When Looking Inward is NOT the Right Thing to Do
Interesting research by professor Stephen Porges highlights a new state that is being added to the fight or flight trauma response. Fight or flight is now becoming known as fight, flight, or freeze. The freeze response is just what it sounds like: becoming still in order to turn the senses inward, or in some cases dissociate the senses from the body entirely, in order to avoid experiencing pain or threat. This third part of the trauma response triad is usually the last resort. When fight or flight don't work, then freeze. I remember, when I was studying medical yoga with the Iyengar family in Pune, India, they would place traumatized patients in savasana, the supine relaxation pose, with their eyes open, to keep their senses exteriorized so they do not enter this freeze state. The work of Porges describing this state can be found here. Yet what interests me even further is the work of Sean Feit Oakes, a meditation teacher who explains how our desire to meditate can sometimes arise from a tendency to freeze in order to avoid trauma. Oakes' exposure of this tendency is fascinating, as are his strategies for replacing this tendency with healthier alternatives. His take on the subject can be found here.