Healing Trauma: Weathering the Storm of Emotions
Recently along the Gulf coast of the United States, two historic hurricanes touched ashore and touched many lives. The twin hurricanes accumulated an estimated damage of $150 to $200 billion in total. Flooded homes, evacuees, casualties. Many people lost everything and that resonates throughout their families, loved ones, and communities. Our hearts and thoughts are with those who survived and those that did not.
There are places in our world where nature’s power is on display regularly. Even so, how can anyone prepare for the possibility of losing one’s home, one’s job, one’s existence? Bracing for impact is one thing, living with that is another. Strong emotions pop up, and they may linger for longer than we prefer.
The fear of uncertainty, the frustration of helplessness, the grief of loss. Now folks are rebuilding. Going home to face the reality of a new normal, a new routine. However temporary circumstances may be, a person who goes through a traumatic experience is forever changed.
PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, was once only relegated to combat military personnel. “Shellshock” was coined during World War 1 as veterans who returned from the battered frontline were transfixed with the terror they encountered. Now we know car accidents, verbal arguments, childhood recess scuffles, and more can stay with a person. Suffering is subjective. And everyone’s story is different, yet we all feel the emotions of our humanity. It is because of this that we also feel sympathy and empathy for others. We may not know their story, but we can understand how they feel.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), one of the three treasures of a human being is Shen. Shen may be translated as consciousness, spirit, or mind. The Heart organ is referred to as the “seat of emotions” as this governs the Shen. Related to Heart functioning is Blood, which houses the Shen. What does this all mean? Well, something we already knew. Our hearts are where we “feel” emotions, and strong emotions always influence the heart. From heart-racing moments of pleasure or panic, the heartache of loss, to heart opening experiences of love and happiness.
So, does TCM offer anything for when moments feel heavy and overwhelming? Like, yeah! There is a term, Shen Disturbance, for when a person feels, well, any amount of disturbance that affects the mind. It could be ruminating about present circumstances or how the future may unfold. It could be the weight of sadness or depression. It could be the hyperactive sensation from anxiety or fear. Whatever the manifestation of an emotion or combination of emotions, TCM has a means to move with and through these feelings. In TCM, emotions are known as an endogenous cause of disease, or ways we cause pathologies to ourselves.
Here are 3 Easy Ways To Feel Better Now:
Rub your Ears!
Auricular acupuncture is a well-researched modality in TCM. This is a stimulation to points and regions on the ear to treat the entire body and mind complex. Via the ear, we can diagnose disease and treat conditions. If the eyes are the windows to the soul, the ears are the windows to the body and brain! The ear is a microsystem. Much like in reflexology where the body is represented on the hands and feet, the whole body can be mapped on the ear. When you rub your ears with gentle pressure, you promote the circulation of blood flow and the release of healthful neurotransmitters into your bloodstream. If you are more tense on your left side, rub your left ear, and vice cress for the right side of your body. If you are tense all over, rub both ears. Try it! Right now! Really, for just one minute rub every contour of your ears, front, and back. Experience relaxation and how the body and mind can be at ease through this simple exercise.
Yeah, I know this is a yogic term. But Qigong masters have been performing this exercise for millennia too! It is so deceptively simple that many overlook its great benefits. What to do:
- Press down on one nostril, say your right side
- Breathe through the open, or left, nostril for 3 breaths
- Now switch nostrils (press down on the left nostril and breathe through the right side)
- Take 3 more breaths
- Keeping both nostrils open, finish with 3 deep, slow breaths
Try this right now! How do you feel? Desire to feel better? Take 5 breaths, 7, 9 … there is magic in the numbering. Odd numbers are said to promote and stimulate body functioning, there are revitalizing and strengthening. The number 9 especially has great meaning in Daoist philosophy, and philosophies across many ancient disciplines actually. Divine wholeness anyone! Did I mention harmonious integration of Earthly and Heavenly energies?
Tap into your Heart
REN 17, located in the middle of your sternum (breastbone), is called the Influential Point of Qi. Its job is to enhance the circulation of this vital energy throughout the body. By promoting a smooth flow of Qi, you can say that your emotions will smooth too. Think of a body of water when waves and ripples run rampant, the turbulent waters seem chaotic. Now imagine a calm body of water. Which one do you prefer? Also by tapping on this point, you stimulate the Thymus gland which resides just under the sternum. Doing this benefits the production of white blood cells and awesome hormones. When experiencing big effects from emotions, our immune system may get compromised. This exercise will assist the healthy functioning of the immune system by giving it a boost! Simple to do: Literally tap your fingers or lightly closed fist on your chest, ala King Kong, for about a minute. Try it now! How do you feel?
Easy tools to help with the processing of what is! Whether it is an extreme situation you are dealing with, or everyday emotions, you were designed physiologically with ways to handle the life you lead. By choice or chance, change is inevitable.
Looking for a local acupuncturist?
Lakewood Ranch Acupuncture and Wellness is blessed to have the best in professional and passionate practitioners. We are located near Sarasota and Bradenton right in the heart of Lakewood Ranch, Florida. If you need a place of sanctuary, if you need wellness services, if you just need to talk, call our office today at (941) 518-6237.
- Liesman, Steve. CNBC. Hurricanes Irma, Harvey will have a significant negative impact on third-quarter GDP growth. 13 September 2017.