What is your gut feeling? … No seriously … what is your gut actually feeling?
This is a common phrase we use if we are trying to make a decision about something, but do we notice what is happening there in our gut at different times during the day?
Many times we use the body to describe how we are feeling, for example:
• Have you ever been head over heels in love, light headed or are you tight lipped?
• Do you have a nose for a bargain?
• Do you feel light hearted or do you have a heavy heart.
• Maybe you carry the weight of the world on your shoulders but are you happier when someone has your back?
I’m sure you can think of many more. So what is your gut actually feeling?
• We might feel sick to the stomach when we get some bad news.
• Our stomach may churn when we are feeling overwhelmed by everything we have to do.
• We may have butterflies in our tummy when nervous or even a gripping feeling there if feeling threatened, maybe we’ve been asked to give a speech. I always dreaded that one.
When something traumatic happens, maybe in childhood, the one place that is sure to get very tight is the gut. It is part of the startle reflex pattern. Fight, Flight, Fright or even Freeze.
Why can’t humans release trauma like other animals?
When an animal is being chased because it is ‘dinner’ but just escapes, it may well tremor, releasing that trauma from the body including the gut. If they were able to just flee this may not even need to happen and the running motion releases the trauma. A mouse being chased and tormented by a cat may well eventually freeze, the cat may lose interest as it has no interest in eating it. Then the mouse just gets up and runs away, again getting rid of the trauma.
As humans we may not have been able to run away when something traumatic happens. For example if a child is being bullied at school he/she may tend more towards immobility i.e. freeze. Not allowed to leave the confines of the school, maybe knowing that they can’t run fast enough. This trauma is not released. The body remembers even if the mind forgets.
So here are 5 Ways To Start To Release Stress and Trauma
Tip 1 – Observe
Notice your gut – are you holding on to your organs in some way? Do you need to hold onto the weight of your organs? I certainly was and was surprised when I let go. Could you just choose to do a little less here.
Tip 2 – Change the image
Is your stomach churning like a washing machine? Stick with the image but imagine the washing machine coming the end of it’s cycle. This has helped a couple of clients who’ve experienced regular migraines. If it is butterflies, imagine they are all slowly coming to settle. If it is something else like a big knot – imagine is is actually a slip knot and so it can unravel. This has helped myself and many of my pupils so it might be worth giving it a go.
Tip 3 – Allow
In an Alexander Technique session we do a lying down practice and if you start to tremble maybe you can allow this to happen. From my personal experience and that of my pupils nothing bad happens. Sometimes people may feel emotional and may cry. Sometimes arms and legs may feel they have a mind of themselves. My theory and it is only that, is maybe trauma is leaving the body. I let my body do what it wants … why would I want to constrict myself?
Tip 4 – Vibrate
In Peter Levine’s Book “In an Unspoken Voice” how the body releases trauma, it suggests making the sound “VOOOOOO”. It may come out like a fog horn sound but vibrates the area of the gut. If you are really gripping in the gut it is difficult to even make this sound.
Tip 5 – Fuel
Also fuel your gut … missing breakfast is a big no no! Many people who suffer anxiety may skip meals but actually it is making things worse. Give yourself 10 minutes, sit down, take a break from your phone too. You wouldn’t expect a car to go very far on an empty fuel tank.
Mark teaches Alexander Technique at The Brighton Natural Health Centre