I’ve just come back from a fascinating, challenging and inspiring workshop with Dr Larry Heller about “Healing Early and Complex Trauma“. In this context ‘early’ trauma is concerned with how relationships in the first months and years of life affect our strategies and capacity for coping with stress and forming relationships later in life. The workshop focussed on integrating ‘top-down’ (ie psychotherapeutic models of cognition) and ‘bottom-up’ (body oriented, felt-sense response) approaches in the healing of early trauma through nervous system regulation.
As a craniosacral practitioner, working with the felt sense of the body and learning to negotiate the fluctuations of feelings and sensations linked with our emotions is an integral part of my work. Learning how our physiology responds to these experiences was therefore deeply enriching on a personal and professional level.
Much of the practice over the three days was about connecting to our inner resources to cultivate feelings of being present and grounded. A key theme from the workshop in working with trauma in this way was the importance of ‘supporting an increasing capacity for aliveness‘, as Larry says,
“Our greatest desire is to feel alive. Meaninglessness, depression, and many other symptoms are reflections of our disconnection from our core vitality. When we feel alive, we feel connected, and when we feel connected, we feel alive. Aliveness is not primarily a mental state though it brings mental clarity, nor is it only pleasure. It is a state of energetic flow and coherency in all systems of the body, brain and mind.”
In Craniosacral Therapy, we work to increase the sense of vitality by bringing awareness and connection to the underlying mechanisms of health in the body. Contacting our inner resources by becoming more present and grounded creates the energy and awareness needed to process the impact of earlier relationships so that we can respond to stress in healthier ways. When we have a healthier connection to ourselves we can have healthier connections with other people.