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Updated: Aug 4, 2019

Over the last few weeks I've been absorbing Bessel Van der Kolk's insightful book, 'The Body Keeps The Score'.

The scope of the book covers human stories, scientific research and his own personal experiences of treating people suffering with trauma to explore the use of talk therapies, drugs and newer approaches such as yoga, massage, neurofeedback and psychomotor therapy to understand how body and brain operate after traumatic experiences and how our stories, emotional scars and histories can be re-shaped and re-observed to live happier and more fulfilled lives.

In the book Van der Kolk notes that mainstream medicine is firmly dedicated to bettering life through chemistry, but with this the fact that we can change our own physiology and inner equilibrium, by means other than drugs, is rarely considered. Within this perspective four fundamental truths are overlooked:

  1. Our capacity to heal one another, as well as restoring relationships and community is central to restoring well-being.

  2. Language is power; being able to communicate our experiences helps us define what we know, helps us find common sense and meaning and therefore helps us change.

  3. We have the ability to regulate our own physiology, including some of the so-called involuntary functions of the body and brain, through simple activities such as breathing, movement and touch.

  4. We can change social conditions and create positive environments in which children and adults can thrive

Van der Kolk notes that, "When we ignore these quintessential dimensions of humanity, we deprive people of ways to heal from trauma and restore their autonomy".

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the power of mind and body, in addressing traumatic experiences from their own lives and to those working with individuals or groups in any dimension, whether in bodywork, leading workshops, in community projects or providing health treatments. It's a real page turner!

Amy Moffat, May 2019


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