Healing Body Memories
What are Body Memories?
Body Memories are a form of flashbacks and wider re-experiencing symptom class. It is a flashback that connects to sensory input other than visual and auditory. The term somatic flashback is a synonyms terms.
More about body memories can be found here
Steps in The Moment:
- Breath (calm breathing skills PDF)
- Experience the feeling and let it move away. Don’t fight your emotions, but don’t ruminate on it.
- Remember it will pass.
- Remember that the feeling actually isn’t happening in the moment. Remind yourself where you are now.
- Do grounding exercises (info here)
- Repeat affirmations. Example “I’m here, I’m safe” or an affirmation you use in other situations
- Remember that it is all over and you are safe now.
- Go to a private place and remove yourself from any triggers
Once You are Out of The High Stress Situation:
- Talk or write about what feelings/memories are brought up by the body memories
- Do something nice for your body like taking a bath, putting on lotion or a nice smelling perfume, or wear comfy clothes
- Write a letter to your body venting your feelings
- Aroma Therapy, hot bath, sensory toys, or other calming sensory sensations.
- Ask your body what it needs, Are you hungry? Cold? Tired? Thirsty?
Long Term Healing Strategies:
Our bodies hold their own memories of trauma. The nerves throughout our whole body and the way our bodies connect to our brains are shaped through trauma. Learning to address the trauma held in our bodies is the key to dealing with body memories and trauma as a whole.
Working through this can be done by talking to our bodies. Sit where it’s quite and talk (out loud or in your heads) to your body. Think of meditation and relaxation skills. Some skills you might utilize are visualisation, diaphragmatic breathing, yoga stretches and/or mantras.
- The first step is to honour the pain you are in. What happend in trauma, and when you have body memories where does it hurt? how does it feel? This understands your body and gives you a better understanding of the trauma held there
- Next focous on the new situation here you are safe and away from trauma and abuse. Let your body know it’s okay, your safe now. Affirmations or mantras are great here. If you do use mantras using we is sometimes good, especially early on helps break the way trauma and culture severed the brain-body understanding.
- “We’re alive, we’re safe, we survived”
- “We aren’t in trauma anymore, we lived”
- ” They can’t harm us anymore”
- This process will have to be done more than once. Like any coping skills altering our way of being and trauma experiences take time to heal. However, it can be healing right away. Like other relaxations skills and meditative skills, it can help with being calm, and able to handle stress.
Work to listen to your body and connect the way the connection to our bodies has been dissociated through the trauma. Focous on dealing with hunger, thirst, fatigue, stress and pain. Learning to do this can help when body memories happen to know how to deal with discomfort or pain.
Also celebrate and acknowledge positive feelings like when laughing runs through the whole body, when happiness makes everything warm, hugs that feel like coming home, wonderful smells, the feeling of running your hands through pets fur, the way a brisk breeze wakes you up, swimming being like flying, the way grass tickles your nose, or water rushing over your toes.
Healing the connection with our bodies allows us to help our body move past trauma. Allows us to calm our bodies easier and bring ourselves back from flashbacks.
- Chelcee. “Trauma, Body Memories, and How to Heal Them.” The Body Is Not An Apology, The Body Is Not An Apology, 11 Apr. 2019, thebodyisnotanapology.com/magazine/what-are-body-memories-and-how-to-heal-them/.
- Rita. “Coping With Body Memories.” Made Of Storm, Tumblr, 4 June 2016, made-of-storm.tumblr.com/post/120686262917/coping-with-body-memories.
- Morton, Kati. YouTube, YouTube, 3 Oct. 2016, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7OTlN2IR68.
- Langberg, Diane. “Complex Trauma: Understanding and Treatment.” Forum of Christian Leaders . ELF Christian Counsellors Network, 21 Jan. 2016, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otxAuHG9hKo.
Much of this also comes from personal experience with therapy and working with other survivors
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