Friday, June 5, 2009

Guest blogger: Lauren Miller

Stress Relief in the midst of Grief:

By Lauren Miller

When trauma of any kind enters into our lives our bodies actually freeze…our breathing becomes shallow, our left brain stops communicating with the right brain and we experience a “deer in the head lights” response to life…we feel disconnected and unsafe. In the midst of this experience, we often encounter waves of overwhelming emotion that paralyze us in our ability to cope with every day activities. We find ourselves caught in the moment of when the traumatic experience took place. We actually take a holograph picture of the scene of trauma and it becomes frozen within us…we continually replay it over and over and over again. As time moves on, we continue to stay “stuck” in that “holographic image” so much so that if a trauma occurs in childhood when it is triggered in life by events, situations and people, it is as if it just happened. These images or “holographs” exist out of time…they are present to us even if many years have passed.

So what can we do when we find ourselves in this state of paralysis in life due to intense grief or trauma? Before answering that question, it is important to mention that the energy system that moves throughout our body actually becomes disconnected or frozen along with the negative emotions that surround grief and trauma resulting in that feeling of overwhelm and emotional paralysis. A good visual for that is when you are watching TV and all of the sudden there is a dis-connect with the cable and gray and black specks instantly replace the clear picture. It is an internal “ZZZZT” that results in feelings of being “stuck” in the grief or sadness. The good news is that what becomes disconnected can be reconnected.

How? EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique: Founder Gary Craig) is one method that often times works instantly to help reconnect us to who we are before the pain hit. It is a way to move through the pain instead of being emotionally paralyze by it. It utilizes the same meridian system (energy points in the body) as acupuncture and focuses on 9 main energy points. Our fingertips are used instead of needles. It enables the energy within our body to continue to move in spite of trauma therefore empowering us to connect to inner peace, love, acceptance and healing.

The way it works: tap with your fingertips on the points (one point at a time) while tuning into your emotional issue. The points: Set up statement: begin at the soft part of our hand…the outer part from below the pinky down to the wrist bone. Tap with the other four fingers from the other hand as you tune in and verbalize your situation. Here is an example that can be used as your set-up statement while you tap on the side of your hand: Even though I am feeling overwhelming sadness and grief over the loss of my friend right now I am willing to love and accept myself just as I am and I choose peace and calm within my body. We say this set up statement 3x while tapping on the side of our hand then we move to the other points as we say a reminder phrase this is referred to as a “round” (move to the next point each time you say the reminder phrase): Intense grief (tap with fingertips at the beginning part of the eyebrow closest to the nose); Intense grief (move to the next spot on the outside of the eye on the eye socket bone by the temple area) ; Intense grief (under the eye on the top of the cheek bone); Intense grief (under the nose); Intense grief (under the lip); Intense grief (on the collar bone to one side of the little V at the bottom of the neck); Intense grief (I always add the “liver point” because we store a lot of our grief in this area: 3 inches down from the nipple on the right side, use several fingers to tap on this area); Intense grief (use fingertips to tap under the arm around 2-3 inches under the arm pit…the bra strap line for women), Intense grief (we finish a “round” by tapping on the top of our head). Check in with yourself as you are working through your emotion: How do I feel on a scale from 0-10 (0=no emotional charge around the issue, 10=high emotional charge) many times the emotional charge will go up before it goes down. Continue to tap on it until you have reached a 0…this may take time and patience…persistence is very important when moving through any high emotional feeling within the body. Keeping the “flow” of energy going enables us to reframe the situation along with strengthening our connection to safety, self love and acceptance in the midst of it. Love and self acceptance are essential ingredients that enable us to experience a sense of safety and connection in spite of pain and suffering. I will always end on a positive “round” of tapping. Tapping on all the points as I state my desired inner feeling and intention (The Choices Method: Dr. Pat Carrington developed this addition to EFT) I choose to feel peace and calm within, I am willing to love and accept all that I am just as I am; I give my body permission to heal and restore; I choose to remember who I am in the midst of everything; I am willing to discover , connect, love and accept me just as I am; I am willing to allow myself time to heal and restore; I release all judgment and expectations from my life experience; I am willing to feel safe with all of my feelings and emotions; I am willing to believe that I can handle anything; I choose to remember a time in my life when I moved through a storm in life; I am alive, capable and connected to God. As with any 12 step program, it is essential to express “ruthless honesty” . When we align ourselves with our truth without judgment, we unleash within us the ability to move through hardship and connect to love and the experience of inner healing.

EFT is one of many techniques that I share with my clients to help them take back their ability to heal. Two other practices that are helpful when frozen by the pain: stay present to the moment…God is present, therefore we gain our greatest strength within when we remain acutely aware of each present moment…our internal pain flows from the past (grief, regrets, judgments) and the future (fears, doubts, worries, “what ifs”). Stay present, breathe deeply and focus on what you do have in the present moment (sometimes it is the gift of our heart beating, our lungs breathing, a bird singing, a flower blooming). The energy of gratitude is full of healing and restoration on all levels. The last practice I will mention today is that of giving ourselves permission to feel without any judgment. This is the portal through which we learn how to be real in life. We all carry different inner rules and regulations of what is appropriate and what is inappropriate….just be and remove all judgment or “shoulds” and “need tos” from your experience with grief. If you want to cry for days…then cry for days, weeks along with the confidence that we, as human beings, can handle anything when we return to our inner connection with love and acceptance of all that we are, just as we are, as connected to divine love. I have to add that an outlet for anger is essential (part of giving ourselves permission to be real). As a second degree black belt I realize the importance of physical release during trauma. Get a punching bag, a pool noodle and beat the bed…always returning an inner connection with love and acceptance. The tapping is an incredible tool to help accomplish this experience.

Please visit my website: for more ideas and information. My book Hearing His Whisper…A Journey through Cancer and Divorce speaks to my personal transformation through pain and loss. My second book: “Mantras for the Mastectomies of Life” contains many universal stress relief practices used throughout history to empower individuals in the ways of love and inner peace, along with 121 mantras that I have used throughout my journey (my second book is coming soon).

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