of the bio-mechanisms of trauma have greatly advanced over recent years
thanks to the pioneering work of Peter Levine, Phd., Robert Scaer, MD,
(see references below) and others. In modern culture, the natural fight
or flight response to a traumatic event is usually supressed and relegated
to the "freeze" response instead. If, like animals of the
wild, human beings have the opportunity to shake, tremble, etc. to "de-program"
the freeze reaction following the life-threatening experience, it sets
off a series of complex bio-mechanisms which serve to neutralize the
The repressed reaction to trauma can cause various problems, ranging
from mild to severe, including: hyperarousal or anxiety; dissociation
or denial; intrusive imagery; hypersensitivity to light and sound; nightmares;
abrupt mood swings, insomnia.
Aquatic bodywork is effective in bringing people to the desired state
for the release of the freeze response, which is so helpful for healing
trauma. This expression can take different forms, such as: Legs shaking
or trembling, (which can look similar to when a dog dreams of running
in his sleep). Eye twitching as in the REM (rapid eye movement) of deep
sleep. The head turning abruptly, as if tracking the cause of alarm.
The elements of the "West Session"
are best for this work: slow, even paced and simple movements are used,
the head always leads, and the head travels in a consistent direction.
Sensory input is minimized and predictable. The gentle movement of the
water on the skin and the gentle body movement heightens the experience
of the "felt sense" of kinesthetic input. This is the territory
of the parasympathetic nervous system. Because the movement is passive,
the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for large muscle
movement, becomes background. The entire context tends to quiet the
These "ingredients" which have been found to be so helpful
in unravelling the effects of trauma, are also helpful for head injury.
Says Robert Scaer of aquatic bodywork: "They get an immediate relaxation
response, and using it regularly, a sustained reduction in stress."
" They seem to bring together different areas of the brain so that
they operate in synchrony".
Depending on the deegree of trauma and/or head injury, and the nature
of it, one may want to also work with a trauma therapy, and/or head
injury specialist in combination with Agua Alma work. Consult your primary
physician on this. Zia is available to share her perceptions on this
(For more information on trauma and it's effects, see "Waking the
Tiger", Peter Levine, PhD., 1997; "The Body Bears the Burden",
Robert Scaer, MD, 2001; and "Crash Course, a trauma workbook")