A gazelle is doing what it normally dose- grazing, but then something triggers hyper-
arousal. Its neck stiffens, its muscles tighten ready for action, its eyes get wider. Its
breath and heart rate increase. If it turns out to be nothing the gazelle relaxes back into
a normal state. If it turns out to be an attack, the gazelle runs. It either gets killed or
escapes. If it escapes, it releases the trauma it has suffered, and the fear it felt, by
motoring through the trauma. Its body systems release; it twitches and thrashes around
on the ground, vomits, and once the trauma is released out of the body, the gazelle
returns to a state of normalcy.

Humans rarely release their stress and trauma. We are socialized to be traumatized.
Societal norms often prevent us from fighting, running, or releasing our trauma. Our
trauma freezes us. We stuff our feelings and act OK. This is a great defensive mechanism
in order to continue on with life, but if there is no release eventually it will cause pain.
A state of hyper- arousal continues. Stress level increases. Our traumatized, hyper-
aroused state becomes our new "normal". This is called adaptation.

See the article on
Stress for more information on the Fight or Flight Response, and the
physiology of stress in the body. See
limbic system for more information on the limbic
system (brain) and how it is effected by trauma.

Adaption Syndrome

In 1951, Hans Selye’s research on stress showed that the body always reacts to various
stimuli in the same non-specific way. This was termed the adaptation syndrome
consisting of a bodily alarm phase, resistance phase, and exhaustion phase.

Alarm- When we are injured we go into a state of dissociation. It is a survival technique.
Our body and mind experience the instinctive “freeze” response. This positional,
physiological memory becomes imprinted into our subconscious and our conscious body
awareness. The nervous system becomes stuck in a state of hyper- arousal. The more
stressors we endure, the greater the hyper- arousal becomes.

Resistance or Adaptation Phase- If stressors continue the body adapts to the stressors.
Changes take place in order to cope with the stressors or reduce their effect. For
example, your posture changes to shelter or protect an dysfunctional area. Symptoms of
stress appear. Patterns of stress related emoting, thinking, and behaving are reinforced
in our brains and become part of our identity. Soon, they become our primary responses
because they are the most used.

Exhaustion Phase- The body's resistance to stress may gradually decline or just collapse.
The body's ability to resist disease is eliminated.

Our healthy initial baseline is homeostasis (ideal balance). Trauma shifts us towards
stress or "maximum muscle output".

Maximum Output (Full Strength)
Homeostasis (Balanced Function)
No Output (Full Relaxation)


What do we do? Can we break this cycle and become healthy again? Can we avoid

The adaptation syndrome suggests we must release our trauma or we will suffer disease
and die. We can only store it up and stuff it for so long. The release can happen all at
once or in slow measures which are more common. The velocity of release can be painful
and frightening.

The goal of healing work is to become conscious, to wake up from the trance of
dissociation, and to unwind from the cycle of trauma to find connection, release,
transformation and freedom.

Dissociation – coping mechanism for overwhelming stimulations. It tends to override
normal functioning. We become numb and can’t experience fully. This is what we avoid
in healing body work. Staying present in the here and now and engaging the prefrontal
cortex helps us avoid retraumatization. We don't get caught up in the drama of the
trauma. We stay body-centered. We break the connections between the trauma and
sensation so that we can sense again without it being painful.

The process of healing is to establish safety and freedom from harm. To learn to trust,
having confidence in your own perceptions. To understand intimacy (the need to feel
connected) by engaging and being present with each other. It is in our isolation that our
fears overwhelm us. Connection is the way to healing. To practice control and self
empowerment by having and making choices. To honor, esteem, and hold valuable each
other by having no judgments and being open, staying in the truth, and letting the
process happen organically.
Cycle of Trauma

Primary Scenario- whatever the client senses is their trauma history- the constellation
of events. Afflictions of the helpless.

Disempowerment – the trauma survivor loses his/her voice and boundaries. There's a loss
of continuity, loss of wild instinctual nature, loss of choice, hopelessness,
fragmentation, and a loss of faith.

Mental Embodiment of Victimization- His/her belief system assumes status as a victim.
There is a shifting perception of the individual in relation to the world. The world is not

Somatic Embodiment of Victimization- The body tissues begin to adapt to the belief
system and perceptions, experiences and history. The soma becomes armored, dense,
collapsed, feel vacant, fidgety, etc.

Re-engagement in dysfunctional relationships/lifestyles – Similar situations reflecting the
primary scenario may occur. This can feel comfortable because it is known.

Retraumatization/Revictimization – Dysfunctional belief system gets reinforced and
amplifies somatic fixations.

Over time survivors get more and more deeply entrenched into this cyclic vortex to
where life choices become very limited.
Cycle of Healing

Primary Scenario – Person remembers or has a felt sense of trauma.

Waking Up from the Trance – You recognize the patterns adopted are unhealthy and
become uncomfortable with them. Your coping mechanisms are not working. There must
be something more.

Expression of a healthy self image – You regain your voice and begin to name & shift
relationships. You establish safety and develop a healthy sense of boundaries. You have
a new identity. You can investigate possibilities and have less isolation. Trauma
sensations may escalate. There's often fear in change. Therapy is good at this stage.

Unraveling PsychoSomatic Armoring – Unwinding occurs here with the actual hands on
manipulation of body tissues. Somatic memories and holding patterns begin to unravel.
Trauma is uncoupled with sensation. This is where body work therapy comes into the

Intellectual Transformation – Old beliefs fall away. The mind cannot hold onto old
patterns as easily and shifts in perception occur. New flexible boundaries emerge, and
new neural connections form that run more fluidly.

Empowerment – The Survivor exits cycle here by developing spirituality with unlimited
potential. Be reassured that survivor is not backsliding even as things reoccur. There is a
new person existing.

Soul Infusion – You are able to surrender old beliefs, attitudes, relationships, etc. that
are no longer vital in order to embody your soul’s birthright.
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