Trauma in the body can leave us feeling disconnected from our bodies and selves. It can make us feel like we are not safe in our own skin. How do we begin to heal the wounds of trauma and reconnect with our bodies safely and healthily? Our bodies are the one place that should be a safe place for us, a refuge. But, how can we help make it feel safe again after trauma?

In this blog post, we will be breaking down my discussion on Becoming Safely Embodied after Trauma from my Therapy Chat Podcast, Episode 293.

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Embodiment

Trauma in the body can sever that safe feeling we have with our bodies. It can make us feel like we are not in control like our bodies have betrayed us. It can feel like you’re being crushed by life. You may be thinking “There’s gotta be a way through this. This is not right.” And there is a way through it. When we have experienced trauma, we must find a way to reconnect with our bodies and feel safe in them again. “Becoming safely embodied” describes the process of healing this disconnection and re-establishing a safe relationship with our bodies.

Because How do you construct something out of nothing?

In Internal Family Systems(IFS) we talk about, if you remove all the parts then you’re left with yourself. But, if somebody has no access to that, or in this case to their body, it becomes another layer to uncover. After experiencing trauma, you may not have access to your body or your emotions. It can feel like you’re in a fog, or numb. And that’s because trauma lives in the body. To heal, there needs to be a sense of safety within the body first. Then, the emotions can begin to flow again and be felt safely.

Reclaiming Your Body

Becoming safely embodied is a way for us to build a new sense of self that is not defined by the trauma. To help us align all parts of the body. From the head to the heart and down to our toes. It’s a process of reclamation. In yoga, we have these five doorways to the soul, it’s applied always to the heart or the person. These doorways are crucial when we are working with embodiment because they give us a way to access our inner wisdom.

The Physical Body

The physical body, otherwise known as “Sensations”  is the first door. This is about developing a felt sense in the body and being present with physical sensations. It’s about learning to listen to your body and being curious about what it’s trying to tell you.

The Second Body

This body has many naps but consists of the mental, emotional, and psychological body. This is the “Emotions” door. It’s about allowing emotions to be felt and experienced safely. It’s about learning how to soothe yourself, how to self-regulate, and how to be with emotions in a healthy way.

The Energy Body

This body can be accessed through religious or breathing practices. It also allows us access to the prana, or life-force energy, that flows through us. This is the “Spiritual” door. It’s about connecting with something bigger than yourself. We get through IFS or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Or even all the mindfulness practices. It’s about connecting to something that will help ground you and give you a sense of stability.

The Vijnanamaya or the Wisdom Body

This body is what gives us our ability to see clearly and have insight. It’s the “Intellectual” door. It’s about developing a clear understanding of what happened and how it affects you. It’s about learning new skills and developing a new relationship with yourself. And when you’re really sitting in yourself, you can see things more clearly. You can develop a more compassionate understanding of yourself and others. And we can train ourselves to be there, especially for those of us who have been more anxiously attached then, we’re prone to being on the edge of our bodies.

But, when we start accessing the wisdom body, we started moving away from the edge. You move into the central channel. This is the space between the spine and the heart or the rest of the body. There’s clear space. So, if we practice moving into that place, we access wisdom.

We could call that intuition, but it’s not quite that. It’s a different kind of intelligence that comes through, but not cognitive intelligence.

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The Anandamaya or the Bliss Body

Or also known as the more “central place.” This bliss is not like passion or happiness. It’s a deep sense of well-being and peace that comes from aligning with yourself. When you’re in the bliss body, the energy can be really deep contentment. It’s where you feel so at one with everything that you relax the boundary of yourself versus the rest of the planet.

When we align all these doorways in our body, it creates the “Central Channel.”  This is a space that’s open, clear, and connected. It helps us to be more present with ourselves and others. It connects us to all that is above and below us. And to our hearts. Not just the physical heart. But, the emotional heart, the spiritual heart, and then even beyond that. The space when you open the back door of the heart. When we get behind there in the vertical access, there’s something else that begins to happen. Healing can occur.

Using this to Heal Trauma in the Body

When people stay connected to that path inside them, they trust their inner wisdom. They then let their inner wisdom guide them in the direction of their healing. When we do that, it’s going to take us all different kinds of ways, which allows us to explore all kinds of things. But, we can trust that we’re being led from within. So, when mistakes arise, they will be viewed as wisdom. Not as something to crush us. Our trauma then becomes a way to train ourselves on how to take our suffering and transform it into compassion.

The only right way is our way. The individual’s way.

This perspective can help us to see that there is no one right way. The only way is our way. The individual’s way. And, that when we trust our own process, we can move through anything.

When you’re able to access these different doorways in your body, it provides you with a safe place to land. It’s a place to ground yourself, to feel more stable. And from that place, you can start to explore the world around you. Allow yourself to make a mistake. That’s the whole point of making a mistake.

The whole point of life is to fall and get up and move forward.

But along the way, if we fall, isn’t it so much better if there’s soothing and reassurance? And people to help us get back up again? That’s how we get better. For example, Sha’carri Richardson got a new coach looking at what she needed to do to beat her world record. So, she took a year to learn. She did this by learning and retraining herself as she beat her record. She allowed herself to make mistakes. She also beat the person who had been holding the record before.

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Learning to Make Mistakes after Experiencing Trauma in the Body

Making mistakes can be like a toddler learning to walk. You’re continually falling and getting back up. But, that is the process of learning to walk. It doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong. That’s just how you learn. However, somewhere along the way, pretty early on in life, we get the message that you should never make a mistake. If you don’t make a mistake, you will have a happy life. Or, if you’re always doing the right things, you’ll have ease and happiness. So, this sends the message that if you do make any mistakes, which we all do, then it’s your fault you screwed up. It becomes even more complicated when we’ve experienced trauma in the body

Making mistakes is a part of life and is ok!

When you’ve experienced trauma, the last thing you want to do is make a mistake because it can feel like life or death. It’s deeper because it interferes. It makes you stuck in a loop of reliving the trauma, which is exactly what we don’t want to do. We want to move through it, not stay stuck. It can be really difficult when we don’t have any positive messages to help us move through our mistakes especially if we’ve been traumatized. So, these skills and practices will help you listen to your inner wisdom. It’ll help you move through the trauma to become safely embodied

Find a Trauma Therapist Near Me Who Understands Trauma in the Body

It can be hard to think about the ways your trauma has made you not feel safe in your own body. How it’s made you feel like you can’t trust yourself. But, some people have walked this path before and come out the other side. Working with a trauma therapist can help you to process and understand your trauma. They can also help you to develop skills and practices to become safely embodied. If you’re considering therapy, you can find an experienced trauma therapist near you by clicking here.

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Publish Date

August 3, 2022

About the Author

Laura Reagan, LCSW-C

Laura Reagan, LCSW-C is an integrative trauma therapist and owner of a group practice, the Baltimore Annapolis Center for Integrative Healing. She is also the host of Therapy Chat and Trauma Chat podcasts and the founder of the Trauma Therapist Network, a website for learning information about trauma and finding resources and help for trauma.

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