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Summary:  We learn about the three ways our nervous system responds to trauma, and we’ll learn a motion, called WAKING UP, which can help to resolve it and prevent the response from happening in the first place



  • [00:00] Introduction
  • [00:33]  The three trauma responses
  • [05:01]  PTSD, Burnout, and Narcissism are the result of a freeze response
  • [06:15] ARCH AND CURL and WAKING UP can help
  • [08:09] Trauma is part of our history
  • [12:42] Motion – WAKING UP
  • [14:01] Practice “all is well” to clear old traumas
  • [15:18] Less Stress/More Comfort course
  • [16:37] Recap



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[00:00] Introduction

Hello, friends! And welcome to Move Into Coherence. I’m your host Pamela Stokes. In today’s episode, we learn about the three ways our nervous system helps keep us safe, also called the trauma response. And we’ll experience emotion which helps us resolve this response and also prevent it from happening in the first place.


[00:33] The three trauma responses.

Let’s begin. Hello, my friends. Pamela here. Thanks for joining me. Today we’re going to be learning about the different ways that our nervous system responds when we have an event that is beyond our capacity to cope with. We can also call this a perceived threat or trauma. We have the very basic ability to stay safe and that’s what our nervous system is trying to do when it puts us into these various responses. So I wanted to talk about the three different ways that we can respond. One of the ways, usually called fight/flight, is that we will become activated. This is because our sympathetic nervous system, part of the autonomic nervous system, which is we’re not in control of it, activates us. It makes us breathe a little faster, makes our heartbeat a little bit faster, and it puts blood into the arms and the legs so that we are able to either fight or flee. This activated response can feel very constricting because what we’re doing is we’re taking the energy that would be going toward things like breathing and digestion, basic functions. We’re taking that and putting it into the arms and the legs so that now we are, in effect, able to fight or flee as needed. Another way that our nervous system responds to a situation that perhaps is challenging for us, is to deactivate. and this deactivation happens through the parasympathetic nervous system. This is the one that we would normally call rest and digest and repair, but in a certain situation where we are not able to cope with the experience, we can go into a shutdown. Sometimes this is called Freeze, but I like to call it shutdown or withdrawal, or another term could be deactivated. Basically what’s happening is we are turning ourselves into a ball. Forming a ball so that we can protect our guts, our inner workings. And so this response, this trauma response, will put us into a position of being curled up so that we are protecting our middle. Another possibility is we can have both the activation from the sympathetic nervous system and the deactivation from the parasympathetic at the same time. And this is what I like to call Freeze, because you have the ability by the sympathetic activation to move, but it’s not safe to move. So then we go into this withdrawal at the same time. Shutting things down at the same time that we’re revving up is like having your foot on the gas and the brake at the same time. This can lead to a disorder we call post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD in the DSM, which is the diagnostic statistical manual for the psychotherapeutic community tells us that PTSD is a disorder. It’s something that we may not ever recover from. But I’m here to tell you that it is absolutely something that you can recover from and I’ve seen it again and again. And there have been studies done to show some of the ways that are effective for this disorder. 


[05:01] PTSD, Burnout, and Narcissism are result of Freeze

Some people have even equated this state of having both the gas and the brake on at the same time, calling it burnout. Basically it’s where we have the inability to get out of our situation; we have to kind of just keep plugging along. And this can lead to the symptoms of burnout. And these symptoms line up very precisely with the symptoms of PTSD. Similar to this—and I’m going a little bit out on a limb here—but similar to this is what people are calling narcissism. Basically it’s self-preservation at whatever cost, and we’re going to take care of ourselves and make sure we are safe, no matter what, at the expense of others, and usually the people that are closest to us. So this third kind of trauma response is debilitating not only for the individual but also for the people around that person, because when you have someone that is in this state, it’s very difficult to find peace. 


[06:15] Arch and Curl and Waking Up can help.

What can we do? Well, I’m here to tell you that there are many ways that we can help ourselves come out of these various trauma responses. And today I’m going to show you one that is similar to something we did in Episode 7. In Episode 7, we talked about alignment and this ability to have a calm readiness or soft power, and we did a motion called ARCH AND CURL. This motion allows us to go into the body position of sympathetic activation, which is arch, and it also puts us into this parasympathetic shutdown/deactivation, which is the curl. In today’s motion we will be doing something very similar, but we’ll be doing it in a standing position. And I like to call this motion WAKING UP. What we’re doing here is we’re allowing our body to go into the same positions that reflexively, which is automatic. These would reflexively happen if we were put into a dangerous situation where we were not able to cope. By putting us into these body positions, moving gently in and out of them, we are sending a signal to our nervous system that we can handle it and that we know how to come out of it. And it allows us to turn off these responses which kept us safe in the first place. We’ll get into the motion in just a little bit. 


[08:09] Trauma has been our norm for thousands of years. But we can change that.

One of the things that I think is very important for us all to understand is that trauma has been our norm. It’s been our norm for thousands of years on this planet, where we have had warring and strife; difficulty getting along; disparity between social groups and races and even classes. It continues today. And I have a mission in my life to help as many people as possible to know that they actually can come out of that state. Our natural state is peaceful and alert. And we are also wired to get along with each other. We are a social species and we are wired to love we’re wired to connect and to find ease in that. But historically, since we have seen so much war, and I think especially in the United States. I can’t think of a time when we weren’t at war or occupying another place, trying to keep peace with military weapons and so forth. This has led to what I believe, and there are others that think this way too, but we have created a society around fear that is very difficult to get away from. It comes at us in many forms:  social media, the news, and even listening to our friends and family complain. When we realize that this is something that has been kind of patterned into us or programmed, you could even say, it can be a little discouraging. It’s like, “What’s wrong with this world of ours? Everyone’s fighting.” It is my belief that we can change this and how do we do that? Because we are a social species, if we can get ourselves to a place where we are regulated in our nervous system, our emotions don’t take us over, we have some sense of inner peace, this actually will allow the people around us to feel the same way, because we have mirror neurons which allow us to mirror each other’s behavior. So as a person on Planet Earth, if you could follow along with the things that you are learning from this show, you can actually get to a place of regulation in emotion and have your nervous system be in this place of soft power, so we feel calm and at the same time alert and ready for whatever might come. The ability to go into a trauma response and come back out of it is what we call resilience. And in this lesson today you’ll be doing a motion that will allow you to go into and back out of our body position that is for the trauma response. So I invite you to look back at Episode 7 for ARCH AND CURL, which allows you to do this in a seated position. 


[12:42] Motion:  WAKING UP

Today’s lesson we’re going to be doing standing, and I invite you to join me This is called WAKING UP. Please join in. WAKING UP. Curl your back by contracting your belly; pull your bent arms in; and bend and bring your knees together; drop your head down. And then slowly extend your legs, torso, and arms up to the ceiling, while softening your face and tipping your chin up until you can just see the ceiling. And then allow your arms to float down by your sides. Curl your back by contracting your belly; pull your bent arms in; and bend and bring your knees together; drop your head down. And then slowly extend your legs, torso, and arms up to the ceiling while softening your face and tipping your chin up. And we’ll do this three times. And notice how you feel.


[14:01] Practice “all is well” to resolve and prevent trauma responses.

So that was waking up. Thank you for joining me. Noticing how you feel when you come out of that motion is helpful. When we can come back to that place of ease in our body and notice how that feels, we are making a pathway that we can use again and again. The more we practice this, the easier it will be to use that pathway. And what I’m talking about is a neural pathway, so this is a brain pathway to the body and back from the body to the brain that tells us that tells our nervous system all as well. And the more we practice that “all is well”, “all is well’, “all is well”, the easier it is for us to come out of a trauma response we may be stuck in. But also prevent them from happening in the first place, because we now know, Oh, this is what happens, and this is how I come back out.


[15:18] Less Stress/More Comfort online course.

And I also wanted to mention that I have a course that’s available. An online course which includes a private session with me, a 90-minute session, where we can together create a vision for your optimal wellness in your mind and your body and your emotions. And the course itself is called Less Stress/More Comfort. Very simple title because that’s what it does. Some of the activities that we’re doing here in the show are included, but there are many more. There are dozens of motions that you will learn to reduce stress in the moment, but also to develop this ability to be resilient. So that whatever comes at you you’ll be able to handle it and not have the trauma response get stuck in your body. So I really encourage you to check that out, and join the course, and share the information with your family and friends. These are tools that you will have the rest of your life. 


[16:37] Recap

So to recap what we learned today:  we learned about the different kinds of trauma responses, which are natural, it just happens. It’s our ability to keep ourselves safe. When something arises where we are not able to cope, we learned about the three different types of trauma response. One is the sympathetic activation we call that fight or flight. We have the parasympathetic activation which is a shutdown or withdrawal. And then we also have the third kind, which is a combination of the two, which when we get stuck there, we end up with the symptomology of PTSD, burnout, and narcissism. We did an activity today called WAKING UP, which allows us to go into the body positions that correlate with these different trauma responses and then ease ourselves out, noticing pleasant sensations when we do so that we can complete trauma responses. But we can also futuristically prevent them from happening, because we are wiring our nervous system to know what it feels like when we are not in those particular states. Thank you so much for joining me. I appreciate you being here. Send yourself some appreciation too. This has been Move Into Coherence. I’m Pamela Stokes. Take it easy!

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