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Book Review: The Body Keeps the Score - by Bessel van der Kolk

By Kelli Peacock

The Education Committee for this year’s convention decided to introduce a special panel discussion on a book called The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk, MD. The book describes how trauma affects our daily life and what alternative avenues there are for treatment.

As the discussion about the book began, it soon became evident that it had struck the hearts of all who had read it in quite a profound way. Trauma weaves a web through families, war, injury and even in birth. The panel organized three different explorations that guided the group to do self-sensing on several different somatic levels.

Carol Kerner, our newly elected AHSE President, led a breathing exercise. She gracefully made us aware from the inside out both with as well as without breath. Breathing into the back and pelvis in the yoga child's pose was enlightening for many. Carol tapped the unheard aspects of our breathing patterns and helped us be present to feel from within.

Kathy Kerber led a fabulous relaxing exercise for our face. With a smile, we paired up and took a close inventory of our partners face. Over tea one afternoon, Kathy and I chatted about how most people are not aware of their facial muscles. It is heart warming and downright juicy to see someone transform with this somatic experience. Try on a blissful face and let us know what happens.

Susan Koenig, an HSE teacher from Wave 1, offered an amazing awareness activity inspired from last years presenter, Leora Gaster of Mind Body Studies, on spacial contrasts. Using paired words like, high and low, forward and backward, close and far, heavy and light, to name just a few, she brought new sensations and relativity to the body scan. Susan shared that using spacial contrasts helps bring the person into the here and now. Being present with the body is no doubt a key factor in healing from trauma.