Transforming the Experience-Based Brain (TEB) -- Healing through Support

It's my month for learning! I just completed my second time through the beginnings of Dr. Steve Terrell's Transforming the Experience-Based Brain (TEB) training, and I'm excited.

With Dr. Steve Terrell, developer of Transforming the Experience-Based Brain (TEB)

With Dr. Steve Terrell, developer of Transforming the Experience-Based Brain (TEB)

TEB is post-advanced training for therapists who work in the field of developmental trauma; that is, trauma which occurred so early in life that we may not have languaging to describe it. Moving beyond “talk therapy,” TEB incorporates touch skills, attachment theory, polyvagal theory, and work with primitive reflexes into a protocol which supports clients as they make their way from their current “normal” to a “new (healthier) normal.”

I've been a client myself and have been using the TEB skills (I use the general term “Somatic Touch”) in my office and on-line practice for the past year. I've been amazed at how quickly I and my clients report feeling less fearful/angry/depressed, and more present, more alive, and more able to easily and freely engage with others. All without much discussion, and often without knowing the original source of the problems!

Developmental trauma, regardless of the source(s), causes ruptures within our natural stages of growth, leading to physical, mental, and emotional illness. With TEB, we learn that these states are understandable and natural, and the gentle, hands-on work creates a stable base from which clients organically repair these disconnects themselves.

If you'd like to learn more about TEB/Somatic Touch and how it may help you thrive, please give me a call at (919) 636-9439, or email me at “anna@bodhisattvabodywork.com.” If you feel ready to make an appointment, please click here.


At Bodhisattva Bodywork, I offer a variety of trauma resolution therapeutic services in my Chapel Hill office and online via a secure video link. I’m also affiliated with a trauma-focused group psychotherapy practice in Japan: Trauma Treatment Center and Resources (TTCR), which offers body-based therapy sessions and educational seminars in both English and Japanese.

An additional healing modality--Integral Somatic Psychology (ISP™)

The entire staff of the Trauma Treatment Center and Resources (TTCR) in Saitama, Japan with Dr. Raja Selvam

The entire staff of the Trauma Treatment Center and Resources (TTCR) in Saitama, Japan with Dr. Raja Selvam

Okay. This will be a little graphic. Vomiting. Diarrhea. Inability to eat and a greenish complexion for a couple of days. And it (thankfully) wasn't the flu. What in the world?!

I just returned from Dr. Raja Selvam's first ever Integral Somatic Psychology (ISP™) training in Japan, and to say I learned a lot is an understatement. But not only that, I also experienced the power of this work.

Dr. Selvam combines his decades as student, psychotherapist, and teacher into his four step method of fully embodying our emotions in order to more quickly and effectively move through trauma into health.

As I worked with my own deeply-held sense of worthlessness, familiar bodily sensations began to morph into unbelievable emotions. With the guidance and support of my therapist, I was able, for perhaps the first time, to access some of the rage I'd been suppressing and to give it a voice.

So, yes, I then experienced the above “healing crisis.” But it passed. And I'm left with a renewed vigor and the beginnings of a new self-definition. (I'm also very grateful not to have all of that suppressed negative energy still housed within my body!)

My extreme reaction was not replicated among the other 60 or so students attending. All, however, were able to locate and expand an emotion, and through that process remove and even transform some of the “charge” surrounding past trauma. These practical experiences clearly illustrated that accessing and embodying the emotions which underlie our sensations can be an extremely effective method of healing.

ISP.JPG

At Bodhisattva Bodywork, I offer a variety of trauma resolution therapeutic services in my Chapel Hill office and online via a secure video link. I’m also affiliated with a trauma-focused group psychotherapy practice in Japan: Trauma Treatment Center and Resources (TTCR), which offers body-based therapy sessions and educational seminars in both English and Japanese.


A new definition of "trauma" for the new year--why it's a lot more common than you'd think!

Happy New Year! I’m looking forward to continuing to work with you in 2019.

At Bodhisattva Bodywork, a large part of my job is educating clients about how normal it actually is to have trauma, and about how we can work together to resolve trauma symptoms and causes within their bodies.

Hokusai's wave.jpg

Most of us think of trauma as something caused by large, overwhelming experiences, such as natural disasters, war, traffic accidents, near-death experiences, sexual assault, near-drowning, child abuse, etc. If we have been fortunate enough to avoid such events, we don’t feel we’ve ever been traumatized.

But trauma doesn’t lie in any event itself. In fact, trauma is the result of anything that causes our body to become stuck in survival mode. Trauma may begin as acute stress from a perceived life-threat (as with the events listed above) or it may be the end product of cumulative stress. Trauma may therefore also result from such events as medical or dental procedures, emotional abuse, neglect, loss, falls, birth trauma, or ongoing physical/mental/emotional conflict. In short, even ordinary events can cause trauma.

How does this happen? Like animals, we are hard-wired to respond to traumatic incidents as though we are in mortal danger—our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems automatically engage to take us into the most effective physical response (fight, flight, freeze, or collapse) that will ensure our survival.

Although animals naturally discharge excess adrenaline energy once they’ve made their escape, because of shame or other pervasive thoughts, judgments, or fears, we often override this healing physical release. The residual survival energy remains bound in our system, leading us to feel “stuck.” With each successive stressor, our innate ability to function with resilience and ease is overwhelmed, and we see-saw back and forth between hyperaroused “on” and collapsed “off,” exhausting ourselves in the process, as seen in the diagram below:

WofT with stressor.gif

At this point, we are said to be “dysregulated.” Our nervous system is overwhelmed, and must now borrow energy from other body systems to function. Those systems, in turn, become overwhelmed, and we find ourselves experiencing a whole host of potential problems, illustrated as “Stuck on On” and “Stuck on Off” in the diagram.

The good news is that we can change this pattern! Anything that allows us to feel completely safe, contained, and supported will help. The longer we can spend in these healing states, bit by bit, the artificial scaffolding our body created to manage our symptoms will start to let go and our innate ability to naturally regulate stress will return and grow.

I’ve spent the last few years learning Dr. Levine’s SE™ work and additional, post-advanced modalities, and am happy to help. Please feel free to contact me with any questions at anna@bodhisattvabodywork.com, or at (919) 636-9439.


At Bodhisattva Bodywork, I offer a variety of trauma resolution therapeutic services in my Chapel Hill office and online via a secure video link. I’m also affiliated with a trauma-focused group psychotherapy practice in Japan: Trauma Treatment Center and Resources (TTCR), which offers body-based therapy sessions and educational seminars in both English and Japanese.

"Children's Cafeterias" provide many types of nourishment

**In translating a post by one of my Japanese colleagues, I learned about the concept of “Kodomo Shokudou” or “Children’s Cafeterias.” I thought some of you might also be interested, particularly as we enter the season of giving.

“Good evening. It's clinical psychologist Shoichi Akimoto from the Trauma Treatment Center and Resources. This afternoon, I attended a forum on “Kodomo Shokudou,” pictured below:

Kodomo Forum entry.jpg
Kodomo Shokodo Forum.jpg


(Translation note: Kodomo Shokudou, or “Children's Cafeterias,” began in 2012 as a grassroots effort to provide warm, nutritious meals and dining companionship to disadvantaged children. This article in the Japan Times gives a brief history.

“I learned quite a few things during the forum, but was particularly struck by the fact that, while these Cafeterias are created for children, they are also becoming places where parents and neighbors gather and interact.

There are Children's Cafeterias that host a Christmas party on behalf of busy parents--children may attend and the parents can then join in after they've finished work. This helps the families form relationships with their neighbors. I think it would be great if this concept became more widespread.

Also, because the children have set times where neighborhood association members come to feed them or help them with their studies, the children learn that there are adults who want to spend time with them and who honor and treasure those time commitments.

As I listened, I was nodding in agreement. This is about attachment, isn't it? Attachment trauma can always be repaired. Research into brain plasticity is continuing, and I think proof of this is coming in the near future.

But this (whether we call it a “challenge” or a “risky venture”) can be a challenge for the adult caregivers themselves. Various unconscious emotions can surface as they interact with the children. Whether or not these adults are acknowledging and learning from this could result in greatly divergent outcomes.

At our Center, we also offer counseling for caregivers. As you address your own challenges, your activities will become so much more enjoyable!

We've opened a trauma-focused counseling center in Saitama City, Japan, called TTCR: Trauma Treatment Center and Resources: https://saitama-traumahealingenglish.jimdofree.com. We also offer lectures on trauma for groups and businesses—please enquire!”


At Bodhisattva Bodywork, I offer a variety of trauma resolution therapeutic services in my Chapel Hill office and online via a secure video link. I’m also affiliated with a trauma-focused group psychotherapy practice in Japan: Trauma Treatment Center and Resources (TTCR), which offers body-based therapy sessions and educational seminars in both English and Japanese.

Feeding Your Demons--a revolutionary meditation practice

A large part of my job is to provide clients with self-care tools.  Most of us can't afford continual trips to various therapists, and if we're serious about maintaining or improving our health, we need to create some time in our schedule to work with ourselves. 

Physical activity is important, and proper nutrition can't be overlooked.  But we also need tools to work with our minds, to deal with those things like illness, anxiety, depression, and so on that drain our energy and keep us from feeling fully alive. We can call these our “traumas;” another way to describe them is our “demons.”

One of my Buddhist teachers, Lama Tsultrim Allione, has developed a five-step method for "Feeding Your Demons." Although most of us would do almost anything to avoid these issues, Lama Tsultrim teaches that not only should we get close to them, but we should feed them to full satisfaction! This strategy of nurturing rather than battling our inner and outer enemies offers a revolutionary path to resolve conflict and leads to psychological integration and inner peace.

The following is a video of Lama Tsultrim explaining the origin of her "Feeding Your Demons" practice, and she actually guides you through it.  If you'd like to skip directly to the guided meditation, it begins at 21:40. Please let me know how it works for you!


At Bodhisattva Bodywork, I offer a variety of trauma resolution therapeutic services in my Chapel Hill office and online via a secure video link. I’m also affiliated with a trauma-focused group psychotherapy practice in Japan: Trauma Treatment Center and Resources (TTCR), which offers body-based therapy sessions and educational seminars in both English and Japanese.

Losar Tashi Delek! (Happy New Year! in Tibetan)

2017 Tashi Delek from Karmapa.jpg

Many of you know that I am a practicing Tibetan Buddhist.  My sangha (fellow practitioners) is Tara Mandala, and our teacher, Lama Tsultrim Allione, was one of the first Western women to be ordained a Tibetan Buddhist nun in the Karma Kagyu lineage by His Holiness the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje (1924-1981).  The above greeting was recently issued by his successor, HH the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje (1985-).

HH the Dalai Lama has offered this translation of the traditional greeting, Tashi Delek:  "May you be happy here and now and achieve definite goodness."  He has spoken about the importance of this at this time of Losar and suggests that we strive to live a life of meaning and to focus on benefiting others.

In this year of the Fire Bird, which begins on Monday, February 27, 2017, here are a few ideas about what to expect (taken from articles published in the Elephant Journal):

"The Year of the Firebird will be especially exciting.  By its nature, the energy of the firebird holds the intense power for continual recreation.  It is the symbolic representation of awakening, similar to the Phoenix.

In Buddhism, we see the firebird as a tenacious animal, determined and built for hard work, but also impulsive and hotheaded in her demeanor.  Similar to most passionate individuals, they adore the fine art of connecting.  We open ourselves to a time of greater community involvement and socialization as we welcome this new year.  It said that this year combines discipline and vigilance with tenderness and courage.  As we work together on challenges, we are reminded to leave time for play and banter.

The female Firebird year is often seen as an energetic but scattered year.  There are many opportunities, but concentration is necessary in order to enjoy their fruits.  The fire element adds a rather daunting but pregnant-with-possibility mix:   Fire transmits a vital, brilliant, and transforming energy and enhances expression, extroversion, and the ability to make decisions."


You may wish to make some special preparations to welcome in this exciting year!  Here are a few suggestions from my local sangha teacher, Ellen Booth Church:

To symbolize making a fresh start and eliminating obstacles from the previous year, it is traditional to clean your house before Losar. The day before Losar is the traditional day for pre-Losar cleaning. If you have an altar, you take it apart, clean it and freshen all offerings. Add fresh flowers and a "sweet" for the New Year. To create auspicious connections with good health, long life, prosperity and abundance, offer fruit, cookies, candies, etc. on an attractive plate on your altar. This is also a good time to hang New Prayer flags.

Traditionally, Tibetan families wash their faces on Losar morning with "star water."  Star water is made by taking pure water and leaving it outside in an open container so it can become imbued with starlight. This is done the night before Losar, which will be Sunday, February 26th.  A glass, crystal or ceramic container is best.  Water which is left overnight under the stars on this night is considered to have great cleansing and rejuvenating benefits.  It is said that to wash with this water in the very early morning hours of Losar is an auspicious start for the New Year!

On Losar day, you can do some special meditations/prayers at home. It is considered auspicious to wear a new piece of clothing on Losar, if possible. You can light candles on an altar, offer fresh fruit and flowers, recite long life prayers for the Dalai Lama and other lamas and spiritual figures, and chant mantras and make aspiration prayers for the new year.  Be sure to remember to dedicate the merit of your offerings to go out to all beings, everywhere, without one exception.


May each of us "be happy here and now and achieve definite goodness"!  Losar Tashi Delek!