Counselling & Bodywork for Trauma Release | Start Emotional Healing

Surprising lessons from trauma recovery

Including the ‘magic’ of bliss states

The first time I had a full-blown, whole-body experience of shaking on the table during some emotional release bodywork, I wasn’t quite prepared for the bliss I experienced after. 

I’d been recovering from an emotionally abusive relationship. On the table, my early abandonment trauma presented as a series of male images, particularly my father’s, along with anger and grief. Suddenly, after some intense crying and writhing, I was flooded with peace beyond anything I’d known. 

I have since facilitated countless clients through a similar process. Once the body is freed from the weight of painful emotion and memory, it often can and does rise up buoyantly to claim this natural high. 

This is just one of the more unexpected aspects of healing that I’ve experienced in my decade of working with trauma recovery. Here are four lessons I have learned.

When the body releases trauma, there can be some unexpected reactions (including bliss states).

So much research now shows how trauma is held in the body. The body remembers everything, whether memory is held at the level of the nervous system, or in our very cells, as neuroscientist Dr. Candace Pert wrote about in her book Molecules of Emotion

When we repress memory or emotion, it can cause unhappiness, illness, and a sense of being stuck. When somatic (body-based) therapies ‘release’ it, there can be a variety of experiences.

What I have seen is: full body shaking, crying, and sudden memory recall, even of events long forgotten. I have even witnessed memories being held in specific places, as in “when you touch my hip, I have a bitter memory of my sister’s betrayal.”

As I already mentioned, I have also seen and experienced bliss. Since Dr. Candace Pert discovered the body’s natural opiate receptor in 1972, there has been much research on the biochemistry of bliss states. There are definite biochemical changes that take place in the brain during bliss states which appear to be mystical in nature. However, I believe that it is also very much a response to emotional healing. 

Some research suggests that the sudden absence of negative thinking (such as can happen spontaneously during trauma release bodywork) can unblock the dopamine receptors, flooding the body with the biochemicals of bliss.

We keep repeating pain patterns until we heal.

Trauma forever changes how we view and interpret the world. It can also lock us into set ways of being, such as relationship patterns. We might be attracted to the same abusive relationship over and over (as I did), or find ourselves constantly feeling like the victim of our circumstances.

To some extent, this happens because our nervous system becomes used to feeling and reacting to the world in a certain way. We come to expect ‘love’ and ‘connection’ to be delivered to us in the same form. Trauma even passes down to the next generation, what is known as intergenerational trauma.

We all have an inner helper who wants us to be at peace.

Whether you think of this as your soul, or Wholeness, or a cellular memory, this ‘whole’ part of us is alive and well, all the time, and available to guide and support our healing.

Many people relate to this helper as the ‘higher self’ or soul. For others, it is simply the part of us who wishes to no longer suffer, and who act as the “Witness.” From the outside point of view as Witness, we are able to seek solutions rather than remain stuck in a feeling of victimhood.

A wonderful example of how this happens comes from the study of Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly known as multiple personality disorder).  There is almost always a fragment personality called the “inner self helper.”  This part knows all about the other ‘alters’ (alternate personalities), but also has wisdom, compassion, as well as great insight into the person’s health and well-being. Psychotherapist Dr. Ralph Allison, who has written extensively on this inner helper, believes that its help is critical in the ‘integration’ of dissociated identities.  

Intentions can reap rewards even when the going gets tough. 

Healing trauma is not a quick fix. It requires patience, yet I know from experience that the key to recovery is having the strong intention to heal.

Intentions can act as strong beacons, even guiding the seeker to the right treatment or the right practitioner. Even in times of seeming inaction, the intention to heal can lead to spontaneous and surprising emotional shifts.

Releasing trauma from the body can be intense, and reliving unhealthy patterns can feel so disheartening. Yet, there is an inner helper we can learn to be in touch with, and with the intention to heal, suffering can be transformed into peace.

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