By the time we reach adulthood, I believe that most, if not all of us, will have experienced trauma that impacts on our emotional wellbeing and everyday functioning.
I believe that flower and other vibrational essences have a huge part to play in the healing of trauma because they reach directly into the parts of our energy system where trauma gets lodged; gently bringing comfort and restoring our natural vitality.
Although I’m not a trauma specialist, it’s becoming clear to me that much of the work I do with essences is helping people to release the impact of trauma from their energy systems and everyday lives. Some essences address the symptoms of trauma (e.g. feeling numb, overwhelmed, fearful) while others address specific types of trauma (e.g. sexual abuse, trauma from surgery, birth trauma).
The value of essences in the treatment of trauma is something I now see clearly in my own life. As I begin to learn about trauma from people who are experts, I recognise that many of the things I’ve struggled with are characteristic of people who are traumatised.
Deep disconnection from my body; feeling numb and disengaged. Low level dread of life; feeling that it wasn’t safe to be here. High level anxiety and constant overwhelm. Getting highly activated in situations that other people would take in their stride. Feelings of being powerless and, at times, deep dark hopelessness. Chronic pain all over my body coupled with exhaustion that would keep me bedbound for days at a time.
For a long time it required a daily commitment to using essences and energy work for me to be able to function in the world at all. Now I don’t need to work so hard to maintain that basic level of functioning because I’ve rediscovered my core emotional resilience and sense of safety, so life feels very different. I feel very different.
Essences are, I believe, a crucial resource in the treatment of trauma because they help us to move on, feeling safe, embodied, resilient, connected and alive. They offer us soothing support to move into our emotional experience and meet it with compassion and patience rather than shutting down our emotional responses in an attempt to cope with the unbearable.
Whether you’re a practitioner seeking ways to help your clients release and heal from trauma, or an individual seeking support in your own trauma healing, I hope this series of posts will be of benefit to you.
What Is Trauma and How Does It Affect Us?
Trauma occurs when something shocking or distressing happens and we are unable to cope at the time; we can’t respond, integrate and process the event so there is an ongoing psychological and physiological impact.
“We become scared stiff or, alternately, we collapse, overwhelmed and defeated with helpless dread. Either way trauma defeats life.” Peter Levine
The terror and shock cause disconnect from the physical body; people often report feeling that part of their soul left during a traumatic incident and didn’t come back. While this dissociation happens as a way to protect us from feeling the pain of an unbearable situation, the disconnect continues after the initial threat has passed, resulting in long-lasting emotional numbness, difficulties connecting with others and a fear of feeling anything at all. We no longer feel safe experiencing our emotions, and we no longer trust our somatic experience. We couldn’t prevent the unthinkable from happening so we feel powerless and lose faith in the intrinsic goodness of life.
“Anyone who has suffered a trauma knows first, paralyzing fright, followed by the bereft feeling of losing your way in the world, of being severed from your very soul.” Peter Levine
“Overwhelming experiences affect our innermost sensations and our relationship to our physical reality – the core of who we are.” Bessel van der Kolk
Trauma shatters our ability to feel fully engaged, embodied and alive. We cannot engage meaningfully with ourselves, other people or life itself because the energy system gets overwhelmed, can’t cope and breaks down.
Brain functioning is affected by trauma; the mind cannot make sense of the raw sensations that flood the system so the unprocessed experience gets stored in the body until it finds a safe way to release.
The imprint of trauma affects many aspects of daily life and functioning. Traumatised people continue to secrete high amounts of stress hormones long after the traumatic event has passed, and this has a negative impact on the immune system. Inreasingly researchers are exploring the link between trauma and auto immune disorders such as chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.
The impact of trauma is debilitating, so we need to find ways to restore our natural resilience; to reawaken our feelings of safety, trust, courage and self healing so we can feel vital, alive and connected once again.
Peter Levine has observed that traumatised people “are either overwhelmed by their bodily sensations or massively shut down against them.”
When I began to read Peter Levine and Bessel Van der Kolk’s work on trauma, I was immediately struck by the fact that the experiences common to traumatised people are all states addressed by Bach Flower Remedies.
Traumatised people typically:
- Feel paralysed, emotionally numb (Star of Bethehem)
- Experience disconnection from the physical body, mental disorgansiation and lack of physical co-ordination. (Clematis)
- Are withdrawn; disengaged: (Wild Rose)
- Are hyper sensitive to noise and bodily sensations. (Mimulus)
- Find it hard to learn from experience; the brain can’t take in new information. (Chestnut Bud)
- Feel terrified; hypervigilant to perceived threats; on alert all the time. (Rock Rose)
- Fear for their safety and survival. (Mimulus)
- Feel overwhelmed. (Elm)
- Feel out of control and prone to explosive rage. (Cherry Plum)
- Feel powerless. (Centaury and/or Willow)
- Experience shame for not being able to escape. (Pine)
- Feel unable to move on from the past trauma and only feel alive when revisiting it. (Honeysuckle)
If you are experiencing any or all of these states in your life, I invite you to use the appropriate Bach Flower Remedies to see if you notice any difference. The impact of trauma goes deep so while you will probably notice some changes quickly, it may take many months, in some cases years to release the imprint of trauma from your system. Practice gentleness and patience in addressing these states. Bach Flower Remedies can be taken individually at stock level on the tongue or in a drink of water to treat acute states, or combined in a dosage bottle with water and preservative to treat chronic states. More information about combining Bach Flower Remedies here. Take them until you notice a difference; until peace is restored to your system.
What Happens In the Human System When we Experience Trauma?
“Trauma is not just an event that took place sometime in the past; it is also the imprint left by that experience on mind, brain and body. This imprint has ongoing consequences for how the human organism manages to survive in the present.” Bessel van der Kolk
In the wild, animals face shocking, frightening and distressing events on a regular basis e.g. being hunted by a predator, but they are able to ‘shake it off’, reset their nervous systems and get on with life. It’s different for us.
Peter Levine says: “Many of us humans, unfortunately, have become alienated from this innate capacity for resilience and self-healing… This has made us vulnerable to being overwhelmed and trauamatised. Traumatised individuals have lost both their way in the world and the vital guidance of their inner promptings. Cut off from the primal sensations, instincts and feelings arising from the interior of their bodies, they are unable to orient to the ‘here and now’.“
This demonstrates why essences can be so valuable as part of the treatment of trauma.
They contain the vital energy of nature in all its power and help us reconnect with our visceral animal self; the part of us that intuitively senses and knows what we need.
This visceral sensing self is the very part that can get shut down as a result of trauma, when we lose trust in our bodies and become terrified of feeling at all. Essences suport a homecoming to the body; gently enabling us to tune into our inner sensations and move towards our emotional experiences rather than closing down from them out of fear and numbness.
Essences reawaken the soul after shock and trauma, bringing comfort, reassurance and love. Essences help us to become present in the moment, feeling the sensations in our physical bodies and able to explore our emotional worlds in a safe and gentle way.
Different Types of Trauma
Commonly when we think of trauma we may think of war veterans, people who’ve been involved in horrific disasters or experienced sexual abuse or rape but there are many different types of trauma. Trauma may be emotional, physical or a combination of the two. In his research, Bessel Van der Kolk has found that chronic emotional abuse and neglect can be just as devastating as physical and sexual abuse.
Physical trauma results when the body has been damaged by accident, injury, surgery or physical abuse. Physical trauma may or may not be accompanied by emotional trauma depending on the circumstances.
Cotton Grass from the Alaskan essences specifically addresses trauma from accident or injury. It “helps us come to a full understanding of the core issues that led to an accident or injury so we can release the physical, emotional and mental trauma associated with it.” Order Alaskan cotton grass essence in the UK here, order it internationally here.
While physical trauma is not always accompanied by emotional trauma it’s important to note that on an energetic level, physical damage to the body also affects the etheric body; the layer of the energy body closest to the physical body and essences help us address this. People who are sensitive to energy will see or feel this etheric damage as holes in the aura where energy leaks out, leaving the person feeling drained and vulnerable.
Rhodolite Garnet from the Alaskan Essences specifically addresses this etheric damage by increasing “our ability to inhabit the physical body; helps us reconnect energetically with parts of the body that have been injured or traumatized; rebuilds the web of etheric energy in areas disrupted by accident or injury.” Order Alaskan Rhodolite Garnet in the UK here, order it internationally here.
Domestic violence, sexual abuse and rape are all examples of trauma that is both physical and emotional. As well as physical pain, the violation of trust and feelings of physical danger are overwhelming to the emotional system. These types of trauma call for patient gentleness in their treatment; a gentleness that essences inherently embody.
River Beauty Alaskan Essence “helps soothe the effects of traumatic events, and supports the necessary process of emotional reorientation and recovery one must go through after the shock from such an experience has passed.” It brings comfort to many different types of trauma. Order River Beauty in the UK here or internationally here.
Balsam Poplar from the Alaskan Essences specifically addresses sexual trauma, heping with “the release of physical and emotional tension associated with sexual trauma; balances the circulation of life force energy in the body; helps to ground and synchronize our sexual energy with planetary cycles and rhythms.” Order Balsam Popular in the UK here or internationally here.
Within the LightBringer essence range made from living wild plants in the most pristine environments of the UK, we find many essences that restore wholeness after trauma.
Spring squill essence “helps to turn back trauma from childhood. Where a child has been abused or experienced deep pain, where life has literally been a ‘bad dream’, or where the child has had to grow up too quickly, the essence energetically wipes the slate clean and helps restore childhood truth and innocence.”
Another essence from the LightBringer Essences to offer the gentle support that is required in trauma is Thrift which “enables a person to feel safe and grounded again after trauma and shock has left them vulnerable. Thrift earths and stabilizes, but with such a sense of play and friendliness! There is nothing heavy about this essence – just the joy of loving care.”
Cotton Grass from the LightBringer Essences “is an essence of protection and grounding. It reminds us that we are safe and supported – even in intensely challenging and fearful situations when we might feel shocked to the core and deeply destabilised.”
When we use essences, we are able to restore wholeness on physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and etheric levels. We know that we are in safe and loving hands when we turn to the natural vibrations that are encapsulated in vibrational essences.
Essences Released Trauma From My Son’s Birth
I felt both phsycially and emotionally traumatised by the birth of my son. I wasn’t the same person for a long time after that; part of my soul left and I remember the exact moment when it happened.
I’d asked the doctor not to do an internal examination until my current contraction had peaked and I was able to control my breathing again, so I could work with my body to relax for his manual examination of my cervix. He looked me calmly in the eyes, ignored my wishes and shoved his arm inside me when I was at the peak of the pain. The shock, pain, powerlessness and physical trauma shattered me. I left my body at that moment; this dissociation is common in traumatic circumstances. Continuing with labour in a fragmented state did not make for an easy birth!
While taking essences for releasing trauma in the last couple of years I’ve felt physical sensations from the labour 17 years ago resurfacing as though my body wants to have the somatic experience of doing what it couldn’t at the time. Trauma expert Peter Levine writes about how one of the keys to healing trauma is completing the physical escape process that wasn’t possible at the time.
Essences offer us a gentle way to get in touch with memories held within the body; supporting us to let these old stories stored in our cells find their natural release without needing to talk about, remember or try to make sense of what happened at the time. There is something very pure about what happens when we use essences in this way; they reach directly into the emotional sensations we’ve been holding in our bodies so these sensations can be integrated and released without retraumatising us.
Essences have a core gentleness, safety and comfort that helps our traumatised systems trust that we are being held with exquisite gentleness, soothing support and compassion: key requirements for healing trauma.
In part 2 of this series on Using Essences to Address Trauma, I talk about how essences support incarnating souls to arrive, ancestral and family trauma, the fascinating link between essences and the right brain in trauma, and how essences help us remain present and feel fully alive.
- Peter Levine, In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness
- Bessel van der Kolk, The Body keeps The Score: Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma
- Webinar: Releasing Emotional Trauma with the Alaskan Essences
- Alaskan Essences – alaskanessences.com or from healthlines.co.uk in the UK.
- LightBringer Essences
- Bach Flower Remedies and a wide range of flower and crystal essences from Crystal Herbs.