“Dropping in. I feel the snow under my skis, make one turn, a second turn and think to myself, “wow the snow feels a little different.” That uneasy feeling in your stomach when it doesn’t feel quite right. But at this point I am committed and there is no turning back. In the corner of my eye I can see the rest of the group way below me on the slope. I make one more turn and a split second later the snow starts to move. A small crack in the snow suddenly propagates into a raging river, a fluid mass moving downhill. I find myself moving with the snow down the slope. As the snow moves under my feet it catches me off balance, knocks me over and my skis pop off. I’m swimming down the slope and fighting to stay on the surface, but I find myself being tossed around uncontrollably in the moving snow. I lose my conception of what is up and what is down, a sense of total loss of control as I get tumbled inside this surging cascade. Suddenly it starts to slow down, and before I know it everything comes to a complete stop, and it becomes really dark and quiet. Beneath the snow everything is still. Everything is frozen and the pressure from the snow is intense. It is pushing me from all directions; every limb of my body is getting squeezed. I am unable to wiggle even a finger; a surreal feeling. The only sound I can hear is my own breathing. It’s fast and shallow as I’m gasping for air. My stomach is turning and panic is starting to creep in as I realize what just happened. I’m trapped underneath the snow with no way of getting out.
“You make three turns and everything starts to move. What do you sense?” I’m sitting in a chair with Verdell across from me and I can feel how my body stiffens up. My head is pushed up against the headrest. My legs, arms, hands, feet, back, neck –everything is tensed up. My body is frozen. As we go back and replay the event step by step, my body starts to respond to the emotions rushing through.
I feel a probe strike my left arm and eventually I can feel that the pressure of snow against me is releasing. I can see light shining through the snow and I can hear voices in the distance. As my face is cleared from snow, I take my first breath of air. Very slowly my body starts to relax. I feel like I am sinking deeper and deeper into the chair as the pressure against my face, chest and the rest of my body starts to release. My breathing becomes slower and deeper. “You’re alive…” Verdell keeps repeating, “You’re alive.” It feels comforting to hear her voice.
My introduction to Somatic Experiencing is the most fascinating encounter I’ve had with the healing powers of the body, and how it is connected with your emotions and a traumatic event such as being buried in an avalanche. During my Somatic Experience session, Verdell showed me that my body was still holding onto the event and had a physical memory of being buried. I thought I had worked through and dealt with the incident and I did not realise how it was still affecting me. My body entirely remembered the event and there was still much tension there.
The exhaustion after the session, the feeling of relief and the feeling of peacefulness was liberating. I felt grounded, and very present and aware of my surroundings. The feeling was similar to when you achieve something challenging, where you push yourself physically to your max, with the feeling of complete satisfaction and exhaustion once you complete it. But it’s also a feeling of being able to go back and think about the event and learn from it; to feel at peace with what happened and talk about it without feeling stress or anxiety.
I’m really fascinated how my body and mind is so connected and I believe I would not have discovered this without Verdell’s help. I now understand how emotional events from the past can appear in your body as physical tension; pressure that needs to be released. Somatic Experiencing can do wonders for deep healing and releasing of trauma, and I highly recommend anyone who has been through a traumatic event to try Somatic Experiencing.”