The Autonomic Healing Podcast - Conversations with Tom Pals

The Wisdom of the Brain: Autonomic Healing Activation

February 22, 2022 Thomas Pals and Ruth Lorensson Season 1 Episode 3
The Wisdom of the Brain: Autonomic Healing Activation
The Autonomic Healing Podcast - Conversations with Tom Pals
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The Autonomic Healing Podcast - Conversations with Tom Pals
The Wisdom of the Brain: Autonomic Healing Activation
Feb 22, 2022 Season 1 Episode 3
Thomas Pals and Ruth Lorensson

Listen in as Tom explains what Autonomic Healing Activation is, what a therapy session looks like, and how we thrive when the brain activates homeostasis. In this groundbreaking episode, Tom shares his discovery of AHA - a way to activate homeostasis (or healing) in the body, mind, and spirit, and how it's beneficially impacted the many hundreds of people he's worked alongside heal from stress and trauma.

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Show Notes Transcript

Listen in as Tom explains what Autonomic Healing Activation is, what a therapy session looks like, and how we thrive when the brain activates homeostasis. In this groundbreaking episode, Tom shares his discovery of AHA - a way to activate homeostasis (or healing) in the body, mind, and spirit, and how it's beneficially impacted the many hundreds of people he's worked alongside heal from stress and trauma.

Thanks for listening!

You can follow us on
Facebook
Instagram
Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts
Check out the Autonomic Healing Website

We appreciate you!

Tom Pals:

Welcome to the autonomic healing Podcast. I'm Tom Pals.

Ruth Lorensson:

And I'm Ruth Lorensson. We'll be unpacking what it looks like to activate your brain to holistically manage stress and trauma that bring healing to the mind, body and spirit,

Tom Pals:

being free to live authentically as humans.

Ruth Lorensson:

Thank you for joining us. Let's get this conversation started. Let's talk about autonomic healing activation Tom. It's the reason for this podcast even existing, you know, the reason we can normalize in the tsunami of stress that we've talked about. As I understand it, autonomic healing activation is a somatic therapy that you've developed over many years, that has helped many hundreds of people in all sorts of areas of their lives. I know, I know, some of them have come to you with some very traumatic life experiences, while others have been struggling with the impact of chronic stress for months or even years and found healing. And so we wanted to dedicate this episode to unpacking what autonomic healing activation is, what it looks like in a therapy session, and what it has the potential to do for a person. So would you start us off?

Tom Pals:

I would love to. Full disclosure, I am not a neuroscientist. I'm a therapist and have been one for decades. But to be an effective therapist, let alone a healthy human being myself who experienced a lot of stress and trauma, beginning as far back as childhood. I've learned a lot about the inner workings of human beings. That's why I named my private practice inner workings professional services. I've always been fascinated by how things work, why they work the way they do, and figuring out what can be done when they don't work. Yeah. Thinking back to my childhood, I was the skinny nerdy kid who was in band and choir, and actually liked reading encyclopedias. My mother sold encyclopedias, and my dad was an elementary school principal. Some of our listeners may not even know what an encyclopedia is, before there was an internet to search, if you wanted to find information, you read an encyclopedia. I love learning. And I remember loving to hike and snowshoe in the woods of Northern Michigan, and I could run like a deer. But even so, I got bullied and beat up a lot. I was also traumatized by repeated instances of different types of abuse. My best friend died when I was five when a tree his dad was cutting down fell on him. I was pulled from the bottom of a pool when I was about eight or nine. There's more of my story that I can share in another episode. But you know, Ruth, the reason I understand and can share about the tsunami of stress the escalating pattern of flight or fight, and those core issues things like insecurity and inadequacy and feeling powerless, not only because of my own history of trauma, but also the continued challenge of stress and trauma throughout adult life. As a professional as a minister for nearly 15 years, and a psychotherapist for over 20, I routinely encountered severely traumatized human beings for many years. Yeah, that had a traumatic impact on me too. When you are around trauma, someone else's trauma, their trauma can become your trauma. That's what vicarious trauma is. Yeah. So all that to say finding a way to heal stress and trauma hasn't just been professional, it's been intensely personal to me. Finding a way to facilitate healing, where other means we're limited in their effectiveness has been a lifelong journey for me. So to start us off, I think it's important for our listeners to know that autonomic healing activation or AHA as I like to call it is a result of that lifelong journey toward healing.

Ruth Lorensson:

Yeah, thank you for sharing that, Tom. And actually, that's why I love doing this podcast with you and, and why I think it's going to be so beneficial for so many people listening, you know, to have access to what you've discovered in your decades of experience and practice. So Autonomic Healing Activation, what is it?

Tom Pals:

What would you think if there was a switch on your body that you could move and your brain would automatically begin to normalize the stress, anxiety, depression, anger you've struggled with, in a gradual, natural way. And a handful of hours?

Ruth Lorensson:

Well, I would think it would be worth paying

Tom Pals:

It would, I imagine that would be life changing for attention to! many the way it has been for the hundreds of people I've been privileged to facilitate AHA with and the way it has been life changing for me personally. The professionals I've trained to do AHA, tell me they see the same results because it is a natural neurobiological function called homeostasis that is being activated. It's not something being done to the brain and body by a therapist. It's the brain itself that is the therapist.

Ruth Lorensson:

That's so cool. I love that phrase "the brain itself is the therapist", I've never heard that before. So am I right in hearing correctly, AHA is a way of activating the brain to normalize the stress and the trauma that we encounter?

Tom Pals:

It is. Before I meet with someone for AHA, I have them rate their sense of stress, anxiety, depression, and anger, on a scale where zero is known, and 10 is most severe. I jokingly refer to stress, anxiety, depression and anger as the four horsemen of the stress apocalypse. I've treated a number of people who rated all four as 10. But they rate each zero when homeostasis is complete. At the end of their AHA session, they report having no sense of stress, anxiety, depression, or anger. For 99 people out of 100, no matter how high they rated those that's the case. There are some people who will simply not cooperate with what their own brain wants to do involuntarily, to restore their well being. What's been fascinating Ruth, is in a number of cases, I've actually had the opportunity to do standardized p sychological testing, using Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory or MCMI with AHA clients. This is usually in a forensic setting where I'm doing a mental health assessment. The MCM I identifies clinical mental health syndromes like Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress and Major Depression. What I found is were there were clinical mental health syndromes identified by the MCMI prior to AHA, or retest using the MCMI did not identify the presence of clinical syndromes afterwards, whether that was immediately after or days or even a week or more after symptoms of the clinical syndromes after AHA, we're just not present for the psychological test to pick up on.

Ruth Lorensson:

Wow, Tom, that's, I mean, that's really incredible.

Tom Pals:

Many people have told me that before their sessions that this sounds too good to be true. But the reason they've contacted me is because they've talked with someone who has done AHA, and are aware of the results in that person's life. They just want to experience it for themselves. And I think, as of the date of this podcast conversations, I've treated nearly 1000 people. And other clinician I trained more recently as treated many dozens with the same results.

Ruth Lorensson:

Yeah, I remember that was my experience, actually. Initially, I hadn't, I had no idea what AHA was, I mean, why would I in some ways, but I had known people who had done the therapy with you. And you know, I'd been working for many years through some of my own traumatic experiences. And I remember as I went through the AHA session, it did normalize them. I could recall them afterwards and not be triggered like I was before. And I actually remember before my AHA session, you asked me to rate my own levels of stress and anxiety. And if I remember correctly, I think I rated them as a seven out of 10?

Tom Pals:

You did.

Ruth Lorensson:

I did. And I also remember you asking me to rate them at the end of the session, I rated them as zero. And I remember having the best night's sleep of my life. I don't know whether that's the thing?

Tom Pals:

It's very common.

Ruth Lorensson:

So what's going on here? You know, can you share? What is it about autonomic healing activation that makes this it possible for this to happen?

Tom Pals:

I'd love to that restorative brain function called homeostasis is the key. I originally called it autonomic homeostasis activation, and I still do at times. I settled on autonomic healing activation because most people don't know what homeostasis is, but they do know about healing and are seeking it. As we talk about normalizing the impact of chronic stress and trauma. We're actually talking about homeostasis.

Ruth Lorensson:

Okay. Let me let me stop you that can you just explain a little bit more about homeostasis?

Tom Pals:

I'd love to. I love talking about homeostasis. Homeostatis is the adjustment of change that all living things experience. Homeostasis is life. In human beings homeostasis is the brain's way to respond in a beneficial way to internal and external changes. That includes things that trigger the flight or fight response, like stress and trauma, something happens internally or externally to disrupt your sense of well being. The external disruption can be anything that is stress inducing. The vast majority of health problems are stress related, and a lack of homeostasis. Internal disruption can be emotional or physical. Someone says or does something, something in your life situation is upsetting. Perhaps you, or someone you care about is injured or in an accident, or you experience conflict in a relationship. You may sense or perceive something as threatening to you whether or not it actually is. Often the internal disruption is in the realm of mental health problems. Either way, stress is a disruption of homeostasis.

Ruth Lorensson:

So that's why the tsunami of stress is so detrimental, right? It kind of derails homeostasis, which then can lead to all sorts of mental and physical problems.

Tom Pals:

Homeostasis is both a process and a state that restores normal optimum function. It's like the journey to a destination and the arrival combined. A helpful example of biological homeostasis is when you get cold or hot, your brain regulates your system so that your core temperature stays around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. If you get hot, your skin causes the hairs on your body, it'll lie flat, the blood derives to the surface of your skin and you sweat so you cool down with evaporation. If you're cold, your brain causes the hair on your body to stand up as an insulating layer of air, the blood withdraws away from the surface of your skin, keeping that heat in your body, and you may shiver to generate even more heat. Those are examples of biological homeostasis, your brain adjusting things to maintain normal optimum function and to promote life. But there's also emotional homeostasis, when the tsunami of stress is triggered, and you experience that escalating pattern of flight or fight. When the threat is over, your brain restores you to a sense of calm, which is what's supposed to happen. Healing is a manifestation of homeostasis. And when your body mind and spirit are in homeostasis, you have a sense of centeredness and well being. Homeostasis is when the opposing forces of flight or fight and relaxation and recovery are in balance. Autonomic healing activation allows that to happen physically, and I've discovered mentally and spiritually, that normal restorative function with chronic stress and trauma just doesn't happen, but it's not that it can't. If you want to find out more about homeostasis, I highly recommend reading Dr. Walter cannons book, 'The Wisdom of the Body.' This is where he coined the term homeostasis in the early 1930s. Another book I recommend reading is by Dr. Jay Scott Turner, 'Purpose and Desire - what makes something alive and why modern Darwinism has failed to explain it'. Humans have known about homeostasis for millennia, though. Even Hippocrates, the founder of modern medicine, describe the balance of the elements or humors of the body. We've known that all living things experience homeostasis.

Ruth Lorensson:

So let me get this right. AHA, Autonomic Healing Activation therapy activates homeostasis.

Tom Pals:

Yes, that's what it does. To explain a little more, I discovered that the key that activates homeostasis is in the autonomic nervous system. Remember, autonomic healing activation is not doing something to the brain and body it is initiating, allowing inviting the natural function of homeostasis to simply occur. That's why I called it autonomic healing activation. Originally call it autonomic homeostasis activation, and sometimes still do. People just don't know what homeostasis is. But they do know healing. That's what they're looking for. The autonomic nervous system regulates your internal organs to not only prepare your body for flight or fight, but also to enable homeostasis. I'll elaborate on the autonomic nervous system in upcoming episodes. But for now, I'll stay very basic and at the risk of oversimplifying, and I am, and people will may say, well, what about it? I'm oversimplifying, just understand that - give an overview of your brain.

Ruth Lorensson:

Okay. Go for it. Tom. I'm with you. Okay.

Tom Pals:

There are three major parts of the brain. Brain cells are called neurons, or glia. It is estimated there are 86 billion brain cells in your skull. At the top of your skull is the cortex which part processes sensory information, and does the thinking the limbic system is in the middle of your skull, where you experience emotions, recall memories, learn things and identify threats to your well being. Then there is the part of your brain that isn't in your head at all. It's in your spine and lower abdomen, the gut, the part of your brain from the base of your skull and in your torso is called the autonomic nervous system. It can, but really doesn't function independently from the part of the brain in the skull. So it isn't truly a second brain as some like to characterize it. Think of it like Alaska and Hawaii compared to the other 48 states. It's part of the Union just a ways off. Or for you, Ruth,iIt's like your native land, which I understand goes by several different Great Britain, which is Scotland, England and Wales and the island of Ireland can fend for itself. No, that's not it. It's like the United Kingdom, which is Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and then the rest of the of Ireland can fend for itself. No, it's like the British Isles, which is Scotland, England, Wales, and Ireland offshore all one big happy British family.

Ruth Lorensson:

We are a complicated bunch, Tom. That's all I can say.

Tom Pals:

And Americans aren't? But I digress. And that's another part of the whole tsunami socially. Back to the autonomic nervous system, the part of your brain that's below your head. I've found that the third part of the brain, the autonomic nervous system, is the key to activating or initiating homeostasis. It also has three parts or functions one part, the sympathetic, flees or fights a sense or perceived threat. A second part, the parasympathetic does the opposite. It recovers, relaxes and restores normal function, which is part of the homeostasis function. The third part of the autonomic nervous system is called the enteric nervous system. It's in your gut, but connected to the rest of your brain in the spine and skull by the vagus nerve, which wanders up from your rectum to the base of your skull. The enteric nervous system is all about homeostasis. What we didn't know, and what I've discovered, is it's possible to activate or initiate homeostasis. I'll talk about how I discovered how to do that, in an upcoming episode. The switch that turns on homeostasis is in your belly. And activating it is so simple that even a young child can do it. A six year old girl called it her magic button, and a young boy called it his mighty muscle. So during an AHA session, when you flip the switch, so to speak in your gut, the brain creates involuntary sensations and movements that are homeostatic. In other words, restorative of normal optimum function, what Dr. Cannon described as the wisdom of the body, I think of as the wisdom of the brain, we usually think of wisdom and the mind, but real wisdom when it comes to healing, stress and trauma is the way the brain naturally functions. We are alive because of the wisdom of homeostasis. For example, you don't have to remember to breathe, your brain makes sure you do, you survive, because of that wisdom, but you can thrive when you activate the wisdom of the brain to restore your body, mind and spirit

Ruth Lorensson:

That's so fascinating Tom. And what we're getting into already here is what takes place during an AHA therapy session. And I'm sure it's super helpful for for our listeners to understand what takes place there. Would you elaborate a little bit on that?

Tom Pals:

Yep, absolutely. For 90% of the people I've treated, it takes an average of four to six hours for the brain to complete homeostasis, with a sense of well being restored at the end of a session. People have said all sorts of things trying to describe the change, these involuntary sensations and movements have created. I thought it'd be helpful to share a sampling of what people have said at the end of their AHA session, when homeostasis has been completed.

Ruth Lorensson:

Yeah, great. I think that's a great idea.

Tom Pals:

One client said,'There's no clutter in my mind. Before AHA I had a tendency toward ADD, but now it's like I've gotten a refreshing night's sleep. I have no pain anywhere now. I always had soreness in my shoulders, and I have nothing now.'

Ruth Lorensson:

I'll read one Tom. You told me that someone else shared this. 'I feel really content, which I can't say very often. I just feel content. I don't feel the competition of emotions. My mind feels slow down and peace.'

Tom Pals:

Before a session, a client emailed me about scheduling an AHA session. In her email, she said, My physical therapist referred me to you. And one of my best friends also recommended I do AHA. We've been friends for many years. We went to dinner the other day, and I saw a completely different person after her AHA session, physically, her perceptions and spirituall. After her own AHA, a session, she said, 'My body doesn't look fragmented like it did before we started. I see myself as free of all that history. I feel strong, rejuvenated, it's like before I felt very tired and weighed down. Now I feel like I have more energy, which is funny, because I had zero energy before mentally or physically.' One client emailed me the following. 'Hello, Tom. I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you. It has taken me some time to process how amazing and powerful my session was with you. I find myself continually shaking my head like, wow, was that real? My mom kept asking the following day, 'do you feel anything different or emotions coming out?' And I'm like, really, all I want to do is laugh. I don't know why, but just so much laughter wants to come out of me, I find myself wanting to try to make tears flow out of just one eye at a time like it did during the AHA session. And I could try 1000 times and couldn't just make that happen. Amazing experience. Thank you so much.' That person rated their stress on a scale where zero is none and 10 is most extreme as an eight. They rated their anxiety as a six. They said both could spike to 10 at times. By the end of the session where homeostasis was complete, they rated both at zero.

Ruth Lorensson:

Wow, that's so great Tom. And there's so many more. Let's just keep going for a minute. One more person said,'I feel good. Now there is no soreness, everything feels aligned.' Another said, 'I feel myself. I feel centered, lighter. There's the lightness all around my head. I don't really know how to say it. But it's like I have a much better view of myself. Like I can see farther and have a bigger horizon, almost being on wings. I have a feeling like my chi is aligned and flowing.' And another said, 'Wow. It was like reaching a pinnacle. And my brain was telling me open your eyes. I feel fantastic. I feel like I had a full workout. And I just feel so much lighter.'

Tom Pals:

And another client actually said, 'AHA is the best(expletive deleted) thing I have ever done for myself. I'm crying happy tears!' One person shared before their session. 'I've experienced a lot of physical illnesses. None of them have been traumatic, but I do feel frustrated at the fact that I have to deal with so many health issues. To start, I suffer from terrible menstrual cramps, and every single month I have to deal with the pain and horrible mood swings. And I suffer from gastritis and stomach pain almost on a daily basis. No matter what I eat or don't eat, right now I would rate the pain in my stomach as an eight out of 10 with 10 being most extreme. This has been most prominent the past 10 years.' At the end of the AHA session, that person shared, 'My body feels good. It feels, I don't know how to explain it. There is no pain, soreness or itching. It's just not there.'

Ruth Lorensson:

Tom, these are incredible statements from clients, you know, showing the change from trauma or stress or just what you've shared with this last client, these health issues to homeostasis.

Tom Pals:

Like I previously mentioned Ruth, homeostasis is both a process and a state. Homeostasis is the changes the brain makes to restore and attempt to maintain normal optimum function when it has been disrupted by some change. I've used the story of Goldilocks as a description of homeostasis,and things being'just right.' NASA uses the story to describe the Goldilocks zone. The distance Earth orbits the sun is just right for water to remain illiquid. The distance, this distance from the Sun is called the habitable zone or the Goldilocks zone. With AHA we can live in the habitable zone of life. Ruth, I imagine you appreciate this 19th century British fairy tale as told by Robert Southey, about a little girl and three bears. It was actually originally not a little girl at all, but a traumatized woman who was cast out by her family and friends, the version with a little girl and a mama, papa and baby bear showed up later, and is the one most people know today. Would you read the Wikipedia description of the plot of the original version? Because it's actually a fable about the impact of stress and trauma. The later change from the original is curiously to me, a reflection of homeostasis, where Goldilocks finds things are just right, and the journey to find well being and not just the impact of stress and trauma, as in the original version.

Ruth Lorensson:

Of course Tom, I'll give it a go. Here goes. This is what Wikipedia says, In Robert Southeys version of the tale of the tale of three anthropomorphic bears, a little small, wee bear, a middle sized bear, and a great huge bear lived together in a house in the woods. Southey describes them as very good natured, trusting, harmless, tidy and hospitable. Each of these bachelor bears has his own porridge, bowl chair and a bed. One day they make porridge for breakfast, but it's it's too hot to eat. So they decided to go and take a walk in the woods while their porridge cools down. An old woman approaches the bears house. She has been sent out by her family because she is she's a disgrace to them. She is impudent, bad, foul mouthed, ugly, dirty and a vagrant deserving of a stint in the house of correction. She looked through the window, peeks through the keyhole and lifts the latch assured that no one is home she walks in. The old woman eats the wee bears porridge, and then settles into his chair and breaks it. Prowling around, she finds the bears bed and falls asleep in wee bears bed. At the end of the tail, the end of the tail is reached when the bears return. Wee bear finds his empty bowl, his brocken chair, and the old woman sleeping in his bed, and cries 'somebody has been lying in my bed, and here she is' The old woman wakes, jumps out the window, and is never seen again.

Tom Pals:

Thanks, Ruth, your accent was perfect for sharing that, especially about the wee bear and middle sized bear and a great, huge bear. The point about Goldilocks is that she found things that were just right. That's an image of homeostasis. Homeostasis is like Goldilocks journey from stress and trauma to the arrival of a sense of well being where everything is just right. Stress is a disruption of homeostasis and things are not just right, usually your brain makes it possible to recover from stress flight or fight in the sympathetic nervous system transitions to relax and recover in the parasympathetic. However, when the stress is chronic or traumatic, the brain's ability to achieve homeostasis is compromised and overwhelmed. Making things worse, rather than letting the brain engage in homeostasis, we may like all other human beings, do things that make us feel good momentarily. But because they're not healthy actually just contribute more stress in the long run, like stress eating,

Ruth Lorensson:

which I guess is why they call it comfort

Tom Pals:

indeed, or alcohol. And yeah, I'll drink to that, or sex or retail therapy, we call that shop til you drop and yelling which is effective to drive people away, or avoiding relationships,

Ruth Lorensson:

which is actually effective to drive yourself away

Tom Pals:

or being a workaholic, with so much money and so little life. Well, the list goes on and on of all the icky isms as I like to say. All the unhealthy ways we try to cope with stress simply make it more and more impossible for your brain to achieve homeostasis.

Ruth Lorensson:

Yeah, that's interesting. But you know, what I would like us to just pivot around right now, is what I think many of our listeners would like to know, is what happens during an AHA session? Can you elaborate a little bit on that Tom?

Tom Pals:

It is unlike any other therapy and it's certainly not psychotherapy and processing your issues. In an AHA session, you sit or lie down, I discourage the urge to process or talk about issues. You just close your eyes shift your focus of attention from the external world around you to the inner world of your body. That awareness of what you are feeling in your body is called interoception. When I talk about human senses, most people think of five seeing hearing, tasting, touching and smelling. Those are the five Aristotle wrote about in the three hundreds BC and thank you classical education. And that's what we keep thinking about today. But there are actually 21 human senses. And we can chat about that in another podcast, because it is essential for activating and maintaining homeostasis without interoception homeostasis doesn't continue, even if you start. So in the AHA a session, I will be sitting across from you. And if we're doing it remotely, I will be virtually sitting across from you, guiding you in this process of homeostasis. You will activate homeostasis in your gut, and focus on your sense of interoception. That awareness of how you feel and what you feel in your body, what your body is doing on those involuntary homeostatic sensations and movements that are normalizing your stress and trauma that naturally occur. It's similar to when the doctor checks your reflexes and taps the knee in the nerve in your knee. And your brain causes your lower leg to jerk and you're aware of sensations in your knee because your brain wants to normalize the stress of a brain being a nerve being struck. The reason this happens is homeostasis. Your brain doesn't like it when you're nerve is struck, if you've ever hit your funny bone, and you felt that sharp, stinging pain and tingling in your arm, you have a sense of just how much your brain doesn't like it and wants to normalize it.

Ruth Lorensson:

Yeah, I can certainly relate. I remember thinking that actually during my my AHA session like I was observing. The way I could describe it, is like I was observing my body, restoring normal function. And I remember my body having lots of sensations and movements. Now, since, you've given me some of the notes that you took in that initial session, and I'd like to share some of them if that's okay Tom?

Tom Pals:

Please do.

Ruth Lorensson:

I think it would be really helpful for some of our listeners just to know what happened in my session. So these are the some of the things I told you after initially, I activated homeostasis.

Tom Pals:

And I was just taking notes about what your brain was doing.

Ruth Lorensson:

Yeah. So this is what happened in the kind of almost the first part of that session. I said that my hands feel a bit cold. My neck feels hot. My eyes are twitching. I sensed increased coldness in my fingers and increased heat in my neck. I said that there is a kind of a feeling, of weight on my left shoulder, like a pulling. There's a slight tightening of my throat. It's almost like my left ear is popping or something. My feet bit feel a bit tingly. I feel like there is a weight on my shoulders again. I'm prickley on my hands, knees and elbows. My left leg is starting to feel itchy. I feel a deep heat, like weight on my left shoulder. And then you know, it kind of went on from there with all sorts of things. But I just want to fast forward to the more the end. Towards the end. I said these things. I feel light. Now I feel like there's this warm blanket over me (I remember that actually) It feels good. It feels like a good place to be. It's a strange feeling like my muscles are able to relax like I have, I've been tense for so long. And I'm finally able to relax all the muscles in my body(Isn't that cool?) I'm just feeling okay, not anxious anymore. Like everything's gonna be okay. Now there is no more activity. So great. It's funny reading them back and, you know, I'm remembering some of that session. But can you explain what is happening here?

Tom Pals:

Yeah, during an AHA session, the brain creates involuntary sensations and movements that are homeostatic, restoring normal optimum function. Remember, this is what the brain is doing, not what we are doing. Because it is your brain that is in charge, everything that happens will be naturally healing for you as an individual. And each person's AHA session is unique to them. And the only thing that the brain causes to happen involuntarily, is healing and restorative. You initially experience things that are familiar like itching, twitching, tingling, changes in body temperature changes and breathing feeling heavier light, perhaps seeing colors or shapes. Those are things people commonly report. They're familiar because they are the same thing your brain has been doing previously to restore normal function. Then you begin to experience involuntary neurobiological activity that is completely natural, especially to you in the way that it happens. But also unfamiliar to you and seems unusually beneficial, like that warm blanket. There are unfamiliar, because your brain hasn't had the chance before to go that deeply into homeostasis. I've had people describe all sorts of unfamiliar sensations. But the most important thing to remember is 1. Everything that your brain is causing to happen is healing. Whether it seems so or not to you. 2. Your brain will only create sensations and activity that are necessary and healing for you individually. 3. Because it is your own brain that is creating homeostasis, it will be completely natural for you to experience even when the sensations are unfamiliar. So while every AHA session is the same process, each is unique in the involuntary activity the person experiences.

Ruth Lorensson:

Isn't that so incredible, that our brains heal us uniquely, they only do what's necessarily for our own body. I find that pretty mind blowing Tom. I remember I kept saying to you, in my session, Tom, this is weird. It was weird because my body was actually doing strange things. I remember the changes of temperature and my feet were suddenly freezing or my stomach would be tense or my head would feel like it was unusually heavy for the rest of my body. And like you mentioned, previously, every person has their own version of this. But I I distinctly remembering over the course of the time of the session, I could feel or sense my body swinging from the fight and fight sensations to the relax and recover

Tom Pals:

because that's the brain redoing what was originally experienced so it can resolve it now

Ruth Lorensson:

Yeah. Yeah, I think that's just fascinating because I'd have these moments which seems to increase in consistency and duration, where I'd feel that especially towards the end of the session, light and euphoric. And I think the only way I can describe it, is that it was as if I was getting a front row seat in watching my body heal, restore, and return to what I now know as homeostasis.

Tom Pals:

And that front row seat is interoception.

Ruth Lorensson:

It was the weirdest experience. Incredible and healing, but it was weird.

Tom Pals:

Yep. People often use the word weird to describe an unfamiliar somatic activity. As one client said, 'I feel very clear. And it's like I'm seeing my body completely differently than before. Weird, weird, weird.' I have a definition for the word weird now, when it comes to AHA. Weird is what the brain is doing that is beneficially unusual. You may experience changes in spatial awareness, like falling or floating, spinning or sinking. You will also experience changes in the way you think about your body. People have described being unable to sense a part of their body for a time, or the way they think about their body is different, like energy is flowing through them. While I can try to describe an AHA session, and each one is unique, everyone who has done it has said the same thing. You can't really know what it is like until you do it. And at the end of their session, every one of those people said they felt no sense of stress, anxiety, depression, or anger. They also had no sense of the urge to do the things that made them feel good like stress, eating, drinking alcohol, using drugs, smoking, sexual activities, spending money, etc. They just don't want to. The most important thing to remember is that everything you experience will happen because your own brain is causing it to happen in a way that is completely natural to you personally. This is the part of your brain that cannot hurt you. It can only help you. This is the part of the brain that is keeping you alive and heals you when you are injured in some way. At the end of the session, you will feel a sense of well being you will not feel stress, anxiety, anger or depression. You will be able to recall any past acts upsetting or traumatic experience without it triggering you, you will be in homeostasis. Then you will have a tool that you can use every day and anytime you start to experience stress and manage it rather than it managing you. One experience. Homeostasis is a right now experience. There is nothing that makes us immune to stress, except not being alive. But that's not a great option. But they have a tool that to manage stress when it does occur. That's golden. So like to say that an aha moment is the unexpected realization of a solution to a problem. So AHA is that unexpected experience of a solution to stress, anxiety, depression and anger, and the removal of the urge to cope with stress and an unhealthy way. That's huge. Human beings exist holistically in body, mind and spirit. Homeostasis is when the opposing forces of flight or fight and relaxation and recovery are in balance. What I discovered in 2014, when I developed AHA was how to activate or initiate homeostasis in the body, or somatic homeostasis, and through interoception, allow that to continue to completion. Then in 2016, I began to wonder if it was possible to activate a different part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible in part for problem solving, and decision making, among other things, to involuntarily restore what I call cognitive homeostasis. And it does. I call that AHA problem solving. And then in 2017, I discovered it was possible to activate homeostasis (and this blew my mind), in the spirit, to restore what I call spiritual homeostasis, where there is a sense of well being in our relationship with God, however God is to you, I call that AHA spiritual formation. And we will chat about those in later episodes.

Ruth Lorensson:

Yeah, I love that. And that's, you know, why we're here on the autonomic healing podcast to share with our listeners this holistic solution to the problem of stress and trauma in the mind, the body and the spirit. And I'm super excited for our next episode, where we're going to be continuing this conversation on autonomic healing activation, but we're going to be focusing on the critical part the sense interoception plays in the healing journey of homeostasis.

Tom Pals:

You've been listening to the autonomic healing podcast.

Ruth Lorensson:

Join us next time as we continue in our conversations with Tom. If you're interested in pursuing your own autonomic healing journey and want to find a practitioner, visit our website inner workings.org See you at the next episode.