Trauma can manifest in many different ways, from physical symptoms like headaches and chronic pain to emotional responses like anxiety and depression. However, trauma can also have a profound impact on our relationship with our bodies and internal sensations. Many trauma survivors struggle with feeling disconnected from their bodies, which can make it difficult to identify and manage their emotions.
One approach to trauma therapy that has gained attention in recent years is the practice of sitting with and identifying internal sensations. This involves learning to connect with the physical sensations in our bodies, and understanding how they are connected to our emotional experiences. By learning to trust our internal sensations, we can build resilience and improve our ability to regulate our emotions.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the importance of sitting with and identifying internal sensations as a key part of trauma therapy. We’ll discuss some of the challenges of this practice, as well as strategies for building comfort with internal sensations. Finally, we’ll examine the benefits of trusting oneself and explore how mindfulness and compassion can support the release of trauma.
The Challenge of Sitting with Internal Sensations
Connecting with our internal sensations can be a challenging experience, especially for individuals who have experienced trauma. The discomfort, fear, and vulnerability that can arise during this practice are overwhelming and can trigger memories or emotions that are difficult to process.
The sensations that arise can be intense and overwhelming, and individuals may feel like they are losing control. For example, someone may feel like they are suffocating, their heart is racing, or they are trembling. This can be distressing and may trigger a fight, flight, or freeze response.
As a result of these challenges, many people may avoid connecting with their inner selves altogether. This avoidance can lead to ongoing struggles with emotional regulation and disconnection from the body. People may feel like they are numb or disconnected from their emotions, or they may feel like they are constantly on edge.
Avoiding the more difficult internal sensations can make it challenging to regulate emotions and manage stress. Learning to connect with and regulate internal sensations can help individuals feel more in control of their emotions and improve their overall well-being.
It’s important to approach this practice with a sense of curiosity and openness, rather than judgment or avoidance. By learning to approach internal sensations with an open mind and a willingness to explore them, individuals can build resilience and improve their emotional well-being over time.
Building Comfort with Internal Sensations
To overcome the challenges of sitting with internal sensations, it’s important to build comfort with these sensations over time. This involves learning to approach our sensations with curiosity and openness, rather than judgment or avoidance.
One way to build comfort with internal sensations is through meditation. This practice involves sitting in silence and focusing on the breath, while allowing any thoughts or sensations to come and go without judgment. Another approach is deep breathing, which involves taking slow, deep breaths while focusing on the sensations in the body. Body scans, where one slowly moves their attention to different parts of the body, can also be helpful in building awareness of internal sensations.
It’s important to remember that building trust with our internal sensations takes time. It’s okay to start slowly and be patient with oneself. Rather than pushing oneself too hard, it’s important to be gentle and compassionate toward oneself, approaching the practice with a sense of curiosity and openness. With time, this practice can help individuals build resilience and trust in themselves.
The Benefits of Trusting Oneself
Trusting oneself and building a comfortable connection with internal sensations can have numerous benefits. For example, it can help individuals regulate their emotions, reduce anxiety and depression, and gain a sense of grounding. When individuals feel in charge of their body and emotions, they are better able to respond to challenges and stressors in their daily lives.
Personal anecdotes and stories can illustrate the power of trusting oneself. For example, someone who has struggled with anxiety might share how connecting with their internal sensations helped them identify triggers and manage their emotions more effectively. Or someone who has experienced trauma might describe how building trust in their own internal cues helped them feel more empowered and in control.
As Bessel van der Kolk notes in “The Body Keeps the Score,” “If you have a comfortable connection with your inner sensations, if you can trust them to give you accurate information, you will feel in charge of your body, your feelings, and your self.” This quote highlights the importance of building trust in oneself as a key part of healing from trauma.
The Importance of Dealing with Trauma
Trauma can have a lasting impact on the body, mind, and soul. While the events themselves cannot be undone, it is possible to address the imprints that trauma leaves behind.
Sitting with and identifying internal sensations can be an important part of this healing process. By connecting with their own internal cues, individuals can begin to release the physical and emotional tension that has accumulated as a result of trauma. As Bessel van der Kolk notes, “What has happened cannot be undone, but what can be dealt with are the imprints of the trauma on body, mind, and soul.”
Mindfulness and Compassion
Mindfulness and compassion are key elements in releasing trauma and building resilience. Mindfulness involves cultivating awareness of one’s present moment experience, including internal sensations and emotions. By being present with one’s experience, without judgment, individuals can begin to develop a sense of compassion and self-acceptance.
As Jack Kornfield notes, “The release of trauma requires a learning of the vocabulary of your own emotions and the capacity to be present for them. That comes from mindfulness and that comes from compassion.” By building these skills, individuals can begin to release the tension and pain that has been stored in their bodies, and develop a greater sense of connection to themselves and to others.
In summary, sitting with and identifying internal sensations can be a powerful tool in trauma therapy. Despite the challenges of this practice, building comfort with internal sensations can help individuals gain trust in themselves, regulate their emotions, and feel more grounded in their daily lives.
Trusting oneself and building a comfortable connection with internal sensations takes time and patience, but the benefits are well worth it. By cultivating mindfulness and compassion, individuals can begin to release the imprints of trauma on their body, mind, and soul, and develop a greater sense of self-awareness and self-acceptance.
If you’re interested in trying this practice, start slowly and be patient with yourself. You might begin with short periods of meditation or deep breathing, gradually building up your capacity to sit with your sensations. With time and practice, you can develop a greater sense of trust in yourself and a deeper connection to your own inner wisdom. Remember, the journey of healing is unique to each individual, so be gentle with yourself and trust your own process.
Disclaimer: As a registered clinical counsellor and registered psychotherapist (qualifying), I'm sharing insights on my blog for informational purposes, not professional advice or treatment. My writing aims to inspire you to consult your own healthcare or mental health provider. Remember, your decisions based on the blog content are solely your responsibility. Please explore other resources if this understanding doesn't align with your expectations. Thank you.