What To Do When You Feel Triggered

What happens when you feel triggered?  Maybe something someone says or does, on the news, on the street, in your home, at work eeks it’s way into your psyche and your body threatening to replay the repugnant details of a traumatic or painful event…

What do you do?  Do you avoid it?  Or do you find yourself suddenly at the mercy of your mind and body spiraling out of control?

The problem is, we don’t always have fair warning when something or someone is going to trigger the emotional and physical reminder of a painful experience, or worse activate re-living a past trauma.

We know it’s not healthy to re-live trauma.  As one of my mentors Dr. Besser Van Der Kolk says, by re-living the trauma, your mind and body validates that there’s danger and a threat, even if there isn’t.

To some degree you may be able control what you take in on the media, but if someone shares their own traumatic event with you, it may inevitably stir up painful or uncomfortable memories or trauma of your own. 

Whether or not you identify with trauma, I want to share a powerful tool not only for getting through emotional pain when it’s been poked at, but for healing  trauma while you’re in it.

The common association to trauma is something that results from physical incidents, such as rape, sexual assault, physical abuse or other violations. But actually, trauma can be even more complex when it comes to emotional incidents that happen when we’re younger, which then get activated by things like a break-up that happens too fast and too soon, for you to be able to do anything about it.

With that in mind, you can use this tool for anytime you’re in a state of overwhelm, whether it’s post traumatic stress that’s been triggered, or an unresolved emotional wound that you may not be aware of.

The key is that you don’t stop or try to repress any uncomfortable sensations or emotions, but that you can off-set the overwhelm that comes with post traumatic stress with pleasant sensations in your body, to ground you.  By off-setting the sensation of threat in your body,  with a pleasant sensation in your body, the trauma can be releaseed in small, gentle increments without overwhelming you.

When you feel triggered, your body goes into a state of arousal, and your sympathetic nervous system becomes activiated.  This kind of arousal is associated with threat or danger, so your  body may react by shutting-down with numbness, or you may feel rage course through you, and want to fight, or you may be filled with adrenalin and want to get as far away from the situation as possible. 

In which ever way you find yourself reacting, here’s what you can do to move through the overwhelm, and

1. Breathe into the sensation in your body that feels the most activated while keeping your eyes open. Then describe the sensation to yourself out loud. 

2. Next, recall a time when you felt free, pleasant, happy or content. It can be as simple as recalling the last thing that went well for you that week, or something recent that made you feel grateful. 

3. After you recall that moment, scan your body and notice the sensations when you think of that moment.  Then breathe into that sensation in your body and describe the sensation out loud. 

4. After you express out loud what this new sensation is, scan your body again and see if the sensation changes.  Then describe out loud how you feel when you think of the pleasant moment.

5. Then scan your body to see if the part of your body that felt triggered, is still activated. Describe that sensation out loud.

6. Go back to recalling the pleasant experience. Continue to go back to the pleasant sensation and staying with that sensation by describing it out loud.

By going back and forth between the activated part of your body that signals danger or threat, and the pleasant sensations in your body, you get to release the activated part in small increments, so that it doesn’t overwhelm your nervous system. 

These small internal movements not only help you to ground yourself and prevent you from re-living trauma, but it helps you to heal from trauma.

In Somatic Experiencing Trauma Release, this process is called “titration”. The pleasant sensation, or grounded sensation in your body, helps to diffuse and off-set the sensation where your body senses a threat, when there isn’t actually a physical threat. 

This process also helps you to stay in the moment, so you don’t disassociate from your body.  Staying present with the sensations in your body, without going into overwhelm is the key to healing from any emotional or physical pain.

If you’d like guidance through this healing process, I’m a certified Somatic Experiencing Trauma Release practitioner and I’m available for one hour skype sessions.  Please feel free to contact me through my website.

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A Key You May Be Missing to Feeling Good in Your Body

Is pushing yourself to work-out a punishment or an act of love?

If your exercise jam isn’t pleasurable, here’s a download that can change not only how you exercise, but more importantly how kind you are to yourself in the process.

Unfortunately so many of the exercise options out there are championed by the slogan “no pain, no gain” coupled with a kind of discipline that’s crippled with self-loathing. Even in the mind-body-spirit arenas, there’s performance pressure to perfect yoga poses, instead of enjoy them.

While I know how important pleasurable movement is in my own life, last summer I opted to go hard and work out like a maniac to get rid of some stubborn rolls…..until my adrenals were totally fatigued. Not only did I not lose weight, I got sick.

So this summer, I’m changing my game plan…. not only because last year’s plan didn’t work but because I was reminded why pleasure is an essential part of feeling at home in my body without stressing it.

Earlier this spring, I had the chance to train with Jean Louis Rodrigue – a top coach for some big wig Hollywood actors and public speakers.

In short, Jean Louis helps people to connect to their bodies in a way that’s animalistic, so they feel fully, freely and completely themselves without pretense (similar to my work in Permission Sessions!).

I loved how Jean-Louis’s named three different ways of being in the body, and I want to share them with you so you can define for yourself if your work-outs are punishment or pleasurable:

1 – Punishing your body: This is forcing your body into compliance. (Hard core work outs anyone?)

2 – Body Beautiful:  When your body becomes an obsession. You create a mask and disappear behind it. (Remember the blog I wrote last month about smiling when you don’t feel like it?)

3 – Your Body is You: This is what animals are.  They are directly themselves and they don’t how to be anyone else.  They are the full version of themselves in their environment.

Just like animals, we were once all “full versions” of ourselves as babies.  But as humans, our rational minds socialize us and hold us back from being in our bodies.

Have you ever noticed how animals don’t judge themselves? Can you imagine a jaguar thinking she’s too slutty or too prude? Or how about an aardvark telling herself she needs to run laps all day long?

Funny how we humans are masters at judging ourselves and then punishing our bodies into compliance with hard core work-outs that can go against our nature.

While there’s no doubt movement is essential for physical health, obsessive work outs may actually be contributing to stress levels, preventing you from feeling good…. and peaceful.

Here’s the nitty gritty on why pushing your body doesn’t address anxiety or stress biochemically or on an emotional level:

Muscle spindles (sensory receptors within the belly of a muscle that primarily detect changes in the length of this muscle) are sending messages via neurons to the muscles to contract.

When you push your body to work out hard, and stretch your muscle tissue, the muscle spindal sends alpha-neurons to send messages to your brain for big actions – for a long stretch in the muscle tissue. The alpha-neurons however are not connected to your lymbic system (the part of you that feels emotions), and you by pass your ability to feel. So with extreme muscle actions, your feelings remain unexpressed in your body and anxiety continues.

But there’s good news, which can change the way you workout to reach both physical and emotional well being:

Other brain messengers, called gamma neurons, are the neurons that send messages for small actions/movements.  These neurons are activated with small muscle movements have a relationship with the lymbic system – your emotions!  So when we move our muscles with small movements, it allows us to feel our emotions. When we feel our emotions, we can release anxiety physically as well as emotionally.

Moral of the story?

Slow movement (go gamma neurons!).  Allow yourself to feel (go lymbic brain!).

And watch your stress and anxiety melt away while your body gets the pleasure of moving.

PS: if you apply the same principles to your sensual life, you’ll no doubt get heathly emotional satisfaction instead of just an endorphin rush.

Here’s to feeling free this summer!

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The Key To Releasing Anxiety With Ease

I’m so excited to have completed phase one of Peter Levine’s Somatic Experiencing Trauma ReleaseTraining earlier this month.  I can’t wait to bring what I’m learning into my work with Permission Sessions.

What I really love about this work is that it easily allows you to release unconscious blocks in your body that you may not even realize you had.

Somatic experiencing safely releases emotional and physical trauma in small increments without re-activating or re-living trauma.

Even though I’ve been practising this somatic work (working with the body for emotional well being) for my own healing for years, I’m always surprised by what comes up, and what I learn about myself.

In the training class, I volunteered to be a demo for the practitioner to conduct a session. I started by telling the practitioner I have chronic jaw tension and I was floored by what happened next.

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When Passion Fades……3 Questions You Can Ask Yourself

I was at a party recently and a friend asked,

“How do you get the passion back in your relationship, when you start getting bored of each other?”

It’s a question I’ve been asking myself – a lot actually.

What do you do when the sizzle fizzles?

What if you say you want more passionate kissing and he says he needs more passion before he can get to the kissing?

What keeps your relationship where you want it to be?

What are the ingredients? And how do you want to maintain them?

When you hear these questions, you might think:

“I don’t want to ‘work’ at having to have passion! I want passion to be effortless. I work at so many other things in life, why would I want to ‘work’ at passion?”

I get it. Maybe you even start to tally up all the ways you’ve already put effort into passion…

Planning a weekend getaway… Signing up for a course exploring your erotic nature…Talking to your partner about what you want in bed….Getting inspired with new ideas from a coach…Scheduling time together without the distraction of social media, texts, news, phone call, netflix, amazon etc…?

Maybe you’ve suggested all of these things, and done some of them, but your passion still isn’t jamming?

What next?

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Top 10 Keys for Living Shamelessly

shame, releasing shame,

Photo by Josef Kandoll

I’ve just returned from the Permission Retreat in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and the powerful and profound shifts from the group have settled in.

For context, the 5 days of the retreat were rooted in Permission Sessions – my signature somatic group workshops where each participant is guided toward the unique intuitive shifts that need to be expressed through movement, voice and breath to release any part of themselves that’s been hidden, denied or shamed.

The goal is to free any stubborn hang-ups in your body that may unconsciously be an obstacle for liberated joy, confidence and pleasure on any scale. My approach is to unearth these hidden pieces from the inside out, so you can free your psyche, body and heart from any internal conflict or struggle.

Photo by Josef Kandoll.

We laughed that the hashtag for the retreat should be #kristamademedoit… and it still makes me smile. I like to think whatever is inside of you, has been aching to get out all along, and sometimes all you need is a little extra permission.

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My Top 12 Favorite Relationship Quotes

Sometimes a quote can cut straight to our core and wake us up to profound realizations about ourselves. My favorites are the ones that let us relate to others with more ease, love and freedom. Today I’m sharing my favorite relationship quotes with you and hope they offer endless inspiration.  Enjoy!

In your borrowed body, a precious gift is hidden.
Search for it not only when in pain
Learn to love before death claims you.

We need to be able to enter the body or the erotic space of another,
without the terror that we will be swallowed and lose ourselves.
– Esther Perel

Deprived of enigma, intimacy becomes cruel when it excludes any possibility of discovery.  Where there is nothing left to hide, there is nothing left to seek.
-– Esther Perel, Mating in Captivity

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Why You Should Stop Chasing Beauty And Start Seeing It

“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight, but no vision” – Helen Keller

“I’ll take you around the world if you get back to that shape.”  He pointed to a picture of me taken exactly 20 years ago. I was skin and bones; it was just a couple of months after I’d recovered from typhoid fever. For weeks, I couldn’t keep down anything I ate. It was closest to death I’d ever been in my life.  

I know he intended this as a compliment for my youthful skinny self.  And he didn’t know that I’d had typhoid fever a few weeks before that photo had been taken. But offering me a reward to return to my skin and bones state, felt sickening.


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Inside, there’s something deeply quiet: 

A sanctuary for dances in the dark

A muse for adventure, spelunking onto damp soil.

Inside, you see

The YES is not lost.

When you sink down further into the noiseless dark,

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Unravel Me


Smear rhythm into my skin

Travel the awakening of my curves

Soak into sensual arpeggios

As the untold story of liberation penetrates silky smooth skin,

Exploring unknown territory

Melting into this abyss of sensation (more…)

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The Key to Healing Depression with Pleasure

depression symptoms, depression, am I depressedI understand that many of us have different ideas about what pleasure is, but for me, pleasure is the ability to feel love in each cell in my body.

When we feel pleasure in our bodies, we’re reminded on a visceral level that we’re worthy and deserving of love. On a primal level this can be a profound doorway through depression.

Pleasure has no conditions. Pleasure doesn’t tell us that we need to be single in order to feel free enough to accept it’s luxury. And pleasure doesn’t dictate that we need to be in a relationship in order to be deserving of it’s love. Pleasure doesn’t tell us we need to look or act a certain way to be worthy of it’s grace.

Pleasure doesn’t judge us, even though we may tend to judge pleasure itself.

Giving ourselves permission for pleasure is the catalyst that breaks down age old tutelage that we need to maintain the roles that have become expected of us, meanwhile hiding or forgetting our sensual and sexual selves for fear of being punished, shut-down, shamed,  violated, devalued, disrespected or… sometimes the most heartbreaking of all: we’ll be seen as a beautiful sexy Thing, but not truly seen for who we are.


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