What is Trauma, Actually? And why Somatic Healing is Key for True Transformation

February 19, 2024

What actually is trauma?

Trauma is such a buzz word these days, but it is often misunderstood. Let’s start with breaking down what trauma actually is. Trauma isn’t about the external events that happened to you; it’s about your internal response to those events.

It’s when what’s happening around you is too much for your nervous system to handle, and your mind says, “I can’t deal with this” and your protective mechanisms kick in to try to protect you.

These protective mechanisms—fight, flight, freeze, or fawn responses—are instinctive actions you take to try to stay safe in stressful situations

These are your body’s ways of trying to protect you, but if they don’t switch off—if your nervous system stays on high alert or in a numb state—you’re essentially living in the shadow of that event, way after it’s done and dusted.

Trauma occurs when your nervous system gets stuck in a loop of fight, flight, freeze, or fawn responses.

This isn’t about being weak; it’s about being human. Your body holds onto these moments as a way to try to keep you safe long after the event has passed, and they can show up in sneaky ways – like freaking out over a small comment or feeling frozen in situations where you “should” feel fine.

Understanding what trauma is lays the foundation for exploring its profound impact on our nervous system, and therefore our entire life.

How does trauma affect the nervous system?

Two women sitting at a desk working. One is in a heightened state of vigilance, the other is in shutdown.

Trauma profoundly influences your nervous system, altering your perceptions of safety and self. Imagine your internal alarm system dialled up to its highest sensitivity, responding with intense reactions to situations that aren’t necessarily harmful. This heightened state of vigilance can transform the world into a perpetual source of threat, undermining your sense of security and self-esteem.

Your body, constantly on high alert, finds it hard to distinguish between actual dangers and those it perceives, leading to increased stress and anxiety levels. This constant state of readiness not only drains your energy but also distorts how you see yourself, complicating your ability to connect with your authentic self and feel secure in your environment.

How trauma is “stored” in the body?

Trauma isn’t just a psychological issue; it’s stored in your body, affecting how you feel, react, and live. Your body (more specifically your nervous system) remembers every experience, holding onto trauma in ways that can alter your stress response, immune system, and even how you process emotions. This means that even if your mind tries to move on, your body holds onto these memories, manifesting as unexplained pains, heightened anxiety, or emotional triggers. 

Signs your body is storing unresolved trauma:

  • Chronic Pain: Unexplained aches and pains, especially in the back, neck, and shoulders, where the body tends to hold tension
  • Digestive Issues: Problems like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), nausea, or a constant upset stomach, reflecting the stress response in your gut.
  • Fatigue: Persistent tiredness or exhaustion that doesn’t improve with rest, indicating the body’s constant state of alertness or overwhelm.
  • Heightened Anxiety: Excessive worry or fear, even in safe situations, showing how the nervous system remains on high alert.
  • Sleep Disturbances: Insomnia, nightmares, or sleeping too much, as trauma impacts your brain’s ability to regulate sleep.
  • Hypervigilance: Being overly alert or easily startled, constantly scanning for danger, which is a sign of an activated fight-or-flight response.
  • Emotional Numbness: Feeling detached from emotions or physical sensations, a defence mechanism against overwhelming trauma.
  • Difficulty with Intimacy: Challenges in feeling safe or connected in relationships, as trauma affects trust and self-esteem.

Why somatic (body-based) approaches are needed when it comes to trauma healing

Lumi Coach in a pink suit sitting and writing on a notepad during a Lumi Session.

Somatic healing practices are essential in addressing trauma because they recognise that trauma is not just psychological but also affects the body. Traditional cognitive therapies (like talk therapy) focus on the mind and thought processes, which, while valuable, only address part of the trauma experience. In contrast, somatic approaches work directly with the body’s memory and the physiological aspects of trauma, providing a more holistic path to healing.

At Lumi, we help you to understand the “language” of your body and nervous system and develop the body-based tools to regulate your nervous system yourself, and move trauma out of your nervous system.

The Lumi Method: Integrating Cognitive and Somatic Healing

The Lumi Method takes a holistic approach to trauma healing by blending cognitive and somatic techniques. This means that body and mind are involved in the process of healing and transformation – and you are getting to the root cause of your issues, not just settling for surface level approaches.

We believe that the best way to understand the true power of Lumi is to try it for yourself. That is why we are offering a limited number of complimentary Lumi Sessions for new clients.

Book your no-obligation session today to start your trauma healing journey. 

A Lumi Coach on a video call laughing with a Lumi Client. Ready to Transform Your Life? Book your complimentary Lumi Session today.