Additional Information about Components of the Recovery Process

Restoring balance to the autonomic nervous system

This is accomplished by establishing a precise but effortless rhythmic movement of the diaphragm through relaxed breathing. This stimulates the right vagus nerve where it passes through the esophageal hiatus, which appears to activate the parasympathetic nervous system. The rhythm that works is three to four seconds on the inhale and three to four seconds on the exhale without pause or breath holding.

Resolving physical patterns of tension that restrict emotion

This is accomplished by pointing out patterns of tension that arise when a person is resisting emotion and describing how to restore the body to a neutral position.

Create conditions where painful emotions can be experienced without resistance

Practitioners briefly experience similar emotions to those who are suffering from PTSD during the treatment process. If the practitioner resists that emotion, the person suffering from PTSD will do the same and symptoms will persist or worsen. To be effective, helpers must be able to fully experience painful emotions without muscle tension or breath holding. (This only lasts seconds because focus is shifted to the needs of the person in recovery.) Explaining the nature of emotion and describing them as universal human experiences facilitates acceptance.

Developing control over thoughts and memories

Since talking and/or thinking about past trauma stimulates new emotion, it is very important to develop the skills and awareness that allow one to experience emotion without dwelling on it. Repeatedly labeling all such emotional experiences as “a normal response to past trauma” breaks patterns of thinking that tend to perpetuate emotional suffering. Regular practice of techniques such as “thought focusing” and meditation are very helpful in this process.