Healing Trauma Book Report
Healing Trauma: A Pioneering Program for Restoring the Wisdom of Your Body
Peter Levine, Ph.D.
Sounds True Publishing – 2005
When it comes to trauma, EFT and Peter Levine seem to be speaking slightly different dialects of the very same language. Levine’s book comes with a CD of 12 steps to healing trauma, and the attention is on the physical body. As with the experience of EFT, Levine’s research shows that trauma gets stuck in the body. His observation of wild animals is that after a traumatic event, they go through a physical event of literally shaking off that trauma. If they go through that shaking off, they then quickly get back to normal and walk away from the traumatic encounter. If they don’t get a chance to shake off that trauma, they do not recover.
In EFT, we use language and tapping, and trauma does release for people. I can understand how Levine made this his life work – once you see that happen for a person, you want to have the healing happen for as many people as possible.
Levine has worked personally with thousands of people. Healing Trauma is his attempt to put the work directly into the hands of people so they can self-help their healing. I admire the attempt, and I wonder what writing this book was like for Levine. In my experience with EFT it seems that a skilled practitioner helps a person heal much faster than they would on their own – basically it seems because our subconscious is hidden from each one of us, and a person trained in observation can help us see what we are blind to about ourselves.
A couple more things I appreciate about Levine’s Healing Trauma.
There’s a point in the exercises when a person begins to pay conscious attention to their trauma. At this point Levine shows people how to “pendulate,” in other words to oscillate between feeling the trauma inside our body, and observing it outside our body. At some point in the pendulation process there’s a realization moment, when it becomes clear that WE are not the trauma. The trauma is a part of our life, but its not completely our life. This is the exact thing I experience when working with EFT. At one moment a person is consumed by their trauma, and the next moment they realize they are not their trauma anymore, they’re standing outside of it, observing it from outside the trauma. I often us some “pendulating “ language just before this happens, such as ‘Maybe it has to be this way. Or, Maybe it doesn’t have to be this way.” I’ve always thought of this as shaking the jar and loosening up the contents, but pendulating is a nice way to put it.
Another thing I love about Levine is that he talks about the fear people feel when they realize they are no longer in bondage to their trauma. I see this in the people I work with when they get free from their trauma. All of a sudden they’re in a new world. Levine describes words and physical exercises for helping people to overcome this fear stage. I have often used words to describe a new room that the person is in – and the freedom now to explore and live in this room. But it is a new room, and its unfamiliar, and it can cause fear. After reading Levine I added some body talk into the words. “These 50 trillion cells. They aren’t familiar with being free from this trauma. But we’re all together in this, mind, body, spirit. We only got here because we all got here. Hey 50 trillion cells, we can relax. We can take our time getting used to this life beyond trauma. It feels so great. Feels so free. We can take our time getting used this new unfamiliar. No problem if we fell some anxiety now – we’re getting used to a new place for our life.”
What a wonderful thing to discover the work of Peter Levine. I have long believed that EFT is just one of many possibilities for releasing fears, anxieties, and traumas, nice to learn of this approach by Levine. I think for some people his body-centric approach may be more comfortable and efficient. Personally, I like the language aspect of EFT. I regularly ask people during a session if anything is showing up in their body, and if so where. By paying attention to that sensation in the body, and easing that sensation, I believe that we may be accomplishing the same work that Levine is doing. For me the words allow a certain precision as we can probe body, mind, and spirit by following the emotions and voicing them in words and observing body language. And, as you might be able to tell from my blog – I just like words.
Enough for this report – a highly recommended read. One last bit of information – trauma doesn’t have to get stuck in us only because of a huge violation to our life. It can be a seeming small event or experience, but somehow it takes on large proportion in our life and we end up stuck. For that reason alone, Levine’s book – or some good EFT sessions, can perhaps create additional lightness in our life, even if we don’t have debilitating trauma. Inspriing book – Levine has two other titles that I’ll be getting to soon! “In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness (2010) and Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma: The Innate Capacity to Transform Overwhelming Experiences (1997)