Making Room For The Past: On the Process & Practice of Integrating Traumatic Stress

A week or so back, a message pinged into my inbox from a rider in the recovery period of an accident that was really affecting her riding. She used a really common phrase that I often hear alongside descriptions of traumatic stress which is:

I feel like I’m living in the past.

I know so many of us can relate. It can be upsetting, frustrating, and frightening to find your mind and body looping around in a spin cycle of concern, worry, and anxiety in the aftermath of an injury and what’s more, easy to convince yourself that the chances of making it back to a good feeling place are slim to none.

Maybe this is just how it is now, you tell yourself. Maybe this is my lot.

The good news is, this is very far from the truth.

When the body holds trauma, what it is essentially holding is unintegrated activation, energy, and experience. If we think of ourselves as an interconnected puzzle, trauma is a piece of that puzzle that fits in somewhere- we just haven’t found out quite where. As a result, it floats in our orbit, out of context with what is happening in our present-day life and wholly misunderstood.

When we experience a “trigger” what we are in the midst of is the invitation of the body to have a corrective emotional experience. An unfinished cycle of activation and energy seeking out completion. It is that missing puzzle piece in our orbit searching for connection and reintegration.

While this experience sounds romantic, it is far from easy. Allowing ourselves to accept and process experiences of the past means that we need to have established a felt sense of safety in the body and have resourced ourselves with the tools and skills to ground and centre in the midst of discomfort. It’s a body led experience of increasing capacity and of accepting and allowing for the parts of ourselves and our experiences that felt too hard for us to hold to be welcomed back into the fold.

In this episode, we talk about the nature of injury and how traumatic stress is held in the body. I expand on the hows and whys of what I teach, and the process I follow that allow us to integrate the uncomfortable, expand on the good, and resource us to meet ourselves and our horses in the moment.

You can tune your listening ears in below or by searching The Confident Rider Podcast on your fave podcast app 😍👏

Happy listening!

❤️ Jane