Are You Frozen?
Not meaning are you cold…although there really may be something to the phrase “chill out.”
Many people think they are relaxed when in fact they are not. A lot of people are bracing out there—holding muscle groups tight—and are not even aware they are doing it. Others try to attain a state of calm with drugs and alcohol, which do work on an outer level, but never reach the core of the problem. Once the substances wear off the pain returns.
Throughout the years working with clients and doing myofascial release therapists have discovered something: The core of many people’s problems is something called the freeze response. Most people haven’t heard of it, they’re much more familiar with the fight or flight response, where if there is danger approaching, you stay to handle it or run away.
The freeze response is the third option, one in which you stay completely still to protect yourself, just like an animal pretends to play dead. The difference between an animal and a human experiencing the freeze response is where the trouble begins. If an animal is unharmed he will eventually thaw out. He will begin to shake and sweat, taking deep breaths until he has calmed down and is ready to move forward again.
That is not usually the case with humans. When something traumatic happens to us, this intense energy wraps itself around emotions like fear and anger. We go into a kind of shock while dealing with what is happening and then decide to snap out of it and act normal. Get it together and move on. It isn’t usually a socially accepted norm to start shaking and sweating and hyperventilating in public to come out of a freeze response. So we act how we are supposed to and stuff it all away into some dark corner of our mind.
Unfortunately, muscles have memory and those moments become locked in our bodies. If they are not dealt with, if those past traumas are not let out and allowed to “thaw,” future chronic pain problems develop.
With myofascial release, many people have been able let go of the past, releasing pain and discontinue bracing muscles stuck in holding patterns that caused years, often decades of distress.
Myofascial release can help you on your journey to healing and wellness. Below is a recent client letter on her experience with the freeze response. If you would like to read more on this topic, please check out the book review of Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma, by Peter Levine, Ph.D
Included is a link to purchase the book online. You may also check it out at your local library.
Until next time…Be well!
Recently I had a lot of treatments spread out over a few weeks and I had a strange experience. I guess it is called the freeze response. And I guess I was finally thawing out.
I’d had neck and shoulder pain for ages, and no matter what I tried it didn’t go away. Ami helped me and then suggested an intensive. After a few appointments I had the strange experience. She was pressing on an area that I didn’t have any pain and I began sobbing uncontrollably out of nowhere. The area she was working on became very warm and it felt like swirling coils of energy. The coils started spreading down my legs and I began sweating. I started thinking about a hot air balloon accident I was in as a child. When we crashed and the basket slammed into the ground, I felt a huge jolt of energy shoot into my feet. Two second later I was being thrown out of the basket and I landed head first on the ground in a soybean field. That was all I remembered of that event.
While Ami continued working on me the heat and energy coils then spread to my upper body and I was unable to voluntarily move any part of my body except my face. I felt paralyzed and was scared to death. All I could do was lay there crying and sweating and feeling the hot coils vibrating. She told me not to be afraid and let this process finish. She left the room and some time passed. Slowly the feeling returned in my toes, then my ankles, and so on. She came back and when it was over she helped me get up and get dressed. I was drenched in sweat and felt more tired than humanly possible. But I felt something else too. I felt no pain anywhere and I felt more peaceful and relaxed than I can remember feeling in decades.
I left her office and spent the entire day in wonder at how happy and healthy I felt. Wow! This is how every day should feel, I thought.