) and the rational body.

We are alone with something we don’t know how to deal with!!

In reality, when something happens, the lizard brain firstly catches the information, then the limbic brain has the feelings and the cortex tries to analyze it. This part of the brain has to store it as a known part or has to exile it somewhere as something that cannot or must not exist.

Often, people don’t remember the event. The rational brain gives an explanation but when an overwhelming sensation occurs from the event, then the body becomes immobilized and stops feeling about it!! And then the ANS (autonomous nervous system) attacks, the body feels the attack and responds to the it. Deregulated states of the ANS having exhausted its reserves can contribute to altered abnormal physiological, emotional and behavioral
states. The body cannot handle this kind of stress and finally, this is leading to depression and to an endless feeling of having NO WAY OUT.

On the physical level, cortisol starts dripping tirelessly and turns from a good thing into a bad thing. It never stops while the body is trying to deal with it. As a response from this continuous dripping of cortisol, we have more autoimmune system disorders. We experience physical responses, unable to work properly with such prolonged stress or anxiety. Life stresses change the function of glucose-cortisol receptors and these receptors reset
themselves and then trauma begins.

The reason lies in the neural forms inside the body that interact with different parts of the brain and especially with the ANS. The ANS asseses and responds to the current events under 2 main opposing criteria: safety or danger (it is called detection without awareness).

Dr. Porges, who introduced the POLYVAGAL theory, says that trauma is less about memory and more about physiological response that has affected the nervous system. It holds all of our past lived experiences and uses them to decide if something in our present is safe or dangerous or life-threatening etc.

When an individual finds himself or herself in a severely life threatening situation and is not able to use strategies/coping mechanisms on personal or social engagement to get out of that threat, the neuroceptive features that have been challenged, may put this person in a shutdown condition.

Then dissociation is happening as a way out of this situation. It is a response mechanism after fight or flight reaction, where something is happening and we become unable to witness it. We become identified with this overwhelming sense of the situation and the body shuts down or becomes frozen to stop the pain.

It is a fundamental disconnection from oneself.
Why do we get disconnected?
Because it is too painful!

And that is happening between the rational and emotional states of existence. We become traumatized dealing with it alone. The mind doesn’t remember, but our body remembers and holds it all.

A person in chronic pain, is an example of an extremely traumatized individual. The system has broken down as it cannot take any more. Pain is a signal that something is happening and the body is going into survival mode.

The ANS in this case is in a deregulated function affecting different levels of being.

Anxiety (a common symptom of fight or flight response), freeze, grief, chronic pain or undischarged energy (stagnation) are dynamics of this inner sense of hopelessness!

Then we acknowledge that trauma is not the event, but the experience of it, the response to this event or situation inside the body. It is an intelligent mechanism to cope with life in a paradox way. Looking at the energetics of trauma, we see two main opposites: fear and inner safety.

Safety is based on social connectedness providing a ‘neural’ expectancy, which promotes both mental and physical health. The experience of ‘feeling safe’ keeps the ANS out of states of defense. Being safe is not the equivalent of removing threat. It is the presence of connection.

“Feeling safe in the arms of another” or
“Feeling safe in the arms of another appropriate mammal, like a dog.”

Dr. Stephen Porges

The exiled part or parts of the body are hidden in layers underneath the symptoms of “disease”. Different parts where some are vulnerable, scared, young, protective, adults. They are younger versions of us that experienced things we have experienced in the past and they adapted to keep us safe. They are parts of our whole being and they form based on what happened in the past. Our nervous system holds ALL and uses them to decide if something in our present is safe, dangerous or life-threatening.

Reparenting our young parts means we get back on line and give them love, safety, attunement and connection from our adult parts of our present body. The healing process means to give to that part that has never received. Our bodies are wise and designed to heal. We experience this neuroceptual acknowledgement through our bodywork metaskills.

The challenges we have been called to face as Shiatsu therapists require an embodied self with effective resources for being resilient. Detecting various symptoms among overwhelming moments we witness a soul in pain. We follow the healing process with empathy updating our data base – an appropriate ‘toolbox’ for keeping ourselves grounded and present. It is a fundamental need to be resilient to ‘listen’ to the subtle whisperings of Qi and support and respect its power as a life force. Our touch transmits what we are. It is a movement of contraction and expansion transformed to a gently tapping in order to survive, to feed itself, to carry life force forward (amoeba). There, the body allows the connection! And when the body feels SAFE, being heard and being held, it can release the tension; it can be expanded to unfold its wisdom. It can experience the freedom of HOPE. A space where CHANGE can start its long way.

How can we create the structure and context for our clients to feel welcomed enough to access and unfold their own vulnerability and then to move forward? Restoring wholeness is a task for an organism that has been shattered by trauma.

“Between your two thumbs you can feel a sort of echo or spark, and then they feel as one… you can create oneness by using two hands. We call this sharing ‘life compassion’“.

Shizuto Masunaga

We often have clients suffering from stress and trauma disorders. Often we become resilient through these processes or identified with the various challenges of being non-grounded, triggered with our own patterns, tired from overwhelming senses losing the core of our Shiatsu self!

We have the experience that Qi movements are related with the qualities of the body’s multidimensional response. Our body and our client’s body interact and our inner attitude takes a crucial part in the development of this relationship. It is an inner journey from both sides. Unless we deal with our own trauma, we are not able to apply our skills without our strong presence in a non-critical state.

“Verbal therapies that rely on recounting traumatic events may cause retraumatization, hindering the healing process. Trauma victims cannot recover until they become familiar with and befriend the sensations in their bodies.”

Dr. Bessel van der Kolk

Trauma imprints itself on our body and nervous system, which is why talk therapies are often unsuccessful. Healing trauma is about dissolving the split. Somatic therapies have a crucial and complementary part in the trauma healing process. The narrative talk of the mind offers no improvement without the somatic experience and especially the movement that is happening inside the body.
“Your body knows the direction of healing and life. If you take the time to
listen to it through focusing, it will give you the steps in the right direction.”

Eugene Gendlin, Focusing Founder

The term ‘somatic’ means “relating to the body, especially as distinct from the mind”. Somatic therapies work directly with the trauma-affected nervous system to help safely release trauma from the body and promote grounding and self-attunement.

This workshop will be experiential and a first step for developing skills and metaskills to harmonize life resources through Shiatsu and Energy Work trainings.

The aim is to acknowledge the energetics of trauma, learn to disidentify from the personal stories and alter the resilience of our Shiatsu self. Our ‘tool box’ will be enriched by trauma release techniques to empower our practice with knowledge and sensitivity.

We will explore metaskills from Focusing Process.

Finding a safe place through our present “Shiatsu self” drives us in a safe, intuitive way to deepen our care for ourselves and others.

Cultivating our Inner attitude we will find the right distance to interact with our client through empowered presence.

  • By tuning in and clear the space (focusing)
  • Learning how to be disidentified and explore our symbol of presence (in terms of the
    focusing process)
  • Developing the ability to hold a safe space for both ourselves and the client and transfer
    it to our touch

We will experience Trauma Recovery Somatic Exercises integrated to our healing art. We will experience the process of embodiment that plays a critical role in healing. We will practice techniques that stimulate the vagal tone.

At the end of this course you will:
  • have a better understanding why somatic therapy is so effective in trauma healing
  • have the awareness of being safe inside as a crucial step for strengthening our resources and from this state to hold the space for applying somatic techniques easily to integrate to your personal method
  • find your entity of Shiatsu self you will develop a resourceful whole body for all the challenges
  • be able to give some exercises to your client for their daily practice to keep on their inner journey

Providing SAFETY, we bring HOPE. Then, we are resilient to follow the power of CHANGE.