2018 Series 4

Recovery from Stress and Trauma

Week 3: Integration

August 17 - 23, 2018

course content for week 3:

Integration and catch up week

Welcome to week 3!

Introduction to week 3

As you know, I got a bit behind with my vacation and deciding to do an eleventh hour re-write on the course content for weeks one and two. I'm just about done, and a lot happened on the Facebook group during the integration week that I'd like to share here to make sure everyone sees it.

One of the things I teach in this class is listening to your instincts and trusting what's happening. It's been interesting. In all the years I've taught this class I've never hit a full stop on writing the content like I did for this session. Usually words just pour out of me. I'm learning to trust when these things happen to not get stressed out and just allow things to unfold. I think there is a reason I had to hit full stop. So many of you have had things come up in the last two weeks and it was nice to be able to just adapt to what came up instead of having too much food for thought guiding the process.

Now it feels like everyone is ready to move forward together and I feel confident those words will flow and everything will come together. Look for the written content that supports weeks 1 and 2 to show up in your mailbox in the next two days. That'll give everyone a chance to ponder the content from this last week.

I also realize 4 weeks with one week of integration is not enough for this topic. We have a cushion between this session and session 5. We'll use what we need of it to continue to take this topic as it comes. If I have people who need to slow down and go deeper I will. If anyone has anything come up they need one on one support with or want to bring to the group please don't hesitate. I'm here.

Thank you all for your willingness to go so deep into this all important topic!

Working with Physical and Emotional Trauma

Case Studies:

For those of you who watched the video for week two (you know, the one with the terrible sound and lots of written notes!) I worked on the same mare again last week. This time I remembered my tripod and used my phone to record voice. Her responses were so fascinating and so appropriate for what I want to share with you all about working with horses who have physical or emotional issues.

Here's a link to the first video in case you missed it or want easy access for comparison. Remember, the sound is terrible in the first one but don't let that discourage you. Use it as a chance to watch and feel what you feel. You're far enough along to form your own opinions and feelings and then feel free to ask me questions if you want me to clarify anything. It does help, if you have a question in a particular part of the video, to include a time stamp indicating where in the video you want me to comment.

I did two live chats on Facebook:

Live Chat Part 1:

Topics requested:

1. How do you discern the difference in emotional trauma vs physical trauma, or does it even matter (assuming the physical trauma has healed) what the source/cause of trauma was when you are trying to help release it?

2. Could you touch on the trauma of being starved as it relates to horses protecting food resources and the impact on their physical and mental states?

3. Odd and/or inconvenient behaviors (stall walking, trashing stall and the like)

4. Working through emotional human trauma. Whether horse related or otherwise.

Do you feel it’s necessary to talk about the actual events in order to fully process them and work through them? Talking about certain things makes me angry so I stuff them but I know that’s not good.

5. Being bred too young and trauma around weaning and other young horse related traumas.

And then there were some questions asked along the way - we talked a bit about the best places to work with your horse when you're working on building connection and how to work with giving a horse medicine when they don't want to take it (honestly that's a whole subject in and of itself!).

I did not get to how we can work with our own stress and trauma so I did part 2 to cover that.

Live Chat Part 2: Human stress and trauma

Christina asked:

Working through emotional human trauma. Whether horse related or otherwise.

Do you feel it’s necessary to talk about the actual events in order to fully process them and work through them? Talking about certain things makes me angry so I stuff them but I know that’s not good.

Mary asked: My question the brain and healing trauma. I feel that if I could find the spot in my brain n release my confidence would be back.

I mentioned several people/books that I've found helpful in my own journey. Here they are:

The Presence Process by Michael Brown
In An Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness by Peter Levine
Thea Elijah: www.perennialmedicine.com
Carol Welch: www.biosomatics.com

Some Thoughts on Balance and Movement and Rebuilding Confidence

You may have noticed some of the conversations happening around lack of confidence in us humans. A lot of things can happen that zap our confidence. Injuries and aging are two common ones! Movement is one of the best things to help us release the emotional effects of stress and trauma!

My body worker friend says she likes to bust the 'myth of aging' - this notion that as we get older we can't do things like squat or kneel or bend over to touch our toes or.... fill in the blank.

The truth is that in our culture we have a fairly limited array of movements we put our bodies through. I think it's that limited array of movement that creeps up on us and makes us feel old all of a sudden. Of course recovery from an injury or surgery is a recipe for restricted range of movement, right?

As most of you know, Steve and I started doing Parkour classes about a year and a half ago. Parkour is all about finding creative ways to navigate your environment. It's all about taking your body through a wide variety of movements! Crawling, climbing, jumping, balancing, vaulting, hanging, you name it.

Now I am not a natural born athlete. I've always had physical issues that make it challenging for me to get as fit as I'd like. Prior to Parkour I hadn't found anything that really worked for me. My knees hurt, it was very hard to climb a ladder or go hiking where I had to do a lot of up and downhill. My ability to balance was so poor that I found myself afraid to do things that entailed good balance. Both rotator cuffs have had issues and I didn't have good range of motion.

Once a week for an hour we go play at the Parkour gym and my knees no longer hurt. I can climb a ladder with no problem and hiking up and down hills doesn't bother me. I have full range of motion in my shoulders and can do things that require me to bear weight on my arms. My balance is good and my confidence is increasing daily. All this to say that if I can improve this much anyone can. And it doesn't take anything special to make the changes.

As far as this session goes, movement is a fantastic way to release the effects of stress and trauma. For us and for our horses. If you challenge yourself a little bit when you move it stirs up some of those stuck emotions and can help you overcome those challenges. I have been quite shocked by the fear of heights that's shown up through Parkour and I love having a safe way to work that out for myself, at my own pace.

Alice - this one's for you. Here is a video of a variety of things you might start exploring if you, like Alice and I, have trouble with your balance or with confidence. Discovering what your body is capable of does wonders for confidence! Don't be discouraged if you try things and find it too difficult or find you can only do it in short bursts. I was hopeless when I started all of these things and I've come so far. Persistence pays off - even if it's only once a week!

In the video I did a little warmup but realized that I forgot to include a cool down. If you do a lot, please do something to stretch out the muscles you used at the end. If you need some ideas let me know and I'll film some or you can refer back to the video for day one of week one of this class.

Enjoy catching up on all this great content for the next few days and I'll be in touch with another newsletter as soon as the written content is posted to the website!

Thank you all for being here and going so deeply and consciously into this topic. I appreciate you!
Andrea