The medical definition of shock is not what I expected. I remember discovering this years ago when doing an obligatory First Aid course to comply with the Craniosacral Therapy Association (CSTA) requirements. A paramedic explained it's all about blood loss or a dangerous reduction in blood flow throughout the body. The symptoms include dizziness, coldness, shallow or rapid breathing, fainting and even collapse or death. Physical shock can come from a serious bodily injury, or from an electric shock, which can cause a loss of consciousness. Emotional shock is the result of extreme mental distress following a traumatic experience of any kind. In 1914, Freud defined trauma as 'a breach in the protective barrier against stimuli, leading to feelings of overwhelming helplessness'. So shock occurs when something is so overwhelming that it breaks through our protective boundaries.
Healing the Body
Pathway Balancing Kinesiology and craniosacral therapy are both body-based approaches to healing. Whatever the cause of shock and trauma, its symptoms are present in the body. The shock is in the person, not the situation. So treating and resolving soul shock and trauma begins with the body. Shock can be caused by a sudden, strong breach in the protective barrier. Trauma can be sudden or come from a sustained period of enduring distress, uncertainty or pain. If the person cannot, or doesn't, take time for appropriate care straight after an event, the effects of any shock can become ingrained in the muscles, organs or tissues of the body. Unresolved trauma can have a huge impact on someone's life and can last indefinitely, unless treated.
There are four core key signs in a traumatised person:
1. Being uptight or feeling upset (Technical term: hyperarousal)
At this first stage, symptoms include; increased heart rate & breathing, agitation, difficulty sleeping, tension, muscular twitching or jitters, racing thoughts or anxiety attacks. The nervous system has the accelerator full on.
2. Intense, focused tension (Technical term: hypervigilance)
Now the nervous system focuses all our energy on the perceived threat; shallow breathing, tight muscles, constricted, pulled in & down posture, pale skin, cold extremities and tight, shut down stomach and bowels. Full attention is directed towards our environment, being watchful for any approaching threat. You can't, dare not, relax.
3. Being out of it or withdrawn (Technical term: dissociation)
At this late stage, the situation is getting beyond endurance and the body begins to shut down and prepare us to die. The person feels spaced out, numb, loses track of time, can't remember where they've put things or if they've done something. They may behave out of character, saying odd things that don't make sense or don't seem like their usual selves, being unnaturally calm. Dissociated people live in their imaginations and fantasies, looking for mindless distractions to fill their time.
4. Helpless and immobilised (Technical term: freezing)
By this final stage, the nervous system puts the brakes on and is ready for death. This is the 'rabbit in the headlights' scene, with tremendous energy held at full throttle in the body. The person feels utterly powerless, in abject helplessness. The sense of paralysis is profound and real, unable to move a muscle, unable to scream, unable to go on anymore. This is the end and the point of total breakdown and collapse.
Then suddenly....your attacker leaves you for dead and runs away, or the other vehicle swerves and narrowly misses you, or you open your eyes and realise the fall hasn't killed you, you open the letter that confirms the years of legal battle are over, the phone call comes that agrees the insolvency arrangement is settled and your debts are cleared. Now you have survived the shock and lived beyond the trauma. What happens next is vital to your health, your total wellbeing and your life overall.
Retrieving the Soul
When an antelope is grabbed by a lion, it instantly drops dead from shock, thereby escaping the agony of being mauled to death. At death, science cannot demonstrate what it is that leaves the body, because all the components are usually still there. The only measurable physical loss is the weight of a few grammes, but of what? Wholistically and spiritually, it is believed that the soul leaves the body, as the spiritual energy that held it in place evaporates. So with an experience that appears life-threatening, the soul may begin to leave the body as part of the traumatic reaction. In the same way that medical shock is defined as a dangerous reduction in blood flow or loss of blood, wholistic shock is a dangerous loss of soul energy. I believe this happens during the third and fourth stages of traumatisation. With dissociation, the soul has partly disconnected from the body. I sometimes see this in a client's posture, as an upward tilt to the head and upward eye movements. Sometimes parts of the soul are broken off for self preservation - like an animal gnawing off it's own limb to escape the snare of a leg clamp. A spiritual person may begin to give everything up and over to God as they can no longer see a way forward. With freezing at the soul level, the person's wider field and life in general, seems to come to a halt. They remain stuck in an unchanging situation or state, long after the traumatic events have passed.
The process of retrieving the lost soul energy begins with the body and 'you've gotta feel it to heal it'. It's avoidance of this process that keeps legions of people trapped in their traumatised state, probably without even realising it. The first step is safety. You must be sure you are in a safe place, with safe people and that the threat has definitely gone away and is firmly in the past. The next step is resourcing. You have to build up the body's strength and replenish your reserves on all levels. This may mean complete rest, keeping warm, eating comfort foods, letting go of certain commitments or activities, stopping your thoughts in their tracks and diverting to nice things in your awareness, gentle exercise and quality dietary supplements. Later on you may need to declutter your home, bring certain relationships to an end, draw up a budget for managing your spending, loan repayments and savings and maybe reassess your career path or work practices. The third stage is titration. This means creating a solution, little by little. When you feel safe, well resourced and comfortable, allow yourself to recall the feeling of trauma just as much as you can. Then turn your attention back to feeling comfy, warm and content again, looking around you at the good things you can see. Then let the feelings flow together to dissolve the old, frozen, shocked part of your soul. You may cry, rant in rage, slump to the floor in despair or curl up in a ball. Relax. Let every muscle in your body soften, shiver and shake off the dregs of the past. Rest. Finally, the best bit - resolution. This is where the memory and experience of the trauma has been integrated and you realise you have overcome the patterns that were held in your being. You've developed a heightened awareness that alerts you way ahead of a potential threat. Your honed intuition means you can see it coming a mile off and take steps to avoid the same thing happening again. You are more confident and stable because inside of you there is a part that knows it can press through and deal with any problems that arise. You are more flexible, tolerant and compassionate with yourself and others, able to handle disappointment or uncertainties. Now you can plan from a position of firm foundations and embodied wisdom. Now you know what really matters to you. Now the world is your oyster because you truly embody the pearls of wisdom that you found by going under and digging deep and coming up into the light and fresh air, victorious.
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