Today, my brain is still working overtime. It is processing PowerPoint slides and video clips from a two day workshop on how trauma effects the brain and the psyche. Dr. van der Kolk, in his Dutch accent, lectured nonstop as he showed us over a hundred slides of brain scans, statistics, and studies. He stopped his flow of information only during the dozens of video clips illustrating the latest research on treatment methods. Both my hand and brain got cramps from trying to capture it all.

Brain imaging technology makes it possible to better understand what parts of the brain begin to over-function, under-function, or stop functioning in the aftermath of trauma that induces the flight/fight/freeze response in us all. Brain scans illustrate most clearly how trauma and fear literally takes off-line our brain's highest executive functions. Decisions are then made in a more base primitive part of the brain helps us understand better.

Dr. van der Kolk's political humor illuminated how the use of fear tactics by political parties keeps the public from using their best and highest brain functions to make voting decisions. ("I don't see how you can vote Republican with this higher functioning part of your brain, he commented. "Most likely, it comes from this part." he says, pointing to the more primitive aspects of the brain.)

Would that I could have some of this technology in the office to illustrate to couples that in the midst of an emotional argument, they are functioning with only half of their brain. The more primal part.

Yoga, mediation, exercise, journal writing, tai chi, etc.......... all practices that calm the body and mind, and center us in the present moment, are the essentials to recovery from trauma, and developing the ability to continue to utilize the highest executive functions of our brains.

Today, not only is my brain processing this new information, but it also is now taking a look at old traumas of childhood in the light of this new information. It gives me a more understanding and compassionate view toward myself and the responses I have made in the past.

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