Trauma ‘fact of life’

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page - News


Staff I am ly­ing on a treat­ment ta­ble on the top floor of a big house on Tree­haven Road. If I tilt my head to the left, I am treated to a panoramic view of Cooper Marsh, frozen now in this sub­zero weather. Be­tween the two tri­an­gle-shaped win­dows that of­fer this view hangs a pic­ture of Ganesh, one of the most well­known gods in the Hindu pan­theon of deities.

The room, like the rest of the house, is im­mac­u­late. My host is Shanti Warner, a South Glen­garry-based trauma and anx­i­ety ther­a­pist. She is in the room with me and she is silent. Her eyes are closed; her face serene, as if in a trance. I can feel her hands un­der my back as she works on my adrenal glands. Over the course of the next half hour, she will slowly work to­wards my stom­ach and, fi­nally, to my brain stem. This is not a mas­sage. Her fin­gers do not knead my mus­cles. It is only touch. When the 30-minute ses­sion ends, I am re­laxed.

“Trauma hap­pens when your ner­vous sys­tem gets over­whelmed and can­not pro­tect you from some­thing it per­ceives as a threat to life or limb,” Ms. Warner ex­plains.

“Trauma is a per­va­sive fact of mod­ern life and most of us have been trau­ma­tized.”

Ms. Warner main­tains that we are all trau­ma­tized on a daily ba­sis. “Some of us are trau­ma­tized get­ting out of bed or driv­ing on an icy road or hav­ing a con­fronta­tion with some­one.”

She says that when the ner­vous sys­tem be­comes dis­rupted or over­loaded, it man­i­fests it­self as de­pres­sion or anx­i­ety or ill­ness.

“A lot of trauma comes from abuse of some sort.”

While a lot of ther­a­pists will en­cour­age pa­tients to talk about their past ex­pe­ri­ences, Ms. Warner says that’s not what she does.

“We don’t ask peo­ple to tell their sto­ries be­cause they are re­trau­ma­tiz­ing and we want to avoid that.”

In­stead, Ms. Warner prac­tises So­matic Ex­pe­ri­enc­ing, which she de­scribes as a “po­tent biological method for re­solv­ing trauma symp­toms and chronic stress. She says the ap­proach is gen­tle, “guid­ing the client to de­velop in­creased tol­er­ance for dif­fi­cult body sen­sa­tions and sup­pressed emo­tions.”

She helps peo­ple deal with a num­ber of con­di­tions in­clud­ing PTSD, anx­i­ety, and de­pres­sion, which is what she treated me for in her Tree­haven Road treat­ment room. Al­though I am for­tu­nate that I don’t suf­fer from de­pres­sion, I can still at­test that my time in her care was very re­lax­ing.

Ms. Warner is also a third- generation yoga teacher with 40 years of ex­pe­ri­ence.

She has a num­ber of cer­tifi­cates in her base­ment, in­clud­ing one from the So­matic Ex­pe­ri­enc­ing Trauma In­sti­tute, whose 216hour course she com­pleted.


SO­MATIC EX­PE­RI­ENCE: Shanti Warner stands in front of some of the cer­tifi­cates she’s re­ceived.

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