Fascinating: How EMDR Changes The Brain

We’ve been doing some major self-love on steroids stuff, but let’s not forget about EMDR! Because they are like the one-two punch. Oh, and deep breathing, too, anytime the thought pops in your head. That’s the real one-two punch, actually – deeper breathing and loving yourself in this new, much more doable manner. And EMDR is a very powerful tool that can be used anytime to clear out the old gunk. And regarding deeper breathing and loving yourself, you don’t even have to worry about “doing it right” or “doing it all the time.” When you have a thought to take a deep breath, just take a deep breath (no analysis or criticism required). Because it feels awesome and spacious! And when you notice a part of you that’s upset in any way, try your best to love it on the spot with a powerful breath into the heart. Not the whole self if you don’t want, just that one part, the part that’s having a tough time in that moment. And remember, earth ain’t easy. Back to the story…

So I went to my first quarterly EMDR continuing education event a couple of weeks ago, and I saw this super long and boring video presentation about the neurobiology of EMDR (i.e. how it affects the brain). The people there were awesome, but the video just went into sooo much brain detail. So let’s really simplify it here. And for any brain experts out there, this is the extreme “for dummies” version. Because I’m a major dummy when it comes to the brain. So don’t judge too much. Here we go…

The brain is all about these different parts that talk to each other. When something big or traumatic happens, though, that memory gets cut off from the rest of the brain. So when that memory get triggered later, either consciously or not, the rest of the brain shuts down and we go into fight or flight. The part of our brain that can remind us that we’re safe, for example, or that it’s NOW and not the past, is simply not online. It’s not available to use logic and reasoning, so we actually feel like we did back then. Ouch.

When that memory gets remembered and lit up while the bilateral stimulation is going on, though, the left-right of EMDR, something about the bilateral stimulation forces the rest of the brain to stay online and to keep talking among the different parts. And after not too long, the memory becomes processed, integrated, or unstuck. Same thing. It’s like when food doesn’t seem to go down the right way, and it eventually gets broken down and digested and you feel good again. Then when that memory gets lit up in the future, we don’t have nearly the same fight or flight response. This is why there can be memories that used to cause panic attacks that you can now talk about like you’re talking about the weather. It might not be your favorite topic of conversation, but it doesn’t have the power and electric charge that it used to. So cool.

Now let’s have a word about how big memories get triggered in the present. Of course there’s the obvious, like when a memory just pops in your head. You could also be reminded by a car you see, a song on the radio, or meeting someone with the same name as someone that was involved. There are lots of ways, but those are conscious. The interesting ones are the ones that are not conscious at all. It could be that I was abused as a child and I just felt that life was totally unfair. And it was! I learned that decades ago. And now when anything happens that has the vibe of “not fair” to it, even something small, I getting super pissed off. What’s probably happening is that the old stuff is getting triggered without my even knowing it. So the old memory of abuse gets lit up, the rest of the brain shuts down, and the adrenalin starts pumping. In that moment, wouldn’t it be nice to know that what’s actually going on is that old stuff is rising up? That the old memories are being triggered by the present? That I’m not a crazy person? Absolutely, it would be veeeery nice to know that.

So how do we heal this? We clear out the old stuff with EMDR, that’s how. Then when the same things happen now, your body simply doesn’t have the same triggered reaction. You can also use EMDR to target the present things that are triggering you, without even knowing about the connection to the old abuse or whatever it was! That’s what is so cool about EMDR. Because most likely it’ll just float right up. So we don’t even have to know about the connections. We just put the headphones on, turn the bilateral stimulation machine on, close our eyes, and drop in. And the brain will release whatever it wants to. Because it already knows the connections.

So there we go, folks, EMDR Neurobiology for Dummies. Or super-dummies. This is why EMDR can be so powerful, you see. Because it’s a brain thing. Talking about stuff just doesn’t have this component of the brain literally changing and becoming healthier. And you know what else? I almost wrote a short blog post. It kept growing, though. But we were closer than normal, so woohoo! I’m going to go buy a lottery ticket now. Then I’m going to check the weather in hell, because it seems like there might be a cold front. Hey, we usually talk about big stuff here, and it can take some words to do it right. We’re figuring it all out, though. Peace out 🙂