Fight, Flight or Freeze

It was a gorgeous morning as we headed out on our walk. We headed to a heavily treed area, and as often happens, we saw a deer.

The dog had smelled it, long before we saw it. He usually does. And then we spotted it, and it stood perfectly still. We stopped as well, and watched it a moment. It had gone from running, to standing perfectly still. We watched for a few minutes, and then I forced the dog to move. I didn’t want for the deer to be worried about our presence. As soon as we started to move, the deer stomped it’s foot a few times and then ran off.

We carried on, and I immediately recalled a couple of occurrences that had helped me to solidify and understand that the body and mind were connected in mysterious ways.

First, I recalled a time that I had something called re-balancing massage and had froze in terror as my mind and body were completely reliving an experience I had as a teenager. I had been hit head on by a motorcycle. My friend that was doing the massage, felt me freeze and said “are you okay? ” She was alarmed, and I was unable to answer at first as I was frozen in terror. It felt completely as though it was occurring in the present, and I could not respond until it was completely over. We were both shocked by the experience, but somehow I felt relieved after it was all over.

Then I immediately recalled the first time that I had experienced Reiki. We had just been through a shocking and traumatic experience where we had found that my Mom had a tumor the size of an orange that had been hemorrhaging for about a week before we discovered it and rushed her into emergency. We were shocked to learn that it had been there for about a year, and she had not wanted to bother anyone about it. It resulted in a full mastectomy and a Stage 4 cancer diagnoses. We were still reeling in shock and stress over the situation. My husband asked me one afternoon to go do something for myself to relieve some of the stress. I headed in search of a massage, and they only had one Reiki appointment available. I knew nothing about it, but was desperate so took the appointment.

I was not on the table more than a few minutes when she started the session, and tears were pouring from my eyes. I was helpless to stop them, and felt so relaxed and relieved after that experience. I ended up taking Reiki Classes to the Master level from this practitioner after this.

For those of you that are not familiar with Reiki, it is a method of energy healing. It helps to remove energy blockages stored in the body. It can be performed on yourself and others with training.

As we walked along, I wondered what the purpose of these recollections might be when a book I had read popped into my mind. It was called Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma by Peter A. Levine, PHD.

Dr. Levine had developed a method called Somatic Experiencing to address the physiology of Stress and Trauma.

He was curious about the fact that animals in the wild aren’t traumatized by their life-and-death existence, while people can be traumatized by events that seem inconsequential to many of us.

He observed during the course of his work that animals will complete the full sequence of a response to danger, by noticing it, reacting and recovering from the threat. He also noticed that humans often interrupt this normal cycle with their brains interfering.

When in jeopardy, animals will access and expend enormous amounts of energy proving the ‘fuel’ to escape the danger. He observed that once the threat has been successfully overcome, there is a discharge of excess energy through the body. The body was then returned to a baseline allowing a chemical discharge to move through the nervous system by trembling, shaking, bucking or running. This resets the mind and body and prepares for the next challenge. I recall being amazed by his findings when I read the book some time ago, and how easily we humans can become ‘stuck’ by interfering with the process.

“Oh for goodness sake” I chuckled as I felt my little friend skipping along beside me. “Thanks”, I said as I grabbed her hand. “I guess I have some homework to do.”

Love and Light


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