The Body Keeps the Score
The Body Keeps the Score, written by Bessel van der Kolk, MD, is a groundbreaking work on trauma and its lasting effects on individuals throughout their lives. It sheds light on how traumatic experiences can cause physical, emotional, and neurological disturbances that are often deep-seated and complex to untangle. This book offers insight into how science has recently uncovered evidence about the brain’s plasticity in response to psychological distress and provides an overview of the various treatments available for those who have been affected by trauma.
Van der Kolk emphasizes the importance of understanding trauma not just as something that exists within an individual’s mind but rather as a pervasive force that affects one’s entire being – affecting emotions, memories, cognitions, behavior patterns, and even physiology. The author presents compelling research showing that traditional approaches such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may be inadequate in treating these long-term feelings of helplessness or hopelessness stemming from traumatic events. He proposes instead that effective treatment must take into account body memory as well as mental processes and suggests novel methods for integrating body-oriented activities with psychotherapeutic techniques.
Overall this book serves as an invaluable guide for professionals looking to better understand their client’s unique needs when it comes to healing from trauma, as well as anyone seeking greater awareness of what lies beneath their own pain so they can begin to heal themselves. Through his comprehensive exploration of trauma’s impact on the human experience, Van Der Kolk invites readers to explore new ways of working through old wounds in order to build resilience against future traumas.
Mind/Body Detox + Prayer Therapy
We have an incredible spiritual connection to our bodies. Van Der Kolk and many other professionals as well as amateurs have made the connection and feel the positive and negative effects of mind, body, and spirit. Whether we recognize it or not, what we do, what we eat, and what we have been through (as van der Kolk would see it), is part of us. In serious cases such as PTSD, situations such as the “necessity to sedate” a patient mentioned in Chapter 2 with physical force, could be extremely damaging to a recovering victim of trauma. In his reflection, VDK realized the scenario involving force must have been like reliving the traumatic memory again, even if it was thought to be in her best interest.
Bessel van der Kolk outlines his approach to healing trauma through a combination of psychotherapy and mind-body interventions. Although groundbreaking, I think in this step of therapy, Christian leaders and coaches can implement prayer and supplication in addition to the protocol VDK suggests. In this book, he emphasizes the importance of understanding how traumatic experiences are stored in the body and how they can be released safely with proper treatment. I believe there is a correlation here with sin, stress, anxiety, guilt, and unique obstacles that weigh on our psyche and heart. These negative positions take us off balance, damage our physical bodies, and disconnect us from the Spirit.
Similar to toxins that are stored in the body, it is important to release damaging contaminants, both mental and physical. As Christians, we know from countless scripture that prayer is our connection to God and there is power in our request and conversation. Even if we have not experienced trauma, sin is similar in that it will eat away at your soul. It will separate us from His Spirit, and can be physically detrimental in the forms of stress, sleep, and most importantly, our current walk of faith. If we want to stay on target or on the path that He is leading, we must reconcile our behaviors, free the toxins like a detox through repentance, and purify ourselves in a spiritual sense by being washed by His blood. Then continue with His guidance and ask for supplication.
When I think about getting right with God and inviting the Spirit into whatever it is that I am doing, I am often met with a roadblock of sorts. Similar to my last blog about being the “best me” which I call, “Jesus Fit,” I have to reunite with God before I have the audacity to ask him for anything. I have to recognize and own my mistakes and desire to make a change and protect myself from relapse. This process could be relatively quick, or unfortunately take a day or even a week at times. The process for me is twofold:
- Prayer – Intense, Meaningful, Solitude, Humble.
- Jesus Fit – Healthy Lifestyle; mind, body, spirit.
Sadly, our bodies are deteriorating every day (2 Cor 4:16) – from trauma, sin, age, and general lifestyle. I feel blessed to have not had serious trauma in my life but if that day comes, I believe that I will still apply these principles over almost any other therapy. I know we can do all things through Christ (Phil 4:13), so we cannot limit God and his plan for our life. We have the ability to slow the curve with healthy living but the end result is the same for us all. We have a responsibility to the spiritual and physical duties of living a fully devoted life to Jesus. Are we keeping his Temple (1 Cor 3:16) clean? Are we honoring our bodies as His image and His dwelling place inside of us (1 Cor 6:19)? We need to ask ourselves, what is our body’s score? And does our physical score correlate with our spiritual score with respect to being a representative of the unified body of Christ? The (physical and spiritual) body truly keeps the score.
 Van Der Kolk, Bessel, The Body Keeps the Score, Chapter 2
 Phil 4:13, 1 Cor 3:16, 1 Cor 6:19