The effects of trauma can be lifelong. Depression, anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares, feeling unsafe, low self esteem, lack of confidence, difficulty trusting people, constantly being on alert… the list of potential effects goes on.
But it doesn’t need to be that way.
Ten years of neuroscientific research has shown us a new way forward, one where we know how to neutralise the emotion around traumatic memories by changing what’s happening with those memories at a cellular level in the brain.
Doing that changes how you think and feel about what happened in the past. It means that when you think of that situation from the past, instead of the memory feeling strong and emotional, and something you can see, hear and feel all over again, it will feel emotionally neutral instead. It will feel less relevant and more distant. It will feel like something that happened in the past, but something you can view more objectively.
That means the trauma loses its power over you and often when that happens many of the effects that resulted from it will automatically diminish or dissolve too.
It’s a life-changing process and 21 minutes is usually all it takes.
How does it work?
Traumatic memories are stored differently in the brain to regular memories.
Specifically, they have a membrane around the cells storing the memory which is absent in memories which do not have the same level of negative emotion and significance around them. This membrane is a marker of trauma.
Most of the time, these cells are sitting there but are not activated. Then, when we talk about the trauma, or it is activated in some way, for example through some kind of trigger, the cells become activated, bringing up images, sounds, sensations and emotions associated with the trauma.
If we then pay the memory no more attention, distract ourselves and get on with our day, the cells remain activated for 7 minutes, and then go back in to their non-activated or ‘dormant’ state.
That 7 minutes is a window of opportunity.
During that 7 minutes, using a particular kind of touch, it is possible to dissolve the membrane around the cells which mark them as trauma.
This touch is easy to do, and is very soothing. It creates a cocktail of neurochemicals which comprises of the following:
- Serotonin, which is a feel good chemical
- Oxytocin, which is a bonding chemical
- GABA, which is a calming chemical
- Delta waves, which are brain waves we normally only experience in the deepest part of our sleep and when we’re feeling safe
This combination of chemicals dissolves the membrane around the trauma cells, neutralising the emotion attached to the memory.
Generally, 3 rounds of 7 minutes is enough to neutralise the emotion around the memory, though particularly strong trauma may require longer.
Why I love this process so much
There are several reasons I love this process.
1. You don’t need to talk about the memory in order to neutralise the emotion around it
Talking and thinking about traumatic memories is painful. With this process you only need to think about the memory for a few seconds so that the cells in the brain storing the memory become activated, then we’ll talk about something else while doing the touch process and let the chemicals produced do their work.
2. We can complete the process within an hour
3 rounds of 7 minutes will usually be enough to neutralise the emotions around the memory. Sometimes it will take longer, sometimes it can be done more quickly.
3. Side effects of the trauma will often diminish immediately as a result
Symptoms of the trauma will often disappear or diminish as we do the touch process, as they’re a direct result of it. Those that don’t are easier to change after we complete this process as they are no longer being anchored in by the traumatic memories.
4. It works for both recent or historical trauma
For this process to work, it doesn’t matter when the event happened.
5. It works for both isolated and prolonged trauma
Where trauma is prolonged or repeated, the neural network involved in storing different memories is often connected. That means multiple memories are stored in one neural network, often with the same emotions running through those memories. Often, but not always, choosing the memories and feelings that seem most dominant and doing this process for these will diminish other memories at the same time.
6. It works even if you don’t have any conscious memory of the event
Examples of this include being drugged at the time of the trauma or your mind blacking the event out. Even when this happens, the emotions from the event and a ‘cellular memory’ can remain, meaning your body remembers and reacts negatively to certain triggers, even if you have no conscious memory of the event.
7. I’ve had a 100% success rate with it so far
It’s not often a technique works this well! That’s another reason why I love it!
Who can benefit from this?
If you have a significant emotional memory from the past that is still holding you back, causing symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, depression, anxiety, low self esteem or lack of confidence, this process can help you.
Trauma of some kind is often the root cause of what’s going on for us now when we’re experiencing these kinds of symptoms.
Examples include prolonged trauma such as abuse, neglect or bullying, or isolated trauma such as a car accident, finding out you’ve been cheated on, or being the victim of a crime.
Neutralising the emotion around your trauma may not solve all your problems straight away, but it will give you immediate relief from your memories, and often makes other effects from your trauma diminish or disappear as a result. In addition it makes remaining symptoms easier to tackle, as they are no longer being anchored in by the trauma itself.
It also gives people hope, because if it’s possible for a memory that feels so horrible and so strongly emotional to be neutralised in just one session, it opens up the question - what else is it possible to achieve?