bessel van der kolk: how mindfulness helps us deal with trauma02 May 2017
so one of the problems with trauma is that it owns us. ptsd, which is an extreme type of trauma (actually, maybe all trauma is by nature extreme?), makes people who have it controlled by the experience they had. trauma has impacts on the brain which then plays out as impacts on the body.
for example, when i lived back in florida and worked at jimmy john’s, one of my favorite customers had a tick where he would look over his left shoulder every 2-3 seconds. he told me it made it hard for him to do things he loved, like read and play sports. it also had made his neck muscles develop in a really visibly uneven way, which made him self-conscious. and those are just two little examples. i can think of cases, especially considering sexual and mental traumas that had other catastrophic impacts.
something bessel studies that is hopeful/helpful in this space is how mindfulness can actually help deal with trauma. he says mindfulness helps us be in our bodies in a way that lets us sense it. and this allows us to understand that things our body feels aren’t actually our body. pain is something that the body is feeling but the pain itself isn’t actually us!
this sounds minor (or maybe just a little unclear – i’m not sure if i explained that well) but if we can begin to sense our triggers, we can start to resist them. this can begin to reverse the process by which trauma controls our body by way of our brain. being able to control this linkage is a hugely important way to deal with trauma and probably all sorts of other things that happen to us, too.
so cool. so intense, but so cool.
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