The process of moving through and releasing trauma can have difficult and painful times. Having skills to comfort and ground you in this process are essential. You may want to make a list so at the time, all you will need to remember is to find the list and look at it. Your brain does not function as well in these times so make it as easy as possible for your self.
Deep breathing is always where I begin. Even if you are not noticing the effects of the breathing while you are doing it, deep breathing will begin calming and helping your body to set the parasympathetic nervous system into action. This is the system that helps your body to ‘rest and digest’. I don’t wait until I am in a difficult moment to begin, I practice deep breathing regularly and take a few 30 second breaks in the day to just settle in and rebalance as a preventative measure.
When I am able, I remind myself that though thoughts, feelings and memories can feel very real in the moment, the actual events are over and I am in a safe place. One time this included pulling the blankets and pillows off my bed and creating a nest on the floor to curl up in though sometimes I just speak to myself out loud. I used to have to get someone to help me with this and if you have a person or a few who you trust, this is an excellent option until you can hold the power to do it for yourself. For a number of years, my husband would hold me ever night for 10-15 minutes and I would listen to his heart. It was an amazing commitment on his part. Those caring acts remind us that there are kind and good people in the world whereas in those moments where we have returned to the trauma, that goodness, kindness and gentleness exist is easy to forget.
For me dancing and feeling my body move is an essential practice. I will often spend 5 minutes per hour dancing, preventatively or in difficult times. Sometimes I have been able to manage was swaying from foot to foot as my heart felt in ruins. Where I grew up, dancing was considered a sin, especially for women because their body in movement would be a temptation for men and therefore women bodies in particular were evil. To reclaim my body as a joy to be in, as something beautiful and a safe place to be, dancing is essential to me, whether it is to classica, pop, jazz or other types of music. I look forward to trying something new when I am back in Canada -Qoya. It is a way of movement to tap into the wisdom and sacredness of the body. Other body movement practices that engage the the body in a mindful way are yoga, qigong, feldenkrais and marital arts.
Creating a calm box with lavender scented rice(just add a few drops of essential oil), sandpaper, seeds in a plastic bottle or other sensory objects can be a wonderful tool. Anything that you enjoy to touch, taste, feel, hear or see. You can focus on the object and what it feels like or you can focus on what it is to sense an object. For example, what is it like to see? What is it like to taste.
Childhood trauma in particular greatly affects the root chakra and your ability to be grounded. You may feel spacey, lost in thought or absent minded. Sitting on the ground or lying on the ground or on the sand is an excellent way to help your body keep grounded. It gives you something safe and solid to connect to.
Most of all, be kind to yourself when you can remember. Write yourself a note to read in these times, or have someone to call who can and will remind you.
Watch for my upcoming downloadable guide on skills to assist yourself in the healing process.
For more information on making a calm box, click here.