Click below to watch “Growing Through Trauma: How to Use Breathing & Meditation for Self-Healing”, where Flowly’s Founder and CEO Celine Tien discusses growing through trauma with trauma healing specialist, Pierre-Etienne Vannier.
Feel free to take your own notes during the workshop, or bookmark the key takeaways below.
TLDR: Trauma is a complex and multi-faceted issue that requires compassion and understanding. While most have heard of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, many have just started learning about Post Traumatic Growth: the opportunity to heal and even grow from our journey. By reconnecting with our bodies and emotions, identifying cues for relaxation, and slowly processing uncomfortable emotions, we can build resilience and the capacity to bounce forward.
What is Trauma?
Trauma is about our internal response to a distressing event or situation.
Many people may not identify themselves as having experienced trauma, thinking that their life hasn't been "that tough" or "that hard." However, in this day and age, many of us have faced difficult times, such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to widespread trauma and stress. It’s important to note that trauma lives on a spectrum, therefore, something that may be traumatic to one individual may not be traumatic to another.
What does the journey to healing look like?
According to Pierre-Etienne, two key pillars to healing are self-awareness and self-regulation. The journey to healing begins with self-awareness, which requires acknowledging and reconnecting with our feelings and bodies to find a sense of peace from within.
Many of us, when stressed out and overwhelmed, disconnect from ourselves as a protective mechanism. However, to truly heal, we need to come back and reconnect with our bodies and feelings. A crucial first step is understanding how it feels to be stressed out and, more importantly, how it feels to be relaxed.
One challenge lies with becoming stuck in a state of stress which makes it hard to have a good understanding of what relaxation feels in our bodies. By identifying cues that indicate when we are starting to relax, such as deeper breaths or more relaxed shoulders, we can learn to repeat and replicate these cycles. The goal is not to learn how to avoid stress, but rather to learn how to not get stuck in the stress and build resilience and capacity to bounce forward from stressors.
The journey to healing is not a linear process and requires patience and gentleness with ourselves. Building the capacity to self-regulate means learning how to connect with ourselves, even if it feels uncomfortable or unfamiliar. Many individuals who have experienced trauma emotionally flatline, numbing themselves to both negative and positive emotions. By giving ourselves permission to reconnect with negative emotions, we can begin to experience post-traumatic growth.
What is Post-traumatic growth?
Many are familiar with the concept of post-traumatic stress, but it is often overlooked that these challenges can actually serve as a catalyst for incredible personal growth. This is where the idea of post-traumatic growth comes in - instead of simply bouncing back to our previous state, we can bounce forward and be forever changed for the better by our experiences. This concept was first studied academically in the 1990s at the University of Charlotte and is centered on the transformative power of trauma.
What can someone do to incorporate the idea of post-traumatic growth into their daily life?
Pierre-Etienne suggests starting with self-awareness and identifying cues for relaxation. It's also important to reconnect slowly with uncomfortable emotions, giving ourselves permission to feel and process them in a safe space. Perhaps, starting with connecting to your body is a good way to begin. Acknowledge and make space for your emotions and sensations, and sit with them with compassion and patience, even the difficult ones like anger and fear.
Try connecting with these emotions for just a few moments in a safe space. Imagine, instead of jumping in the water, you begin by dipping your toe in and then coming out. Then the next time, dip your feet in, then your knees, and so on. Over time, the emotions may begin to diffuse, move, or become more manageable.
Have Any Questions?
Reach out to our team at firstname.lastname@example.org