In An Unspoken Voice - Peter Levine

obyvatel

The Living Force
This is brief review of the very interesting book "In An Unspoken Voice - How the body releases trauma and restores goodness" by Peter Levine, PhD. Much of the information presented in the book has strong correlation to aspects of the Work and recommended psychology books like "Myth Of Sanity", "Trapped in the Mirror" etc. Levine takes a body centric sensation based approach to the understanding and healing of trauma and does a great job in providing a review of relevant neuroscience as well as behavioral studies that tie in to his approach.

Trauma and Disembodiment

[quote author=In An Unspoken Voice]
When we perceive (consciously or unconsciously) that we are in danger, specific defensive postures necessary to protect ourselves are mobilized in the body. (These are automatic and controlled by the sympathetic-adrenal component of the autonomic nervous system). The specific innate bodily responses are powerfully energized to meet extreme situations. These survival energies are organized in the brain and specifically expressed as patterned states of muscular tension in readiness for action. However, when we are activated to this level and then prevented from completing the course of action - as in fighting or fleeing - then the system moves into freeze or collapse, (controlled by the oldest phylogenetic component of the autonomic nervous system - the unmyelinated dorsal vagal complex) and the energized tension remains stuck in the muscles. In turn, these unused or partially used muscular tensions set up a stream of nerve impulses ascending the spinal cord to the thalamus (a central relay station for sensations) and then to other parts of the brain (particularly the amygdala) signaling continued presence of danger and threat. Said simply, if our muscles and guts are set to respond to danger, then our mind will tell us that we have something to fear. .............
Where the distress is generated internally (by muscles and viscera), one experiences an obsessive pressure to locate the source of threat or when that's not possible, manufacture one as a way of explaining to oneself that there is an identifiable source of threat.
Highly traumatized and chronically neglected or abused individuals are dominated by the immobilization/shutdown system. On the other hand, acutely traumatized people (often by a single recent event and without a history of repeated trauma, neglect or abuse) are generally dominated by the sympathetic fight/flight system. They tend to suffer from flashbacks and racing hearts, while the chronically traumatized individuals generally show no change or even a decrease in heart rate. These sufferers seem to be plagued with dissociative symptoms, including frequent spacyness, unreality, depersonalization and various somatic and health complaints.
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Traumatized individuals are disembodied and "disemboweled" (since the gut reactions are so overwhelming that they are shut down). They are either overwhelmed by their bodily sensations or massively shut down against them. In either case, they are unable to differentiate between various sensations as well as unable to determine appropriate actions.

The degree to which we cannot deeply feel our body's interior is the degree to which we crave excessive external stimulation.
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Acutely traumatized individuals are likely to fall in the "equivalent" and "paradoxical" states in Pavlov's famous experiments while the chronically traumatized ones exhibit "transmarginal inhibition".

For trauma therapy, Levine has his own method which he illustrates with multiple case studies. Operating from the premise that the frozen state of trauma is often a result of conflicting biological impulses, Levine guides his patients to sense the trapped energy and gently dissolve the same through focused awareness and micro-movements to re-enact and complete the unfinished, instinctual protective actions. He gives the following steps as a guide to therapy

[quote author=In An Unspoken Voice]

1. Establish an environment of relative safety - through a calm, compassionate and soothing presence.

2. Support initial exploration and acceptance of sensation - this requires the therapist to be aware of non-verbal signals given by the patient to indicate proper timing when exploration of sensations can proceed without overwhelming the patient.

3. Establish pendulation and containment - involves engaging the body's innate restorative rhythm of expansion and contraction when dealing with difficult sensations and feelings.

4. Use titration to create increasing stability, resilience and organization - by carefully touching into the smallest "drop" of survival based arousal, and other difficult sensations to prevent retraumatization

5. Provide a corrective experience by supplanting the passive responses of collapse and helplessness with active empowered defensive responses.

6. Separate or uncouple the conditioned association of fear and helplessness from the normally time limited but now maladaptive biological immobility response

7. Resolve hyper-arousal states by gently guiding the discharge and redistribution of the vast survival energy mobilized for life preserving action while freeing that energy to support higher level brain functioning - the discharge of the energies is generally achieved through involuntary shaking and trembling.

8. Engage self regulation to restore dynamic equilibrium and relaxed alertness

9. Orient to here and now, contact the environment and reestablish the capacity for social engagement - thus engaging the phylogenetically recent myelinated vagal component of the autonomic nervous system.

[/quote]
 

obyvatel

The Living Force
Posture and Emotions

Regarding the value of therapy involving strong emotional expression to relieve trauma as well as repeating nature of traumatic relationships, Levine cites an interesting study concerning Naloxone which is an opiate antagonist. Naloxone attaches to opioid receptors in the brain blocking the action of both external opiate drugs like morphine and heroin (Naloxone is administered in emergency room to people overdosed on heroin), as well as the body's own internal opiates like endorphins. In a study conducted by Bessel Van der Kolk on the PTSD treatment of Vietnam vets where the vets were subjected to reliving battlefield trauma in a controlled setting leading to emotional catharsis as a form of therapy, the administration of Naloxone before the therapy session resulted in loss of interest in further therapy sessions. The conclusion Levine draws from this is repeated emotional expression in a cathartic manner (screaming, pounding pillows etc) results in release of endorphins which could be addictive and brings people back repeatedly to such workshops or therapy sessions for further fixes. He writes
[quote author=In An Unspoken Voice]
In my own life, I also wondered whether there was an addictive quality to some of my earlier painful and turbulent relationships that I appeared to be creating and recreating.
While cathartic expression of emotions in therapy sessions can be of value, reliance on emotional release stems from a fundamental misunderstanding about the very nature of feelings and emotions. The work of Nina Bull provides us with insight, both into the nature of habitual emotions and into why feelings accessed through body awareness, rather than emotional release, brings us the kind of lasting change that we so desire.
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Working at Columbia University in the 1940s and 1950s, Nina Bull conducted remarkable research in the experiential tradition of William James. In her studies subjects were induced into a light hypnotic trance, and various emotions were suggested in this state. These included disgust, fear, anger, depression, joy and triumph. Self-reports from the subjects were noted. In addition, a standardized procedure was devised whereby the subjects were observed by other experimenters. These observers were trained to accurately view and record changes in the subject's postures. The postural patterns, both self-reported and observed by experimenters, were remarkably consistent across multiple subjects.

The pattern of disgust, for example, involved the internal sensation of nausea - as if in preparation to vomit along with the observed behavior of turning away.

Bull analyzed the fear response and found it consisted of a similar compulsion to avoid or escape and was associated with a generalized tensing up or freezing of the whole body. It was also noted that subjects frequently reported the desire ti get away, which was opposed by an inability to move.

Bull discovered that the emotion of anger involves a fundamental split. There was, on one hand, a primary compulsion to attack, as observed in a tensing of the back, arms and fists (as if in preparing to hit). However there was also a strong secondary component of tensing the jaw, forearm and hand. This was self-reported by the subjects, and observed by the experimenters, as a way of controlling and inhibiting the primary impulse to strike.

In addition, these experiments explored the bodily aspects of sadness and depression. Depression was characterized, in the subject's consciousness as a chronically interrupted drive. It was as though there was something they wanted but were unable to attain. These states of depression were frequently associated with a sense of "tired heaviness", dizziness, headache and an inability to think clearly. The researchers observed a weakened impulse to cry (as though it were stifled), along with a collapsed posture, conveying defeat and apparent lethargy.

When Bull studied the patterns of elation, triumph and joy, she observed that these positive affects (in contrast to the negative ones of depression, anger and disgust) did not have an inhibitory component; they were experienced as pure action. Subjects feeling joy reported an expanded sensation in their chests, which they experienced as buoyant, and which was associated with free deep breathing. The observation of postural changes included a lifting of the head and an extension of the spine.

All the negative emotions studied were comprised of two conflicting impulses, one propelling action and the other inhibiting that action. In addition, when a subject was "locked" into joy by hypnotic suggestion, a contrasting mood (eg depression, anger or sadness) could not be produced unless the joy posture was first released. The opposite was also true; when sadness or depression was suggested, it was not possible to feel joy unless that postural set was first changed.


The extensive work of Paul Ekman supports the role of facial posture in the generation of emotional states. Ekman trained a number of subjects to contract only the specific muscles that were observed during the expression of a particular emotion. Remarkably, when subjects were able to accomplish this task (without being told what emotion they were simulating), they often experienced those feelings, including appropriate autonomic arousal states.

[/quote]
 

obyvatel

The Living Force
Transmutation of Negative Emotions

[quote author=In An Unspoken Voice]
A young brash samurai swordsman confronted a venerated Zen master with the following demand: "I want you to tell me the truth about the existence of heaven and hell".
The master replied gently and with delicate curiosity , " How is it that such an ugly and untalented man as you can become a samurai?"
Immediately, the wrathful young samurai pulled out his sword and raised it above his head, ready to strike the old man and cut him in half. Without fear and in complete calm, the Zen master gazed upwards and spoke softly : "This is hell". The samurai paused, sword held above his head. His arms fell like leaves to his side, while his face softened from its angry glare. He quietly reflected. Placing his sword back into its sheath, he bowed to the teacher in reverence. "And this,", the master replied again with equal calm, "is heaven".

The ability to contain and process extreme emotional states is one of the linchpins both of effective, truly dynamical trauma therapy and of living a vital robust life. We can be driven insane by rage, paralyzed by fear and drowned by sorrow. Once triggered, these violent emotions can take over our existence. Rather than feeling our emotions, we become them; we are swallowed up by these emotions. This can be quite a dilemma because being informed by our emotions, not domineered by them, is crucial in directing our lives.

In the story of the Zen master and the samurai, one could speculate on what unconscious thoughts and images were stirred when the master provoked the swordsman's ire. Perhaps the samurai was startled and at first even agreed with the characterization that he was ugly and untalented. This strong reaction to this insult (we might hypothesize) derived from his parents, teachers and others who humiliated him as a child. Perhaps he had a mental picture of being shamed in front of his classmates. And then the micro-fleeting "counter thought" - that no one would dare to call him that again and make him feel small and worthless. This thought and the associated (internal) picture, coupled with a momentary physical sensation of startle, triggered the rage that led him down the compulsive, driven road to perdition. That was, at least, until his "Zen therapist", precisely at the peak of his rage =, kept him from habitually expressing this "protective emotion" (really a defense against his feelings of smallness and helplessness) and forced him to the ownership of his real power and peaceful surrender.
With the Zen master's critical intervention, the samurai held back and felt the preparation to strike with his sword.In this highly charged state he paused and was able to restrain and transmute his violent rage into intense energy and a state of clarity, gratefulness, presence and grace. It is the ability to hold back, restrain and contain a powerful emotion that allows a person to creatively channel that energy.
The uncoupling of sensation from image and thought is what diffuses the highly charged emotions and allows them to transform fluidly into sensation-based gradations of feelings. This is not at all the same as suppressing or repressing them.
[/quote]

Levine goes on to say that it is possible to achieve this transformation with the help of body awareness. He talks about the medial prefrontal cortex of the brain as being the only part of the cerebral cortex that can apparently modify the response of the limbic or emotional brain - particularly the amygdala, which is responsible for intense survival emotions.
[quote author=In An Unspoken Voice]
The medial prefrontal cortex (particularly the insular cingulate cortex) receives direct input from muscles, joints and visceral organs and registers them into consciousness. Through the awareness of these interoceptive sensations (ie through the process of tracking bodily sensations), we are able to access and modify our emotional responses and attain our core sense of self.
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Emotional reactivity almost always precludes conscious awareness. On the other hand, restraint and containment of expressive impulse allows us to become aware of our underlying postural attitude. Therefore it is the restraint that brings a feeling into conscious awareness. Change only occurs when there is mindfulness and mindfulness only occurs where there is bodily feeling (ie awareness of the postural attitude).
[/quote]

Levine describes how the act of containment is not a suppression but the formation of a larger experiential vessel in which the components of sensation, thoughts and emotions can be uncoupled from each other and held. In contrast, expressing the emotions releases the tension we are feeling inside while avoiding deeper feelings. He gives the analogy of a tea kettle whistling to release steam as being akin to releasing emotions without any lasting change in capacity to hold the energy. In contrast, with containment, the underlying emotion shifts into a a different sensation based "contour" with softer feelings and subsequently transform into a deepening awareness (sensate based) of "ok ness" - akin to a strong rubber balloon expanding and containing increased content.

Levine's ideas on transmutation of negative emotions seem to correlate well with Mouravieff's views on the same topic discussed in Depression As A Stepping Stone (to Soul Growth)
 

obyvatel

The Living Force
Immobility and Trauma

There are three primary instinctual responses available to reptiles and mammals when confronted by a threat of predation - fight, flight, freeze. The freeze response serves important survival functions. A predator may lose interest - some do not like "dead meat" - or "go easy" with a frozen prey - like a cheetah dragging its frozen prey to a safe place first without bothering to kill it first giving the prey a possible opportunity to escape at an appropriate moment. The freeze response also triggers a state of analgesia where endorphins (body's natural pain relief mechanism) flood the body protecting it from debilitating pain. Human survivors describe this state as one of dissociation. Mental processes are stalled and there is a sense of detachment from the body.

[quote author=In An Unspoken Voice]
Although the states of immobilization and dissociation are dramatic, they do not necessarily lead to trauma.
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Generally, an animal in the wild, if not killed, recovers from its immobility and lives to see another day. It is wiser but none the worse for wear. For example, a deer learns to avoid a certain rock outcropping where it was ambushed by a mountain lion. While my observational hypothesis is based on field observations and not empirically proven, my interviews with wildlife managers throughout the world have supported it. In addition, it is difficult to imagine how individual wild animals (or their entire species for that matter) would have ever survived if they routinely developed the sorts of debilitating symptoms that many humans do. This natural "immunity" is clearly not the case for us modern humans - but why and what can we do about it?
[/quote]

Animals have a spontaneous capacity for self-paced termination of the state of immobility. Laboratory experiments on animals have shown that when animals are repeatedly frightened and repeatedly restrained, they gradually lose this ability for recovery. A "traumatized" animal could remain immobile for as long as seventeen hours whereas a non-traumatized one would recover from its induced immobility (a cited experiment involved gently picking up a guinea pig, holding it securely, turning it upside down and then placing it down on its back) in a matter of seconds to minutes.

Also, when an animal comes out of the frozen state, it usually shakes and trembles - it literally shakes off the state of immobility. Levine contends that though the freeze response (governed by the phylogenetically oldest part of the nervous system, the unmyelinated dorsal vagal complex) overrides the flight or fight response (governed by the sympathetic-adrenal system), the body is still in the aroused state having mobilized survival energy due to the perceived threat. It is this excess energy which has not been discharged through active defense measures (since the animal froze) that gets dissipated through the acts of trembling and shaking. It is a physiologically essential action to restore the normal equilibrium of the nervous system.

Humans have difficulty in completing the above natural process due to fear (the intensity of the survival energy frightens us) and the discomfort of surrendering control to involuntary sensations. Levine says that when intense fear and other negative affects (like shame) gets coupled with the immobility response, trauma is generated as a self-sustaining feedback mechanism.

[quote author=In An Unspoken Voice]
Traumatized members repeatedly frighten themselves as they begin to come out of immobility. The "fear-potentiated immobility" is maintained from within. The vicious cycle of intense sensation/rage/fear locks a person in the biological trauma response. A traumatized individual is literally imprisoned, repeatedly frightened and restrained - by his or her own persistent physiological reactions and by fear of those reactions and emotions. This vicious cycle of fear and immobility (aka fear potentiated immobility) prevents the response from ever fully completing and resolving as it does in wild animals.
[/quote]

It has been my experience with EE that emotional cleansing is often accompanied by spontaneous shaking/ trembling as well as crying. Infants probably use these physiological responses (shaking/trembling and crying) when coming out of freeze states - at least some limited personal observations seem to point in that direction. Overall, Levine's hypothesis about trauma and immobility does seem to be on solid ground - osit.
 

Bluefyre

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Obyvatel, thank you for starting this thread and introducing me to this wonderful book. I just finished reading it today and started the exercises given as I have come across them. The exercises seem so simple and I feel they are affecting me so subtly and deeply. I think it would have been much more difficult to grasp what he has written without the information and networking of this forum. I discovered this week the mechanicalness of the suffering, reliving, analyzing and regurgitation of childhood traumas and this book has provided me with another way, along with EE to see that my life CAN become one of re-connection with my body, with kindness and gentleness with myself. How can I progress if I am so dissociated from my body that there are parts of it I cannot even feel?
 

obyvatel

The Living Force
I am copying a post by Possibility of Being here on this book which is in a restricted section of the forum and so not visible to all members.

Possibility of Being said:
I just started reading a book titled "In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness" by Peter A. Levine, PhD.

I'm at the page 70, so can't say much yet except that so far, it makes very interesting reading. You can find excellent reviews on Amazon; there is also the 'Look Inside' option available.

The reason I'm posting about the book here is what Levine says about orthopedic patients when talking about the biological immobility response to a traumatic experience and how it can lead to PTSD. Because, as he explains, "When any organism perceives overwhelming mortal danger (with little or no chance for escape) [when the basic flee-or-fight scenario is out of play] the biological response is a global one of paralysis and shutdown." Forced immobilization, especially when prolonged or repeated and coupled with intense fear and other strong negative emotions is a recipe for developing PSTD.


...In a recent medical study, more than 52% of orthope­dic patients being treated for broken bones were shown to develop full-blown posttraumatic stress disorder, with a majority not recovering and worsening over time.

This result should come as no real surprise when one recognizes that many orthopedic procedures follow frightening accidents, stressful ambulance rides endured while one is strapped down and terrifying and depersonalizing emergency room visits. Further, many of these patients have also undergone immediate surgeries, and often in an agitated state. This chain of events often precedes immobilization and is followed by painful rehabilitation regimens. In a recent study of children undergoing even "minor" orthopedic procedures, to quote the authors, "High levels of post traumatic stress disorder symptoms (in over 33% of all children studied) are common in the recovery period after pediatric orthopedic trauma, even among patients with relatively minor injury. Children admitted to the hospital after injury are at high risk
for such symptoms."

Although hospitals have become more humane (particularly for children —though from the above study not nearly enough), there is still inadequate attention to preventing undue fear in people who must undergo painful procedures or general anesthesia. Indeed, some of those ill-fated individuals partially "awaken" during anesthesia and many develop some of the most horrific and complex PTSD symptoms. In the words of one survivor (a surgical nurse herself), "I feel a cosmic hollowness, as if my soul has left my body and can't return ... horrifying nightmares are my companion ... often shocking
me wide awake. When my eyes pop open, there is still no respite because the walls and ceiling turn blood red.' This riveting description illustrates the horror of enduring the combination of terror, extreme pain, and being unable to move or to communicate one's situation.

Biologically, the orthopedic patients, soldiers, rape victims and hospitalized children are reacting like wild animals fighting for their life after being frightened and captured. Their impulse to attack in an "aggravated rage" or to flee in frantic desperation is not only biologically appropriate; in fact, it is a frequent biological outcome. As a captured and terrified animal comes out of immobility, its survival may depend on its violent aggression toward the still-present predator. In humans, such violence, however, has produced tragic consequences to the individual and society. […]

Rage Turned Against the Self

With humans, the impulse toward violent aggression may become terrifying in itself and is then turned against the self, as Kahlbaum so presciently observed in his seminal work on catatonia. This turning inward (or "retroflection") results in further paralysis, suppression, passivity and resignation. The flipping between shutdown and outbursts of "impotent" and misdirected rage becomes the individual's stereotypic reaction to later challenges that require much more nuanced and subtly differentiated feeling-based responses.

In my accident (see Chapter 1), as I came out of shock, I experienced "a rolling wave of fiery rage" as my body continued its shaking and trembling; then I felt a "burning red fury" erupting "from deep within my belly" I really wanted to kill the girl who'd hit me, and I thought, How could that stupid kid hit me in a crosswalk? Wasn't she paying any attention? Damn her! I wanted to kill her, and it felt like I could have. Because rage is about wanting to kill, it is not hard to understand how frightening this urge can be; and how the rage could turn to fear as a way of preventing such murderous impulses.

By allowing my body to do what it needed to do - by not stopping the shaking while tracking my inner body sensations - I was able to allow and contain the extreme survival emotions of rage and terror without becoming overwhelmed. Containment, it must be understood, is NOT suppression; it is rather building a larger, more resilient vessel to hold these difficult affects. And mercifully, this way, I came through the accident's aftermath unscathed by trauma and more resilient to future challenge.

As people revisit, move through and then move out of immobility in therapy, they frequently experience some rage. These primal sensations of fury (when contained) represent movements back into life. However, rage and other intense body sensations can be frightening if they occur abruptly. In effective therapy, the therapist supports and carefully guides the client through this powerful process. Guidance should be done slowly, by using a graduated approach so that the client is not overwhelmed.

Ultimately, rage is (biologically) about the urge to kill. When some women who have been raped begin to come out of shock (frequently months or even years later) they may have the impulse to kill their assailants. Occasionally, they have had the opportunity to carry out this impulse in action. Some of these women have been tried and sentenced for murder because the time elapsed was viewed as evidence of premeditation. Injustices have most certainly occurred due to general ignorance of
the biological drama those women were playing out. A number of these women may have been acting upon the profound (and delayed) self-protective responses of rage and counterattack that they experienced as they came out of agitated immobility; and thus their reprisal (though much delayed) may have been biologically motivated, and not necessarily premeditated revenge, despite the outward appearance. These killings might have been prevented if effective treatment for the traumatized women had been available at the time.

In contrast, non-traumatized individuals who feel angry are well aware that (as much as they may "feel like murdering" even a spouse or their children) they obviously wouldn't actually try to kill the object of their anger. As traumatized individuals begin to come out of immobility they frequently experience eruptions of intense anger or rage. But fearing that they may actually hurt others (or themselves), they exert a tremendous effort to deflect and suppress that rage, almost before they feel it.

When one is flooded by rage, the frontal parts of the brain "shut down." Because of this extreme imbalance, the capacity to stand back and observe one's sensations and emotions is lost; rather, one becomes those emotions and sensations.
Hence, the rage can become utterly overwhelming, causing panic and the stifling of such primitive impulses, turning them inward and preventing a natural exit from the immobility reaction. Maintaining this suppression requires a tremendous expenditure of energy. One is, essentially, doing to oneself what experimenters have done to animals to reinforce and protract their immobilization. Traumatized individuals repeatedly frighten themselves as they begin to come our of immobility. The "fear-potentiated immobility" is maintained from within. The vicious cycle of intense sensation/rage/fear locks a person in the biological trauma response. A traumatized individual is literally imprisoned, repeatedly frightened and restrained – by his or her own persistent physiological reactions and by fear of those reactions and emotions. This vicious cycle of fear and immobility (a.k.a. fear-potentiated immobility) prevents the response from ever fully completing and resolving as it does in wild animals.
 

Chu

Administrator
Administrator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
Thanks for the quotes, Obyvatel. This book is really a must! I am enjoying every bit of it. Well, actually "enjoying" might not be the right word, because it is also pretty depressing to see how trauma is so ingrained, and how our systems are SO messed up, to the point where people are totally unable to see reality objectively, and they live their life in a constant "positive feedback loop" (trauma -> fear, guilt -> more trauma ->more fear and guilt...), with fatal consequences. But it brings a lot of hope too as to how to heal and help others heal!

The interesting thing is that, page after page, it becomes clearer why EE is so powerful, even from the first session, and why it is helping people (and all of us) so much. It explains a lot of what goes on at a physiological and psychological level. Recently, we have been incorporating and adapting some of the exercises, and basing ourselves on the main points of the Polyvagal Theory at the EE classes here, and the results are being amazing. The sense of security certainly seems to the a KEY.

It also made me think a lot about the standard therapies, not to mention psychoanalysis, and why they usually don't work as well as EE.

Back to reading!
 

SolarMother

Dagobah Resident
Ailén said:
Thanks for the quotes, Obyvatel. This book is really a must! I am enjoying every bit of it. Well, actually "enjoying" might not be the right word, because it is also pretty depressing to see how trauma is so ingrained, and how our systems are SO messed up, to the point where people are totally unable to see reality objectively, and they live their life in a constant "positive feedback loop" (trauma -> fear, guilt -> more trauma ->more fear and guilt...), with fatal consequences. But it brings a lot of hope too as to how to heal and help others heal!

The interesting thing is that, page after page, it becomes clearer why EE is so powerful, even from the first session, and why it is helping people (and all of us) so much. It explains a lot of what goes on at a physiological and psychological level. Recently, we have been incorporating and adapting some of the exercises, and basing ourselves on the main points of the Polyvagal Theory at the EE classes here, and the results are being amazing. The sense of security certainly seems to the a KEY.

It also made me think a lot about the standard therapies, not to mention psychoanalysis, and why they usually don't work as well as EE.

Back to reading!
I had the good fortune of experiencing the therapy that Levine teaches from a therapist who was one of the first trained by Levine several years ago. I talked about my experiences on this thread. I'm angry at my anger]I'm angry at my anger.

Remembering my experiences and trying to relate it in my post, brought to mind a comparison to EE and what it does so similar to Levine's work. I just found out that his work is familiar to the forum in finding this thread.
I highly recommend the therapy for any kind of somatic pain/trauma.
Now its time to read another book--and see what exercises you are talking about, Eilen.

add: I was not able to make the hyperlink work for I'm angry at my anger. Any suggestions?

Fixed by mod: Hyperlink
 

annp

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Ailén said:
Thanks for the quotes, Obyvatel. This book is really a must! I am enjoying every bit of it. Well, actually "enjoying" might not be the right word, because it is also pretty depressing to see how trauma is so ingrained, and how our systems are SO messed up, to the point where people are totally unable to see reality objectively, and they live their life in a constant "positive feedback loop" (trauma -> fear, guilt -> more trauma ->more fear and guilt...), with fatal consequences. But it brings a lot of hope too as to how to heal and help others heal!

The interesting thing is that, page after page, it becomes clearer why EE is so powerful, even from the first session, and why it is helping people (and all of us) so much. It explains a lot of what goes on at a physiological and psychological level. Recently, we have been incorporating and adapting some of the exercises, and basing ourselves on the main points of the Polyvagal Theory at the EE classes here, and the results are being amazing. The sense of security certainly seems to the a KEY.

It also made me think a lot about the standard therapies, not to mention psychoanalysis, and why they usually don't work as well as EE.
Thank you so much for starting this thread. I am halfway through the book and it is just amazing but also difficult at times. Just reading about the exercises has made me so much more conscious of my "felt sense" that all kinds of emotions have been surfacing. I have had to put it down several times, to do pipe breathing - and don't even really know what set off the memories!

Ailén, I am so glad to know that some of this is being incorporated into EE and hope that there may be a way for some of us to learn some of these exercises.

I do have a question about the tremors as i found myself just doing this naturally a few times. One night I was completely unable to sleep, tossing and turning, so just made myself lie flat and the tremors just started. I would have been very concerned if I had not been practicing EE regularly, but because I have done so, I did not experience anything really scary. The only thing I noticed is that different parts of my body have started to "unlock" and I have been able to breathe more deeply. I would have preferred to do this with a trained therapist, but there is no one nearby. So...do you think it inadvisable to let this happen while alone - or just let your own sense of safety be a guide?
 

Alana

SuperModerator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
aleana said:
I do have a question about the tremors as i found myself just doing this naturally a few times. One night I was completely unable to sleep, tossing and turning, so just made myself lie flat and the tremors just started. I would have been very concerned if I had not been practicing EE regularly, but because I have done so, I did not experience anything really scary. The only thing I noticed is that different parts of my body have started to "unlock" and I have been able to breathe more deeply. I would have preferred to do this with a trained therapist, but there is no one nearby. So...do you think it inadvisable to let this happen while alone - or just let your own sense of safety be a guide?
If I am reading you correctly aleana, what you describe sounds like what my massage therapist calls "unwinding", and there were a few references to it as "jerking" in the EE thread (go the the thread and use the search function with the word "jerking" for only this topic).

I have been doing it myself all my life. Sometimes I just lie down and concentrate on every part of my body, and it's like my muscles start moving on their own, readjusting my body to where they feel it's more comfortable. And I let them, because I feel more relaxed afterwards :)

I have noticed this happening to me even more often since I started the EE program, especially during the Baha portion, when I am consciously feeling my body breathing. If I do the breathing mechanically and my mind is wondering elsewhere, it doesn't happen. And from my experience, it is a good thing to let happen, especially when I have pain or tension on some part on my body and I place my focus on the tension/pain. I feel the tremors and that body part feels more calm later. After reading Levine's book, my suspicion was confirmed, because it seems to me that he is describing the same thing, much more eloquently and scientifically of course :)

So my advice would be to allow it to happen and experiment with it, see how it feels to you, and keep reading the book. Fwiw.
 

SolarMother

Dagobah Resident
Ailen
The interesting thing is that, page after page, it becomes clearer why EE is so powerful, even from the first session, and why it is helping people (and all of us) so much. It explains a lot of what goes on at a physiological and psychological level. Recently, we have been incorporating and adapting some of the exercises, and basing ourselves on the main points of the Polyvagal Theory at the EE classes here, and the results are being amazing. The sense of security certainly seems to the a KEY.
I am now reading "In An Unspoken Voice" and it is indeed an amazing book. It is bringing clarity to me and I especially enjoy the somatic approach and the science of it. I have to get the Polyvagal Theory and read that next!
I was wondering what some of these amazing results are, that you all have been experiencing, as a result of incorporating and adapting the exercises in the book at the EE classes there.
 

annp

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Alana said:
I have noticed this happening to me even more often since I started the EE program, especially during the Baha portion, when I am consciously feeling my body breathing. If I do the breathing mechanically and my mind is wondering elsewhere, it doesn't happen. And from my experience, it is a good thing to let happen, especially when I have pain or tension on some part on my body and I place my focus on the tension/pain. I feel the tremors and that body part feels more calm later. After reading Levine's book, my suspicion was confirmed, because it seems to me that he is describing the same thing, much more eloquently and scientifically of course :)

So my advice would be to allow it to happen and experiment with it, see how it feels to you, and keep reading the book. Fwiw.
I have noticed that I am much calmer when I let it happen and that parts of my body seem less tense. One night after a long time of this trembling, my jaws became so sore that I realized that I lock my jaws a lot from tension. I also know that I do this in my sleep. The next day the soreness was gone and my jaws felt softer.

The only thing that I want to mention is that sometimes during this process, emotions are released, although they may not be noticed at the time. However, the next day I noticed feeling a bit vulnerable and needed to keep to myself a bit to settle. I suspect that so much of my body has been locked up, that I may not have been getting the full benefit of the deep breathing exercises. I experienced exactly the same trauma from a tonsillectomy when I was 5 years that he discussed in the book and it really explained a lot of my childhood issues. :mad: I highly recommend reading this book!!!
 

paralleloscope

The Living Force
A perceptive girl once told me: 'your mind deceives you', I was startled and responded 'not all the time', later I regularly saw it's dominant deception in an intellectual respect and could nod away to 'we can not trust our own thinking' but hadn't viscerally experienced it before today where I saw and felt the truth of this statement.

Levine's talk of immobilazation made a lot of sense to me and my issues of narcissistic wounding so I booked a session with a somatic practicioner (Levine's body-awareness approach to trauma called 'Somatic Experiencing'). I was skeptical though that this tecnique could be used for something as subtle as what I perceived my shut-downs were, luckily I was proven wrong. I made my point of issue to be my immobilized communication 'center' which was to be exercised well while sensing and feeling.

I am quite untrained in feeling my emotions and sensations and found an irritation when I was told to focus on my body parts. All kinds of mental notes wanted to take me away from this 'banale' occupation, but I was prompted to stay with the bodily sensation which she termed fundamental for emotions (which made a lot of sense that they are a prerequisite and basis for them). Then came the notice of discharge and attention seeking from other body parts, jolting me to slight spasms (titration / sympathetic response) then I was prompted to return to the initial point of focus (solar plexus) which was now pulsing at an easier vibration to notice and stay with the sensation. There was now an overlay of sadness playing along with a contractile wave feeling, which was very powerful for me to feel in a sustained fashion as I beforehand have been prone to mainly intellectualize it's existence and downplay if felt. A point of acceptance of sensation and feeling was made here and I made progress in staying with other feelings, just observing. When I opened my eyes past midway in the session the volume of sensation and feeling in me had been turned up some notches, a quite cathartic experience as I've been missing this connection.

All in all I felt introduced to two 'new' partners today; my bodily sensations and emotions, which of course have been there all along but hadn't been able to notice in a fundamental way because of the sequestred position I have given mentality and it's solitude. This relationship has to be tuned and EE is the perfect vehicle to train along with. When the prompt between round breaths are made on the EE track to notice the body I always glazed over. Apparently I needed disciplined help from outside to pendulate me into the fire and accept that internal sensing is OK.

http://www.traumahealing.com/

Thanks for the thread Obyvatel.
 

SolarMother

Dagobah Resident
parallel said:
A perceptive girl once told me: 'your mind deceives you', I was startled and responded 'not all the time', later I regularly saw it's dominant deception in an intellectual respect and could nod away to 'we can not trust our own thinking' but hadn't viscerally experienced it before today where I saw and felt the truth of this statement.

Levine's talk of immobilazation made a lot of sense to me and my issues of narcissistic wounding so I booked a session with a somatic practicioner (Levine's body-awareness approach to trauma called 'Somatic Experiencing'). I was skeptical though that this tecnique could be used for something as subtle as what I perceived my shut-downs were, luckily I was proven wrong. I made my point of issue to be my immobilized communication 'center' which was to be exercised well while sensing and feeling.

I am quite untrained in feeling my emotions and sensations and found an irritation when I was told to focus on my body parts. All kinds of mental notes wanted to take me away from this 'banale' occupation, but I was prompted to stay with the bodily sensation which she termed fundamental for emotions (which made a lot of sense that they are a prerequisite and basis for them). Then came the notice of discharge and attention seeking from other body parts, jolting me to slight spasms (titration / sympathetic response) then I was prompted to return to the initial point of focus (solar plexus) which was now pulsing at an easier vibration to notice and stay with the sensation. There was now an overlay of sadness playing along with a contractile wave feeling, which was very powerful for me to feel in a sustained fashion as I beforehand have been prone to mainly intellectualize it's existence and downplay if felt. A point of acceptance of sensation and feeling was made here and I made progress in staying with other feelings, just observing. When I opened my eyes past midway in the session the volume of sensation and feeling in me had been turned up some notches, a quite cathartic experience as I've been missing this connection.



All in all I felt introduced to two 'new' partners today; my bodily sensations and emotions, which of course have been there all along but hadn't been able to notice in a fundamental way because of the sequestred position I have given mentality and it's solitude. This relationship has to be tuned and EE is the perfect vehicle to train along with. When the prompt between round breaths are made on the EE track to notice the body I always glazed over. Apparently I needed disciplined help from outside to pendulate me into the fire and accept that internal sensing is OK.

http://www.traumahealing.com/

Thanks for the thread Obyvatel.
Thank you for posting about your session, parallel!
Mr.A and I are making appointments to see a somatic experiencing therapist here in CO. We need the outside help as well. It's a good thing and we feel fortunate that it's out there We will be sharing our experiences on the forum.
I guess Mr. Levine has been quite busy teaching all over the world!
 

whitecoast

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I finished reading In An Unspoken Voice a couple of weeks ago, and it was a real eye-opener! It really helped me understand my body's responses to doing EE, and helped me to read my body and decide what types of breathing techniques I required at what times. The pipe breathing is usually what's called for in most situations I found, because it helped to curb the fight-or-flight response at its inception. Alternatively, if a situation triggered an immobilize response in me, it helped to stimulate my empathy and higher emotional functioning, which usually strongly inhibited, if not shut down, at the onset of a dissociative reaction.

Enlightening material whichever way you look at it. I was excited to hear about Peter Levine expanding the book into a series of two: one volume on the bodily aspect of trauma, and another on the spiritual aspect. I'll be looking forward to reading that for sure! :)
 
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