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Sep 29 2013

About Goodness – An Illustration for Peter Levine’s Self-Holding Exercises

Here is an illustration to be included in the section about Peter Levine’s work (in the book I am working on):

Peter Levine Self-soothing Hand Positions

Peter Levine wrote a book in 2010 entitled In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness and in the webinar (the 2013 Trauma Therapy Webinar Series produced by NICABM, National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine) he mentions that he thought a lot about the word “goodness” before deciding to use it in the title. It’s a pretty simple word, “goodness” compared to the immense complexity of trauma healing, but when it comes down to it, a traumatized person really is learning about goodness. How to feel good, how to perceive the good in others and in reality, how to find goodness in a world that so far has been characterized by badness (hurt, harm, terror). With the exercise pictured above that I call, “Self-soothing Hand Positions,” Levine gives us another opportunity to try to learn to experience goodness.

This illustration depicts my experience of feeling nothing and slowly beginning to feel goodness – goodness of my “soul” is how I saw it at the time – but it’s also simply goodness, of the moment, of the room, the bed, the life force inside those I love, the flow of life in everything. Believe me, this is not something people with PTSD experience very often. Actually I would say I almost never experience “goodness” due to how the body – the physiology – continues to play a broken record of the trauma experiences which in turn perpetuates living within a trauma-based reality. And perhaps this is why the exercise feels like it’s a struggle; it can take what feels like forever for any bits of goodness to kick in. But eventually, usually goodness seeps in, and unbelievably, a new world begins to open up.

Sources for this article:

NICABM, National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine 2013 Trauma Therapy webinar series.

Peter Levine, Somatic Experiencing