When we have traumatic, painful or emotionally negative experiences, our brain and body help us cope. The reflexes commonly known as fight/flight/freeze step in to protect us from the overwhelming information. When the brain perceives danger, it activates the sympathetic nervous system and the adrenal-cortisol system. The activation of these systems will give protection to the body and the brain while experiencing the immediate trauma. Digestion slows down, heart rate goes up, blood pressure rises and the body is activated for action. These things happen automatically. I am grateful for the wisdom of the body and brain and for the protection it provides to all of us. It is only when the reflex of fight/flight/freeze stays around too long that we begin to see problems. It’s when the fight/flight/freeze is occurring on an ongoing basis that we see long term diseases (heart problems, high blood pressure, auto-immune diseases) as well as diseases normally considered “mental only” processes like anxiety, depression, aggression and attention issues occur. Back in the caveman days, danger encountered on a daily basis were obvious. Lions, tigers and bears. Now we encounter stress (aka to the brain as danger) in very different ways. Traffic, financial issues, work. And we also continue to encounter natural disasters, mass shootings, car accidents, rape. Our bodies and brains continue to do their best to protect us from these types of tragedies, but the world today is so different. We are not as physically active as we were, we do not live surrounded by support systems, and we are expected to carry on despite whatever tragedy we have endured. Modern medicine has done its best to help. Pills of all kinds are available to increase absorption of good neurochemical and in some cases to simply shut down the feelings associated with the “bad” neurochemicals. The problem is, that in a long term way, our brains and bodies are not learning to cope more effectively with stress. This is the purpose of the Masgutova Neruo-Sensory Reflex Integration (MNRI) Post Trauma work. To take the automatic protective reflexes of the body and brain, and re-pattern them to release when in safety and remain when in danger. Bodies and brains recognize these patterns. They are universal and the language of the areas of the brain that function automatically. When we provide this information in a systematic, reliable way through the body, we can help the brain to remember that it is safe and will be called upon the next time we really need it for protection. But for now, it is ok.
I recently had the opportunity to help coordinate efforts to help people who suffered from massive flooding in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Ten days of huge rain caused flooding in areas that had not flooded in over 500 years. Over 50,000 homes were completely destroyed. Many lost everything that they owned and many had to be rescued by boat and helicopter. The loss of schools and jobs and normal life for these victims was devastating. My dear friend, Dr. Vicky Roy lives in Baton Rouge, and along with her business partner Stacy Levy, donated their clinic space so that we could come together and work with folks to release the fight/flight/freeze reflexes associated with this tragedy. Dr. Svetlana Masgutova, a true humanitarian and the master of this work, flew herself in and donated her precious time to this cause. Amazing MNRI therapists from around the state of Louisiana volunteered and worked many hours. Healing began. What an honor to see happen under the skilled, working hands re-patterning brains and bodies that were safe but still perceiving danger. The release of the fight/flight/freeze responses provided a basis for organization and thoughtful processing about how to move forward. And move forward they will. Baton Rouge is full of resilient people who will rebuild and be better and stronger than ever.