How many of you are feeling a bit keyed up at the moment? The global uncertainty and the impact of just reading the news right now can be downright panic-inducing… but we don’t have to react this way. When our brains interpret something as a stressor or fear, a cycle of neurochemicals get released to either amp up or dial back on the fight-or-flight response.
This rapid changing of the body’s fear response is especially important through the lens of trauma. Trauma is defined as “the experience of severe psychological distress following any terrible or life-threatening event” by Psychology Today. The use of the word “terrible” can be understood in whatever may be terrible for you. Trauma happens to everyone, and everyone can overcome it.
When you experience trauma, your brain goes into that fight-or-flight response and your hands shake, your heart rate accelerates, perhaps you get sweaty palms or feet. This would be like stepping on the gas pedal in a car. The only way to stop it is to press the brakes, and to actually heal the trauma. Otherwise, we are consistently triggered by the same things over and over again, because these triggers root back to the original trauma.
For example, imagine that you were excluded by other kids in school as a kid. You may attend a party where there are times throughout the night where no one is trying to talk to you and you go home feeling dejected and sad. Why is this popping up now even though you haven’t been excluded from a group since childhood? Because this is a trigger for you. It keeps coming up to ask you to heal it.
When you experience something traumatic, not only does your body go into fight-or-flight, but your brain also plays a part in how trauma gets stored in the body.
Your amygdala, hippocampus, hypothalamus, and cingulate gyrus work collectively. This means that together they are processing survival information, encoding memory, assigning meaning to new stimulus and so much more. The cingulate gyrus, for example, is where pain and emotion meet in the brain. When it gets “stuck” in a trauma loop, it begins secreting different chemicals that cause pain. This cycles back through other parts of your brain that then send off alarm bells in the form of serotonin and dopamine that help you deal with that pain.
If your brain and body are in a consistent trauma loop, serotonin and dopamine (the feel good chemicals) are released in greater quantities and too quickly. All of this can lead to symptoms of depression because your brain simply can’t keep up with the need for these chemicals and will eventually go into a state of overdrive.
Though all of this can sound hopeless, it doesn’t need to be. We can actually retrain our brains to process and let go of trauma, even if the brain has already sent signals to the body to respond. Through healing work that blends neuroscience and spirituality through altered states of consciousness, each part of the brain can be individually targeted as we rewrite aspects of our history. When we do this, our bodies respond and we experience less pain, illness, and greater immune function.
If you’re feeling as though you need to face some pent up trauma, take some time to look into this healing work, as humans are made to be resilient — and when we retrain our brain, we revamp our life.
Adalina East, M.S., is an international lecturer, educator, mental health expert, and healer, working with a global clientele to recover from trauma and bring forth inner guidance. Founder of Transformational Healing™, Adalina draws upon her neuroscience and counseling backgrounds, as well as her spiritual gifts to lead others through a spirit-driven process to retrain their brains and reawaken their bodies to create profound change. Transformational Healing™ is offered as an online program, The Beacon Series, or in a one-on-one format with a practitioner here.