Not only combat veterans can suffer from traumatic stress. Victims of lost love through divorce, breakup, betrayal or death of a loved one can suffer severe trauma. Discover how to reclaim parts of you that die during a trauma in highlights of my radio conversation for A Lasting Love with Dr. Jane Simington.
Dr. Jane teaches trauma recovery intensives through her company, Taking Flight International. She holds a Ph.D. in health sciences, a master’s of nursing and a bachelor’s of psychology. She wrote the books JOURNEY TO THE SACRED: Mending a Fractured Soul and THROUGH SOULS EYES: Reinventing a Life of Joy and Promise, plus the award-winning films Listening to Soul Pain and Healing Soul Pain. She reveals how she transformed her own trauma over lost love, and you can, too.
Hadley: I can imagine no greater grief than losing a child. How did you deal with the trauma of the tragic death of your 13 year old son?
Dr. Jane: It took me some time to deal with this tragedy. The biggest help that happened for me was discovering the ancient knowledge that when a trauma happens to us, a part of our spirit, a part of our soul can flee.
I was fortunate to be able to work with some indigenous people who still have that in their practice. With their help, I was able to reclaim the parts of myself that also died when my son was killed. It’s now a big part of the work I teach other professionals to do.
It’s also what I prescribe for us, when we’re grieving, when we’ve left parts of ourselves behind, to reclaim those pieces of ourselves. That was the biggest healing for me.
Hadley: At what point were you able to move into that, or reach out for that?
Dr. Jane: One of the biggest reasons I now do the work I do is because I don’t want everyone else to taste every single piece of grief and trauma that I needed to face and deal with. I believe I had to go through this to learn the methods to help people get through this much faster.
It was about 7 years after my tragedy that I was able to find that kind of help. I now help people do that within months of their traumas. I take them back into a deep journey within themselves to reclaim that lost part. When we lose part of ourselves, we lose a tremendous amount of our personal power. We need to reclaim that and bring that back.
Hadley: Let’s clarify this. You’ve written that talk therapy may fail to heal the emotional trauma of lost love. Now you’re saying that reclaiming part of your lost soul can heal it. How do you actually do this work?
Dr. Jane: We now know from MRI studies that trauma memories are stored in the brain’s right hemisphere, not the left. So it’s not talk therapy, because language centers on the left side of the brain. Talk therapy will help you cope, so I call it the helping brain. But it never is going to heal you.
You need to do deeper things to go within yourself to the amygdala of the brain, where so much of that memory of those pictures and highly-charged emotions are stored.
So much of the work I teach other therapists to do is to actually take people deep within themselves and go back and reclaim this part from a position of power.
You’re losing this in a time of trauma and disempowerment. Now you reclaim power. You take them back to those places where they actually left part of themselves behind. Make that part feel safe. We seal it in with some energy work and breath work. I help people do this in my books and cd’s, or you take them to your therapist to help you.
Hadley: That’s a good resource. I get the overall picture, but I’m wondering if you could give us an example to help someone who is suffering now. What steps can you take right now to feel urgent relief from trauma?
Dr. Jane: The first thing I guide people to do is re-establish their breathing patterns. Most people don’t realize that when they have been traumatized, one of the first things you do is hold your breath. It’s part of the shock response.
The antidote: Just breathing in and out. Breath in peace. Blow out what isn’t working. Blow out the old and breathe in the new. So I guide people in breathing exercises that are important.
The second step. After you breathe in and out and bring yourself to a place of calm, I have you put your chin up. You can’t be sad with your chin up facing the heavens. Sadness makes our faces drop down. You cannot hold that sadness, if you put your chin towards the heavens.
Then I have you breathe, as if you’re pulling light through your entire body and reground yourself. Trauma actually cuts off our connection between heaven and earth. So I help you breathe and get an image that you pull light into your body and send it out through the soles of your feet.
These three steps help you stay in your body. Many people who’ve been traumatized do what we call, “disassociate”. They actually spend more time out of their body than in their body. So they are besides themselves, really.
Hadley: I find people also do this after a serious injury. You leave your body to escape the intense pain, and spend more time in your thoughts or your head. So these three exercises sound like good ways to get in touch with the breath of life, the breath of joy and healing, and be grounded in the energy and enthusiasm of the earth again.
Dr. Jane: Absolutely. Trauma can happen from many sources. It can be emotional trauma, physical trauma, sexual trauma. It can be a powerful loss. After my son was killed, I started walking daily. For 13 years I never missed a morning walk. Having your feet on the earth is a powerful way to ground and stay in your body.
You can walk and watch the seasons change. You know winter comes, but there always is the promise of spring. So nature is powerful in reminding us the we, too, can heal. And it becomes a psychic process for us to witness and be a part of.
It’s powerful to be grounded and stay grounded in your body. It’s the biggest thing that traumatized people need to learn how to do.
Hadley: And walking barefoot also connects you to the energy of the earth. If you wear rubber or plastic soles they block energy. Leather soles still allow that energy to come through. Rubber or plastic soles will not. So walking barefoot is a good way to ground yourself and get the healing energy from the earth going through your body.
Dr. Jane: You mentioned an important piece. I encourage grieving, traumatized people to become more connected with natural products. Synthetics interfere with the energy. Wearing silks, wools, cotton, leather even, doesn’t interfere.
I also have all of my trauma people have a stone in their pocket that they hold onto and hang onto. When the (emotional) triggers get really bad, they grab onto that stone and breathe into that stone until it goes away.
Lots of traumatized people have flashbacks or nightmares at night. Putting a small stone under your pillow that you can grab onto the moment that nightmare starts is going to help take that away.
Then you want to keep that stone clean, so I have people change that stone every week to put that energy back into the earth and reclaim a new energy.
Hadley: You can wash a stone in salt water to cleanse the energy. Since you brought up the topic of flashbacks, when we think of post traumatic stress disorder, we often think about returning troops, whose injuries and troubling battle memories haunt them long after wartime. The same symptoms can occur after a bad breakup, divorce or death of a loved one. How do you actually release painful memories out of the part of the brain where they are stored?
Get the answers in the next highlights of my radio conversation for A Lasting Love with Dr. Jane Simington. Or listen to this whole episode now.
And discover all the urgent remedies I’d used to heal my own trauma over lost love as you read my book, 911 Breakup Survival-How To Get Over A Breakup And Love Again, Like It’s The First Time.
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