The vagus nerve, emotions and the difficulty with mindfulness practices

“It’s a beginning of understanding why traumatized people have such a hard time with mindfulness and why mindfulness in principle doesn’t work for traumatized people”  Van der Kolk had sent many of his highly traumatized patients to do mindfulness exercises with Jon Kabat-Zinn and found that many of them were returning in a state of upset and agitation”

.“As they became silent and started to pay attention to themselves, they get overwhelmed with the physical sensations and they would flee, because being mindful means that you get confronted with your internal world.” In other words, the sensations of the internal world can be so intense that, lacking the tools to work through those sensations, people dissociate during mindfulness exercises. This is not limited to mindfulness exercises but happens in other types of movement, meditative, or healing practices, such as qigong, yoga or massage”.

 

healing from the freeze

“Now, many people who don’t know a lot about trauma think that trauma has something to do with something that happened to you a long time ago. In fact,the past is the past and the only thing that matters is what happens right now. And what is trauma is the residue that a past event leaves in your own sensory experiences in your body and it’s not that event out there that becomes intolerable but the physical sensations with which you live that become intolerable and you will do anything to make them go away.” (Bessel van der Kolk)

Last week, during a two-day deep cleaning/paint prep binge (see the kitchen ceiling to the right!), I listened to a recorded talk by Bessel van der Kolk given at the May 2011 22nd Annual International Trauma Conference. The title of van der Kolk’s title is a mouthful: “Putting neuroplasticity into clinical…

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