Trauma can be a funny thing. So often people have no accessible memory at all of traumatic incidents. Just as the physical body sometimes encapsulates something foreign, in order to protect the rest of the system, the conscious mind can sometimes seal off memories that it deems are a threat to the functioning of the whole. Hiding it behind a wall, in an attempt to protect you.
Sometimes this is because of experiences so incongruent with normal behavior that the conscious mind simply can’t process them. Seeing this as a threat to sanity perhaps, these memories are encapsulated and hidden. (For example, a date who violently rapes you and then politely waits for you to get dressed again, so he can drive you home, and thanks you for a lovely evening.)
The mind is a limited tool. It’s really trying to help you. Protect you from a horrible reality until you are stronger and better able to cope. And sometimes, that happens. Sometimes memories begin to trickle back after a period of time. Sometimes they can be uncovered by hypnotherapy. But often they are walled off forever and we simply can’t find our way back to them. The thing is, they are still there. They happened and the body remembers. The idea of cellular intelligence and cellular memory is not new. When the body is reminded of previous threats to safety, it responds appropriately – however, when the conscious mind is unable to access the memory, it can be incredibly confusing and it can cause a schism. It can cause a previously confident person to doubt themselves. It has a corrosive effect on self esteem. Many healing techniques rely on access to these memories. This is what makes date rape drugs so insidious. The body still endures the trauma, but the ability to resist is taken away and the memories are chemically stolen, so they can never be addressed.
Every trauma is retained by the body. This is not unlike the engram function, which animals use to alert them to possible dangers, like an approaching fire. A scent on the breeze, the quality of light at a certain time of day and the presence of certain aspects of landscape may be enough to transport them back to a time when danger approached the herd previously. They will respond accordingly to evade the threat.
In humans, this can be hampered by conscious thought, the ability to imagine and to reason, and can be made downright unmanageable by being denied access to the memory that would make sense of the response. This could be from a dental or medical procedure where we were medicated, a traumatic accident or a rape.. A sense that something happened to trigger this, but no idea what. This can lead to doubt about what happened. Is it just our imagination? In the case of a rape victim, it robs them of the opportunity to access physical evidence of a crime. Even when remembered, months or years later, it is the word of one against another. An “other” who has had time to manipulate the situation, spread rumours, plant doubt. And with most people unwilling to believe that someone charismatic and good looking could behave that way (they almost always are. How do you think they lure people into these situations?). And the idea that they could easily access willing sex and therefore, have no need to rape is irrelevant. Rape is not just about sex, it is about power. It’s no wonder that so few incidents are disclosed or reported.
But the body retains these experiences clearly. They are embedded within our living tissue. Most transformative practices require that an experience or memory must be present in order to be released and healed. So, although it tried to protect us, the segregation of inaccessible memories can actually get in the way of true healing. The feeling alone can be enough to connect to for healing. A skilled practitioner can access and release these traumas directly from the body tissue. These releases are often accompanied by a twitching, trembling or shaking. If we watch a dog, they will frequently “shake things off” – this is release. I remember the first time I accessed someone who could do this. It was like seeing colour for the first time! My body released wave after wave of grief, as convulsive trembling. The sense of relief was amazing.
I have access to both of these skills. I can release via the physical body, so that no talking or conscious memory are needed. No danger of re-installing the trauma via the “story”. I am also familiar with processes that transmute the effects of the experience via the feeling or emotion alone. These techniques are valuable for releasing unresolved grief, buried trauma and other emotional hurts. They can result in feelings of greater lightness, a greater ability to cope and allows space for new experiences and finer vibrations to come in.
- Photo by Kat Jayne from Pexels.