For someone who has experienced trauma, the present moment may feel like the most dangerous place in the world.
Our body is healthy only to the extent that it is able to communicate freely throughout its various systems. When information is passed on incorrectly, or not all, our health suffers.
The block to clear communication within our body is often the result of trauma. In her recent book, Reclaiming Your Body: Healing from Trauma and Awakening to Your Body’s Wisdom, Suzanne Scurlock-Durana explains that trauma can show up in our lives in large and small ways. Sometimes trauma is from a chronic health condition or never having enough food as a child, and sometimes it is from an event or several events, such as an attack or fighting in a war.
Whatever initiates the trauma, our body—in an attempt to protect us—activates our sympathetic nervous system; we tighten up, our breath gets shallow, and our body is flooded with stress hormones. Recent trauma research shows that if our body holds on to this kind of lockdown, it may cause “psychiatric disorders, chronic pain and illness, and everyday tension.” Scurlock-Durana, a craniosacral therapist, developed a program called “Healing from the Core” to help facilitate individuals who had parts of themselves that had shut down to learn to listen to their body for what it needs to heal.
For someone who has experienced trauma, the present moment may feel like the most dangerous place in the world. “An internal, felt sense of safety and connection clearly are two pivotal needs for all of us as we reclaim our body,” writes Scurlock-Durana. One important way to be able to live fully in the present is to find the hurt places inside of you that are “resistant to life.”
The practice begins by becoming connected with the healing power of the earth. She writes that some will feel it, some will see it, and some will just know that it is there. Next, find the places of resistance inside of you that are ready to be healed. Imagine the healing energy of the earth cradling the sensation of resistance.
“Feel the edges of this place. Does it have a color? Does it have a shape? Notice ... What size is it?” Scurlock-Durana suggests backing off if it feels too intense, and slowly returning when you are ready. The important thing here is that you are not trying to change this place of resistance, you are simply holding it. “Just cradle it. You are simply there to be with that aspect of yourself. You are not doing anything to it. You’re not going to throw it away. You’re not going to try to make it disappear. You are simply there with it.” She offers the idea of holding this part of yourself with unconditional love. Notice how it feels after you have spent some time it. There may have been some shifts, and it may feel the same.
Coming back to this practice and being present with the parts of yourself that are shut down and constricted can be life changing, and it can take time. Scurlock-Durana offers a multi-layered approach to reconnecting with the body, allowing the traumas of the past to be released so that the health and wisdom of the body can be fully expressed.