Like many Newtowners, naturopathic physician Dr Mark Romano watched the events of 12/14 unfolding on TV from his office in Fairfield with shock and disbelief. But in the days and weeks since the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook School, he has sought to bring some form of relief to the immediate survivors, emergency responders, and members of the Newtown community who have been so deeply affected by the events of that fateful day.Thanks to his appeal for help, Dr Romano has inspired a world-renowned recovery expert to come to Newtown on the weekend of February 9 and 10 to lead workshops in a specific form of therapy that has brought comfort and helped initiate healing among emergency and police responders, as well as victims of disasters large and small.
“Many of you have probably seen a bird fly into a large, reflective window and then fall to the ground, apparently stunned,” he said in a release ahead of the planned sessions. “This was my experience of December 14, everything was business as usual and then a text from my wife, wham, everything stopped. Uncertainty, dismay and shock become my dominate emotions.”
But Dr Romano said by refocusing on the metaphor and carefully examining the bird, one can see that after a brief period of immobility following the shock of its crash, the bird will stagger to its feet, shake all over, and then fly away, none the worse for wear.
“This shaking response or freeze discharge is an important physiological response to an unforeseen traumatic event,” he explained. “So much so that if the bird does not go through this shaking response their survival will be in question. This shaking response is also called a neurogenic muscle tremor, and is simply a release of muscular tension that is stored in our major fight or flight muscle, the psoas.”
Helping His Patients
In his ten years of experience as a naturopathic physician, Dr Romano said he has been amazed by how much trauma can affects one’s physical and psychological health, and by the same token, how by releasing past traumas, people can create new pathways and healthier patterns in their lives.
“In my search for effective ways to help my patients release past traumas from their bodies I came across the teachings of David Berceli, PhD,” he said. “Dr Berceli has created a simple but unique technique called trauma releasing exercises [TRE] that help release the tension stored in our bodies after a stunning or traumatic event.”
Dr Romano has been using this technique with great success in his own practice since 2009. So after 12/14, he took a chance and contacted Dr Berceli’s organization to see if he would be willing to help the people of Newtown deal with their stress.
“To my delight, Dr Berceli offered to fly out and provide his services at no fee,” Dr Romano said.
Hoping to find funding to underwrite Dr Berceli’s travel and accommodations, Dr Romano contacted the Yoga for All Cooperative, a nonprofit organizations that provides yoga and other healing modalities to the underserved and populations in need.
“They currently have programs at the Bridgeport’s Center for Women and Families, the Mercy Learning Center, the state correctional facility Newtown, and Bridgeport Public Schools,” Dr Romano said. “With little hesitation, they agree to fund Dr Berceli’s flight and accommodations.
According to Dr Romano, the symptoms of unreleased trauma can include headaches, insomnia, stomach problems, feeling isolated, restless sleep, anxiety, loneliness, and trouble controlling temper.
Dr Berceli will be gifting four healing sessions to Newtown beginning with a February 9 session at 10 am for first responders. A 2 pm session will follow for the community, concluding with a 4 pm session for health care practitioners. A second session for members of the community is scheduled for 10:30 am on February 10.
Most Therapies Ineffective
According to literature offered by Dr Berceli, traditional stress reduction techniques and general exercises are largely ineffective for people in trauma-inducing professions like ambulance, police, and fire service workers. This is because general physical stress reduction techniques only resolve surface or superficial tensions in the body, but are not able to dissolve deep chronic tension patterns created under prolonged stress.
Likewise, medication or mind concentration methods of stress reduction are largely ineffective because a traumatic state of preoccupation prevents the mind from relaxing its control for fear that danger may be just on the horizon.
As muscle tension increases, the capacity for muscular sensation and feeling decreases, according to Dr Berceli. This lack of sensation or peripheral input causes a low level anxiety in the individual because the brain relies on this somato-sensory input for safety.
Unconsciously, he says, the individual attempts to restore these feelings through any immediate means available, such as substance abuse, sugar, caffeine, sexual exploitation, consumerism, and destructive or violent acts. All of these help to restore an immediate sense of feeling but lack the long-term stimulation necessary to alleviate the underlying anxiety.
He says the solution to the restoration of feeling, inner safety, and relaxation is through deep chronic tension release. This is particularly appealing to professionals who are used to keeping their bodies physically fit to perform their jobs proficiently.
The techniques and awareness taught in this program guarantees the participant tangible results of physical sensation and relaxation at the deepest level of muscle tension in the body.
For more information about TRE, visit traumaprevention.com.