Most of the causes of anxiety and depression are stored in the body. We may not remember events that happened in our lives, but our bodies remember everything. Our bodies store experiences that happened in the womb. Our frame of mind as an adult can stem back to what experiences our mothers were having when they were pregnant.
Most of us had parents who did “the best that they could”. My work as a therapist is not to blame parents but help my client’s bodies let go of the effects of what happened during home life, school life and often religious life.
What makes us human is our brain’s ability to discern, reason and grow. It also hinders our ability to let go of things that have happened. Our brains protect us from anything that may harm us. Human experiences can be so painful that the brain wants to protect us from the sensations in our bodies. Unfortunately these experiences are stored. When an animal is at risk, it does what it needs to survive, but then it is able to shake off the experience, even if it is life-threatening. It then gets up and moves on as if nothing has happened. Humans do not have this ability. We do not automatically shake off our experiences.
Recently a form of therapy called Brainspotting, developed by David Grand allows the therapist to help the client shake off past body memories. What is even more important is that it teaches people to shake off their own negative experiences as they occur. Therapy is only as useful as what you can take with you out of the office and use on your own once you leave the room.
Most of us are conditioned to be afraid of our bodies. Sensations and emotions are foreign to us as they were to our parents before us. Seldom do we learn at home or in school how to manage and be with the experiences that we are having. Worst case scenario is we are told not to have the feelings or experiences that we are having. We shouldn’t feel this way. At best we are told that what we experience is normal; almost never are we told how to experience our experience.
Depression often comes from learning to suppress and oppress our feelings. Anxiety comes from being overwhelmed by our experiences. Brainspotting teaches us how to do both: let our feelings out and survive the experiences we have had and are having. Any techniques that teach us how to be with who we are, what we feel and how we experience things helps us alleviate depression and anxiety.
When a client comes to see me, I ask them what experiences are happening in their body that most distresses them. We then measure the intensity of the experience. Then I find where a client feels the most calm. From the place of calmness a person can release the intense experiences of distress. I then teach them to do this on their own.