Trauma Training Tip
Our Wood Element initiates our orientation response when it receives a message across the K’o cycle from our Metal that something “is amiss”. The first step of the self-protective response uses the interoceptive capacity of the Animal Soul of the Lung, or the Po, to bring awareness of our environment. The Metal Element sends a message across the control cycle to the Wood Element to initiate orienting to a potential threat.
Our body, like those of all animals, assumes a predictive reflexive startle posture. We turn all our senses toward the potential threat, duck our head, crouch to prepare our muscles and joints to respond, and begin to strategize our survival. This posture is a precursor to our fight or flight response.
Put your acupuncturist eyes on and you will see the Gall Bladder meridian in this posture. The Gall Bladder has come alive in its role to protect and defend us. It has oriented all our sense organs towards this potential threat, and brought tension to the powerful muscles in our legs in case they need to kick or run. Its function is visible in the reflexive startle posture that all mammals assume when threatened.
The meridian pathways, as well as the tissues and senses corresponding to the Wood Element will be particularly affected if this impulse to protect and defend is thwarted while in active service. Our neck, as well as our eyes, ligaments, tendons and blood can be left braced and/or collapsed – dry and brittle, or weak and flaccid – if they were not allowed to fluidly complete this task. This can have a profound effect on our ability to orient to threats and mobilize successful responses to future threats.
Treating the Liver and Gall Bladder can help restore regulation and balance in these tissues and functions — and help people more accurately and successfully orient to threatening circumstances as they navigate future challenges.
Alaine’s Two Cents
Healing Community Trauma – September 8&9, 2018
Maryland Acupuncturist Stacey MacFarlane will join Acupuncturists Without Borders Associate Director, Carla Cassler in teaching this highly entertaining and experiential 2-day training. Students and non-acupuncturists are also invited to attend. This training will strengthen the clinical, organizational and leadership skills that acupuncturists and other professionals need to establish disaster relief efforts and community service clinics for people affected by trauma.
Crossings Healing and Wellness
8720 Georgia Avenue,
Silver Spring, MD 20910
15 NCCAOM-approved PDAs.
Early Bird fee $349, or $299 for students or volunteers serving in AWB-supported relief efforts, such as the Acupuncturists Without Borders of the National Capital Area clinics.
To learn more about the AWB.NCA free clinics for immigrants and refugees, email AWB.NCA@gmail.com.
Check This Out
Peter’s Levine’s seminal work on the threat response is the foundation for my Tao of Trauma workshop series.
Next Workshop is June 2&3, 2018 (note date change). Restoring Coherence will explore the critical role our social engagement system plays in responding to threatening circumstances and to healing trauma. Our skill development will focus on:
Bringing regulation to connective tissueto support survivor’s capacity to create both connection and boundaries
Exploring the role of shame in shaping social and cultural norms, the impact of toxic shame on the heart of trauma survivors, and its role in the ethics of consent and treatment.
Accessing the structure of the mediastinum as an expression of the Zong Qi, the unity of heart and mind, and the impact of vulnerability and sadness in survivors.
Where is your clinical curiosity carrying you?
Send me a question or two and I will explore them with readers in this corner next month.
Q. I have a patient who I treat in her Wood. She is constantly assuming that people are judging her and so she’s hyper-vigilant, on-edge, and picking fights all the time at work. She’s forever getting written-up at work because she doesn’t “play well with others”. She’s got a tight and wiry body-type and has a lot of pain in her hips and down her Gall Bladder pathway.
A. People are complicated! She’s a great example of the dynamic relationship between Metal and Wood. At the slightest provocation, her interoceptive function, governed by the Metal, wakes up and a message of potential threat is sent across the K’o cycle to her Wood. Intended to cause a slight arousal to support an inquiry, her Wood picks up the message and inflates it, without adequate inquiry, as if it were a life-threat.
Living in this virtually constant state of high arousal puts a high metabolic burden on her body. It creates high tone in her muscles, suppresses peristalsis in her digestive tract, and may overwhelm her Fire’s role to mitigate a sense of threat using social engagement and relationship.
She may be prone to an energetic block between Li 14 and Lu 1. She may need support to help her Wood create Fire. Her Liver Yin or Liver Blood may need to be tended to soothe and comfort the strain in her Liver and Gall Bladder.
Remember, her true nature is benevolence.
These kinds of patterns arise out of a pattern of her life-giving impulse to protect and defend herself, and perhaps others, having been thwarted over and over and over again. She has become habituated to a pattern that is not her true nature. She deserves kindness and needs understanding. She’s had a rough go at life.