Healing Birth Trauma: Repattern Your Life with Annie Brook

If you haven’t heard of Annie Brook before, you should have. She has a Ph.D. in perinatal psychology and is a seasoned somatic psychotherapist who works with birth trauma and developmental trauma. Her work is key to discovering why you repeat the same behaviors, resulting in the same disappointing outcomes over and over again. If you are curious about why you keep repeating the same patterns, and want to change but don’t know how–this is the episode for you.

Annie explains the different courses she offers so anyone can become ready for the relationship they’ve always wanted or heal their birth trauma. Additionally, she’s trained therapists for decades in how to work with complex trauma in a sustainable and effective way. Plus, how to facilitate the unwinding and repatterning of patients on a cellular level.

We talk about all the ways birth trauma can imprint and show up in adults, how to detect it, and integrate it to fully heal, something most of us want, even if we can’t admit it to ourselves. We also, both share our in-utero and birth experiences and Annie provides some case studies from her over 4 decades of experience

Show Notes Welcome back to laid open podcast, I've launched a Patreon for my podcast. And if you feel you received value from these episodes, you can also get additional bonus exclusive content such as meditations, in depth exercises, and behind the scenes info about the interviews and my personal life. All of that and more is available@www.pa T ar e yo n.com backslash la DOPNPO de cas T. By supporting us on Patreon, you're not only contributing to the creation of this podcast, you will also provide the support needed for me to work on my book, create workshops and online courses and additional free content. Today's guest is Annie Brooke. And he is somebody that is doing such important work that really I think, you know, if you're addressing your birth experience, which is something that so many people wouldn't even know to do. A can create imprints and repetitions of certain patterns that occurred either in utero or during your birth experienced throughout your whole life. You may not be able to on your own track that pattern back all the way to, you know, like being suffocated in your relationships, how that can actually originate with an umbilical cord tied around your neck, and feeling suffocated at birth. So there are all these really fascinating patterns that you can learn more about in this episode and in future episodes with Annie. She's the founder of the Brooke Institute is an author of somatic educator and psychotherapist and has a PhD in perinatal psychology and he's trained therapist for over two decades and her specialty is helping people remember all the way back to birth trauma and repairing existential shock and dissociation strategies. Welcome Annie life is about to start isn't it great honor deciders calm man thank you so much for being here. Man. Thank you so much. I'm delighted to be here. My favorite passion is sharing tools that heal. Oh my gosh. Yes. And I you know, I met you very briefly. I don't know if you even remember we had a conversation probably 20 years ago. I studied with Richard Strozzi heckler. Oh, yes, yeah. And I somehow found you googling maybe I was, I was working on my own birth trauma at the time when I found you or something. And when I was reading your book, I was like, Oh, I love that this woman is out there. Oh my gosh, there's so much to this field. And I only got to have like a two day training and Perinatal psychology in grad school, the huge resource for therapists to absolutely know how to help clients to get to their pre cognitive memory. And because it's all in the body, you know, interesting, Richard heckler was best friends with my late husband. That's how we met. And so it was so fun to meet you, so many years ago, and here we are again. Yeah. And that's kind of what happens with these hidden stories I call the somatic impressions that are pre cognitive, the hidden stories, or if I'm working with children, I'm listening for what's the hidden story behind difficult behavior. And truly the same with adults often echo all the way back to either a childhood trauma, which is often cognitive, but sometimes distorted in memory. Or it can go all the way back to oh my gosh, the only thing that remembers the story is the body. That's where behavior is really hard to change, when we have a body based protected response based in a moment in time in our infancy. So, you know, I love being able to go back to these earliest impression shins well in its, it makes it so tricky, right when something is pre verbal. And someone doesn't have language to explain why they feel what they feel, and there's nothing that they feel like they can point to. Yeah, I've come to always be curious if it's either birth related in utero related, even past life related ancestral trauma, like what have you inherited from your, from your ancestral line, when there isn't something concrete, that you know a story that someone can tell about this, that they're living? So key what you're saying, because sometimes, prenatally, we will pick up energetics that aren't even ours. So it could be as tangible as a baby picking up the mother's anxiety, say there's a problem going on? Or maybe she lost a child earlier. And you know, just the act of giving birth again, has this anxiety in it. But the child what is what makes this understandable for people, not just some woowoo thing, is that there's something called existential Yes, that is a type of cognition or, you know, view it's kind of your worldview. How do you view the world and if there's an overwhelming event, meaning the body feels overwhelmed, or it can't process sensory motor, you know, our sensations are meant to be integrated, digested, and expressed back out, sometimes that's where we call it a sensory motor loop. I'm always checking. If someone goes into a freeze response, that's an indication that there's a deep overwhelm. That something was too much, Brian, could be all the way back to prenatal time, mom's anxiety was so intense, right? That it was exactly it was in barding, the developing nervous system or not to bring blame mothers, it could be, you know, there was a death in the family, or, you know, there was violence in the home. And so that that field wasn't safe. So all of this is what exactly determined the foundation of the primitive protective response cycles. Yeah, it's back to it. It's, there's so much and I honestly, I'll just say it right up front that I'm like, Oh, we could be we could have a conversation for hours. And I wouldn't even get to all the stuff that's magic in your book. And I really feel like there's this beautiful clarity with which you explain things I do want to just right at the top, I want to name the titles of your book. I just think it's important for people, if you have a pen to write this down, births hidden legacy, there's a volume one and two. And then there's from conception to crawling, relationship ready, contact improvisation and body mind centering, the developing infant awakening, the creative mind, help for sensory challenges. So the book that I was reading was births hidden legacy. And I think that let's let's go, let's go back. Because there are people that don't even understand what we're talking about in terms of they've never heard of birth trauma. So if you could just define what is birth trauma, what does that even mean? I think even before we go to that question, some people don't know how to use the body to heal. Yeah. And the body to heal means you start to know that you are having responses for a reason. You're not crazy, you're not making it up, that you're either under a current stress, or you've exhausted your compensation pattern, which is a cover up for the old stress. Because children are created. If there is a big stress, they're going to find a way to manage it. Sometimes they're going to dissociate. Sometimes they're going to get ADHD. Sometimes they're going to get controlling. Sometimes they're going to have struggle with transitions. All of these behaviors are expressions of what I call a hidden overwhelmed body story, which we already talked about. But even people who think well gosh, I'm just you know, hypersensitive. So the first thing I want people to know is, your body is yours. It does have all of your experiences encoded somewhere. And that is a wonderful relationship to have with yourself. People are always looking for someone sometimes to fix them or help them or save them. And ultimately, when you become a secure, self attached adult, that means you are allowing all of the events of your life to become integrated. And what I love is you can even take that all the way back to pre cognitive. And what it means practically it took me years of clinical work with with people saying, Oh, how can I help them? You know, and and how can I help myself? Because basically, I never thought I'd be its therapist, it wasn't my profession. But I needed a lot of help. And I found the integration of movement, discursive meditation, Sufi based meditation, contact improvisation, and then the study of groups, and family systems and group process, like resolution. And it's like, oh, we are these vital living beings. And when we can allow and know how to listen to ourselves, while in relationship with another person, we are communicating, I think of it as the soul coming through you. Soul to self to action in the world. And so we go from the meta level, which is our spiritual level, right into the practical level, how is our body in the world? It's really just an amazing, I just feel Tirico most that each person is so unique. You know, you have a soul path. You have a life history. And there are resources and tools where you don't have to suffer forever. Yeah. And the choice point, and you've created something called applied neuroplasticity. Do you want to say a little about that? Yeah, it took me a while to really, you know, what are the specific tools and what I learned and in myself, I had this stabilize, when I didn't feel stable, not by compensating, but by noticing what is my brain doing right now. And applied neuroplasticity is when you can access literally the brain state of the trauma of the protective response habit. And you can suspend it to get new information right into that matrix. So applied neuroplasticity means you are literally able to allow the sensations and emotions to surface but not get hijacked. Not go into your compensating patterns, or go into an eyelid of terror. Because often underneath body overwhelmed, especially at the infant level, is lack of protection. You know, a lack of safety or lack of ability to orient. Right? Yeah, so babies in the nursery, where's my mom? You know, I've had nine months of orienting to somebody. And now all of a sudden, I have no idea where I that's what I call existential shock. What applied neuroplasticity does is gives clinicians the tools to one, recognize what they're seeing in a client. help a client not fix it, but actually go slow enough to allow the brain state to surface. And I know you know, I've had clients go, Oh my gosh, I can feel my brainwaves rewiring. That's what I want them to have a tangible reset, to be able to process life. Not through the filter of trauma past. Right? Yeah, so applied neuroplasticity is a very specific skill set that works with complex trauma, that you have the tools as a clinician to know how to help someone. interrupt their neural pathways. You know, because we've all got sort of neural pathways that we use all the time unconscious. Right? Yeah. So that through whether it's meditation, whether it's physical movement, whether it's, you know, there are these different ways that we can override old trauma, neural pathways and lay down new possibilities for receiving things and are interacting in relationship. And there's a particular series of tools or ways of working that you've constellated you've taken together to create applied neuroplasticity. Yes, yeah. It's a very broad, but precise way, yeah, that you get the vitality back into the system, I would love to jump right into, I know you have a couple courses that are going to be coming up. And they are definitely courses that I would be interested in myself, but as well as directing my clients to and if you could share some about what the takeaways will be for these different courses, that would be really helpful. Sure, in February, go right around Valentine's Day, I have a course called relationship ready. And that's because I get so many inquiries from couples who are struggling. And they're blaming each other or feeling unseen by each other, or afraid codependent where they know that actually, they're in meshed and they can't keep track of their own viability within a partnership. And these things happen. So often, this course is not just for couples, by the way, it's also for individuals who have been in a failed relationships. And they're afraid to get in a relationship again, because they don't want the same thing to happen. And actually, one of the things that no matter how much personal work you do, when you are in the intimacy of a shared home, and a relationship that has a container to it, the earliest attachment stories will come up and influence your adult behavior. Right. So what that could look like is anxiety. Someone always wondering how their partner's doing if they're saying that they're okay. It could look like avoidance, where Gosh, I'd really don't want to go home, you know, or I'm interested in other things. It could look like ambivalence about your connection, like, does it really matter? How much do I need this? How much care should I have for another person, these are balancing issues that adults face in partnership, and how to balance the need for contact the need for solo self. And if you have children, the need to create a parenting team. And these are all the issues that relationship ready can really help people with because we look at the subconscious stories where dependency isn't to adults. It's the leftover infants cells who either did or didn't get their needs met. And people always ask me, What do you mean? How can I even remember that was so long ago. And I can tell you behaviorally, that is what will show up, often not right away, because there's the romance phase and partnership. And then after there's enough trust, you'll actually start to show the shadow of your own attachment style. Right? Right. So you're you're exactly I'm glad you got there in terms of you're looking at people's what what the subconscious or unconscious material is imprinted from birth patterns, perhaps like birth trauma patterns, and then how that's being played out. In informs people's attachment style as well. Exactly. And it relates to something I've coined need shock. And when we don't have our needs met at a very developmental age, we will make compensations. And those show up in partnership, you know, either expecting your partner to do it for you or to rescue you or to fix you, or being so independent that you don't let them in to a normal care. It's fascinating that these patterns and what's unique about my work is we're not just looking at attachment styles, we're actually going to the cellular encode in the neurology and that's what drives emotions and parts had to respond to behaviors. So I'm really good at helping people learn how to actually locate the source of their distress. That takes the kind of discovery and patience and body centered tools. Mm hmm. I know there's so much to it is there? Can you share an example of what that could look like, for someone, and how that ending happens? Yeah. One partner who was very anxious, she was always her husband liked her. He just whenever he was holed, she was so anxious around him. So hyper vigilant, so overly curious about him, that he felt invaded. And he couldn't relax at home. And so that what I call that as the house stops breathing, and once that happens, it's not good. There's because home needs to be a place of renewal, especially if you're working and you need to come home and get renewed and relax. So with home is vigilant, it over extends the nervous systems ability to regroup and repair. So at practical examples, I gave this woman a hula hoop literally a physical hula hoop to put over her cell. And to notice what was it like to feel like she had a space, and her husband was outside that space? Mm hmm. And she freaked out. At first, until she realized that all of her attention was always outside herself, and she couldn't even feel what she needed. Yeah, yeah. So her system was kind of numb. And she was always directing her focus outside of the hula hoop. Like, are you okay? If you're okay, I'm okay. Like, yeah, exactly. And that desperation is often a very young, primal impulse. And when they're at this primal impulse level, it's hard to think there's something wrong with it, you know, something that you could actually correct and make life easier. And that's my goal is that people learn how to thrive, they get the body resources, they get the understanding, but they evolve into adult capabilities. Yeah. And from what you've seen with your clients, how much practice I'm a big believer in practice and repetition and rewiring the brain. And it sounds like with some of your clients, there's been one reparative experience, like you go through something and then suddenly, like that, the path starts to dissolve, can you share about that? That's because it is such a physiological young, existential response. And when you can slow it down. And that's, that's again, it took me years to learn how to help people at this level, to stay present with them and guide them to actually slow down until they could see the confusion in their system. Literally see it, feel it, and not try to fix it. Because you have to add resources to a place that was under resourced. And so physiologically linked to survival. And so that's why a one sometimes one session can go right to that moment, where someone understands, oh, this is my instant shock. This is not who I am. This is the moment I was pulled out during a C section. Or this is the moment they used forceps, or this is the moment my inner my mother had postpartum depression and I was trying to be seen. And once there's that adult cognition, all of a sudden the whole thing loses the existential power. And then you can start actually taking charge of changing your behavior. When you don't believe it's a problem. Right? You won't change it. Or when it's a toss up, you're either going to die if you don't do your habitual behavior, and that's the life or death of need shock, which is when developmentally the infant state becomes a brain state that doesn't grow up. And that's what we want to do is grow up ourselves into cognitive understanding with compassion. That's the key. Absolutely. compassion piece is such a tricky one because people go into shame and blame to have a false sense of control and power when they feel powerless. And so it's like, it's such a beautiful, I have found for myself that developing self compassion was a byproduct to being self responsive, like responding to my littlest needs my moment. somatically. Right, like, No, you know, not overriding small needs. And then, without even realizing it, I had developed compassion for myself. Yes, and I think what you're describing on one level is the ability to keep attention on yourself. Mm hmm. You know, to be go, oh, do I need a drink of water? Okay, oh, am I hungry? Oh, am I sitting too long listening to somebody taught? Oh, and it is the small needs that, you know, incrementally would be met in development, ideally. But when that doesn't happen, we do override in order to survive. Absolutely. And when you grew up in a family where it's so common, I see this all the time with my clients where people get divorced from any needs, because they're like, I don't want to be a burden. And in order for my parents to be okay, I need to need less. So I just have needs, I won't have feelings, because they're Yes, yeah. And that's tragic, because your feelings are part of your vitality in life. We're not talking about overdramatic, but we're talking about vitality. Yes. And if those are flatlined, then you can look quite functional, quite capable. But your heart could be a little flat to your passion could be a little flat or your sense of potency and creativity. Yes. Yeah. I, I think of sexual trauma as not just being sexual abuse, or sexual assault, but also the squeezing down of the vitality and life force in order to be safe and connected in our families to be acceptable in our society and our families. And so then we ended up like you just beautifully describes being able to express our our sexuality, our desire, our passion, our lifeforce, way less, if we're, you know, living with a certain restrictions in our family or, or in a society, where there, homophobia, white supremacy, etc. Right? Yeah. So anytime there's a fear, whether it's a fear, like, Oh, you're too much for this family. Yes, you know, you shouldn't be so wild and want to dance around the living room as a little kid, those kinds of messages are taken seriously by the children. And sometimes a child will resist it and do it more. But sometimes they'll conform. And when that conforming happens in order to stay safe, then you don't get the comfort of your own expression. And so it's really does relate to sexuality quite a bit. You often like you said, the big buzzwords are the trauma and the abuse, but the diminishment of one's vitality. And it's it's kind of where you don't have to be in control all the time. You're not controlling your own responses. And this is tricky to talk about, because I'm not talking about lack of impulse control, because that's a necessary function. But I'm talking about feeling the impulse and being able to sequence it through your body. You know, and that's where sometimes dance I hear people say, Oh, I don't dance. And I'm like, Oh, I'm so sorry. Not that I want you to dance a certain way. But the fact that there's not the channels for that flow of expression to appear? Well, and it speaks to the restrictions we put on men, right? There's so many there's the stereotypical guy who doesn't dance who like stands against the wall and kind of nods a little bit. Yeah. And that's because, oh, god forbid you move your body in an unmasked Yulin, quote unquote, way. Right? If you allow what really wants to flow through you and for you to be fully alive, that's going to threaten your masculinity. And you know, what's so interesting that some cultures have very like African dance has very powerful masculine dance. So it's not just related to Oh, it's feminine, or, you know, but it's sometimes it's like, oh, can I be seen having that much power, lint and power and rise? The discomfort Are you know, needing to keep an image? Rather than be susceptible to a place where it's flowing through you? Your image isn't manufactured? Yeah, and I definitely want to correct that and say, I'm talking about in North America, there's a certain kind of stereotype among white. Right? Because well, not not just white men. But but it's because yeah, you go to different countries, and dancing and vitality is received in a very different way, a certain, you know, certain kinds of vitality. Yeah, I think we have to have a lot of compassion for white men right now. Because in this culture, it seems over the last 15 years, the father was so degraded, on TV shows, so put down so you know, it went from him being elevated to him being under the bus. And I think it's very confusing for men who are Caucasian, how to show up in a way that is not pitched. You know, they're so worried about their privilege that they don't know what to do. And that's as limiting as anything else. So I think we have to be mindful that anytime we put down anybody, we're creating more society constructs that are not helpful. Sure. Yeah. So my other course I didn't talk about is my big mastermind of four months of focused support. Some people normally my classes are, you know, my online courses are a 10 week section, or sometimes a six week. But this is a full four months of twice a week focus. And this is called Best Choice, best action. This is for the people who either they want to write that book, they have a project they've been avoiding, and they know it has to come, but they can't get it to happen. Or they have a relationship that they really know that it's time to do something different. Either a relationship with a child or a partner, or even yourself. And you know that you're not going to do that in a 10 week, once a week session, you're going to go back to your habit. But here best choice best action is focused enough and supportive enough that your habits are going to get challenged, and supported. And I love this class, we start by looking in the mirror, really honestly. And sometimes people won't look in the mirror because they have so much self attack thinking that they don't befriend themselves. So sometimes it's learning how to have that appreciation for yourself. So that you can trust your own dreaming, trust your own visioning, then we look at the imprints of the neuroscience very, very deeply. That can be what you learned growing up, that can be how you were treated, that can be even how you treated others. Some people were bullies. And you know, that's a problem, if you keep continuing to do that, or feel guilty about it. So we want to kind of clear the slate from the past. It doesn't mean you take away your past, it means you integrate the reality of what you've lived. And then we start adding the practical skills because people can have a vision, idea or dream. And once they start to make the changes, that's when really all the obstacles surface. And so I have really practical skills, you know, I run courses, I teach workshops, I've written books, I know how to do this. And I know from my own experience, how many obstacles come up, that can keep you from following your dream. And so my passion was Why don't want people to hold back. Yeah, right. So whether it's negative self talk old familial or cultural beliefs, if if you're somebody who has a hard time following through or taking action and gets stuck or paralyzed. This is helping you retrain your nervous system. Yes. And train it in a way that you don't just become a workaholic. No, because some people they have no trouble with the big side, but they have trouble with the rest and digest. Exactly. That would be more me. Yeah. Yeah. So I remember in one of my courses really, the the work was to teach this one woman how to yield. And for her, it did echo all the way back to her birth. Right. And you know, we don't start there. Because that's that we have to start in everyday life, we have to start with what, what is showing up. But if you learn how to listen, you can notice, why is yielding scary. What happened there. And I've done this long enough, I'd been, you know, 40 years working in my field and the pre and Perinatal for over two decades or more. Yeah, just, it's right there in the body, and body stores right there. So that course is called Best Choice best action. It's a high ticket item. And it's a small group. So there's limited spots available. And I only lead it once a year. But it's when people want my guidance in a small setting with the resources. And they're really done with playing out these old imprints. Like they're really wanting to free up that vitality and be able to direct it. Yes, people have changed their relationships, like one woman who was you know, she almost was going to not go forward in her relationship. And she did some very deep work. Another woman launched a course that she'd been, you know, trying to launch for three years. So another woman wrote a book that she had been afraid to write. And I have men take it to so it's not just for women. Yeah. But it is called Best Choice, best action. Because that ability on a daily moment to moment, to be able to notice without it being just a mental decision. What's my best use of my time right now? Right, being discerning and selective. It's not just saying yes, and allowing that vitality, comfort, but it's also saying no to a lot of things that you may want to do also. Hmm. And not end being able to stand steady is self. So it does develop a kind of patience. Kind of acceptance, a kind of, hmm, I know a little more that life is okay. And I'm in it. It's not passing me by I'm not not taking action. And the ability to take action is so interesting. Because it has to be the right action. Right? Yeah, people can take action to avoid actually, Oh, for sure. Oh, that's a that's a very common strategy. Mm hmm. Or they can take action to support their, in a way ego identification, and someone who's living from their ego identification will feel shallow and hollow over time. Or they'll burn themselves out. And when you're doing this particular course, are you using your knowledge of perinatal psychology to inform at all? Are you also going? Are you working with people and their birth stories as well? And how that informs each of these different responses in their adult life? You know, I have learned so much in this field of early impressions and behavior. Because I have a background, you know, my master's was in Applied Behavioral Science. So I'm not just looking at the, Oh, where did this start? And poor us, but okay, how is this showing up now? Because we have to build the cognitive bridge, to be able to understand and take the risks of change. And that's a very interesting process. So I do, of course, listen for the birth trauma. But sometimes we're we're in a childhood situation. Sometimes we're in an adult situation, where someone is working with some bad choices they made, maybe they didn't take that promotion. And the repercussions of that, or they got reactive in a certain way. And how did that affect their intimacy, where they lost the relationship of their life and you know, they went on to their work, that they've never healed that. And it's these sort of hidden stories that create bumps in the path. Right. And people will be sitting in the hot seat, sometimes it's because they'll defend their behavior a lot. Rash. Yeah. And I'll say, well, good, what's at the root of this? And is it working for you? And then And, you know, in addition to that, because of my organizational background, I want people to have practical skills, communication skills, working with conflict, how do you say no? Right? When you're terrified? When you spoke to the bumps in the road, there was a phrase you used in your book, births didn't legacy? You talked about the heart song. Yes. And I'm curious if that feels relevant here. If that relates to the bumps in the road, and you wanted to share anything about that, yes, the heart song to me is such a steering compass. And when someone can feel their heart, as well, then the bumps can sometimes be Okay, those are necessary growth bumps. That's okay. But the heart is alive and well. And I think so often, when there's need shock, the heart doesn't know it's alive and well. Or it's suffering from heartbreak, or it's afraid to reach in love again. Or it's afraid to show up and shine. Because it was the fear is I was too much. And, and why this is so important, and I'm glad we're talking about is that adults carry, we all carry identity beliefs. And it's how you view the world. How you view yourself, is the NIT. So the questions I asked in the birth trauma course are, is the world safe? Will I survive? Will I survive in relationship? And will you keep me safe? These are the young questions when we don't have capacity. And if they have shaped a view of the world, that's going to be very easy to get in power struggles, to get in conflicts, to feel like there's never enough to try to rescue everybody to feel guilty. When you're doing well. All of these things interrupt the celebration of your life. And so, growing fetuses heart song, right, because it's in the I was reading about this in the context of a book on birth trauma. If something happens in utero, that disconnects that fetus from its heart song. Mm hmm. Is that the work that you're doing helps people repair and reconnect to that internal message, is that right? It is and sometimes it's even physiologically allowing the blood flow at a deeper level. Like an example for me I was my mom didn't want a second baby at the time I arrived. So there's a time in prenatal where the mom discovers she's pregnant. And is that a welcome thing? We're gonna Shaw. And I always say to Moms, don't feel guilty. There's always a little, you know, surprise of discovery, and repair that and most moms do repair it, but sometimes for the the impressionable soul, their heart at four weeks, which is often when moms discover because they miss their cycle. The heart is very exposed. So people can have a little wound in the discovery. Yeah. Well, it's just that not to make this woowoo at all. It's that there is a way to feel the consternation or the self doubt. People who struggle with self doubt. You know, they can be highly successful people who struggle with self doubt, or they struggle with not knowing if their vitality is too much for others. So they struggle with the balance of when to step forward when to hold back. And these struggles can often be such an early decision, or confusion, that once you bring it to the surface, then it can repair. Yeah, it doesn't have the pull of existential identity beliefs, which are way back to the time of primitive survival without a context. Like a baby doesn't know gosh, if my mom doesn't want me, they might think that's how the world is. Oh, the world doesn't really want me. What am I doing here? Yeah, and how sad if someone carried that forward. It's my, my birth. My mom was a heroin addict and didn't know she was pregnant until she was four months in. Mm hmm. And now Yeah, and then I was born two months early, when the placenta suffered when she fell. And so there's I mean, there's, there's, there's more to the story, but it's this when I've started to realize how much of an imprint my birth had, and impacted my behavior, like a, an urgency in my nervous system, annually around my around the time of my birthday, right of like, you know, I would, I was unconsciously operating, like leaving, moving out of places breaking up with people except for things that cause a lot of stress in your life. But the reenactment I'm really fascinated with the with the anniversary of traumas for people, we don't we know if it's like a rape at 14, perhaps about reenactments annually. But birth trauma we don't always think of as how we reenact things around that season, or that time of our birth. And I find that really interesting. It's very profound. And it's very true, I can just say, from years of treating, and helping people that there is a biological rhythm, there is an emotional charge, there is a subconscious fear. There is a we call it recapitulation, right, that you're recreating what happened. And what's familiar. And it's only because probably when you went through that, that was when your description it was so life threatening. Right, what to have the placenta get severed to have your basic survival be at stake. That baby's about to die? You know, and then I'm saying this with a lot of compassion. Yeah, I'll share with you that I also really notice I can feel my heart and a level of gripping and contraction in my chest, as we're talking about this, even though I've done a ton of work around it, it's here. It's like just thinking about the infant experience in general. Right, I can, I can really feel my physiology responding. Yeah. And what we would do, you know, if we were in one of my courses on this, I would literally slow it down so slow. And we would have helpers, all the people in the course can help hold the complexity of that show. So right now you're feeling a little excitation a little gripping, you know, we would have someone to hold the impact of the heroin. That in itself, you know, that's like, it has a whole signature that produces stress in the baby. until we'd have someone hold that, so you could have a little breathing room from it. Oh, yeah. And then we would hold the ignorance of your mom. You know, because it's easy to think, could God why didn't she treat me better? I would hope she's held with compassion, because it was really hard. But you have to hold ignorance as well. Yeah, sure. You have to hold bulls, because one is the ignorance and its impact on you. Right? Absolutely. And I don't think I think so many people who are suffering, that are self medicating don't have the capacity to manage what they're feeling. And they they they ignorantly impact their fetuses. Yeah, definitely. And then we also have to hold the compassion. But one part is, you know, naming it like my mom took diet pills right away. Yeah, that's like speed math. Yeah. Right. And so I was born premature also. So when I had to think back to, oh, I was starving. And there was nicotine, a lot of nicotine, which is bad. Yeah. Yeah. Which has the baby draw the blood away from their limbs, and their heart has to beat faster to get enough oxygenated blood. So I'm getting this sort of hyper arousal training. Now, you know, I know my mom didn't know about diet pills or smoking. So that's where I can have the compassion. Yeah. But I have to also have the the ability to say no. You know, like the ability for you to say no to hero it. boundary. Yeah, the end that imprint. So that you're, you're not putting up with it or rescuing your mom. So she doesn't feel bad, right? Because that's another level of it right? And often I think babies try to love their parents in utero. Oh, 120%. I, I tell my clients and my friends that I was already taking my mom's pain away in utero? For sure that practice, I believe, where we are already deciding what our role in our family will be like, What do I need to do to be loved? I think we're already doing it in utero. Mm hmm. And I think the key to all this work is not to get stuck in the analysis of your history. But to I don't know if confront is the right way, or I call it being a good detective, figuring out what happened, and reducing the impact on your adult life. And that gives you much more opportunity to engage with your relatives without getting pulled off center, or triggered in such a way that it's hard work. Yeah, this is where the somatic practices are so essential, right? And in rewiring, you want to cellular level, rewiring the brain. And are there any practices like that come to mind that you want to share that you would do to help someone integrate something? You could use any of the examples we just spoke? Yeah, the first thing I would do is the practice of calling a pause. This is very important with pre and Perinatal memory. And these are not cognitive memories, they're going to come from the body. So when someone is talking, and they start speeding up and going a mile a minute, yes, I know that they are not connected with their sensations. Or they're trying to avoid the sensations because they're uncomfortable. So then I'll say, first practice is to call pause, and then add breath. And I don't you know, everybody who's like, well, yes, I'm supposed to breathe and deep breathing. But what I'm interested, I have this little toy called the breathing ball. And it's literally I want the movement of the breath to become felt. And the reason the neuroscience of this is that often when there's sensory overwhelm, that means too many signals coming in from the sensory being, we can freeze. Yeah. And so we could even breathe on top of a freeze. You know, people could do their breathing practices, but underneath, they have been solved the reason they froze. And so the practices, call a pause, get movement. So you get the movement, but don't just go focus on your breath. actually use the movement and ponder the freeze. So you're bringing your cognition to your shock imprint. And that's key. Because when you make meaning of an event that was pre cognitive, you'll have more compassion for yourself. You'll have more understanding, you'll have more context. And once there's context, literally the nervous system of the you know, fix it, because it's dangerous, will relax. So one tool is to pause. And then when you do this kind of breathing, I call it cellular breath. Because some people will hold this, I'll hand it to them, and they'll go, you know, they're like, so anxious, they're just like doing this. They don't even know they're doing it. And I'm just watching and going, hmm. So I invite people to sort of put on their awareness detective hat. And then what happens if they go slow? Because ultimately, if they're shocked, you could be in a grandiose state, or you could be withdrawn. Right. And I want to know what a person does. Maybe they do both, maybe they do this, they look highly functional and capable, but they don't have access to the in between. And so I want to pause you because the listeners who are listening, listening to this without the visual don't know what you're doing. And so I want to override that, that Annie has a plastic ball that contracts in on itself and then expands and she's moving at a different rhythms. And it was really stuck out really big. And then in fast and out, that's, you know, anyway, so the, there's a certain rhythm, which which you could imagine with the tone of her voice that she was moving this ball. So there you go, yeah, I forgot. Because we can see each other I forgot, we were on an audio podcast. And you can also anyone listening, you can do this with your hands, you can rub your hands together. And then imagine you're holding a breathing ball between your hands, right? And then notice, first off, you have to get over the like, if you're if you're the kind of person who goes, Oh, that's crazy. You know, you might have to get over that to experiment, to be willing to, like, explore Well, what would that feel like? And it's an imagination that leads your sensation. You know, so you use a little sensory imagination. And then you start to actually feel, right. Oh, okay. And then you could move that too quickly for your system. Or you could get frozen on that where your hands were apart and froze, or you could bring them in and freeze. The main thing is to know that all that in between, from out and in, is what we want to inhabit. The ability to expand and the ability to condense. And this is movement. And I like to translate this breathing bowl to the very cells, that your cells in order to communicate. This is the geeky neuroscience, that cells have a membrane, that semi flexible, it's got lipids, fats in it, that makes it flexible. It also has discernment, like the cells can let some things in, not let everything in. But if the membrane gets rigid, it's not going to communicate to the rest of the body. Or to the tissue group, it's a part of. And so that's why we call a pause and we add movement and awareness of sensation. And then you could ask the sensation, what does it want? So then you're adding relationship, like, okay, heart, you're feeling all this tightness. You could even add self touch, you could touch your heart, you could say hello in there. What do you want? Or what your need. And that way, you're staying relational with your own process. And, you know, hopefully, this will put us all as therapists out of business. I, gosh, I often say things like that, where, you know, during COVID, it was heartbreaking, or we're still in it, I guess. But it was such a need. And so few people to refer to because everyone was maxed out. And it was so it's very bittersweet to know, like, yes, we work, we will always be gainfully employed when there is a lot of trauma in the world. But unfortunately, the same as it's, it's unfortunate to, right, yeah. And that's why I am so passionate about sharing practical tools, yes. That people can actually start to feel a difference. And the feeling has to be part of it. Because you're reinforcing the brain. So that's why it's important to talk about things and it's important to have interventions that actually give someone a different perception. So sometimes I'll have people say some people get flooded emotionally. And they it's like a hidden disability. Nobody knows it's happening. So when I I'll ask people do you are you getting flooded right now? Do you feel like you're being washed away? And then I will have them stand up and push against the wall. until they can feel themselves return. That's great. It's so key because a lot of therapists if you don't assess or flooding, yeah, you will be spending hours of sessions with trying to help someone who can't hold enough tone, to receive your guidance Ray. And another way I think of that is, I imagine you work with a window of tolerance or talk about it in a different way. I've talked about it a lot on this podcast. And so I think a lot of people know about it, but I call it the window of capacity to be with sensation and emotion. And when you're in your window, you have perspective. Your brainwaves are either alpha or low beta, so you can learn and receive or go into a creative self. But when you're out of your window, you're know you're in fight flight, you can't be you know, you have to help regulate someone and break orient them and bring them back to their body, versus what a lot of just straightforward talk therapy often does, is it can be re flooding, it can flood people and reactivate their nervous systems. And it can activate a dyad interaction between therapist and client. And this is where the therapist is getting under resourced, because they can't tell what they're dealing with. Until they could be trying harder. Or they could be getting frustrated. You know, and it's true if someone doesn't know how to orient or regulate eventually, it's very frustrating to be in relationship with them. Well, and it's, ideally, it's your job as a therapist, to give them the tools to know how to do that. But if the therapist doesn't have those tools, then that's really hard. I remember being beginning. You know, when I was I was a coach, and then went to school to be a psychotherapist, and I was with my supervisor. And she said to me, you're working 70%, I had just one client, oh, talk, it was like a get supervision every week, it was so intense. And she was like you're doing 70% of the work. You want to be doing 30% You know, you're working way too hard. And there was so much learning in that in not my own nervous system getting pulled into I have to help them. And it's like, no, no, it's not my responsibility in that way. Yeah. And you know, going back to what you said about your compassion for your mama. Right, you could have learned that you better help your mom or you're not going to survive. Oh, sure. And it's in its love and survival mixed together. Right? It's a survival strategy that hasn't been honed into a skill yet. Mm hmm. You Yeah. And so there's so many, you know, I trained therapists now. And I just love it. I trained them and body centered tools. And my training program is called state of the art therapy. Because when you are comfortable in your own skin, as a therapist, you're going to be more able to call pause. If things feel non relational, you're going to be more able to be Wait a minute, say that again. How are you interpreting that or you can make sure as a therapist, you're not colluding with your client. A lot of times, you know, people will come in and they have distress about their mother or their father. And their story could be incorrect. I worked with one woman who was sure about her mom's behavior, that her mom left her in the hospital. And, and you know, didn't care about her. Well, turns out her mom was sitting outside the door. All day long for the whole week. She was in the hospital. And the nurses wouldn't let her in. This client had this impression she had made about her mother from the three year olds perspective. She's not here, she must not be here. And then it wasn't until an aunt told her the truth of the story that and I had to be very careful in this way. I'm saying this for therapists to be able to not collude with someone's pain or the association to that pain. Doesn't mean you don't minimize it. You work with the pain. But then you have to hold the I love holding the bigger picture of life. And that takes an adult understanding and so often people are arriving into therapy to heal You will and non integrated timeframe of their life. And so they have identified without knowing it with the three year old cell, right. And the real adult help helpful were so people can graduate from therapy is that you actually have the tools as a clinician to hold the container for the big picture of what happened. And at the same time, hold the compassion for the very specific injury and wound that someone is trying to articulate access and gain. Resources. Right, right. Yeah. And so for someone who is listening to this, and thinking, maybe I don't know, I don't know what happened. I don't know my birth story. I don't have, you know, my, maybe my mom has passed, and there's no one to ask. But I have an inkling of something. What do you say to them, I say you don't need to know the story cognitively. But your body experienced it. And so our job is to look at your adult life. And to look at where you struggle, and to look at repetitive habits of struggle. Like some people come and they keep getting in car accidents. And it turns out, they're, you know, they had an unfinished birth story that where there was forces on the head, and they needed to not shock their system over and over again, trying to tell that story. Or, or, you know, one woman came to see me and it was, it was so sad. She as a little baby had gotten stuck and needed, and they use forceps to remove her from the birth canal. And then they kept her away from her mom for four days because her head was so bruised. Right? What does she do every session but create a fight with me. You know, and we could we could actually laugh that at it after a while, but I call it the instinct to headbutt. Become back to the forcep pressure when you are into the story trying to be told, as bored as this hurt my head. And so how do you recognize the fight? You know, the fight between the baby's rotation and the forceps? And how do you? Whoa, take all that power that stuck in the fight and use it for well being? Beautiful? Yeah. We're were such brilliant beings. We all are such creative beings. How we how we asked externally and internal symptoms to bring our information like what we need to know in order to grow forward. So yeah, and I don't know why I want to say this, but it's just part of our diet dialogue, I guess. Yeah, because we're talking about clinicians as well as people getting healing and tools and resources. And some people, you know, as a clinician, you were to hear, okay, there's could be a personality disorder. And that's a different level than what they call normal neurosis. And what that means is that something was not able to integrate at a really deep level. And so, if any of your listeners have one of those, it's a good thing to know. Because otherwise, you will seek help, or be able to get to the root of that life threatening experience that created some kind of brain thing where you had a compensation pattern. And you don't know you're doing it. I can't tell you how many people who have come to me who are narcissists, which is a term that just means when there's attention, and you know, a normal conversation oscillates attention back and forth. And someone who has narcissism, there's healthy narcissism as a child where you want to be seen, and someone with narcissism doesn't realize it, but they're sucking all the energy and all the attention to themselves. And they're destroying partnership. Yeah, they don't even know they're doing it. But if you are doing yet, please get help. And it's some very deep work to get down into the vulnerability of accountability. Oh, yeah. So yeah, and if people have grown up with a parent who's had a mental illness, or a personality disorder, that so influences your view of the world, like one woman I worked with who mother had borderline personality, which is a very in meshing thing, that means you'll be drawn into the vortex of your mom's field in such a way you don't know if you exist separately. And she doesn't really want you to exist separately, because there's a fear of abandonment, right. And so this person had that mother growing up, but also had Pitocin in their birth. And so then they have this, you know, fear of themselves fear of their own body, because of the painful sensation that would come with every contraction. What Pitocin does is it takes away relational movement, understanding, it's a mechanical muscle contract. And so the mother and in a birth without Pitocin, the mother can feel the baby moving, her body stays relational with the process. Ideally, if she's not on her back, or in a funny position, or the baby's not compromised, or her pelvis isn't a shape that actually won't allow the birth to succeed. Sometimes that's true and about, I forget the percentage, but there are pelvises that don't really have the shape to let a baby pass through. And those are often the pelvises that end up with C section. Yeah, why I say this little bit about personality disorder is they do exist. And in the befriending the wholeness of the whole person. Sometimes therapists can get blindsided, because they're wanting to see the value of the whole person. And they're not identifying what they're treating. And you'll be a better therapist to treat what you're actually working with. Then to hold the value out of love and compassion. I call it a yes. And, and this I'm going to say also, yes, in with yourself. Because ultimately, we're the ones who design our lives. Very true. If you if you're if you allow yourself to be empowered enough to do it, but what you're also so you're you know that you're going to get a flood of therapists referring narcissistic clients to you now. Well, I probably won't take that. I, you know, because the person has to be ready. Oh, I I'm teasing. No, I know. But it's true. Well, and, and, and as a lot of therapists know, often if you're working with a couple and one of the people is, is narcissistic. As soon as you do ask them to be accountable, they'll often quit therapy. They so often is the case. It's sad. So it's true. But it's beautiful. I mean, I love the idea that you've actually successfully people have come to you, you've identified that and they've moved through some kind of, you know, process with you that's allowed that to shift, because what it's also known for is so much rigidity. Yeah, and, and lack of accountability. So I love that you've had some success there. Yeah. And sometimes, you know, I literally have a referral network of hands on therapy, because sometimes that rigidity, it has to be met emotionally. And it also has to be met physically. Absolutely. And so it's, you know, have really good osteopath Lee referred to. And if you can hold both the physical support for change and the magnitude of the emotional fear and help that titrate out of the system or the emotional grief or loss or just tragedy and that can tie trade in become the soil of the garden. Beautiful, it's it's a it's a journey for sure. Well, I love knowing that you're out there training therapists as well. And that's, you know, it's part of the beautiful thing about the all the wisdom that you've gained over the years. Right, and you're not going to be around Wherever but you're getting your information you're gonna, you know, you're disseminating it and sharing it, and then those folks will hopefully keep teaching. And so yes, I, you know, I can feel this phase of my life where I really want these tools to be accessible. Because they're easy to learn, actually. They make sense. They make sense, neurologically, they make sense. relationally. And they make sense when you know, and understand infant developmental movement. And, and improvisational movement, and the body systems. So it's an in depth sort of fusion of the relational, the neurological, the cosmological, meaning, what's your soul path? You know, what, what are you here to do. And so I am eagerly training therapists, I can tell you, fantastic, yes, really holistic training, which is so good and important. If you still have some time, I would love if you could guide us through a practice. Sure, some kind of exercise around this topic. So the first thing to do is stretch. I think what I will do here, and as you stretch, I want you to be sure inspiral your limbs, so they're not just pushing straight out and straight in. But yeah, because the spiral takes the limbs into the spine, and you'll find you'll get flexion and extension on your spine. And now we're going to take our hand and drag it across her mouth and her. So do this kind of tickle your mouth a little, drag it across and use it as if you're Orient. Because orienting is where we direct our perceptions, smell Sight Sound. And the horizontal plane interrupts the freeze response. So if you get frozen, you know, you don't have to drag your hand across your mouth in public. Right, but getting used to the idea that, Oh, I could turn, oh, I can turn instead of freeze. And so that's a mounting reflex, my conception to crawling book really has reflexes, or my DVD conception to crawling. But that simple practice of crossing the midline really helps. Now let's do another one where you take your hands and you imagine you're holding a breathing ball. So first, you have to let the ball exist between your hand and let your hands be moved. Just like there's a little breathing ball between your hands. I literally have those plastic toys that pop in and out in my office. And this movement, if you want to kind of imagine and start to notice that all your cells breathe. When there's alarm, we often hold our breath. And if we get rigid now make your hands rigid. And just notice what that feels like. Here you've had a nice breathing all of a sudden up oh, so then relax again, shake your hands out if you need to, or rub your quarrel and, and allow this breathing. And you can even you know sometimes I'll hand this breathing ball to clients and a goal either stressed so then I say okay, just extend it a little bit more or change the rhythm. So if someone's really heavy and depressed and might have them get some motion in there, or if they're just anxious, I might have Whoa, let's feel that breathing bomb. Because literally if cells are breathing and they do have lipid and water in the cell membrane, and they do have oxygen the mitochondria gives off oxygen as a byproduct. So literally there is cellular breath that you can be much more present. You can be present to sort out your own behaviors. You know your own your rotations. And you can carry that presence. Now let your hands relax and feel that presence. Like at a cellular present level. So what I want to say is that so many people don't know how to slow down. Literally, they won't feel a thing of what I just suggested, because they're so used to high speed, internalized high speed, which is what I often say is the mental bodies movie on top of a freeze. And so if you have trouble relaxing at night trouble sleeping trouble, you know, with just being in a conversation without taking charge of making it go faster, you likely have the it the less ability to rest and digest, to relax the nervous system enough to the parasympathetic, rest and digest. So often, if you notice your mental body racing, you can either convert that into physical motion. Or you can go, Oh, I'm going to ignore the content. And I am going to pay more attention to my rest of my body. And see if I can read connect my mental in my heart and like the big vagus nerve is head, heart, gut. So good. I wish we had more time I know you have to go. And do you want to remind the listeners how they can find you? Yes, you can find me on Instagram. That's the quickest way My account is Annie Brook therapy. And I share lots of resources. I also do a Friday Long live Facebook, where I geek out on these tools and guide you through movements and explorations and layer it in with the integrated understanding of why we do this stuff. Then you can also contact me at Outreach at Annie brook.com. That's the email address. And then I do have a website, which is just Annie brook.com Beautiful. Thank you. Oh, and I forgot I have a YouTube channel loaded with resources due this year. Busy. Yes. So busy. It's been fun, though. That's fantastic. And I Oh, and what I'm excited about is I now have my books for my birth trauma course, which is starting in April, they're going to be available in Spanish, we're gonna have Spanish translation, and Russian. So people who speak Russian will be able to attend and there'll be simultaneous Russian translation. So it's just gotten jumped the continent of our English speaking to Spanish speaking and hopefully in Argentina, as I've worked with some therapists there and in Mexico, that's so exciting also, so you know, there's quite a global listening audience for this podcast. It's so fascinating to see I'm like what, Okay, number, you know, 40 something in Belgium and there's turkey and just all these different countries. It fascinates me. And so hello to the our global community out there as and you can find her books in Spanish and Russian now. So thanks again. And I look forward to future conversation. Me too. Thank you so much, and for your good outreach work. Thanks so much for joining us today. You as listeners make this possible. In order to support the podcast I've started a Patreon where I plan to release exclusive content you won't be able to find anywhere else online. I'll be offering meditations in depth exercises that relate to specific episodes and behind the scenes info about the interviews and my personal life. You can find my patreon@www.pa T ar e yo n.com backslash li d o p e n NPODCAST. To learn more about how you can support our community please go there. Another way you can support the podcast is by rating and reviewing and sharing it with brands so others can find our community of healing. You can also follow me at laid open podcast on Instagram and Facebook and read more about my work at passionate life.org Until next time, may this podcast connect you to new resources and empower you to heal yourself. Lots of love

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© 2022 By Charna Cassell, LMFT. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. MFC 51238.

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