Traumas and their associated emotions are held together in our bodies and both need to be processed in order for healing to occur. This is why body-focused somatic healing is such a powerful tool for recovery – by working directly with the body, we can effectively release and heal deeply stored traumas. Breathwork is a type of somatic therapy and most connected breathwork modalities offer a pathway for deeply held traumas to be felt, processed, and released. However, there is a delicate balance that needs to be struck during this process to ensure the safety of the breather. In this article, we will share how retraumatization can occur in breathwork, and how the careful design of BBTRS® ensures a balanced and safe space for emotions and traumas to be processed and released.
What is Retraumatization?
Retraumatization is the reactivation of emotional and psychological distress from past trauma. It happens when the traumatized individual encounters reminders or situations reminiscent of the original traumatic experience. Within the delicate state induced by breathwork, one becomes profoundly vulnerable. If the body experiences overstimulation during this process, or the emotions take over to the point of overwhelm, the experience and sensations can closely mirror those felt during the initial trauma. In essence, the breathwork state, when not approached with care, has the potential to inadvertently reawaken and intensify the emotional wounds of the past. And this can lead to retraumatization, leaving the participant worse off than they were before the session.
BBTRS® and the Avoidance of Overstimulation
One of the distinctive features of BBTRS® is its deliberate avoidance of overstimulation. The structured nature of the practice is designed to prevent the reactivation of individuals, steering clear of overwhelming emotional surges that can potentially lead to retraumatization. This nuanced approach distinguishes BBTRS® from other modalities, offering a safe haven for individuals seeking healing without the risk of retraumatization.
Embodied Emotional Release
At this point you may be wondering how exactly BBTRS® prevents overstimulation. The answer to that question is that at BBTRS® we take an embodied healing approach. Rather than allowing emotions to exist solely in the realm of the mind, BBTRS® facilitates a connection between the emotional and physical aspects of the self. Our balanced approach honors what is coming out emotionally, and then connects that experience to the body. Establishing a connection between emotions and bodily sensations not only enhances the depth of the healing process but also serves to anchor the individual, preventing them from being overwhelmed by the emotions and narratives of the mind. This body-oriented approach to trauma healing eliminates the necessity to revisit distressing memories and prevents the risk of retraumatization.
By striking a delicate balance between allowing emotions to surface and preventing overstimulation, BBTRS® provides a secure space for individuals to heal. Embodied emotional healing stands as a pivotal aspect within our modality, however it is just one of six elements that our sessions offer. We also incorporate sound, movement, touch, meditation, and breathwork, and these six elements synergize to create the most potent and comprehensive healing environment possible. Our six element, trauma-informed approach, engages the body’s natural process for healing, restructures the system on a cellular level, and will leave you with the ability to intimately connect with yourself and others and to celebrate life to the fullest! If you would like to experience this profound modality for yourself, we invite you to join one of our free Community Breathwork Sessions.