” I was a teacher for 25 years…and you couldn’t be in your body as a teacher…you had to cope. “
A lovely lady said this to me on the last day of the TRE module in London that I was assisting at last week. She had been on a 3 day adventure of mind and body – learning why she had developed so much physical pain (mostly in her back and neck) and what being ‘grounded’ and ‘in her body’ really meant. What it meant from a neuro-physiological perspective and what it meant for her – in her felt experience – in her body!
It is an interesting thought that being ‘not in her body‘ – her way of describing a state of dissociation from her body – had been the only way to cope with the stress of being a teacher for 25 years. Being constantly on alert for what might happen next in the classroom, trying to perform to her best and communicate and connect with the children she worked with each lesson of the day, always trying to climb the never ending slippery slope of admin, and keeping up with the physical, emotional and mental stress of working in a ‘team’ of other adults, some of whom she found really hard to get on with.
The combinations of these stresses had her body in survival mode, and if you can’t fight it or ‘flight’ from it, the only other option is to freeze in it. However, freezing physically was not an option…so she established a default ‘dissociated’ state from which to operate from.
The thing is as we spoke and she described it to me I knew there were so many others who would be in total agreement with her. Life is stressful. Teaching is stressful…and children are better than NASA at detecting adults stress on their subconscious ‘radar’. Faster than a speeding bullet they can become aggressive or avoidant to keep themselves safe…and do aggressive or avoidant children make a teachers life a tad more stressful by any chance??!! The viscous cycle has to be unlocked we agreed… And she had just discovered her proverbial key…in the most gentle and profound way.
What I loved was how open she was to the adventure of allowing her body to tremor and release the deeply held years of tension. She physically looked different even just after 5 sessions, her shoulders were lower, her face was softer and more open, and her eyes more sparkly.
TRE is an amazing tool, and I am just so grateful I discovered it when I did. Being able to use it to calm and ground my own body; turn off my internal stress state and release tension has been a joy for me over the last few years. I think the bigger joy now is sharing it with other people. Who else wants/needs to learn?