What are Traumoves?
Movements with music that help to release trauma.
What is trauma?
Trauma is not a tragic event. It is the effect of overwhelming experience on our biology and
personality. Our emergency response is so acute or so often triggered that the nervous
system does not know how to unclench. Fight, flight, freeze and collapse becomes our
default setting and can easily be reactivated
Trauma contractions are lodged in the nerves, muscles and even the cells, so talk therapies
are incomplete. Movement and dance provide a range of pleasurable ways to release
physical and emotional contraction, to feel fully present in the body and to return to a sense
of safety. Trauma robs people of joy and inner peace. Traumoves help to restore them.
How do Traumoves work?
You’ll find 10 key elements in the accessible dances and movement exercises available here (free).
1. Body + Senses
Trauma echoes include feeling emotionally numb, exhausted, switched off or mentally anguished. Finding a rhythm, stretching, twisting and turning you come fully into the here and now. You become energised.
Trauma causes rigidity. Physical contraction may show up as chronically hunched shoulders or clenched tummy. The mind may be full of critical self-talk or obsessive thinking loops. Emotional tension may cause withdrawal, and sudden flare-ups. Rigidity is released with strong movements such as stomping, shaking, kicking, bouncing and leaping.
A potent aspect of dance is the movement of the imagination. To become a Goddess, a river, a bird or a fire is a fusion of imagination and embodied experience. We cast off the tight old snake skin and step into a new fluid identity. This can be liberating!
Trauma causes all systems to shut down except survival insinct. The intricate flow of self-maintenance is jarred. Rest, recuperation and digestion are problematic while traumatic imprints remain. Fortunately there is widespread evidence that music and structured rhythmic movement (dance) promote coherence. Dance is full of cohesive patterns and so is music. It seems that these are internalised by the ‘bodymind’ and help to restore neural and brain pathways. This supports congruent movements, feelings, memory, speech and clear-thinking.
Many living with trauma or trauma echoes find that the ‘off switch’ is out of reach. The mind races, sleep is troubled, while surrendering to pleasure gets compromised by surges of anxiety. Peace becomes an unfulfilled yearning. This is partly due to the vegus nerve which is the unconscious guardian of safety. Neither words nor wishes can persuade this master-monitor to switch from hyper-vigilance to healing functions. But fortunately there is a way to create a body-mind-emotion sense of being held in safety. Calm music soothes the feelings as rocking, swaying and flowing movements speak directly to our pre-conscious biology (our ‘inner child’ if you like).
The result of doing meditative dances over time is that the ‘off switch’ becomes accessible again. You can feel inner harmony.
Trauma after-effects were first described in war veterans as ‘shell shock’. People who had previously been active and outgoing seemed to have become zombie-like. This is because trauma can lead to depression, shame, nervous exhaustion and vulnerable feelings. When dancing you learn to step forward with intention and confidence. Strong bodily movements, inhabiting your
place with grace and poise, navigating changes of speed and direction all induce a body-based sense of agency. Dancing restores personal power.
The human drama centres around the split inside us. Freudian thought refers to our primitive drives as the ‘Id’ and the adaptive part as the ‘superego’, while the ‘ego’ tries to mediate. After trauma our fragmentation is more acute. Richard Schwartz has evolved the understanding that people post-trauma often have ‘protector’ parts defending the ‘wounded’ parts that have been overwhelmed. These aspects of us are embodied in brain, tissues and nerves.
Through dancing we can start to uncover, understand and embrace with love every part of our psyche. The hurt and scared parts are held with complete acceptance. The internalised defender who avoid emotions or suddenly flies into a rage is appreciated for the protective role they have played. Then integration begins.
To discover more - Watch some Traumoves videos here