In 1997, Peter Levine wrote and published a book called Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma. Within the book, Levine displayed the human mind as that of a unique animal, and presented the theory and therapy of somatic experiencing as a form of trauma therapy.
Somatic experiencing may sound incredibly fancy, but the definition itself is very simple. The idea is that the human mind is innately capable of healing itself when under duress, just like how the human body deploys antibodies to combat a foreign invasion and infection, and recruits its own cellular prowess to speed up wound healing.
However, in cases of trauma, our mind is simply overloaded – this natural self-regulation by way of our autonomic nervous system is compromised, and our ability to function on a daily basis is plagued by inner reminders of that painful experience or memory. But through somatic experiencing therapy, we can retrain ourselves to deal with trauma, and the unresolved threat we experienced.
How It Works
In his book, Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma, Levine describes how animals discharge energy after they’ve experienced life-threatening danger. Under threat, they mobilize large amounts of energy to have available for fleeing or fighting a dangerous situation. This is exactly the way human function, as well – our adrenal gland secretes adrenaline to be used in a fight-or-flight moment, keeping us out of harm’s way or eliminating the danger ahead. However, once safe, animals discharge this energy and restore their autonomic nervous system to equilibrium. Levine’s basic premise is that, in moments of extreme stress – trauma – our nervous system doesn’t recover from the fight-or-flight shock, and we’re stuck in a loop where any reference to that event will trigger the same instant reaction despite the absence of actual danger.
In other words, instead of becoming a memory, we continue to live on within our trauma, experiencing that same panic over and over again. Somatic experiencing was designed to combat that, and overcome the fight or flight, or freeze (deer in the headlights) response. If a person is stuck in the fight response, he or she may have experiences of anxiety, panic, hyperactivity, emotional flooding, chronic pain, or hyper-vigilance. If a person is stuck in the freeze response, a person might experience depression, lethargy, exhaustion, low blood pressure, disorientation, or dissociation. Somatic Experiencing aims to guide a person out of these states by helping them release the energy of stored trauma in the body – by quite simply helping them ease out and relax out of their agitated states while experiencing the trauma in their minds.
A Somatic Experiencing session is done face to face with a client and a trained clinician. Here at Vantage Point, we have professionals who are specifically trained in somatic experiencing, which due to its delicate nature and the volatility of the minds it has to deal with requires many hours of training as well as experiencing the healing effects of somatic experiencing, by being a client for up to 24 clinical hours. That’s right – in order to actual practice SE as a form of therapy, a professional has to undergo a session.
The process of a session is very simple. The session starts with the introduction of a traumatic trigger. Nothing major or overwhelming, but enough to illicit a subconscious physical reaction. From there, a professional will help ease you through your emotions and reactions to help you self-regulate and move on past your trauma, upping the ante on the triggering material until you eventually have overcome your therapy.
Origins of Somatic Experiencing
Dr. Peter A. Levine conducted many studies of stress physiology, psychology, ethology (the study of animal behavior), biology, neuroscience, indigenous healing practices, and medical biophysics before developing the practice of somatic experiencing. Somatic experiencing releases traumatic shock, which is required to transform post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), early emotional wounds, and trauma related to early developmental attachment. Somatic experiencing is a versatile therapy tool, and requires a flexible practitioner to adapt to how a patient reacts to their trauma.
If you or someone you know is experiencing the results of trauma or the symptoms of a post-traumatic stress disorder, it’s likely that somatic experiencing can help. Contact us today for more information on the specifics.
ENERGY HEALING – PRANIC & REIKI
Energy healing is a form of alternative healing, commonly being used by more and more health and wellness professionals. It doesn’t involve any flashing lights, glowing chakras or fantastical hand movements – energy healing is a non-fictional real-life therapeutic treatment that works with a person’s energy field.
Here at Vantage Point, we find that finding pride in using only what some people deem scientifically-sound is foolish. We apply all techniques that display a certain level of efficacy, because we believe that we should have the ability to offer any therapeutic tool on the planet, no matter how implausible it may seem to a select few. And in the case of energy healing, there is a case for the existence and manipulation of the energy present in our bodies. Just like how our blood and breath flows through us, electrical impulses ultimately dictate the state of our nervous system’s health. While we’re not there scientifically to understanding why energy healing works for some people, there have been enough cases for us to feel that it is our duty to bring the alternative to the table – and explain the theory behind its effectiveness.
The actual practice itself is basic. During energy healing, the therapist or healing professional uses a variety of methods to channel healing energy into a person’s energy field. He or she might also direct unhealthy or dysfunctional energy out of a person’s energy field. Energy healing can be done through various means, using a hands-on approach, hands-off, or distant (where the healing professional and the client are in different locations), with effectiveness being compromised between the three. Depending on the setting, Energy healing may also be called energy therapy, spiritual healing, and energy medicine. The two forms we feature here at Vantage Point, are the Oriental practices of Pranic healing and Reiki.
There are two types of Energy Healing:
Pranic Healing uses the life force energy of the body to heal, balance, and harmonize the body’s life energy. This system was developed by Choa Kok Sui, and originates from the Hindu philosophy of Prana – the energy permeating all of existence. Choa Kok Sui believed that the invisible bio-energy or vital energy of the body and mind can be used to keep a person in good health – and that that energy was the same found all around us. He theorized that the body possesses a simple, Pranic self-healing process and that the body’s healing process is accelerated by increasing its levels of Prana. While the word utilizes the Hindu meaning, it’s the same universal energy talked about throughout other Asian cultures, including East Asia and its Chi, Ki and Qui.
Pranic healing is performed by a trained professional who directs Prana in, throughout, and around a person without touching them. The reasoning for a hands-off approach is that physical contact is not required because Prana is readily available everywhere. Choa Kok Sui was known for saying, “Prana is all around us. It is pervasive; we are actually in an ocean of life energy. Based upon this principle, a healer can draw in Pranic energy from the surroundings.” Although it’s energy-based, the idea behind Pranic healing is that a practitioner increases the client’s ability to heal themselves, regardless of whether their ailment is physical or mental. Essentially, the physical body experiences sickness only after energetic disruptions are not healed – otherwise, our energy creates a natural shield from symptoms of sickness. Therefore, Pranic healing goes to the source of ailments and works with the energetic cause of one’s sickness or discomfort.
Reiki healing is a Japanese concept, and was first developed by Mikao Usui. Unlike Pranic energy, Usui’s concept of Reiki requires physical contact to transfer and manipulate a person’s energies. Through Reiki, energy can be redirected and irregular flows can be corrected to relieve stress and unwanted mental and physical tension.
According to Reiki practitioners, the energy flowing through a person is precisely what keeps them alive. When a person’s life force is low, he or she might feel sick or stressed. When a person’s life force is high, he or she might feel happy and healthy. A practitioner of Reiki attempts to direct healing life force energy into a person so that his or her health can be restored. It’s simple in theory, and relatively simple in practice – anyone willing to learn can teach themselves to apply Reiki techniques.
A person can learn certain hand positions to perform Reiki on themselves, or a practitioner can learn hand positions to use to treat others. Reiki is simple, safe, and natural, due to its basic non-invasive nature – and as a result, there are no dangers that a person might become ill from it. However, Reiki should be used in conjunction with other medical and therapeutic techniques to relieve pain, side effects, and promote well-being – as an insurance, that everything is done to help.
If you or someone you know has a physical or emotional concern, perhaps energy healing is the way to go. We won’t tell you to solely rely on it, or even try it all if you’re skeptical. However, there’s the chance that it could help you like it helped many others. Please consult with a psychiatric professional for other treatment options to apply in conjunction to energy healing.