If you are a human being with a human brain and a human body, at some point you may have experienced The Freeze.
We all have different responses to life depending on what our previous experiences have taught us. We create beliefs around our history and then our experiences follow the rules of the beliefs we have made. In short, our beliefs create our experience.
When the belief takes away our choice, such as some experiences have removed our choices, we can feel powerless. The body has a hard time integrating those experiences because they seem so far out of our control.
We are triggered by things in our everyday life that cause our bodies to go back into this state of memory, where we didn't have control, and we do what we commonly call freezing. Our body remembers this helped us survive before and wants to protect us by doing it again.
This could happen when a family member brings up a difficult topic, when we see or smell or taste or hear things that are part of the memory, or we may not even be aware of what pulls us into this state.
While we are in this state, we are not resourceful, creative, communicative, or logical. We can not integrate present experiences either. It is like living life going through the motions without the experience, which is no fun for anyone.
The first part of getting out of this state so you can live a full life and have the experiences you want to have is to know what it feels like when you are in it. Consider that animals play dead to stay alive when they are in danger. Our systems respond in the same ways.
If you have ever experienced the freeze or if you are a coach, bodyworker, yoga instructor, or have other types of clients that could freeze during a session, (which means your work is not being received) you may notice these indicators:
“Spacing out” and staring off into the distance
Stopped or very shallow breathing
Shoulders are slumped
You feel unable to make eye contact
A general “numbness” of your body, thoughts, and emotions
Your body feels almost paralyzed or unable to move
When you have become aware of the freeze, there are several ways you can come back into the present moment. Since you probably felt out of control with no choice but to “play dead,” it is helpful to move. By moving you will tell your body that you have a new choice in responding to whatever triggered you.
Here are five ways to come back into your window of safety when you freeze:
Start at the base center of your neck and feel where your clavicles meet. Just below your bones is a small depression. Using two or three fingers on each hand, gently tap alternating left and right hands outward towards your shoulders and back to center. Repeat for at least 30 seconds.
Stand up and ground:
Stand up where you are and focus on your feet. Feel the surface you are standing on and slowly scan your body up to your knees and back down. Notice the strength in your stance on the Earth, as if you are a mountain or the roots of an old tree.
First exhale as much as you can, then a bit more. As you inhale, notice your breath passively fill up your belly, your ribs, and your chest, up to the bottom of your throat and repeat 5-10 times.
Look around the space you are in and find 5 things you see, then do it again.
Throw a ball:
It can be a real or imaginary ball you throw back and forth with someone who is with you.
This may feel difficult at first because you are teaching your body to have a new response to an old pattern. That is okay. Over time it will become easier so you can be more present and experience life the way you want.
If you are ready to dive deeper into your patterns and presence to create the life you want, email me about private coaching at email@example.com
Remember, with knowledge like this comes choices and when we have choices, we are free.