Capacitar, an international network working in more than 35 countries, specializes in teaching and sharing wellness practices to empower the citizens of the world. Inspired by their work, mission and dedication to wholeness, we are sharing some of Capacitar’s tools for addressing and healing trauma and the many ways it presents itself in our bodies, brains, and emotional wellbeing. In previous blogs, we’ve shared Tai Chi practices and Holds, which are healing exercises also used by Capacitar- you find those posts on our blog.
The breath, when intentionally controlled, can be an effective way to get rid of feelings of nervousness, anxiety, as well as other symptoms connected with trauma. Harnessing the power of our own breath during times of significant stress can help us cope with the situation at hand, and if necessary, guide us to an appropriate response. Successful breath work starts with a brief pause to recognize our feelings and the current situation. Below are different ways to control the breath, as given by the Capacitar Emergency Response Toolkit.
- Abdominal Breathing: Sit comfortably supported and close your eyes. Breathe deeply and center yourself, letting go of all worries and thoughts. Place your hands on your abdomen, breathe deeply through your nose and imagine the air moving down through the body into your center with your abdomen. Imagine that your abdomen fills with air as if it were a balloon. Hold your breath for a few moments and then exhale slowly through your mouth, contracting the muscles of your abdomen, letting go of all the tension in your body. Continue abdominal breathing for several minutes. If thoughts come into your mind, gently release them, returning to the image of the air moving in and out of your body.
- Breathing in Nature: Nature is a great source for healing and grounding. With feet on the ground, breathe deeply imagining that your feet are long roots running into the earth. Breathe in earth energy, breathe our stress, tension and pain.
For more breath exercises and instruction on how to practice intention, we recommend teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh, especially Peace is Every Step. Mindfulness is an essential part of breath work which you can read more about here.
Head Neck Shoulder Release
In addition to Breath Work, Capacitar teaches other practices that focus on relieving tension through touch. When we experience stress and trauma, our bodies react in different ways. Many of us might experience tension in the head, neck, and shoulders, for some of us, it might be in the throat or the chest. When in a moment of stress, to try pay attention to your body and notice how and where it’s reacting. The Emergency Response Toolkit gives step by step instructions on how to relieve the physical pain of stress and trauma while working to heal the emotional damage they can cause.
With curved finger tips, press into the points listed below. You can hold these points for 1-2 minutes. They will usually be very sensitive, especially after experiencing trauma. With your feet planted firmly on the ground, imagine energy flowing up and out through the crown of the head while breathing deeply and press any of these points:
- About an inch outside of the bottom of the shoulder joint where the arm connects to the trunk of the body.
- At the top of the inside curve of the shoulder blades about 2 inches from the center of the spine.
- On top of the shoulders at the base of the neck in the trapezius muscle.
- Midway up the neck in the band of muscles on either side of the spine.
- In the hollows at the base of the skill at the sides of the head.
- The crown center at the top of the head.
You can finish by holding the tops of your feet for grounding.
Trauma and stress can often be caused by one memorable event, or small, almost unnoticeable daily occurrences. No matter the situation, both can have tremendous effects on our bodies and minds. Try some of these healing techniques provided by Capacitar, and let us know what works for you.