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Lowering the Impact of Trauma on Your Brain

Our stress-response systems are a dynamic process, constantly monitoring our world and activating and deactivating to allow us to thrive. Trauma occurs in our lives whether it is inherited from our ancestors, experienced in our younger years and/or is part of our adult lives. Based on our personal history of trauma, our brains hardwire certain expectations into the neural pathways and all our behaviors fall first into that pattern of response or reaction. Thus, we each have a baseline equilibrium that is based on our personal history. Higher baseline equilibrium levels translate in stressful situations to faster heart rates, higher blood pressure, quicker reaction patterns, and less access to our higher reasoning functions when stressed.


Layers of Trauma
First let's look at the types of trauma that humans experience. Trauma impacts the malleability of the brain and can change its physiology and its baseline equilibrium level. 
Species Wide – Over the last 12,000 years there have been massive environmental changes that our ancestors experienced dislocating them from their environment, community, food source and basic survival as well as their sense of being connected to that which created them. Recent experiments with rats showed that trauma is passed down through the genes. So the trauma that our ancestors lived through, well, it's in us. It impacts our baseline equilibrium levels. Hence, we look for disasters because we have the memory of disasters in our cells.
Personal Upbringing - If your first few years were trauma-filled either from abuse, neglect or a stressed family environment, it will be harder for you to recover well from future traumatic events. To help children who have suffered early trauma, it was discovered that if these children were cared for by supportive adults, the children handled future trauma better than children not provided such intervention. In other words, this intervention lowered their baseline equilibrium levels. Luckily as adults we can nurture ourselves by keeping supportive adults in our inner circle.
Marginalized group membership – If you are part of a marginalized group be it by race, religion, gender or sexual orientation, you can experience frequent or constant threat. This sensitizes you and you may overreact to minor challenges and sometimes experience symptoms of PTSD. As a consequence, you no longer have efficient access to your higher brain functions. By the time that you are in a state of alarm, significant parts of your cortex – the highest functioning part of your brain – have shut down entirely.
Ongoing adult trauma – If the brain's stress response is activated for prolonged periods, its equilibrium will change. Instead of being anxious and fearful only when confronted with a threat, a person might live in a persistent state of fear. Fear makes learning, reflection, planning and creative problem-solving harder. Over time it will actually change the physiology of your brain.
What to do about this?
First understand that your reaction patterns are not personal flaws but a result of a high threshold baseline equilibrium. So move Self-judgement out, get working on ways to lower your baseline equilibrium level!
Here are some basic ways that researchers have discovered that will lower your personal baseline equilibrium level:
1 - Be more in regular connection with safe and familiar neighbors. It makes both you and your neighbors physically healthier, socially healthier and less likely to suffer mental-health issues associated with being isolated and marginalized;
2 - Make time daily to reflect/meditate daily. This reflection time allows your brain to connect all your experiences and create unique solutions to your problems. Without reflection time, you are limited to using other people's solutions, which may not work for you; and
3 - Decrease the busyness of your life. Busyness can also shut down our higher reasoning. In a study, busyness was defined as being overscheduled, living in an overstimulating environment such as the TV always on, the phone buzzing, loud cars driving by. Do you schedule quietness in your day? How distracting is your home or office environment? Do you multi-task a lot?
Write the Creation Exercises to calm your stress.
I have found that writing the Creation Exercises from the Language of Creation to be the easiest way to calm my reaction responses. Why? These writing exercises work with the brain to form new neurological pathways. Science refers to this capacity for the brain to create new neurological wiring as neuroplasticity. This is an exciting discovery because it means we have access to changing how our mind works.
Forming new pathways in the brain can result in new awarenesses, new patterns of thought, and new systems of response. This all allows you to begin moving beyond the trauma in your DNA and any trauma resulting from current life experiences.

 

As you move beyond trauma, you can explore what is life enhancing and what connects you to life and others. The Craving Exercises calm the body's nervous system by directing the energy of fear, anxiety and reaction into what you want to use that energy to create - whether that's a fulfilling job, vibrant health, a loving relationship, expanded consciousness or whatever it is you crave. Using the Craving Exercises, the energy that once overwhelmed you can become a creative, generative force. Your baseline equilibrium will be lowered and you will be more often able to choose to respond rather than fall into reaction.


Elektra Porzel has a private coaching practice and is Director of The Creation Institute. To learn more about The Creation Institute's Language of Creation program, click here. To contact Elektra for more information about individual coaching or spiritual mentoring, click here. As the Director of The Creation Institute, Elektra also offers a monthly "Tools to Thrive" call on the 3rd Wednesday of the month. To learn more this month's topic and to register, click here.