What is the connection between trauma and movement? In trauma we get frozen or we run around trapped in repetitive cycles dictated by our repressed trauma. Really we are in lock down mode. All that has happened to us over years is locked down, trapped inside, not really accessible to us. All this lock down restricts our ability to move. Our loss of faith in the world may trap us permanently. We may move but parts of us are shut down. Parts of our anatomy may be pulled in or locked down or shut off.
My experience of the last years in coming out of trauma freeze is that there is a huge force holding me back and down. When I am locked in I am not feeling, it is only when I move my body forward that blocked feelings begin to flow. Often I will find myself crying as I make the enormous effort to break out of lock down freeze and drive to the park. As I move about and play with my dog I feel the energy returning even if I have been tired or low and depressed before. The other thing that helps in movement is to dance.
Today I came across the following on trauma and movement :
Gabrielle Roth the creator of 5 Rhythms speaks in a video posted on this blog. She speaks of how shut down we are in modern times. Walking heads on sticks. You can experience this often when you go to visit certain health professionals you can be talking of the deepest trauma, expressing the deepest emotion and you just receive the blank stare and the disengaged judgemental look. Sometime this makes you feel like you are invisible. Is it any wonder that zombie movies have began to be so popular in this day and age. The zombie walks about in a trance, his emotions are not alive. His body is not really inhabited, he is dissociated, disengaged.
So too can we be. Dissociation is one response to trauma. In dissociation we retreat or fly away, we shut down feeling, we escape from the body and live in the head, we lock up access to our heart and our gut. Our throats may be shut tight too for we may have met so many prohibitions from crying out, getting angry, expressing ourselves when we were young. Is it any accident that the word “mad” is associated with mental illness when in fact anger is just one emotion that we need to have a good relationship with in order to enjoy good mental, emotional and spiritual health?
I had the good fortune to participate in a 5 Rhythms dance group when I was in Glastonbury in 2005 following the end of my marriage. I was in melt down, lock down. My marriage had ended suddenly, I had been emotionally abused by my family and I had a host of unresolved trauma.
I will never forget the day my ex visited to say he had met someone else because he could not bear to be alone. My heart was breaking I went to my dance group and that night we were dancing the element water. I dance and danced and danced my grief and then I fell to the floor sobbing. The entire group encircled me while I cried, someone held me on their lap like a little baby. They rocked me. I had been embraced by love. The grief in my body had responded to the energies in the music and in the room. I had awakened my heart that held so much grief.
The point that Gabrielle Roth makes in the video clip included in the blog above is that when we move our emotions have a change to wake up and to move too. In trauma we are held hostage somehow. We get the message that who we are and what we feel is not okay on some level. We may have had to shut down so much of our feeling over years that we lose touch with our body and how we feel. Dancing and opening to the power of movement or music may be one of the ways we can open up again. It can be a way in which we re-embody ourselves after trauma.
The pain we meet when we come home to ourselves in this way may be huge. It may take years to process. But we can come alive again after trauma. We can bust out of our prison. We can trust our bodies to show us who we really are and what we truly feel. Developing this trust in ourselves will help us to surrender to the dance of life, a dance we checked out of long ago due to abuse, shut down, loss or emotional trauma.