Soft hearts, I can’t wait to share with you more about loving you. I recently co-hosted a workshop to support therapists surviving trauma. We discussed ways they can love on themselves, even through the difficult and even traumatizing times.
First, we discussed Polyvagal Theory. I taught folks how we can slow the breath down in order to get the most of our nervous system. Specifically, using what we know from polyvagal theory I recommend breathing in 40% and breathing out 60%. What that looks like is an out breath that’s a little longer than our in breath so for example if you breath in for 4 seconds or so, you’d want to breath out for about six seconds. I also show people how I’m breathing from my belly, not my heart space. We slow the heart rate down and get our parasympathetic nervous system on board to bring us down into this moment.
I also taught people about containment. We utilized imagery I learned from Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy training. I had workshop participants and healers get cozy and comfy. You can actually try this as you join me here in the blog sphere. Get cozy and comfy for a few moments here. You can take a few deep, slow breaths from the bottom of your belly, letting your exhales linger a little longer than your inhales. Imagine a container that feels pleasant. This is a holding space for you to contain anything that’s still there after a therapy session or anything you don’t have time for in this moment. This is not to stuff or push anything away, but rather to acknowledge what’s coming up, note it, and let what’s coming up be held in safe containment for you to come back to at another time. I call mine Rainbow and it’s an actual prayer box that holds everything safely for me. Yours can be something actual or fantastical.
Now that you’ve identified a safe container please imagine the specifics of your container. Imagine the qualities of your container. Picture the colors, temperature, textures, and anything you see, hear, smell, feel and taste with your safe container. Take a moment to breath in as you open your container. Imagine placing anything you have left that you’d like to come back to in your safe container. Take another deep breath and imagine closing your container. Again, your container can be actual or something in your imagination and you can name it and come back to it anytime it may be helpful for you. Some folks tell me they come back to their container for so much more than trauma recovery and people can use it to help with sleep, work stress, and a number of other issues.
Once you have some breathing and containment on board you can notice what you’re feeling and where. I had our lovely workshop participants get in touch with how they’re feeling with a general sense of compassion, talking to themselves like they’d talk to their inner child. Now this can be tough if someone feels triggered by images of themself when they were little. For example, if they were born in a body that doesn’t align with their gender, I’d recommend that they are expansive and flexible with however they picture their inner child. This can be done by looking at a picture of little you or sensing how you feel as you scan your body. Is there tightness in your forehead, racing heart, or tension in your hips? You can see what’s coming up in your body with the gentleness and ease we’d grant to a child, or our inner child.
When you scan and see what’s there, folks expressed great compassion for their feelings and inner child. Folks can again go to container or deep breathing for whatever is there or for any residual feelings or experiences that they’d like to come back to with a trained healer.
Hey, I’m so proud of you for considering more ways to love on yourself. I know it’s so cheesy, but when we are gentle with ourselves I do believe it emanates out there to others and the world. I feel it too sometimes. I’ll walk by someone who is just glowing and I simply feel their kindness, their love. Have you ever noticed someone’s inner love shining outward? You don’t have to do this healing alone and this blog certainly doesn’t replace therapy. Reach out to find your healing support today.