Restoring a sense of self is critically important in recovering from trauma. Body-centered activities like deep breathing exercises help us regulate our internal states and restore and repair the connection between our minds and our bodies. In this video, Dr. van der Kolk introduces us to the concept of deep breathing as a practice to activate the neural pathway that allows us to access our internal experience.
There is a part of your brain that is dedicated to you, which Dr. van der Kolk refers to as The Mohawk of Self Awareness, comprised of the orbital prefrontal cortex, the medial prefrontal cortex, the anterior cingulate, the posterior cingulate, and the insula. These regions of the brain show decreased activity in traumatized people because when a person is traumatized, they may find themselves in a state of persistent hyperarousal.
The overactivity associated with hyperarousal triggers a protective response in the brain, causing it to adapt to its circumstances. We adapt to hyperarousal by numbing the connection between the brain and the body and consequently eroding the pathway that enables us to engage in self reflection and experience all feelings, not just the negative emotions associated with our traumatic experiences.
Our reactivity to what is happening in the world around us is determined by the strength of this connection, which you can improve with practice.
Join Dr. van der Kolk in this guided practice and explore how incorporating this practice will make you feel.
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