Before I share how to heal from childhood trauma without it taking years to see significant change, and without reliving (or even discussing) old wounds…
I want you to know that, despite how you may have felt (or been stigmatized) until now, you are NOT broken. You are NOT flawed.
Your body is working the way it’s supposed to under the conditions it’s exposed to.
More on that shortly.
This guide can help you further your healing enough to create the calm power and internal fearlessness you need to finally break through stubborn blocks and grow your business and life, On Purpose.
But first, let’s agree on something:
Part of the reason I’m here is to normalize traumatic experiences. Because they ARE a part of the normal human experience. (Hello, “social distancing,” divorce, emotional neglect, and natural disaster… et al.)
In fact, 2/3rds of all humans experienced at least one before the age of 18. That ratio rises markedly when considering marginalized communities like African Americans, American Indians, LGBTQ, Latinx… and women, to give a few examples.
The point? We are not “different,” we are not strange, and we are not “special cases.”
Our experiences are not our handicap. So I won’t walk on eggshells when I write to you, just as I don’t expect that when you interact with me.
And dare I say we can actually have fun at times, as we talk about becoming more healed, healthier humans?
We NEED fun. We NEED positivity. We NEED uplifting. Why? Because they feel friggin’ AMAZING. Obviously. 😉❤
What we don’t need are eggshells, pity, or wallowing. Those tend to feel not-so-hot.
One more thing:
Since you’re here for help on how to heal from childhood trauma, you’re clearly an adult who has filed your experiences away at least enough to be able to actively seek out healing, and to function reasonably well in your daily life.
And you can learn about trauma healing with some measure of excitement and hope.
So let’s talk about how to heal from trauma experienced in childhood.
Why this isn’t your grandma’s trauma healing guide
Grandmas are amazing. Or at least… I think that they are, mostly from other people’s warm stories of nostalgia. I don’t remember ever even meeting one of mine. And the other, I only knew for a very short while when I was really young.
That grandma, I remember her being subjected to many things under the umbrella of “treatment” that didn’t end up serving her well in the end.
Labeled (rightly or not) and stigmatized as a paranoid schizophrenic, she was offered medication to “manage” this “condition.” Meds which she hated, of course, as they stole her light, her laughter, and her love, leaving her feeling like a lazy lump who could do nothing but snooze.
That’s a downer.
My grandma had numerous other health and wellness challenges. And it’s unfortunate that it occurred to none of her slew of Western medical providers that, well, gee … perhaps her health in other areas affected her mental-emotional health?
Something at least to consider?
Because how can one have an unwell body, but a fit and healthy mind?
So when I say this isn’t your grandma’s trauma healing guide, we’re not talking at all about synthetic prescription drugs whose intended function is actually to suppress your normal bodily functions … or to put others into overdrive … in order to cover up the symptoms of an underlying problem and put you under “management” for a short time.
We’re also not talking about cutting out pieces of you that you were born with, which perform important physiological functions.
At Energetic Harmony℠, we’re talking—always—about grappling to get to the ROOT CAUSE of said concern(s).
To that end, the healing approach in this guide is based on newer, smarter research, and countless user experiences, which take into account the important FACT that the human body is a complex and beautiful “machine” with systems that are all interconnected.
So we can’t look at healing from emotional trauma by looking only at “the emotions,” which most people might suppose means looking at “the mind.”
No, we must remember and embrace that “the mind” is only one part of the human. And when the mind is unwell, the causative factors of that state of unwellness don’t all stop in or within the mind.
TLDR: In our quest to “heal” the mind and the emotions, we must honor the fact that mind and body are interconnected.
5 ways this healing approach better respects YOU as an integrated human.
As you’re seeking help healing from childhood trauma specifically, the presumption is that you’ve had multiple, repeated experiences. For that reason, this guide is tailored specifically toward those with a history of trauma, as opposed to a singular event.
You’ll learn to change your mind THRU your body, *in order to* change your business and life. You’ll also learn why that distinction is very important in healing from complex trauma.
You’ll discover how to accelerate mental-emotional healing, growth, and self development gently, without reliving painful experiences or reopening old wounds.
You’ll be empowered by science that will normalize your experiences and behaviors, proving you’re not “broken” or flawed.
You’ll learn concrete ACTIONS you can incorporate into your healing work, staying away from fluffy, painfully-obvious advice like to “replace bad habits with good ones” or to “take time to yourself” in order to heal.
Well, I’m not a proponent of drugs, surgery, other invasive strategies, or having to be in talk therapy for years just to stay sane.
This guide is based on what has worked and is working for me to overcome my disabling fear of rejection, on what has worked and is working for my own clients, on what some of the latest neuroscience research says, as well as on the thousands of third-party stories that support the tools we’ll cover.
I’m A HEALING HUMAN, just like you, with an A.C.E. score of 10+ out of 10(!), who was tired of the rollercoaster of life, relationships, and business, who took her healing into her own holistic hands and figured out a way to finally make some true PROGRESS, so that I’m able to put myself out there in ways I never have before, and build the life I’ve wanted for decades.
I suffered, in the most literal sense, with C-PTSD symptoms for most of my life without realizing that was ever the problem. Thinking PTSD was for veterans of war only, I had zero idea what “C”-PTSD was, or that it was even a thing.
As such, I couldn’t figure out just why the hell I was unable to level my businesses up like I longed to do, despite the coaching, the books, the workshops, the therapy, the classes, and the programs… to reach the heights I’d dreamt of. (To know more, read my story here.)
Even still, in just a few months, and using the exact healing methodology described, I’ve been able to not only heal enough to finally START GROWING AGAIN (in business, and in life), but I’ve also been able to show others with complex trauma histories how to heal and grow too, in ways they never thought possible.
I attribute a lot of that to my compulsion to understand how something everything works… and WHY. As long as I can remember, it’s never been enough for me to be given “a strategy.”
It’s got to make logical sense (as much as possible, anyway), so I can understand the mechanics of exactly how it can help me.
Color me nerdy. 🤓
With that, let’s go on to educate ourselves on the impacts of childhood trauma, so that we know how to counteract them in order to heal.
The Physical & Emotional Impacts of Childhood Trauma
There are many physiological impacts of chronic trauma. When experienced before Age 18, it actually modifies the development of our growing brain and body.
Nadine Burke Harris, M.D., the first Surgeon General of California, explains that ACEs (adverse childhood experiences) change the brain, the developing hormonal system, the immune system, and even the way our DNA is read and transcribed.
So if trauma has been scientifically proven to have long-standing physical impacts… surely it has emotional impacts as well.
the cingulate (self-regulation center) is underactive [video]
the prefrontal cortex (thinking center) is underactive [video]
the hippocampus (memory center) is underactive [video]
the insula (interoception center) is dysregulated [video]
And continued exposure to trauma can shrink the hippocampus and the cingulate in size.
When we consider that data, we understand that our healing modalities should be targeted at building these areas back up, or strengthening them.
We can’t just go about healing all willy-nilly and expect long-term, measurable change. We have to be a bit strategic in our efforts to avoid exhausting ourselves, and spinning our wheels with minimal progress.
5 Ways Childhood Trauma Changes the Brain, Body, & Behavior
I know that you’re here for healing help, and we’re getting there.
But it’s important that we understand how our physiology has been changed SO THAT the healing methodology makes sense… and SO THAT we understand why other things we’ve tried haven’t brought the change we were looking for.
1. We lose touch with our feelings (both physical & emotional).
The trauma-affected human often grew up hyper aware of her (external) environment.
We had to force an external focus in order to keep ourselves as safe and as comfortable as we could.
For instance, consider the case of an over-critical parent who doesn’t show “love” but only “approval” (emotional neglect). The child’s learned behavior is to constantly, perhaps obsessively, seek the approval of others.
“Approval” is all she learns to expect, in the absence of love.
So if I’m constantly trying to “perform” to win the attention and/or approval of my parent, my focus is always external—on that parent.
And I learn to depend on that stimulus, the approval, in order to feel good or to get positive attention.
At the same time, I unlearn how to pay attention to what I want, and to care for my own needs. Remember, my parent isn’t focused on that. My parent is only focused on what (s)he wants, what makes him/her happy, and what keeps or makes him/her comfortable.
They’re not focused on what makes me happy or comfortable.
So I learn that in order to feel some semblance of happiness or comfort, I have to focus my attention on my external environment—the others.
And I “have to” ignore what I feel, because I’m subconsciously (or even consciously, in some environments) taught that my feelings are less important than their feelings.
This belief becomes my pattern. And as I become an adult, it manifests in my life in various ways. But even more importantly, my body has also adapted—it’s learned that, in order to gain some soothing and comfort, it must be focused on the external environment.
Because focusing on the internal environment in the past has proven either futile or outright dangerous.
So doesn’t it make sense, then, that a crucial aspect of healing must be to “recalibrate”—to get back in touch with what we’re feeling inside, both emotionally and physically?
2. We’re unable to manage our feelings well, so we withdraw or lash out.
Remember, due to our trauma history, now we cannot easily identify how we’re feeling … or how intensely we’re feeling it … until, perhaps, it’s too late.
If that’s the case, then how can we “regulate” or change how we’re feeling?
But this is exactly what business coaches innocently expect. (They don’t know any better; the majority don’t know quite enough about how the mind and body work.)
This is what business mindset programs expect.
This is what our significant others, family, friends, all expect. (They don’t know any better. Many of them have trauma too, or at the very least, don’t know that you have, or haven’t learned how to work with ours.)
This is even what our therapists often expect—once they’ve shown us how our feelings or ways of behaving are “A Problem.”
But again, I ask you … how can we regulate how we’re feeling if we don’t FIRST KNOW that we’re feeling it? Because we’re hyper aware of our external environment, and scarcely aware of what’s going on inside?
This is a major revelation. Please take a moment to let that sink in.
Think about your past experiences, maybe things you’re not proud of, and others you wish you’d done differently in business. Or in life. And extend yourself some grace now.
Because before we can expect ourselves to be able to regulate how we’re feeling, we have to first KNOW that we’re feeling it. And we have to learn to recognize the signs that a certain feeling is coming, or intensifying.
Doesn’t this make the most sense?
So as an entrepreneur, what does it mean to be able to “regulate” our emotions? Well, as business owners, we need to be able to:
motivate ourselves to do the work
remind ourselves that our fears are unfounded… so we don’t hold ourselves back
remember and believe that fear of the unknown is normal… so we keep taking risks to grow
keep ourselves from blowing up at team members or clients who annoy or disrespect us
And when we can’t self-regulate in stressful situations (whether internally or externally caused), we end up lashing out or withdrawing.
Those “response extremes” are our body’s natural, in-built attempts to avoid or mitigate that stress. And we cannot be productive or growth-oriented in either state.
3. We’re outside the frame of mind to be introspective, rational, or discerning.
Chronic or repeated instances of childhood trauma have put our brains and bodies into survival mode. “Survival mode” isn’t just a coined phrase; it’s your body’s actual physiological response to stress.
Why is this important?
The amygdala (your brain’s “fear center”) is responsible for activating the stress response when we’re under duress. Its intention is to ensure we’re prepped to survive what’s coming next, by way of fighting the threat, running from it, or using other mitigating strategies.
When the body and brain are in survival mode, all non-essential functions are severely suppressed.
If I’m in a life or death barroom brawl, I am not thinking about how what I said to my business partner the other day led to the dissolution of our relationship. 😉
Clearly, all of my faculties are necessarily and intensely concentrated on… not perishing. Or becoming severely injured.
The problem is that, for humans whose stress response systems have been repeatedly activated in childhood, these systems can get “stuck” in an “always on” state. Or, we can simply become far more sensitive to stress triggers.
This means that, as trauma-affected adults who just happen to now be entrepreneurs… we’re hyper-reactive to stress. And our ability to be introspective and rational are severely impacted.
A body trying to survive cannot be consistently “discerning.”
So what does this translate into, in the real world?
inability to make sound business decisions
inability to make definitive decisions at all
inability to consider the big picture or stay focused on longer-term goals
making decisions focused on short-term comfort, that sabotage long-term growth
getting too caught up in the little details of today’s to-dos, and delaying (or undercutting) ability to grow
being too afraid of “putting ourselves out there” to promote or build partnerships
And remember, once again, we cannot be introspective about feelings and an internal state that we don’t first understand. Our ability to understand our internal state is severely hampered by our history of adverse childhood experiences.
4. We lose touch with or are confused about what we want and who we authentically are.
Remember, childhood trauma has likely put us in a state of imbalanced external focus—living for safety or survival; ignoring our own needs. So even when others try to cover our needs for us, or give us compliments or kudos … we may write it off or reject it.
Why? We’re just not used to feeling safe, secure, and comfortable. We may not be used to others wanting to make us feel comfortable, or telling us we’re amazing. In fact, we may not be used to even being viewed as amazing.
Even if our parents were fantastic, and did wonderful, loving jobs of raising us…
maybe we experienced numerous earthquakes or natural disasters that shattered our sense of safety
maybe losing a parent or loved one unexpectedly shattered our sense of security
maybe an unintentional failure to feed us emotionally led to suppression of our feelings
maybe chronic, systemic adversity as a BIPOC (Black or Indigenous Person of Color) taught us to reject our self-worth
There could be any number of causes. But as trauma-affected humans, walking around in—and growing up in—survival mode didn’t leave space for us to healthily and consistently explore our own needs, wants, and emotions.
So now, we’re unsure of our own authentic wants. For many of us, very few people ever even genuinely asked us the question!
So as adults, we’re disconnected from our purpose… and maybe we’ve never been. So we’re stuck going through the motions, living robotically, trying to “survive” our current routine.
Because “survival” has been our most consistent pattern.
As you might expect, being out of touch with our feelings, being unable to satisfyingly self-manage, being too externally focused, and being out of touch with our purpose can all cause… a pretty considerable chronic state of stress.
On both an emotional AND physical level.
Just yesterday, I described to a client how I’d become so used to living in a high-stress state that it had just become … “what to expect from my life.”
It didn’t hit me that I actually experienced much, if any, ongoing stress at all until my herbalist asked me to assess it.
She first asked me how my stress level was. “Fine, not too bad,” I said. But when she asked me to break that down to a 1 to 10 scale … I realized it was, at that time, a 7 or an 8 on most days.
But you see, my ACE (adverse childhood experiences) score is a 10 out of 10.
So “stress” had always been, simply, my idea of “daily life.”
I hope you’re getting all this, Renegade.
This is so, so important.
You see, the CDC reports on how childhood trauma increases the likelihood of negative physical health outcomes in adulthood.
Remember when I mentioned this was not your grandma’s trauma healing guide. And one of the reasons is because we’re taking into account the entire person, not just “the mind.”
So here, we’re reminded to consider the impacts OF physical health ON our emotional health.
When we do, it can seem a bit cyclical:
If I had a high ACE score (10/10), it may have led to an increased risk of physical maladies, like COPD, asthma, kidney disease, et al.
And because I experience that asthma, let’s say, the stresses of that physical disease now negatively impact my mental-emotional state.
Leading to a chronically higher level of stress.
Living in a state of toxic stress can make it hard to “show up” sometimes, not only in our businesses, but also in our relationships and life. On our most difficult days, it can feel damn-near impossible even to get out of bed, much less to go to work, run the biz, or “crush the goals.”
This is why we MUST take time to destress, relax, relate (to ourselves) … and RELEASE all the trauma that’s built up inside our bodies.
The Foundation of Complex Trauma Healing: The Order and Intention are Important
We’ve explored five ways childhood trauma impacts our brain, body, and behavior. I hope you better understand why you’ve been having some of the responses you’ve had in your business, your relationships, and your life.
Please… leave me a comment and let me know.
The importance of healing order
Now you probably understand why the business coaching, the self-help books, the mindset work, the other programs you’ve tried, the affirmations, vision boards, et al. … just haven’t worked long-term to help you level up.
Please leave a comment to tell me if you had a light bulb moment.
Remember that if our body isn’t in a calm enough state to receive the work we’re doing… it’ll stay in survival mode.
We cannot THRIVE in “SURVIVAL” mode. It’s an oxymoron.
We cannot learn to calm our bodies and REGULATE our feelings unless we first UNDERSTAND what those feelings are.
So our first order of business, without question, should be to reacquaint with our body’s internal sensationsso that we’re able to exert control over them… and consequently, the growth of our businesses.
Now you understand why, when we’re talking about healing from chronic trauma, we have to use strategies that make sense for our brain’s and body’s current state.
That’s easier to do, now that we understand what that is!
So the “intention” set toward our healing is important.
Meaning if we now understand, which we do, that our physiology has changed on a hormonal level, a structural level (brain), a functional level (brain), and a DNA level… then we can intentionally focus our healing tools toward those areas.
But we also have to take into account the complexity of the job.
Because trauma has changed us in multifaceted ways, we have to use multifaceted strategies to reset ourselves and heal.
With these things in mind, let’s get on to the healing work.
Remember that, as adults who experienced trauma in childhood, we’ve lost touch with our feelings, both physical and emotional. So then, we need to recalibrate internally—to remember how to interpret that sensory data that makes up our emotions and physical sensations.
And each emotion is tied to a set of bodily sensations.
For example, have you ever noticed that, when we feel nervous, maybe our hands and legs shake, the temperature of our torso increases, our palms and underarms perspire, and our voice trembles?
As we start to recalibrate, we begin to feel these sensations in our bodies. And as we do, we become better able to recognize what emotions are coming up, so we can regulate them as we need to.
One example of that is the Time-Efficient Triangle Breath, or T.E. Triangle Breath.
Research Findings for the T.E. Triangle Breath:
Reduced stress and anxiety (Fried, 1993; Rowe, 1999; Wehrenberg, 2008)
Increased quality of life (Hagman et al., 2011)
Reduced blood pressure (Russell, 2014)
Improved self regulation (Russell, 2014)
Reduced inflammation (Rosas-Ballina et al., 2011)
May reduce intrusive memories (Kemps, Tiggermann, & Christianson, 2008)
Here’s a video on how to do it:
Other tools that help increase interoception are “sensory sensitization exercises.” With these, we connect with and explore external objects, and then describe their qualities, to connect our outside world to our internal sensations.
In other words, we engage one of our five primary senses (smell, sight, taste, touch, hearing) and practice describing what we feel.
To me, a lot of sensitization exercises, like the Number Story example, honestly seem a bit strange or uninteresting. 😔 Not to say that all of trauma healing is going to be a party, but… if I’m not interested, I won’t do it as much as I should.
Assuming that many of my clients are the same way, I use exercises in my practice that are a bit more engaging, but that you can often still do anywhere, like the T.E. Triangle Breath above.
2. Increase your ability to regulate your emotions and bodily sensations.
Once we’ve begun building a foundation of recognizing our emotional and physical feelings, we can start trying to regulate them.
That involves three steps:
Learn calming “right away” tools
Sometimes we may not be able to leave a situation in order to diffuse our upset… like when running a team meeting or a sales call. We need strategies that allow us to “talk ourselves down” right then and there—and fast.
I call these Right-Now CalmDowns.
The T.E. Triangle Breath is actually a Right-Now CalmDown.
I use breath-based healing tools like these all the time to soothe myself when I can’t get out of a tense or high-stress situation, like driving in rush-hour traffic with careless tailgaters, and people darting around like maniacs, and… You get the picture.
Familiarize with your emotional limits
Remember that before we know to even use the tool, we have to recognize two things:
“What’s my default reaction in very high-stress situations?”
Some people withdraw. Others “perfect.” Others lash out. Etc.
What’s your default response? Once you know that, then ask yourself…
“In stressful situations, what am I feeling in my body just before I jump to my default stress response?”
We don’t want to just spontaneously find ourselves IN the stress response, over-perfecting, yelling at our teammates, sweating and crumbling during that presentation, or withdrawing and sitting on the sofa binge watching Scandal reruns instead of marketing our business.
Ideally, we need to learn to recognize triggers leading UP to that stress response, so we can nip it in the bud. So what are your “tells”?
Once you know, then…
Practice intervening before reaching your limit
Once we can I.D. the bodily sensations and emotions we feel as we’re approaching our emotional limit… we can learn to intervene before we get there.
And what do we intervene with?
That Right-Now Calm Down tool we learned proactively and preemptively, of course! (Welcome back, T.E. Triangle Breath! ♥)
3. Restructure your neural connections: how you think.
Now that we’re able to, first, recognize how we’re feeling … then take action to change it … we’ll be more receptive to “thinking-based” ways of growing our character and our business… which felt out of reach before.
So we can work on “cognitive restructuring” now: basically, adjusting how we think and view the world, to intentionally create positive change in our businesses and lives.
Some healing strategies for cognitive restructuring include:
talk therapy, like CBT, DBT, et al.
identifying limiting beliefs
reevaluating your priorities
reassessing your values
uncovering your hidden passions
I.D.’ing your most stifling fears
I.D.’ing your best coping strategies
I.D.’ing your personal self-sabotage points (in advance!)
setting realistic, tangible goals
planning for the future to reach them
I actually use all of the above healing strategies in TRANSCEND℠.
Because HERE is where all those vision boards, and affirmations, and coaching, and mentoring, and consulting, and mindset training, and talk therapy, and other resources will start to truly be helpful—and for the long haul, not just a few weeks or months.
As trauma-affected entrepreneurs, our goals, desires, and even some of our passions were almost certainly created out of a mindset of trauma.
What does that even mean, exactly?
Well, as an example, we might have very uninspiring or “limited” goals. We avoid shooting too high under the guise of being “realistic.”
Or the things we think we like to do are probably just habits or affinities we learned or adopted from someone else.
And the way we feel about ourselves has probably been shaped based on how we were treated as a youth, or even how we were labeled or directly told that we were.
Therefore, we’ve become an adult composite of our experiences and everything we’ve been taught, whether directly/consciously or unconsciously.
“Product of our environment,” for real! 😔
So then, once we start to heal, we need to allow ourselves to get out from under that to fully FLOURISH. And in order to do that, we have to get (back?) in touch with who we truly are at our core, what WE actually love, and what WE want for our businesses and lives.
Or, in TRANSCEND℠, I use an invigorating guided process we do together that helps you reconnect to your purpose, also incorporating strategies from the next stage, “Relax,” to give you a subconscious boost. I love combining several strategies to make healing tools as effective as possible for the time spent.
5. Relax: Both intentionally and with subconscious “helpers.”
Here’s the “subconscious boost” I just referred to.
In this trauma healing methodology, the “relax” stage means two things:
Using set-it-and-forget-it healing tools that don’t require your conscious effort, and
Being very intentional about stress-relief strategies to support your healing.
In TRANSCEND℠, I call these Healing Head Starts™. But whatever you call whichever tools you decide to use, they should be non-invasive, if at all possible. Meaning no drugs, no surgeries, nothing that upsets your natural bodily processes.
This way, the tools won’t cause even more symptoms for you to combat, stressing your system and risking changing your physiology further.
Some examples of non-invasive, low-effort trauma healing tools include:
Reiki is an ancient, holistic, energy balancing modality that’s been proven to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, the part of our nervous system that allows us to rest, digest, calm, soothe, heal, and repair.
However, reiki can also give us energy if we need it. The effects are different for everyone, as its benefits appear to be adaptogenic (supporting each individual body in the way that body needs it).
There are many different types of reiki, and it can be targeted to any healing situation. All it requires you to do is show up to your session, close your eyes (if comfortable), and relax. Most clients report a near-instant state of deeper calm, peace, and improved well being, as well as sleeping better, more deeply, and being able to fall asleep more quickly.
Sound waves are vibrations that affect our bodily tissues and energy. Essentially then, sound healing is really vibrational healing. And it encompasses healing techniques like using Tibetan singing bowls, binaural beats, tuning forks, or even certain types, notes, and frequencies of music for healing, as just a few examples.
Sound can literally help heal our emotional body, our physical body, our mental health, and our spiritual body… but it can also harm us in those very same ways.
For example, biochemist Glen Rein conducted an experiment during which he exposed four vials of human DNA to four different types of music: classical, Gregorian chants, rock music, and Sanskrit chants.
The Gregorian and Sanskrit chants had the most positive effect on the DNA by far, while rock music actually harmed the DNA.
Three of my favorite sound healing publishers on YouTube are Meditative Minds, Good Vibes – Binaural Beats, and Healing Vibrations. Out of all the channels I’ve tried, I definitely feel the healing effects when I choose files from these three.
Here are three of my favorites from them that I found most effective:
In TRANSCEND℠, I designed and created custom files, using what’s shown to be the most effective type of sound healing vibrations, to give my clients a subconscious boost as they go about their daily lives.
There are many different ways to meditate, which vary across geographic regions, cultures, et al. For the purpose of this article, I refer to “meditation” as a technique requiring you to focus your attention on either an internal stimulus (i.e., the breathing) or an external one (i.e., a point on the wall).
A lot of resources online list meditation blanketly as useful in healing from trauma.
But while they’re definitely excellent for our health as a general rule … not every type of meditation is specifically useful to rewiring the parts of our brain and nervous system that trauma has restructured.
The meditation I use in my healing practice are specifically useful for healing from childhood trauma, as well as other forms of trauma.
Specifically, the types of meditation I use in my practice help to:
Please practice it for short periods of time, 5 to 10 minutes at a stretch. (The guided meditation portion lasts 10 minutes. Feel free to stop it before then, or do the entire audio. The final five minutes just continues the relaxing sounds of flowing water, with no vocal guidance.)
Certain types of yoga are great, too, for healing from childhood trauma. But there are also many different styles of it, which vary across geographic regions, cultures, et al., the same as for meditation. And many online resources, again, list “yoga” blanketly as useful in healing the mind and body.
Technically, that is true.
But again, as Chief Asker of Why, Queen Asker of How, and a trauma-affected entrepreneur and founder to whom work-life balance is critical… as always, I seek the most targeted solutions for my uniquely trauma-affected, mind and body healing journey, and for those of my clients.
It isn’t clear that every type of yoga is equally as useful to rewiring the parts of our nervous systems that trauma has restructured. So instead of trying to find “that one magical type of yoga that will heal trauma,” at Energetic Harmony℠, this healing tool simply falls under the larger umbrella of a “movement-based” healing strategy.
Even still, I seek the most relevant healing tool under that umbrella. :}
I don’t necessarily always go toward yoga styles labeled as “trauma-sensitive” or “trauma-informed.” (Not technically really “styles” at all, these are fairly recent labels added to the yoga scene.) But I do often seek out one of the main tenets behind the label:
Trauma-informed yoga is focused on reconnecting with our bodies instead of mastering the perfect pose or form.
In addition to that, the yoga styles I recommend in my healing practice (and that I do personally, virtually every day), are focused on addressing the specific parts of our physiology that trauma has reconfigured:Kundalini yoga and Yin yoga. I also plan to learn Rajadhiraja yoga, as it’s said to specifically balance the hormones.
Kundalini yoga is known as the “yoga of awareness.” KundaliniYoga.org describes the practice, in part, as: “an ancient art and science dealing with the transformation and expansion of consciousness.”
It’s very different, more multifaceted, and more movement-based than any other style I’ve tried in 20 years of yoga practice.
Specifically, kundalini yoga incorporates a lot of very intentional body movements, postures, or static poses (“asanas”), breathing exercises (“pranayama”), visualizations/meditations and more, that have been proven to help heal the mind and body. Three recent studies show that Kundalini yoga specifically has helped more with reducing PTSD symptoms than any other yoga styles to-date.
I’ve put two of my favorite videos that are most relevant to the cause below:
Note: Many people talk about the soothing, grounding quality of Salimah’s mellifluous voice, and oh my goodness… it is amazing. Her yoga sets are impactful, without being too vigorous. She’s one of my top two favorite Kundalini yoga instructors on YouTube.
“Kundalini Yoga Kriya 4U.” For the strong nervous system & NPD, BPD
Note: Lisa Grail has a fantastic Kundalini yoga course, “From depression to prosperity,” that actually introduced me to this style of yoga. Highly, highly recommended. Just go at a pace that works for your body—Lisa’s yoga sets can be extremely physically challenging! But I love Lisa so much. What a beautiful light, energy, and personality.
“The practice of yin yoga is a return to yoga’s ancient meditative roots. It’s a very simple practice; in its simplicity lies its quiet power. There are two things that make a yoga asana more yin.
First, the posture must allow muscles to relax. It is only when the muscles relax that we may access the deep yin parts of the body, the connective tissue.
Perhaps most importantly, the asana must be done with an attitude of yin acceptance. To understand what this means, we must have some understanding of the Taoist concepts of yin and yang.”
Many trauma-affected entrepreneurs get stuck in a “yang” pattern of trying to control or force people, situations, our businesses, and our bodies to move in a certain direction.
I believe that Yin yoga helps us connect to the natural ebb and flow of life. It helps us release the stress inherent in trying to constantly maintain control, helping us to RELAX, to RELATE better to our own bodies and minds, and to RELEASE the stress and traumatic experiences stored in our bodies from our past.
We can practice a simple posture, such as a seated forward bend, in either a yang or yin way.
If we decide that there is a “right” way to do the posture, then we will adapt a yang attitude and strive to be “right.” We might take hold of our toes and use our muscles to pull us deeper into the pose. This can be helpful if we want to stretch our hamstrings, but it can also encourage any feelings we have that we’re not enough, that we should be different.
To do this posture as a yin posture, we will bring to it an attitude of nourishing acceptance.Rather than trying to force ourselves to look like some one’s idea of what the posture “should” be, we can let our own bodies guide us.
I’m in love with this style of yoga. I feel a STRONG relaxation response from my parasympathetic nervous system every time, almost immediately.
I take my Yin yoga everywhere I go! I use the Down Dog App available in the Apple store, Google play store, and even on the Web here. I used the free version of the app for a while, but I upgraded for more options to customize my personal practice. I highly recommend this great yoga app.
I consider this style of yoga a hidden gem. Himalayan Yoga Institute says that the Raja Dhiraja form is the most complete, an “all-round systematic and scientific process for the development of the body, mind, and soul.” Besides a system of yoga asanas, mudras and bandhas, it includes deep relaxation, self-massage and specific meditation lessons.
Sounds great, like all other styles of yoga, but… how does rajadhiraja actually help heal childhood trauma, specifically?
Remember that experiencing childhood trauma affects the development of our hormonal system. Well, 30-year yoga instructor and Founder of Himalaya Yoga Institute Ganga Devi says of rajadhiraja yoga:
There are many physical benefits, but the most important effect is the practice of asanas places pressure on the endocrine glands, and this results in the regulation of hormones secreted from those glands.
The hormones are closely related to our emotions.
Hormonal balance is not a “women’s” health concern. Many important processes in the human body are regulated by a sensitive balance of hormones, which get thrown out of wack when exposed to childhood trauma.
Not every healing strategy will be comfortable or enjoyable for every “body.”
But the “relax” stage is so important for our healing and total wellness, that we ALL need to choose at least one.
Remember, as trauma-affected entrepreneurs, we’ve been walking around with an imbalanced stress response system for many years. It’s imperative that we seek to keep ourselves in a calm, regulated state, so that our nervous system learns to be flexible and dynamic again. When we do, it becomes easier for us to stop simply “surviving” and start THRIVING in business and life.
How Do We Know When Healing Childhood Trauma is Working?
The million-dollar question.
Since we had these experiences in our youth, there aren’t any widely accessible “tests” we can take to know how much our healing tools are working as adults.
After all, we’re seeking to retrain our brains and nervous systems, not to mention hormonal and immune.
So we can use these 29 clues to determine whether and how much our healing work is creating positive change. Personally, I’m so grateful when I’m surprised by these new, beautifully relaxed responses as I go about my day-to-day life. I’ll likely add more to the list as my healing journey continues.
Many healing humans across the web have also experienced the following signs that help them recognize their healing progress.
You’re less emotionally reactive in business, relationships, and life.
Things that caused you to withdraw or lash out before don’t affect you much, if at all any more. You’re less reactive to triggers, and able to reason with yourself to stay calm.
You can talk or think about your experiences without becoming so overwhelmed.
You might start viewing past traumas through a more objective lens. Maybe if they made you anxious, sad, or angry in the past, you no longer have such a strong emotional response.
You can more easily control your emotions.
In the middle of a high stress situation, you’re more cool-headed. You may be more accepting of how you’re feeling, recognizing that it’s okay, and you might be able to reason with yourself to transition from the discomfort to a more comfortable emotion.
You feel more rational and objective, and less emotionally-driven.
In your business and your relationships, you may be able to separate from the experience so you don’t get as worked up.
You can more easily control your behavior.
And since you can separate from the experience and avoid getting too upset, you’re better able to control how you respond to your feelings, too. You may start to feel less ruled by your feelings, simply starting to be able to use them as a guide FOR what to do next.
You can motivate yourself more easily, and for longer periods of time.
Since you have better control over your emotions and behavior, motivating yourself to work on tough projects is not as hard. Even the days when you don’t feel like getting started, you do… because you’re able to think more about your long-term goals, and put your here-and-now feelings into perspective.
You don’t practice avoidance or withdrawal as often. (Goodbye, procrastination!)
You realize that you’re not going to want to do everything you know you need to do. But you’re less likely to avoid it now, just going ahead and getting it done in order to keep constructing your dream life. You’re less likely to shy away from interacting with people, from your loved ones and business partners, because you feel more like you can handle the situations that come up.
You’re better able to recognize how you’re feeling physically.
You more easily notice those sweaty palms, shaky knees, that warm neck, the frowning, the indigestion… or the (happy) butterflies, the warm face, or whatever your physical signs are that let you know what emotion you’re feeling.
You’re better able to recognize when and where you’re holding tension… to possibly reduce chronic pain.
For me, the first sign I was becoming more aware of my physical sensations was that I started to notice the tension I was holding in my body: specifically, my hips and glutes, shoulders, and the back of my neck.
Not coincidentally, these are the exact areas I experience the most pain.
Now throughout the day, I find myself automatically releasing the tension there, particularly if I feel pain, and it reduces (or stops) it right away.
You’re better able to recognize how you’re feeling emotionally.
Because you’re learning more about how your emotions feel as physical sensations, you don’t have to think as long or as hard when someone asks you how you’re feeling (and really means it!).
You’re making better business (and life) decisions.
Since you’re able to recognize your feelings easier and faster, you’re learning to use them as your internal GPS to improve the quality of your life.
You’re more introspective.
You’ve started evaluating how your thoughts are shaping your views on the world, and whether they’re harming or helping you. You’re also thinking about whether your daily actions are moving you closer or further from your goals.
You’re forming deeper relationships with others.
Because you’re in a more regulated, relaxed body, and more in touch with your inner self, you have more positivity to offer others, and can connect with people better.
You’re more empathetic and compassionate toward others.
You’re thinking more about how your actions affect others, for better or for worse. Not only are you more in-tune with your own feelings, but also the feelings of others. So you’re better able to “read” how people are feeling, whether they say it or not.
You’re better able to ask for help.
You recognize and accept that you’ll get there faster if you accept help from others, and you’re even okay with asking for it sometimes. You realize that it doesn’t mean you’re “weak” or “inadequate” if you accept the help that people have been longing to give you.
You don’t take other people’s boundaries or “nos” as rejections or personal affronts.
Whether in business or personal life, you can view “nos” with a more level head. You realize that everyone is navigating their own personal challenges (or traumas), and that a “no” just means they’re not ready or don’t want what you’ve offered. You realize that it’s not YOU they’re rejecting, and you’re learning not to take it personally.
You don’t judge yourself as harshly.
You let yourself make “mistakes,” and you recognize them as learning experiences that get you closer to what you were shooting for. You start to view any “missteps” as simply part of your growing process, and you use what you learn to move closer to the mark on the next try.
You’re more resilient.
There IS a “next try” these days, whenever you don’t meet your goal the very first time. You don’t require “instant success” from yourself, and are realizing how unfair and unrealistic that is. You have more patience with your growth process.
You don’t judge others as harshly.
You realize that people are dealing with their own “stuff” … and also that they’re not judging YOU as harshly as you previously thought they were. You also recognize that, whenever they are actually judging, that isn’t your problem to solve. It’s something people need to work out within themselves—without your help!
You actually like (love?) yourself a lot more, and are more patient with yourself.
You accept and appreciate that you’re a work in progress, and you’re enjoying seeing yourself grow and change. You realize that there’s no such thing as perfection, and you’ve stopped expecting it of yourself so much.
You can speak up for yourself more easily.
Because you’re calmer, more in touch with yourself, and feeling more secure, it’s easier for you to stand up for yourself. You like yourself more and are feeling more valuable as a global citizen, and you realize that you deserve fair, respectful treatment just like everyone else!
You no longer view yourself as “broken” or “flawed.”
You see that the emotions and behaviors you’d been having so much were natural reactions to the state your body was in, and to your environment.
You’re more careful about how you treat your body.
Because you know that you function better when your internal and external environments are peaceful, you’re more intentional about keeping a “clean house.” You may be exercising more, eating better, reducing the negative stress around you, and just taking better overall care of your health.
You’re not ashamed of your experiences.
You realize more than ever that MOST humans on Earth have had traumatic childhood experiences… even if these things are normalized and swept under the rug by society and media. So you realize that there’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s all a part of life.
You don’t blame yourself for what happened to or around you.
You realize that it was the adults’ responsibility to protect you when you were younger, and help you feel safe. But you also understand that they weren’t always able to, due to their own past history. You’re able to start releasing the unfair expectations you had about how you “should have done better for yourself” when you were at your most vulnerable. And you’re treating yourself with more kindness and compassion.
You start feeling strong emotions about things you didn’t even know you cared about.
As you heal from old wounds, you start being able to release pent-up emotions your body had stored that were making you feel sick and down. If you didn’t have any emotional response at the time, maybe you experience it now as you finally let it go.
You’re recalling past memories you’d completely forgotten about.
As you process and release old emotions, some of the memories your brain suppressed to protect you in the past may start to resurface… so you can process those too, now that you’re feeling better.
You’re more willing to take risks, and aren’t as frazzled when you do.
You realize that you don’t get such intense feelings of fear and anxiety in situations that used to terrify you. As a result, you’re actually SEEKING OUT ways to grow, and challenging yourself in new ways!
You’re having weird dreams.
If you never remember your dreams, maybe you’ve started remembering some now. They might be scary, as you release and process old wounds and emotions. Or they might be joyous and exciting, as you begin to reach new heights in your business and life!