Peter Levine's Grounbreaking Book - Waking The Tiger
As a clinical massage therapist, you meet clients who present pain conditions that have no obvious cause. There has been no injury, and they are not constantly repeating movements that cause Repetitive Strain Syndromes like Carpel Tunnel, or a Lumbar Disc condition. So the pain condition can be harder to resolve as they can’t actually explain where it’s come from.
This is when I would start to look more at their emotional make-up. If, after a few treatments if the pain still persists we might question if there was some kind of traumatic event, where shock and trauma have got caught in the body. In his book ‘Waking The Tiger’ by Peter .A. Levine, he talks about Somatic Experiencing, with the fight or flight response. He he describes a third stage where if the animal or person can not flee or fight then they will ‘freeze’. He explains that if you watch an animal, when it feels safe again, it’s body will start shaking. This releases all the adrenaline and energy from the frightening experience and then the animal continues with life afresh.
This is all governed by the animal brain. However, for humans the human brain cuts in and rationalises the situation, telling us that once we are safe, we do not need to shake or release anything. Or simply that we just need to be OK. However, shaking is so important for shifting and releasing trauma from the body. If some kind of release does not happen, unfortunately it gets trapped in the body as pain. Levine talks about how Somatic Experiencing can be used to go back and complete the body memory and experience.
Another example of Somatic Release: a client comes in with shoulder pain causing limited was badly injured. For all the repair work and physio that she had, nothing seemed to shift it. It was not until she considered what her body really wanted to do when she was assaulted, that things began to shift. She realised that if she had felt safe, her body’s natural instinct would have been to get straight up and push the person straight back. So she practiced hitting into the air whilst feeling safe, releasing the sensation the body had been holding in. The the pain began to go. She had initially rationalised with her human brain that the person who pushed her was sick and did not know what they were doing. However, this had helped the pain get stuck in her body. I thoroughly recommend Peter Levines’ book Waking The Tiger if you have a pain condition with no obvious direct cause, or that simply will not get better.
- A great insight into ways of releaing trauma from the body
Babette Rothschild, The Body Remembers.
Somatic Experiencing is absolutely vital subject that can make a huge difference in the recover. Another great book for anyone who is interested in the subject is by Babette Rothschild
As a specialist clinical massage therapist I find it is important to be aware of this subject as sometimes when working with a client, they may suddenly remember an experience from the past, or they may feel extremely emotional without knowing why. It is vital that the client feels safe enough to express and release these experiences which can then be a catalyst for shifting an unexplained pain condition.