“Agency” is the technical term for the feeling of being in charge of your life: knowing where you stand, that you have a say in what happens to you, that you have some ability to shape your circumstances. Agency starts with our awareness of our subtle body-based feelings: the greater that awareness, the greater our potential to control our lives. Knowing what we feel is the first step to knowing why we feel that way. If we are aware of the constant changes in our inner and outer environment, we can do something to manage them. Mindfulness, the ability to notice our thoughts, feelings, emotions, and bodily sensations, with calm curiosity rather than harsh judgment, is a cornerstone of recovery from trauma.
The more we try to push away and ignore internal warning signs, the more likely they are to take over and leave us bewildered, confused, and ashamed. If we can’t comfortably notice what is going on inside we become vulnerable to respond to any sensory shift either by shutting down or going into a panic: developing a fear of fear (or at least of the bodily sensations associated with panic attacks). The price for ignoring or distorting our body’s messages is being unable to detect what is dangerous or what is safe. Self-regulation depends on having a friendly relationship with your body. My therapy focuses on identifying the link between physical sensations and emotions. I begin the process by helping clients to first notice and then describe the feelings in their bodies, the physical sensations beneath emotions, such as pressure, heat, tension, or feeling empty. I also work on identifying the sensations associated with relaxation or pleasure. Mindfulness puts us in touch with the fleeting nature of our feelings and perceptions. When we pay focused attention to our bodily sensations, we can recognise the ebb and flow of our emotions and, with that, increase our control over them. We can tolerate a great deal of discomfort if we can stay conscious of the fact that the body’s sensations constantly shift.
Mindfulness has a positive effect on numerous psychiatric, psychosomatic, and stress-related symptoms as well as broad effects on physical health (improvements in immune response, blood pressure, and stress hormone levels).
I offer a free initial telephone conversation, giving you as much time and space as you need to consider whether you’d like to come and meet me.