January 7, 2002
Homework That Heals - Expression
Children, as growing animals, have two essential requirements:
1) That the needs of their growing systems, from food to love, are met.
2) That their fragile systems are protected against outside violation while they grow.
When these requirements are not met, the organism is placed under stress and may sustain damage. Pain is the sign of this stress.
Every system, from a river to a child, is capable of accepting and releasing a certain volume of stress without damage. However, if the volume exceeds the natural ability of the system to release it, the excess will stay in the system, creating a potential for damage. In a delicate, new, developing human (a child), this is called a trauma (German for "pain").
A trauma, by definition, is energy not needed by the organism - energy that cannot pass through (be expressed) and remains lodged in the system.
Please note that a trauma is not the mass of the entire stressful event, but only the portion that the organism is unable to release. If a system can release the stress, it does not have to be stored, and it does not become a trauma.
Let's have fun with mathematics. I'll refer to the energy of any stressful event by its Rate of Volume (v). The Releasing Ability of a system to channel energy will be (r), and the actual stored Trauma will be (t). The following would then be an equation for Trauma:
v - r = t
For example, if the Rate of Volume is 100 units of energy, and the Releasing Ability is 60 units, the actual energy of the Trauma would be 40, not the 100 units of the original stressful event:
100v - 60 r = 40t
The Releasing Ability of any system changes throughout its development. In delicate systems, such as small streams, sprouting plants, saplings, new butterflies, and human babies, the Releasing Ability is low. It does not take much force to damage these systems. Big rivers, tall trees, and adult humans, on the other hand, can withstand much greater stress without incurring trauma and damage.
This explains, in a simple way, how traumas are created and, more importantly, that they are created by the system's inability to release. If a child is frightened by a loud noise, the noise will not necessarily result in trauma - unless the parents or caregivers stop the child from releasing the energy by suppressing the natural expression of emotion. In other words, serious traumas are created when parents stop children from crying, shaking, moving, yelling, or laughing. By doing this, the parents are decreasing the natural Releasing Ability of the child's system.
Let's say the loud noise counts for 100 on the scale, and the child's natural Releasing Ability is 100. If the child is frightened but allowed to have an emotional release, there will be no trauma:
100v - 100r = 0t
But take the same event and decrease the child's Releasing Ability ("Don't you cry, or I'll give you something to cry about!") and you might get this:
100v - 60r = 40t
Trauma. Pain. A system now carrying a load it wasn't meant to carry. We are carrying those loads now. You can feel them. They are the reason you're reading this.
Fortunately, organisms are quite resilient and have a multitude of ways to avoid damage and survive. When single-celled microorganisms (including our body cells) are invaded by toxic materials, they protect themselves by storing the toxins within the cell body in cellular "bubbles" called vacuoles. Then they release the toxic contents of the vacuole when they are in an environment where it is safe for them to do so.
That is what we do in Primal Integration - allow a safe environment in which to release the toxic, traumatic material you've been carrying all these years.
Releasing Ability is expression. Express means to "press out" ("ex" is Latin for "out"). If we can release toxic, stored traumatic feelings, we can regain our health. And if we can increase our ability to express, we will be more likely to remain healthy and resilient in the face of life's challenges. Since much of Primal Integration is about expressing emotion, the more we are able to be uninhibited and express ourselves, the more rapid and complete our growth will be.
It's a simple concept. Anything you do that is expressive in a safe way (to yourself and others) increases your Releasing Ability. Safety is key. Be sure to protect yourself from people who will criticize, judge, ridicule, or make fun of you. Only allow yourself fuller expression when you are on your own, or in the company of those who support you totally. You may also notice your own "inner critics" (possibly parental voices). Allow yourself as much freedom as you can.
Here are a few examples:
• Laugh. Let yourself laugh as often and as loudly as you can. Belly laughing is tremendously healthy. Rent a funny movie, tell jokes, look at the funny side of life, and enjoy yourself.
• Make noise. There are lots of socially acceptable opportunities for noisemaking, from concerts to sporting events. It adds to the fun, and it's healthy, too!
• Sing, dance, paint... Any type of expressive art is valuable - painting, drawing, sculpture, dance, singing, theatre, crafts, etc. Unfortunately, much artistic expression is shackled by attitudes that expect "perfection." These are just other forms of judgment that you can avoid. Some simple forms of artistic expression are singing at the top of your lungs in the car, or dancing around in your room.
• Play. Let yourself be childlike, free, and silly. Make whatever sounds and movements you wish. You may find that it's not so silly or childish after all - even older animals romp and play.
• Have sex. This is a good opportunity, either alone or with a supportive partner, to let passionate feelings take over and move you to make uninhibited movements and sounds. Be as loud as you can allow yourself to be.
• Get angry. Either alone or with a supportive person, let yourself grouch, complain, and get angry. You can get loud, but be careful not to frighten the neighbours or any children. Throw pillows, hit the couch, kick with your heels on the bed - whatever the feeling requires. Cars are great "yelling booths" if they are parked in a safe place. Be sure not to over-exert yourself, hurt yourself physically, or damage anyone or anything. In this exercise, do not get angry at people in their presence. This is only a way of expressing and venting - not an excuse to abuse others.
• Cry. When you feel the need, let yourself cry as loudly and deeply as you can manage. Crying, when fully expressed, becomes deep sobbing and/or wailing. Listen to music and watch movies that move you to tears - even tears of joy. Crying heals pain by releasing energy and stress hormones in your tears. If you are with someone, make sure that they understand this and that they don't try to distract you, soothe you, or stop you from crying. That will only decrease your Releasing Ability - just like your parents did.
There are as many ways to be expressive as there are moments in the day. Try the suggestions above or find your own. Keep in mind, however, that as you increase the Releasing Ability of your system, traumatic material will rise for release. As you attempt to be expressive, you may encounter fear and resistance as well - from yourself and from others who are still uncomfortable with expression.
Remember to follow the example of the little amoeba and only release when you're in an environment that is safe for you. Primal Integration sessions are ideally the place where you can safely release the results of your homework.
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Homework That Heals - Introduction