I met this woman who embodied peace and stillness. Her embodiment was like a shot in the dark. Like looking up from a yoga practice in a dark room and seeing the moon staring back at you...
I told Paula that I've never been a big fan of meditation (which is odd since I am deeply moved by Buddhism, Zen Practice, and Mindfulness). It's a bit of a peculiarity for me. So let's get into it...
The body needs to be able to move through these nervous system states with ease in order to be healthy. (Notice, the Freeze state has to move through the Fight/Flight state in order to get back to safety.)
The body holds and stores nervous system states from the entire lifetime. This includes preverbal nervous system states that your mind does not have access to. Just the Body. Not to mention, you CAN inherit PTSD from your parents. This is built in as a mechanism to prepare you for survival in a harsh world.
So, I was getting curious about why I don't particularly like meditation. I landed on the word "bypassing" while talking to Paula about it.
I see so many traumatized people turn to meditation, but when I look in their eyes, there is a deadness and frozenness.
Then, I attended a meditation. Because....curiosity. I really appreciated this woman's offerings before so it felt right.
She explained Mindfulness Meditation: noticing all sensations and witnessing them, how they come and go. This creates more space between your emotion and your reaction. It's also a practice of attention liberation as we continually practice bringing our attention back into the present moment breath body.
That's when it clicked for me. If the only practice we have is noticing the sensation and just waiting until it passes, we may never achieve safety and trauma release in our bodies. There are sensations in our body that need expression, not just awareness.
I love the idea of creating more space between your emotion and your reaction. This establishes even more self agency and alignment.
The nervous system needs more than just our awareness and presence. It needs support and expression to find it's path to peace, rest, digest, and connection.
Brainspotting gets into the deep brain where your mind cannot go. I like to think of brainspotting as this: pull up a memory in your mind. Feel that sensation in your body. Notice where your eyes land*. Stay there. Meditate on that body sensation until the body sensation expresses itself fully through you.
Meditate on the body sensation and allow it to change you. It's that simple.
Allow it to finally move, finally speak, finally express.
You don't have to wait for it to pass. You don't force yourself to not engage with it until it passes. You go into it. You go there. This is a meditation too. This is another way of creating more space between your emotion and your reaction, BUT it gives you much more access to your whole body's history, experiences, needs, and safety.
And sometimes...the body needs to react quickly. Sometimes the body needs your rage/flight response to get your body out of danger FAST. But if you only meditate to notice body sensations until they pass, you might miss your window of self-protection. These emotions and nervous systems states are not bad. They are here for a reason. To protect.
Meditation is one tool in the box of presence, but if it's your only tool, it might be bypassing the needs of your nervous system and safety.
On the road to peace, there may be a lot of screaming.
Consider the need for two safe containers: one for meditating on sensations and allowing just that sensation to express itself to it's fullest until you return to baseline. I believe brainspotting is just one of many ways to do this. Creating safe space separate from the event itself to express a sensation to it's fullest is to gain more agency, alignment, and safety in the body.
Witnessing all of your body sensations and how they move through you like waves, always coming and going. Both pleasure and pain pass with or without your engagement. Nothing is permanent. "This too shall pass". Creating space between your sensation and reaction to that sensation is to gain more agency and alignment.
Shame keeps us from expressing the fullness of our body's expression and sensations.
Exercise Idea: Get out your yoga mat or set up a sacred space. Set an intention, "I am going to meditate on this sensation until the sensation itself speaks it's language through me. I will reach out for support and help if this sensation is too big to hold space for alone."
Notice where your eyes land and stay with that or scan the room for a point that feels good. (The eyes may shift or move rapidly at some points. Allow the body language to come through organically. It will.)
Set a timer as a boundary. Some sensations might cause significant freeze states, and your body needs to be allowed the agency to titrate between heavy and light sensations.
Set that timer, stay with that sensation, allow all movement, all speech, all expression. Keep coming back to the sensation if you get lost. This is your magic...the ability to pull up ANY sensation in your body and hold it through it's expression.
At the end of your timer, go about your day. Get outside. Call a friend. Talk about your experience. Do art. This meditation of deep feeling in a safe container will flower and bloom all on it's own without your trying.
You will grow your capacity to feel. You will develop a deeper relationship with your body, their language, your reactions, the meaning and needs underneath. This creates that ample space for agency and choice while also diffusing nervous system bombs...because nervous system bombs need to be deactivated through feeling, choosing, and expressing. AMEN.
NOTE: Most traumas happen around people. Because of this, healing happens in relationship. Healing is relationship. If therapy is not accessible to you, are there other healers available in your area? Is there anybody you can trust to ask, "Can you be there with me as a witness with this emotion? I don't know what will happen. I might need to scream or nap. We can set a 90 minute timer, and I'd love to get curious about this specific sensation that's keeping me stuck." This is real. This is healing. This is love. This is relationship. We are here.
*I am not an expert nor am I certified in Brainspotting. I am, however, fucking smart as hell and have done the work. I know that we are always brainspotting, whether we are aware of it or not. If something about my words doesn't jive or feel right, do your research, contact a practitioner, and explore your needs.