Togetherness in a time of trauma

We breathed deeply, stretched up and reached for the sky, feeling our bodies soften and relax. I was leading a group of women through a yoga class. We stood on our mats at the far corners of a sun-dappled garden, performing physically distant, yet socially nourishing yoga together. Before the class we had desperately wanted to hug one another, yet resisted, which felt odd and jarring.

The meaning of yoga is literally ‘union’ or ‘to yoke’. Yoga teaches us that we are all one. None of us exist without the other. It is a comfort that we are never alone when we think like this.

Humans are social creatures and being isolated is difficult for us. I know it has been difficult for me personally. I have been using the term ‘physically distant’ rather than ‘socially distant’ as there is nothing social about being removed from one another in this way. 2 metres may as well be 100 miles if we cannot reach across the divide.

The world seems divided in many ways right now, but something that I heard at a virtual conference today could go a long way to providing some answers.

Covid-19 forced the Trauma Summit for 2020 to be virtual. One of the talks today stood out for me as the speaker, Professor Dan Siegel, talked about how healing requires integration; the coming together of our emotions, our bodies and our memories. Like the yoga, we need to become one with ourselves, before we can become one with other people. We need to become Me, before we can become We.

And I see this with the clients that I see who have experienced trauma. People talk of feeling as though they have different parts of themselves, or that they feel fragmented, torn or empty. Because people feel incomplete, and because their body is feeling the stress from this, they may also experience symptoms in their physical bodies that baffle doctors. Their logical minds are trying to make sense of an event, in a way that their feelings don’t align with. Feeling broken or torn can also be painful, in a physical and emotional way. This pain can be unbearable at times, with some people feeling as though they want to end the pain permanently, through self-harm or even suicide. Understanding that this lack of integration and feeling of separate-ness is a natural response for our mind and body to a traumatic event, and knowing that this means that you are not in fact broken, can be a first step into the healing process.

Perhaps it is to do with our culture that we do not have different words for ’feeling’ as in touching things, and ‘feeling’ as in our internal emotional response to something. When we try to ‘make sense’ of something, it is often the case that our body already DID ‘sense’ the event, and our mind with its logical processes is unable to do the same. We can get stuck here, in the not-making-sense stage.

That’s where processes that integrate these inner experiences can really help with healing. And in particular, healing from the effects of trauma.

One of the ways that integration can occur, is by using therapies such as Integral Eye Movement Therapy (IEMT). IEMT is a rapid therapy that uses simple eye movements and questioning techniques to change a specific thought pattern that may be challenging for you. Moving our eyes in these ways appears to link to the part of our brain that stores our memories and emotions.

By doing this, you can rapidly minimise unwanted feelings and begin to resolve issues. It can also show you why you may repeat unwanted behaviours, and understanding this can help you move towards healing them. You begin to integrate your experience, so that healing can take place.

The added healing element of IEMT is that you as client are not required to disclose lots of details about your experiences or difficult events. As your practitioner, I can help you identify the memory or feeling and we can work to process it, without the need for me to know any specifics about what you experienced, unless you choose to share them.

It is a process that has lasting results, not only for trauma, but in reducing many other unwanted emotional responses to trigger events.

Imagine that you have to give a presentation on a stage to a large audience. For some people this would bring feelings of anxiety that would prevent this from happening. IEMT could remove that feeling and let you take to the stage with confidence instead.

In a time in history where the whole world is experiencing trauma and the pain of isolation and division, it is comforting to know that there are methods that can help us to heal, and to integrate our experience to become whole again.

Yoga is part of my personal self-care routine to ensure that I remain whole and integrated. The philosophies of the ancient teachings are as relevant today as they have ever been. Being whole in ourselves allows us to be resilient to trauma, and to heal from it. To become one with ourselves can help us to heal from trauma, from loss and from isolation, so that we can become one with others again, and enjoy life from a place of wholeness.

Our mind, body, emotions, spirit, soul and whatever other parts of ourselves we each believe that we have, need to feel integrated in order for us to feel complete and therefore completely happy.

In a world where we have been separated, what better time to become one again?

If you have been affected by trauma or have other feelings that you would like to resolve, please get in touch. I am offering discounted coaching and IEMT sessions throughout June and July to make this as accessible as possible for anyone who needs it.

With love,
Zoe x

About the Author

Zoe Carroll

Zoe Carroll is a wellbeing and performance specialist with expertise in neurodiversity and inclusion. She creates training and delivers coaching to develop team cohesion and improve communication within teams. She shares insights into how people can understand each other better in order to both communicate internally and externally to increase productivity and other performance variables while also improving the wellbeing of team members.

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