'While trauma is contraction, Tantra is expansion’
What is Trauma?
Trauma results from any event that overwhelms a person’s capacity to cope. The common ingredient is helplessness. When our capacity to defend ourselves through fight, flight or freeze is not successful, the unreleased survival energies stay stuck in our nervous system. If we do not release this energy from our nervous system where it is stuck, we develop anxiety and panic and other psychosomatic and behavioural problems. Trauma can affect us physically, change our behaviors, intensify our emotions and transform our psyches.
Trauma field luminaries such as Peter Levine and Bessel van der Kolk among others, concur that trauma is in the body and not in the event. Trauma is locked in the body as incomplete survival responses resulting in a dysregulation in the autonomic nervous system long after the event has ended.
Trauma is more common than we think. In fact, anything that is ‘too much, too fast and too soon’ has the capacity to overwhelm us is traumatic.
Causes and sources of trauma are:
Abandonment, birth trauma, bonding break with parent, consistent criticism and judgement, experiencing violence, rape, abuse, incest, sexual molestation, accident, bullying, surgery medical and dental, divorce, death of a loved one, war, suicide of a loved one, forced emigration, prolonged illness, torture, accidents and falls, natural disasters or any experience that causes a threat to someone’s life.
In fact, any incident where we feel that we can’t cope, that we going to die or are in danger is traumatic. Our body will go into fight/flight/freeze in order to survive. From developmental trauma to PTSD, trauma severely affects our nervous system, our beliefs and our emotions. When trauma gets stuck in the body for a period of time, symptoms start to show up.
“Traumatic symptoms arise when residual energy from the experience is not discharged from the body. This energy remains trapped in the nervous system where it can wreak havoc on our bodies and minds.” Peter Levine
Anxiety, panic attacks, phobias, feeling disconnected and detached, feeling isolated and alone, depression, helplessness, hyper-vigilance, hyperactivity, mood swings, weight gain, insomnia, nightmares, physical pain, chronic fatigue, dissociation, reduced ability to deal with stress, compulsive behaviour.
While many healing modalities treat only the symptoms, it is important to go to the root cause of the issue and complete the trauma for true healing to happen.
Even if a traumatic event that is not of a sexual in nature, it can also sometimes inhibit our sexual expression. When the body is in fear and contraction it is likely to affect our sexual function. Therefore, someone may not have experienced rape or sexual abuse, yet still feel the need to heal trauma from the body in order to have a happy sex life.
Trauma also affects our sexuality which leads to sexual dysfunctions such as:
- Men: Erectile dysfunction, impotence, premature ejaculation, performance anxiety, low sex drive, fear of intimacy
-Hyper- addicted to sex, porn, sexual fantasies, compulsive and obsessive
-Hypo- no sex drive at all, avoid sexual connections, fear of intimacy
- Women: Period pain, fertility issues, loss of interest in sex, vaginismus, no orgasm, painful sex and others
Clients with Sexual Trauma can also have the following symptoms:
In freeze, dissociated, numb, cold, shutdown, feel fear, guilt, shame, mistrust, overwhelmed, feel violated, no boundaries, feel dirty, feel not worthy, helpless, hopeless, suicidal
Sexual trauma can erode a person’s self-confidence, self-esteem, the ability to trust self and others, the inability to set clear boundaries, the potential to experience real intimacy and an understanding of appropriate sexual behavior and healthy sexuality.
How to we heal trauma?
Stephen Porges, author of Polyvagal theory, brings scientific evidence that the symptoms of trauma are biologically established. The Polyvagal Theory is a new understanding of how our nervous system works and explains trauma responses and very essence of social behaviour. He states there are 3 branches of the autonomic nervous system:
- Parasympathetic- Freeze/dissociation
- Sympathetic- Fight/flight
- Social engagement – Connection, compassion, feeling, self-soothing, love
This knowledge helps us to understand how trauma symptoms manifest as well as how to help to heal them.
Due to the fact that our body literally tries to shut out the traumatic experience, the normal ability to feel both external and internal sensations is limited or shut down. Re-activating the ability to feel sensations is the key to healing trauma.
Unresolved trauma seeks expression through restless legs, headaches, backaches, clenched jaws, flashbacks, bad dreams, anxious thoughts, and countless other outlets. Using trauma-informed therapy like Tantra that includes mind-body practices supports the healing process. Healing results when the client feels empowered to release the protective armours safely, because the danger feeling that has continued to exist long after the trauma stopped can finally be felt and released.
To heal trauma and come back to social engagement, we need to restore our sense of safety, trust, layers of protection which we have placed, thaw the frozen feelings as well as integrate our disconnected parts. The good news is trauma healing does not always have to be a long and painful process. It does not always require hours of talking therapy, medication, or reliving the traumatic memories.
Since trauma leads to a disconnection with the physical body, it is important to adopt practices that can connect the person back to the body. Tantra is an embodied practice.
How can Tantric healing session can heal Trauma?
Tantra is a spiritual path that can take a person from thinking to feeling, from stuck to freedom and from contraction to expansion. Tantric Healing offers a way to dissolve shame and guilt around sexuality and to embrace the body and its natural ways of feeling pleasure and joy. It is a way to develop more self-love and greater self-esteem, and offers techniques to heal all kinds of sexual dysfunction and trauma.
After a traumatic experience, changes happen on a physical , emotional, mental and spiritual level. This is so important to heal on a holistic level.
- Physical- Trauma gets trapped in the physical body. Tantra helps through safe touch, shaking, body massage, lingam and prostate massage for men and yoni massage for women, pressure points and de-armouring
- Emotional- Trauma makes a person overwhelmed- fear, guilt, shame, anger, grief. Tantra helps through emotional release
- Mental- Trauma affects the brain. We adopt limiting beliefs which keep us safe. Tantra helps with rewiring the brain and adopt empowering beliefs
- Spiritual- A traumatised person feels fragmented, disconnected and incomplete. Tantra brings love, wholeness and connection.
Tantric Healing session brings wholeness to the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual bodies. The intention is to integrate deep healing with a the client who was challenged or traumatised and therefore needs love, acceptance, attention and acknowledgement.
When working with both trauma and sexual energy it is essential to move slowly and not to overwhelm the client’s system. This is the process of ensuring that the client has sufficient self-awareness and ability to self-regulate his/her nervous system without becoming overwhelmed by the feelings and sensations that may arise in a session. It is important to ascertain that the work proceeds at a pace that the client can manage and integrate.
With client's consent, techniques and rituals like touch, breath, sound, and movement are used to help them to feel their body more deeply. They will experience feelings, sometimes uncomfortable, such as emotional pain, grief, sadness, anger, rage or fear that are the result of blocked emotions that have not been fully felt and released from their body.
Tools, techniques and rituals used in Tantric Healing to release trauma:
- Safety & Trust
Feeling safe is key in tantric healing. The process of a tantric healing session is to make the body a safe place again. Only when the client feels safe and can relax will healing happen. So it is important that you choose a Therapist with whom you feel safe to work with and feel open, honest and can trust each other.
A session may be considered re-traumatizing if recollections of a past traumatic event are elicited in a manner that continually escalates fear and helplessness rather than promoting new learning about safety.
- Consent, Boundaries and Code of Ethics
Before the session, the therapist will discuss various methods to restore personal space and containment that allows you to feel safe, protected, and empowered. Clarity is key because it takes away the fear of the unknown.
It is important to work with consent. Consent is permission and agreement. When we receive what we asked for, no more and no less, we begin to feel safe. And healing happens when we feel safe.
Learning to establish boundaries is part of the healing process. The most efficient way to restore intimacy and healthy sexuality in a person whose boundaries were not respected growing up or later in life is through Tantric healing.
Apart from working with consent, setting strong boundaries, it is also important to check that the Therapist has a good code of ethics as it takes away any fears and doubts.
Breathing disperses emotional pain. Deep breathing stimulates the vagus nerve which calms the mind. It increases oxygen and energy flow in the body, helps gently release toxins, negative thoughts, inner tension and stress, suppressed wounds, painful emotions and trapped trauma within you.
Sounds disperses physical pain. Sounds activate the throat as during the trauma most people freeze and had been silenced. The Therapist will help you to make sounds on your exhale to connect with your breath.
- Feel it to heal it
One of the easiest ways to let go of muscle tension is to actively feel and let go of emotions when they come. The healing is in the feeling, not the suppressing, denying, escaping and numbing. The Therapist will help you to feel and express without going in overwhelm and flooding but by self-regulating.
When a body freezes in shock, all of the powerful energy that was ready to fight or flee gets trapped into the body. An animal shakes this off as soon as the danger has passed, but humans have lost this natural instinct to shake off the excess energy after the danger has passed. We have a tendency to block this effect and thus create trauma in the body. Shaking and tremors free the body from tension, contractions and blockages thus allowing blood as well as sexual energy to flow freely.
Since trauma immobilises the person and freezes him/her in a state of arousal and fear, movement, on the other hand, restores mobility. Movement increases self awareness, ability to focus on the present moment as well as to express from the body. Movement is a good physical release, so keep moving.
- Embodied practices
As a result of trauma, most people feel dissociated and lose their connection with their bodies. In the body, there are areas of numbness, pain and pleasure. The first step is to allow the person to become aware of the places of their body that are still frozen or numb. It is only by un-numbing that be able to truly heal. When the person feels comfortable in their body, they develop the capacity to be fully present to physical experiences, develop healthy sexuality and the ability to have orgasm.
Touch is an important part of life, in fact we need it to survive! Touch is very nurturing, healthy and loving. When we learn to touch with unconditional love and healing intention, we start to heal the deeper parts of ourselves that have been waiting for this level of nurturing communication. Touch is the most direct way to bring connection, love and flow to disconnected areas of the body.
Trauma is reflected as areas of numbness, pain and tension in the body. Tantric bodywork enables the trauma to come up and be released safely. Bodywork is important to complete the trauma response. Through safe touch, we work directly with the trauma. Yoni/lingam is massaged to evoke sexual energies which is very healing. Sexual energies are a powerful energies that are spread all over the body to release trauma and reawaken every cells.
The armour is a result of blockages created by trauma, tension, thought-patterns and different experiences throughout life. This armour can hinder life-force from flowing freely throughout the body. It hardens and desensitizes the physical body. The process of de-armouring is a way to open up and release this armour. Deep pressure is put on various points on the body including yoni/lingam to release physical, emotional and mental tensions.
- Processing the Trauma as they arise
The Tantra therapist helps the client to notice sensations in the body to release the trauma that has been trapped. Whatever is ready to be released during the session will come up.
- Empowering and Resourcing
Because of trauma, clients experience a reduction of life force, no interests in anything, social withdrawal, sense of meaningless, helplessness and hopelessness. During the session, clients are empowered by given a choice. Empowering clients with information they can use to help educate others, gives them a sense of control and involvement in their healing process.
- Connect to body and its sensations
In Tantra, we go through the senses and the body sensations to heal trauma. The feelings our bodies are supposed to help guide us in making decisions. Whether it’s a butterfly in your stomach or a knot in your gut, a lump in your throat or a tightness in your chest, tension in your shoulders or heart pounding in your chest, whatever the feelings are they are guided by our body’s feelings as it reacts to our surrounding environment.
- Unconditional love
The therapist’s loving presence and exquisite attention is sometimes all that is required to make the clients feel safe to complete their trauma.
- Self care
Since traumatised people lose connection with themselves, they very rarely look after themselves. They may feel resistance around practising self-care. Self care practices like grounding, meditation, exercise, breathing, movement build greater resilience by daily practice.
Tantra therapists support them to complete their trauma so they feel worthy, accepted, confident, strong, trusting, and can self regulate in time of stress.
Because trauma led to a disconnections in the physical body, in life, in Self and in others and universe, completing the trauma through tantric healing session leads to deeper connection, purpose and meaning in life.
Steven Porges, the author of Polyvagal Theory, states that 'Trauma compromises our ability to engage with others by replacing patterns of connection with patterns of protection'.
Tantra Therapists need to have a sound understanding of the mechanics of trauma to make their practice safe, to avoid the risk of re-traumatisation and to help the client complete their trauma as they arise. Tantric healing is transformational as it can bring back connection to themselves, others, bodies and Universe.
Trauma can be resolved. If you have experienced trauma, you don’t have to live with it in your body or impacting your daily life forever. There is hope. By finding a trauma-informed therapist and embracing the full scope mind/body healing, you will be guided along the path towards resolving and releasing the trauma and living a life where you no longer feel stuck.