Continue breathing deeply, and spend a moment in quiet relaxation. Then, mentally scan your body for any sensations. I call this process “percolating” because of the way your emotions will stir and bubble up inside you. Observe any physical response you experience — tingling, tightness, burning, etc. Each of these sensations is a bit of information you need to understand your past experience. Explore these sensations, and silently describe them to yourself in as much detail as you can. Once you’ve explored and described all of your physical reactions, you can move on to Step 4.
4. Name it.
Associate an emotion with each of the sensations you feel. Is the tightness in your chest anxiety? Is the heat you feel traveling up your arms anger? Before starting this exercise, you may want to print out this list of emotions you can find this list on the bottom right side of the page. It’s important to recognize the often subtle distinctions between sometimes similar emotions. This will give you a greater sense of your experience and a richer knowledge of yourself. Once you’ve named your emotions, go to Step 5.
As part of a mindful approach to healing from trauma, we need to fully accept everything that we feel. Whether it’s true to your conscious mind at this moment or not, say, “I love myself for feeling (angry, sad, anxious, etc.).” Do this with every emotion you feel, especially the harder ones. Embrace your humanness, and love yourself for it. After you’ve accepted and loved yourself for each of your emotions, you can move on to Step 6.
6. Feel and experience it.
Sit with your emotions and their sensations, letting the feelings percolate and flow. Don’t try to change or hide them; observe them. Acknowledge and welcome any discomfort you feel, knowing it will be gone soon and will help you to heal. Let your body respond the way it wants or needs to. If you feel the urge to cry, cry. If you feel the need to yell something or punch something, you should yell or punch the air. Expressing your emotions — in a productive way — is key to getting them moving inside you and to fully process them. When you’ve fully felt and experienced your emotions, move to Step 7.
7. Receive its message and wisdom.
Do the sensations or emotions you’re experiencing right now connect with one or more experiences in your past? Do they give you any insight into the root of the trauma or a negative, limiting belief about yourself? Right now, you might be thinking, “I’m not getting anything.” Ask yourself: “If this sensation or emotion were going to say something to me, what would it be?” If you still have trouble, do some free writing. Journal about what the feeling means, for a full 10 minutes without stopping. When you think you’ve heard all the messages your emotions are sending you, move on to Step 8.
8. Share it.
If you feel comfortable sharing your reflections with someone else, do that. Otherwise, write about them on your own. Describe what happened when the wounding incident first occurred, how you reacted at the time, and what you’ve come to see about it now. Talking or writing about your experiences and emotions is an important step in healing. Writing letters (but not sending them) to those who hurt you can be a very effective method for moving an emotion out of your system. Once you’ve shared your reflections …
9. Let it go.
Visualize the energy your trauma took up inside you leaving your body, or perform a ritual of physical release, like (safely) burning a letter you’ve written to the person who hurt you, or casting off the trauma in the form of an object into the sea. You can borrow a ritual from Judaism called Tashlikh. During the period of repentance, many Jews cast off their sins into a natural, flowing body of water in the form of breadcrumbs. Instead of sins, you can cast off traumas and the emotions and sensations that go with them.
The process of healing emotional wounds can feel uncomfortable at first, but I promise it will be a very rewarding journey. The energy we currently spend on trauma will be released, and the space inside ourselves that trauma took up can instead be filled with new, more positive energy that can help us build a life that we will love.
Canada Suicide Prevention (CSPS)
Canadian Kids Help Phone
20 Years and under: 1-800-668-6868
First Nations and Inuit :1-855-242-3310
Indian Residential Schools Crisis:
Trans Life Line: 1-877-330-6366
National Hope Help line at:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at
or in Spanish, 1-888-628-9454