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  • David Pasikov

David's Interview on Trauma





I was recently interviewed in the Life Alignment global newsletter that has a readership in 19 countries on the topic, "Trauma - Healing Pathways."


July 2024 Issue


"It is interesting that we are having this interview on June 6th, Maggie, because it is the 80th anniversary of the commencement of the Normandy invasion in World War II. The world was certainly in turbulence then, with many touched by the heartbreak of war. Today, there are many in the world who again are facing the horror of war again."This newsletter is dedicated to the transformative journey of trauma work. 


Healing Pathways: Exploring Trauma Work and Life Alignment with David Pasikov, Life Alignment Teacher, Practitioner and US Coordinator.

As a result of the wars and divisions currently occurring on our planet, many individuals carry the weight of past traumas, often feeling disconnected from their true selves and struggling to find their balance point. Through this newsletter, we aim to provide valuable insights, practical tools, and inspiring stories that highlight the transformative potential we all have within us. Whether you are new to the concepts of trauma work, Life Alignment or seeking to deepen your existing knowledge we hope this issue might offer you some insights and support.


This edition of the newsletter is dedicated to the transformative journey of trauma work.

 

Healing Pathways: Exploring Trauma Work and Life Alignment with David Pasikov, Life Alignment Teacher, Practitioner and US Coordinator.


Maggie: Do have a starting point for us David?


David: None of us is insulated from trauma, and it seems fitting that furthering our understanding of trauma is the topic for this newsletter. Whether it be divorce, medical crisis, drastic changes in one’s finances, loss of a loved one, or any of the other countless catalysts, we all know the experience of trauma to some degree.

 

I began my career as a science teacher in urban Detroit, which led to helping to found and later becoming the executive director of a residential school for troubled youth in Canada. That led to a 25-year career as a psychotherapist in Boulder, Colorado, which has shifted into my current coaching practice in Michigan. Trauma work has been a consistent focus throughout my career, including the core of my post-graduate study.

 

Maggie: To better understand trauma, let’s first explore what it isn’t.

 

David: That's excellent Maggie, thanks. Let’s take a moment to define our terms and clarify the differences between stress, shock and trauma.

 

  • With STRESS, the symptoms will diminish or disappear soon after the cause of the stress is removed.

  • SHOCK is a sudden or violent mental or emotional disturbance that, like stress, can diminish or disappear quickly once the event is over.

 

With TRAUMA, the symptoms persist may persist long after the situation is over.

  • Trauma is in the nervous system, not in the event.

  • It is our internal response to the event and not the event itself.

  • In Life Alignment, we say that the issues are held in the tissues. In other words, there is a cellular memory of unresolved issues and unresolved trauma. A clue to this is being triggered. When we are triggered, we are accessing the residual emotional charge from a past challenge or traumatic event.

 

Simply put, trauma can be seen as too much data for a person to handle in the time that they have been given. For instance, if I go to an amusement park to ride the roller coaster, as I wait in line I see people on the ride being thrown back and forth as the roller coaster makes sharp turns and even turns upside down, and I hear people screaming. The ride ends and they leave laughing. That isn’t trauma. But the same actions within just a few seconds in a car accident constitutes is a traumatic event.

 

Another simple definition of trauma is, too much, too often, for too long. I recently worked with a paramedic who was the lead first responder on an ambulance in a major U.S. city. She reported to work every day with a bullet proof vest. She was extremely dedicated to her work, but she had to quit because it was too much, too often, for too long. When the symptoms of post-traumatic stress continue after six months, clinically the condition becomes Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). We used Life Alignment to help her with this condition.

 

Maggie: How do trauma/survival mechanisms affect us individually? How do they affect our relationships, families, communities, and even the planet?

 

David: That’s a lot to cover. Let’s start at the individual level and then expand on it.

 

For me, the key to this is in your first question. When we experience a traumatic event, we activate the body’s survival mechanism. If we can run from the threat, that’s “flight.” If running away isn’t an option, we can go into defending ourselves, or “fight.” If neither one of those is possible, we can go into “freeze.” We instinctively go into freeze when there is no other viable option. Our survival mechanism has evolved over millennia, and instinctively we know that predators focus on movement, so being still can provide safety.

 

Several years ago, I was working with an American veteran who was referred to me by his doctor to help him with PTSD, which was severely affecting his ability to move his body. As we unpacked his trauma, he told me a riveting story about fight/flight/freeze. He was in a line of armored vehicles on patrol in Afghanistan. Because he was a gunner, his upper body was exposed as he looked for danger. The vehicle in front of him ran over a powerful landmine, causing a massive explosion. After the smoke cleared, he could see the rear door of that vehicle fly open and three men rush out. One took off running to escape the danger (flight), the second man, armed with his weapon, ran into the nearby field beside the road firing wildly (fight) and the third just stood there like a deer in the headlights (freeze).

 

As mentioned previously, when the symptoms of traumatic stress persist after 6 months, clinically we refer to that as PTSD. In other words, the body’s survival mechanism can continue to fire, and the body’s chemicals that get released to respond to the threat can continue to flood our bodies. Over time, these hormones ,such as cortisol and adrenaline, can negatively impact our systems.

 

Another impact is that trauma disorganizes the brain. We learned early on in our evolution that when we hear the roar of a predator, we don’t need speech and it won’t help to overthink what to do to save ourselves. As a result, in a traumatic situation, the resources and focus in the brain shifts from the prefrontal cortex, where we do higher levels of thinking, to the brain stem or mammalian brain where we are more governed by instinct.

 

When our trauma response is not treated effectively, we can be constantly on the lookout for danger, a condition that we call hypervigilance. There are other symptoms which can occur as well. However, to keep it simple, if I am in a state of hypervigilance, plus I am not thinking as clearly as I normally do over an extended period, that can dramatically affect my ability to interact with my loved ones and with society in general.

 

Maggie: Thank for that excellent overview David. How can Life Alignment help?

 

David: Over the years I have studied several approaches to unwinding trauma and Life Alignment is the most effective tool that I have found. In Life Alignment, we respect that a person has a physical body, an emotional realm, a mental capacity, and an energetic or spiritual component. In addition to our human nature, there is the “being” or energetic side of us as well. We even refer to ourselves as human beings. As a result, Life Alignment has a vocabulary for each of those four levels.

 

In the trauma field, it is now conventional wisdom that traditional talk therapy can at times make things worse for a traumatized client. Telling the story without tools to clear it can overwhelm a person. I learned early on in my career as a psychotherapist that it is easy to open someone up, but it’s not so easy to put them back together again. What I love about Life Alignment is that we work by priority in concert with the client’s innate intelligence. As a result, we can help them access and unwind parts of the residual trauma in a way that doesn’t put them on overload.

 

I recently did a half-day class for our Israeli practitioners on understanding trauma, which included tools to help their clients as well as themselves. Helping someone else with their trauma can trigger our own. Taking a deeper dive into the tools that Life Alignment has to offer in caring for a client’s trauma highlighted to everyone the significant range of tools that are at our disposal.

 

During the class, I shared an example of work that I did several years ago. Initially, I met with a female client to help her clear a traumatic event which had a lot of details. It took around three Life Alignment sessions to help her. She moved out of town and came back to see me about 10 years later. I have a good memory, and even though she returned to work on a relationship issue, I began the session by asking her if we could revisit our previous work. I walked her through each of the scenes of the traumatic event, and through muscle testing and by interviewing her, the clearing that we had done on each component a decade earlier had remained clear.

 

Through that experience and many others, I have grown to see that a traumatic event, like a diamond, has many facets. In Life Alignment, we clear the facets by priority. In other words, we don’t have to address each minute detail. As a result, in my experience, the work we do is effective over time because we are working on each facet at the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual (energetic) levels. Trauma is a fact of life, but it doesn’t have to be a life sentence.

 

Maggie: Thank you so very much for your perspectives on all of this David. This has been most informative and very valuable as we all traverse these challenging times.

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