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EP67 - Unshaming the Freeze Response With Rachel Rae Halder




Have you ever experienced freeze, where your body goes to a complete shutdown? Freeze dynamics can show up in various areas of life, such as sexuality, relationships, work, and organization.


Today, I’m excited to host Rachel Rae Halder. She explains how the freeze response is often misunderstood, the nuances of the freeze response, its impact on various aspects of life, and the importance of approaching it with understanding and self-compassion.


In this podcast episode, Rachel takes us through: 

- How freeze is common and how it’s often misunderstood.

- What freeze is, and how it occurs.

- Freeze in different life areas.

- How understanding freeze dynamics brings compassion to areas of struggle and stuckness.

- Thawing freeze through micro-movements

- How seeking stability, safety, and self-trust in the body and environment supports the nervous system in emerging from a shutdown.

- How to work with chronic freeze patterns.

- Consciously working through ancestral healing of freeze patterns.

- Her upcoming 8-week course “Finding Flow” and other offerings for Nervous System Education.


And so much more!


Rachel Halder is a neurodivergent and queer writer, thought leader, and seasoned practitioner with over a decade of experience in post-traumatic growth healing arts, with some of the most advanced trainings around trauma resolution, sexual liberation, and collective healing.


She has a unique, mystical, ancestral, and energetic approach to trauma healing + pleasure, especially in understanding nuances in the nervous system, including many freeze dynamics that play out in people’s bodies.

Her work goes far beyond the typical somatic experiencing principles and enters into nature, plus the energetic and mystical realms of the “unseen.”


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LISTEN WHILE READING!

A: Every day, there is a forgetting, and every moment, there is the possibility of remembering. Remembering who you truly are, awakening to your body, to the inner world and experience of being alive. Here is where you find the beauty, the joy. Here is where you free your Soma. 


A: Hello and welcome to Free Your Soma, Stories of Somatic Awakening, and How to Live from the Inside Out. I am excited to have Rachel Rae Halder here with me. We had an interview a few months ago and you can go back and listen to that one very juicy, a lot about her personal journey through Somatic work and spirituality. 


But today, we're going to talk about something really specific, and we're going to explore a concept that I think is very, very important right now with all of the things that are happening in the world and happening probably in our bodies. 


Rachel Way-Howler is a Somatic trauma resolution practitioner, and we are going to explore freeze today. Freeze in our nervous systems, how that shows up, how we get stuck, and what we can do to unfreeze. 


So welcome back to Free Your Soma, Rachel. Great to have you. 


R: Yeah, it's so good to be here. It's so fun to talk to you again. 


A: Yeah. You know, I was noticing your content and just the way that you're sharing about this upcoming course that you're teaching, which I guess is, it's happening now, like people can sign up for it now, like today, right? 


R: Absolutely. 


A: And I was really feeling like you were speaking to me because I definitely have been someone who's struggled with freeze. And I love how, in your content, in your shares, you're sharing about specific experiences you have and the ways that this shows up in your body. 


And I think that's really powerful because I could very much relate to some of those experiences that you were sharing, whether it was in interpersonal relationships, you know, in expressions of my sexuality or even just in like the doom-scrolling, you know, what we call like procrastination, being on my phone, you know, all of that. 


And the way that you're exploring these as, you know, as it relates to our nervous system, as it relates to the intelligence behind what it is that we're actually doing in those moments. Would you care to like explain a little bit more about what freeze is? 


R: Yeah, absolutely. So freeze is a threat response that happens inside of the body, which is a kind of interesting way of framing it. Because I think, you know, a lot of times people think about fight or flight as like a threat response, like, oh, you know, sympathetic system, nervous system gets activated, and we go into fight or flight to like defend ourselves or protect ourselves or whatever it might be. 


Freeze is another threat response, but instead of fight or flight, it goes into a shutdown. And what most people don't realize is that actually, the nervous system will always go to fight or flight first, that it'll go up into sympathetic before it'll drop down into parasympathetic, which is what the freeze response is in. 


But what happens is that the body determines fight or flight won't be successful. And so, it determines like the most successful path to the threat will be a freeze response. You had to have had freeze-like throughout our life. It can become an autopilot type of thing where we skip over the fight or flight and just go directly into freeze. 


And then this is what then starts showing up in interesting patterns that often we label as like, Oh, I'm lazy, or I'm like procrastinating, or I'm disorganized or whatever these things are that we kind of shame ourselves around. A lot of those responses are actually freeze dynamics that are happening in the body. Their nervous system responses is the body saying this is too much, this is overwhelming, this is a threat. And my assumed best like route to survival is to shut down. 


And I think, yeah, I think it's like a nuanced topic that a lot of people don't understand because often we think of freeze is just like an acute kind of situation. Like, you know, I froze about this one particular thing, but a lot of people can actually carry these freeze dynamics in their system for years. I mean, for lifetimes, really. And that's what I'm really more interested in exploring and working with people around. 


A: Awesome. Yes. And there's so many different, I guess, areas of our life that freeze can show up. And we can have, you know, a lot of, I guess you could say like, regulation in one area of our lives, but then in a particular area of our life, like maybe as it relates to our sexuality or as it relates to our profession or something like that, we can have a freeze, be a prominent nervous system strategy in that specific area. 


Can you kind of go into some of the details around how it's dynamic? It's not like it's just across the board one way? 


R: Yeah, absolutely. So like, yeah, just exactly what you need. Like, I could have a freeze response around my sexuality. Like I could feel inhibited in some way, like, oh, maybe I don't feel pleasure, maybe I just never feel turn on, maybe I just never even want to engage with someone sexually, like maybe I have a fear of intimacy, maybe it feels really challenging for me.


But then in friendships, I could be super securely attached, you know, I could, I could show up to my friends whenever they need it. I could have deep intimate conversations with my friends, like I could feel like safe and like my heart can be open, because the freeze, like, you know, if I have a freeze response in my sexuality, it's probably because of some sort of traumatic event that happened to me around intimacy, around like romantic relating or around maybe even like childhood dynamics with parents, that then doesn't necessarily show up in friendship because it's a different dynamic, it's a different energy, it's a different space. 


And so this can happen a lot in our lives in so many different ways, like we could be a super high achiever and like, you know, be getting A+ is an all our grad school work and like whatever it might be, but then be completely disorganized in other areas of our life where it just feels like chaos and just like, oh my gosh, I can't keep anything straight and how can I be so on top of it here and so like chaotic over here. 


And almost always, it's because there's a reason for it, and it is connected to our trauma, and it's connected to how these dynamics are playing out in our body and our system. 


A: Yes, I mean, as you're speaking, I'm thinking about, like, one of the places that I feel like I struggle with freeze a lot in my life is housework and like cleaning up messes that either I make, or my husband makes, or my son makes, like just in cleaning in general and I've like pointed to it in the past and said like, oh, I kind of have like Cinderella syndrome from like growing up in a single mother household with like, you know, a younger sibling who we didn't know, but was on the spectrum. 


And so I was like the responsible one having to like make all the meals and then wash all the dishes and, you know, basically co-parent with my mother. And so it left me in this freeze response when, you know, I'm, you know, out of networking event or doing events with clients or doing these really great things where I feel very organized and motivated. And then I come home and like, there's a pile of laundry, and I just freeze. 


R: Yeah, absolutely. I love you. Like, thank you for sharing that, and like vulnerability owning that because it feels so on point with exactly what we're talking about. It's like, okay, yeah, some of these areas, you know, have flow in them and other of these areas have like some stuckness in them. 


And what is that? I also live with your example. It's like, you weren't always that way. And I think that's something that can be confusing for a lot of people is like, they're like, what happened to me? 


Like I used to be so good at this, like, or I used to be so able to do this, or I used to be so capable of this. And another piece of the freeze dynamic that I don't think a lot of people understand, or they just don't have the articulation around, is that often a freeze can result after we've been in a hyper response around something for a long time. 


So, like in that instance, I don't, I don't know, I don't know your full story of, you know, I haven't worked with you in this capacity, but my guess is that there was some, like, co-parent with your mom in that way. And then that dynamic actually led to later a freeze response, because it was like your system was so in that hyper response and so in that fight or flight response that it really had no other option than to, like, dip down into like a more like, freeze a more hypo response. And then often that will start creating something called like a syndromeal patterning where we're moving between like the sympathetic response and the parasympathetic response in the body. 


And then it's like, how could I do work? Like how could I do housework from like a place of presence, as opposed to it always coming from a place of like trauma response, whether that's a hyper trauma response or a hypo trauma response? 


A: Oh yeah, completely relate to that. That's like what I call like when I get like into like rage cleaning mode or like, I'm just done with it. I'm so done with the house being a mess. It like has to get to like, you know, and it doesn't get that crazy, but it gets to a certain point where then, like, I'm really triggered by like the piles of laundry, or I'm really triggered by, you know, the buildup of like cat hair in the on the carpet or something. And then I jump into like attack mode versus having like a calm like steady like rhythm to like dealing with the messes. 


R: Yep, totally. Yeah, I resonate in my own ways around a lot of things. I actually have that dynamic or have had that dynamic; I should say a little bit in my business. 


Like it's taken me years of conscious, like literally like paying attention to these patterns, naming them, being with them, even honoring them, validating them, like unshaming them, really show up in my business and like be a leader and be an expert and be responsible and be organized. And then I would drop into this freeze response, and I would kind of be in freeze until, like, honestly, like, I needed to make money again. 


It was like, well, girl, you got to freaking get yourself out of this response and like show up to the world, which is such like a, it felt so defeating because it was like, I'm actually not in my business for the money. Like I'm actually in it because it's so like purpose-led for me. Like it feels so like, so aligned for me. 


But like then it felt so defeating to feel like, oh, the reason I'm, you know, need to get back out there is like, because I have no money in my bank account anymore, but it was like this freeze response, like playing into then this like syndrome or hyper, like fight or flight response. And literally, I spent years like working on like, how can I expand my window of presence? 


So I don't have to be doing this like soul work from a place of nervous system, dysregulation, not that dysregulation is inherently wrong or bad, but it's like, how can I do this without it being threat responses that are the impulses behind my actions. And instead, it's just like, okay, there's flow here, like there's capacity here, like I can show up here in these like more integrated ways. And I really feel like after a lot of conscious work on that, like it is much more in balance than it's ever been in my whole life. 


A: That's really inspiring and great to hear. I feel like I'm in a similar like trajectory in terms of my business, because I actually just realized I did a little timeline scan of myself, like, of the last year of my life. And you know, for me, as a somatic practitioner, a lot of my somatic work is about chronic pain. And so that's one way that I can kind of measure where my nervous system is at is that when my pain starts coming back or when the patterns of pain that I have in my body from injuries and when that my stress gets high enough, those patterns reemerge. 


And it's like my body talking to me and saying like, Hey, it's getting a little much here, we need to do something about this, right? And so I was tracking it kind of thinking about like the ebbs and flows of like my chronic pain returning after years of it being kind of at bay, right? 


And then the last year I was like, wow, there's actually been like a lot of stress. And some of that stress is because I really decided to make my business like my number one thing. I like let go of my other side gig, and I made this business like my number one thing, which was like lighting a fire under me to be like, this has to work, you know? 


And while that was like beautiful and wonderful, it definitely came with those like drops of like almost burning out, which is like that freeze response of like, this isn't really sustainable. And now I need to crash for like four days and like not look at my phone and like, you know, and I love what you're saying about destigmatizing that, like being able to unshame it. 


And instead of judging myself as like, oh, look at you, you're just like being lazy, or you don't have what it takes or, you know, you're failing or whatever, or, you know, you're out of integrity because you didn't email them back right away, you know, whatever thing, you know, would start coming into my mind in those down times, I've been able to kind of look at them differently. 


And some of that has been reducing my stress, like this first step was just like reducing the stress overall, which is where I'm at now, which is like my stress is way lower, which allows for me to actually like look back, you know, in a more patient and understanding way at myself rather than kind of being in it. Right? 


R: Yeah, I love, I love you naming those pieces, because I think, I mean, this is the philosophy I teach from and how I work with this with my clients, but it's like, you actually can't do anything with your freeze until you validate it and make it make sense. And for those of us who are like high achievers or like who have super entrenched like threat response, like our protection mechanisms are around like, I have to do, like I have to be, you know, like create in the world, I have to do these things. 


It can feel really hard to validate or to honor our freeze responses, because there's those parts of us will think, Oh my gosh, you're going to get stuck in it forever, or you're not, you know, it might feel wildly unsafe to validate it. 


But a big piece of actually coming into that more like window of presence in these spaces is if we can actually unshame it and be like, okay, this makes sense. How can I slow down enough to like honor the freeze to be with the freeze to recognize why the freeze is here? And it's from that place of like meeting the freeze. 


And sometimes, that includes meeting the pain underneath the freeze, like the original trauma or the original hurt or whatever those dynamics might be, to then actually be able to take a baby step forward and to be able to move myself forward. 


And I also just want to name that often, especially when we're working with like chronic freeze patternings, like these syndromeal patternings that are like lifelong in the making. Oftentimes when we're working with these, it does take going back and forth kind of pendulum between extremes. 


But each time we're pendulum, it's a little bit less, and it's a little bit less, and it's a little bit less. And it's in that pendulum going back and forth, and the little bit less of the threat response happening that is actually then expanding that window of presence space for ourselves, where it's like, Oh, every time I repeat this pattern, if I'm doing it with some consciousness and with some like care and some like connection to my body and my nervous system, I'm actually expanding my capacity to be with this as a whole. 


And so that's like an encouraging thing. And so often people will repeat the pattern, they're like, Ah, I did it again. And it's like, that's not inherently wrong or bad. Like, of course, you did it again, like you're a human being. 


And this is like your nervous system has been trained to do this your entire life. And we're like working on expanding the capacity, we're not trying to make it so you never ever ever do this ever again. And you're a bad person if you ever do it again. 


A: Yeah, that's really important. I think that like people, yeah, it's taking it's understanding it from a more neutral perspective. And then, of course, like the movement teacher in me is like thinking that as you're describing the swinging pendulum in the extremes, I'm thinking about like finding midline on our bodies, you know, we're finding that place where our brains are synchronizing and we're, you know, using both right and left hemispheres, that there's this place of midline and balance, where we can actually be like our whole self and not just part of ourself right now, which is like locked up in this pattern, or part of ourself who's locked up in that pattern, you know, and it does.


It's a practice; it takes that going from right to left to find midline, it finds going off balance to even know what balance feels like, right, and our bodies on a somatic level, you know, and when we look at it from like, you know, this idea of a pendulum swinging or, you know, finding midline on our bodies, like, we're very like unlikely to judge that as being right or wrong, it's right and left, you know, right, exactly, exactly. 


R: Yeah, there's no moralistic standing in like being off balance and then finding your midline again, and it's, you know, I want to create a space where that's the same for our nervous system dynamics and where we don't, you know, I talk a lot about like, healing isn't fixing though so many of us are trained in this society and in this world to approach it from a fixing standpoint.

But like you said, it's not, it's not fixing, it's recognizing, it's like feeling, it's like sensing, it's like, oh, this is what's happening, and this is what, you know, this is the small little dance I could do to help me get back on track and like, it's okay to explore in that realm, it's okay to play in that realm, it's okay to like have a movement that's different one day from another day. 


A: Yeah, something that's responsive to the moment that we're in versus a static, fixed way of perceiving or doing or moving or operating that we can start to have a more nuanced and like, I guess, using the right, you know, amount of effort or the right amount of awareness and attention for the task at hand rather than underdoing or overdoing. 


R: Exactly, yeah, yeah, I love your framing of this. It's great. 


A: Awesome, well, I'm curious, you know, because you have such a breadth of somatic-like practices and somatic-like modalities that you work with, can you give us kind of a little overview of some of the things that people are getting to play with and experiment with and learn about, you know, beyond just the didactic stuff, like what sort of, you know, experiences are people going to have in this course that you're here putting out right now? 


R: Yeah, so one of the big things I'm into doing is like offering like an embodied experience, whether that's like kind of like an embodied like meditation or like an embodied experiential process of the material that we're working on. 


So often, I'll start the classes in that space, and it might just be like 20 minutes or something, and it's using the concepts and the theory and the knowledge pieces in an actual experiential thing and then teaching the concepts and experiences, and I find that that's a way it's like both honoring like a top-down and a bottom-up approach. 


So bottom up, like top-down being more like the mental cognitive like, okay, here's like the actual maps of what's happening in your system, bottom-up, okay, here's the more experiential somatic like felt sense experience of this. 


And then the last portion of the class, which will probably just be about like 30 minutes each time, I'll take one person's like freeze dynamic, and we'll workshop it, and we'll work through it because that also like being able to witness someone watching them move through a freezer honor it or like, okay, what is the small doable step in this moment here in time and really being able to like get into that little like small doable step. 


So one of the things with freeze dynamics is like, they're not going to unbaw super fast, generally speaking. And I think it's even a little like insane to have an eight-week course on freeze because I'm and I've been saying this in my marketing, and I also said it, you know, in my very first class, you're probably not going to like heal some major freeze dynamic in this class. 


But what I can guarantee is that you will maybe do a couple doable steps, and you will have a map for how to go forward with it with more doable steps. And I'm really into like, okay, what is the smallest doable step that we can do right here right now with this freeze dynamic? It's like, how can you be 1% more with it? Not how can you be 100% embodied? 


It's like, is there any possibility to even be 0.5% more with it? And so I'm doing the like coaching pieces because there can be actually deep resonance that happens in our nervous systems when we witness other people moving through something that has happened inside of ourselves. 


There can actually even be like almost like a spontaneous healing or like a like the pieces. The puzzle pieces suddenly come together inside of our own body. So in that way, it's also offering almost like an embodied experience of like, okay, what does that look like? What does that feel like? What is that? You know, what are the senses that come up? 


And then there'll be just like little, little blips of things like most of the stuff I do is actually quite subtle and quite small. And that's like, that's not how I started my coaching business. I used to be really into, like, expansive, like in-depth practices. And I think there's nothing inherently wrong with those at all. 


But I find that most people who are coming to me have done that. And their systems are actually more like they need like the more like fine-tuned really subtle like, Oh, what is it to feel inherent movement in my hand? Like if I'm holding my hand here, those who are listening, you can't see this, but I'm just like holding my hand. Like if I hold my hand here long enough, will there be an organic movement that my hand wants to start making? 


And I have found that yes, actually, that does happen. It might take me five minutes of staring at my hand, but there becomes like an inherent wave that wants to start coming through my hand. And it might be really tiny and subtle and slower. It might be like, Oh, I need to like shake it. But it's like even that like that level of paying attention to and noticing it's like, you know, someone might say that's an absurd exercise. Why would I ever want to do it? It sounds boring as hell. 


Yes. And often, we need mundane, we need boring to actually start thawing. Some of these dynamics and we know, yes, like super slow, like, Oh, my hand is moving like the speed of, you know, a snail right now. Like, Oh, yeah, that can be super healing. 


A: Oh, absolutely. Totally speaking my language with the micro movements and paying attention to what is the inherent activity that's already happening, something that's already happening underneath the surface. And a lot of times, we're moving too quickly through life, right? 


Or we're, you know, not tuned in, we're not, I think, like distracted is like one way to put it, but it's freezing or a lack of attention to something else, right? We're bringing our focus somewhere else. It's not quite distracted because, like, I don't know when I'm watching cat videos on my phone, yes, I'm distracted, but I'm also, like, really watching those cat videos. 


I'm picking up on the UMs. You know, so like it's not distracted. I'm focused on something else than my body, my breath, my physical presence in my body, which is going to cue me into what's happening under the surface. You know, what are those patterns? What are those movements that are actually invisibly taking place? And so what you're describing with like inviting people to really sit with their hand and find if there's a movement that wants to show up. 


And the cool thing is, is that when you start bringing your awareness in this way, and I'm sure that this is like something you'll see like in people throughout the course of your program, is that we get better and better at tuning in, and then it doesn't take five minutes for you to notice the organic movement. It doesn't take, you know, two weeks for you to figure out why you're stuck. You get better and better at like letting that information arise and, and picking up on it because you're just inviting those channels to be stimulated, right? 


R: Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. I love, I love you naming that and describing that process because that's exactly what I found. That's what I found even in myself. It's like, the more I pay attention or the more I practice this, the more it actually becomes inherent to me and like who I am. Like one thing that I talk about in my work constantly is the concept of stabilization. 


Just like what is, what is something stable in my space here and now? Oh, the floor. Okay. I'm noticing the floor. 


Yeah. The floor is stable. Like I don't even question every day if the floor is going to be here, and I simply is and why my feet are on it. And I, and I don't have to question that even, you know, they're just here, and the floor supports it. And that seems so, again, boring or mundane. It's like, how can this help me to stare at the floor every day? 


Like that's absurd. But actually, if you keep doing it, especially if you have a system, like I have a system that my trauma patternings was to unconsciously seek out chaos quite often. And that was like, like, I actually found safety and putting it in quotes because it wasn't authentic safety, but there was something safe about going into chaos. And so my system would search for it, find it, look for it unconsciously. Like this was not conscious in any way, shape, or form. 


But, you know, bringing my awareness to the stability of the floor and doing that intentionally, day after day after day, now it's just autopilot. Like it's almost like I don't like, I'll start. I actually did it here. Like at the beginning of us talking, I kind of was feeling a little like floaty, or I was like, wow, I kind of feel like something's happening in my body. And I just, like, and again, this wasn't even super conscious. 


It wasn't like super thought through. But I was just like, Oh, what's stable in my field? And I was like, Oh, the chair feels so stable right now. Oh, yeah, the floor feels really stable right now. And then I felt like from my waist down. And I was like, Yeah, like the bottom half of my body is here. And it took me 15 seconds. 


And boom, I was more in my window of presence than I had been prior to that. But it's like that comes from practicing these boring things over and over and over again. 


A: Yes, totally relate to this. I wonder. I'm curious, like, because you're describing chaos, and like, one of the things that I used to be very like addicted to that I almost also see as kind of like a freeze pattern that I had. And I wondered if you, you know, might be able to like kind of shed some light on this is like the overstimulating myself thing through particularly I would over exercise, it would be a way of not having to deal with other things where I would like excessively exercise to basically wear myself out so that I couldn't do anything.


Like I'd be too sore, too tight, or too physically exhausted to actually like deal with anything that I didn't want to deal with her that was like causing me to kind of freeze. And so that can be like a weird sort of way that freeze shows up, I think is like overstimulation. What do you think about that? 


R: Yeah, I think that definitely can be the case. I mean, I see that again as like a syndromal patterning where it's like you were exercising from a place of fight or flight in the body. And there is, you know, within the window of presence, there is healthy fast, like that exists like we can be fast and in the window of presence, like I can run and be within my window of presence, but I also could be tipped over into that sympathetic response. And I could be running with a flight response in my system, or I could be running with a fight response in my system. 


And that's not inherently wrong or bad. But if I'm doing it to escape inescapable conditions, meaning the pain in my body or the trauma that happened to me when I was three years old, or, you know, the grief of the death of my mother or whatever it might be.


It's like, if I'm moving from that place, and it's like I'm in a flight, I'm using exercise as like a flight response to escape the inescapable patterns, then we're going to, we're going to end up being in that syndromal space where it's like, okay, I'm in this sympathetic response, the spider flight response, and then, wow, I burned myself out, and I drop into the freeze response. Oops, I'm in that sympathetic response again, and I drop back down in that freeze response again. 


And ultimately, like if, like, say you were a client coming to me with this, what I would hear in that is like, it doesn't feel safe to feel. It doesn't feel safe to like, acknowledge those inescapable conditions, like my body, like there isn't enough safety or self-trust built here to handle what's really going on. And so I wouldn't be like, okay, we need to go deep down into your like darkest trauma. 


I would just be like, okay, how can we start establishing little bits of safety and self-trust? So the system can start actually believing it could maybe do a small doable piece of that inescapable condition like it could maybe just peek at it. And then maybe it could like, touch it with one finger. 


And then maybe it could like, hold the tiniest trunk like on it the palm of its hand, and then put it back away and like, bit by bit, okay, how can I slowly bring that in? And it's like, the more that ines and I'm just calling it like inescapable conditions, because we don't have an exact like concept of what is in this example. But it's like, the more I can bit by bit be with those inescapable conditions, the more that comes out of the free patterning, and it starts becoming conscious, which then leads this expansion of our window of presence, where this thing is no longer the thing we're living our life from, even if that's running from it. 


And it's like that thing can actually become an integrated aspect of our life where it's like, okay, that's part of my story. That's part of the river of life. That's part of all. And over time, I can keep bringing in stability, safety, self-trust to hold that as part of the river of life. 


A: Wow. Yeah, I love that. And it's having me reflect that inescapable condition for me, at least, and this is obviously goes deeper than that, but in my young adult life, I think a lot of it, it was mental and emotional stuff that was going on, but the way it presented was physical, muscular tension and pain in my body. And strangely enough, I was over-exercising in chronic pain a lot. 


And I have clients who have done this where you're having physical pain in your body and muscle tension. And the thing that seems to be one of the ways to deal with it is by creating more muscle tension through exercising and weightlifting and running and doing a lot of yoga because then you're basically layering muscle patterns on top of the pain pattern so that you don't feel it as much. 


It's a way of not feeling the deeper pain because you're creating surface pain. And I think that that relates to how you're describing with seeking out chaos because there's some chaos going on internally. And so let me manufacture that externally so that I feel like I'm in control. 


R: Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I love how your mind works and how you just like piece that all together. I'm like, yeah. 


A: Yeah. Well, and what you were saying also is like the inescapable conditions, it's not that they're inescapable. They just feel that way in the moment, which is why what you're bringing in about the small, tiny, working with like the little, not even baby step, but like the, I don't know, like little gecko step or something here is like, you know, how can we start to be with that in a way that feels like it's safe? 


Like we don't have to run from it because when there's been something, you know, like for me, it was like the physical pain in my body when I started somatic work and I'm like, having to lay there and like sense into my body. And it's just like, oh, no, no, no, no. Like this is physically painful. 


And I'd rather not. I'd rather go do a bunch of intense stretches rather than just lay here quietly and like feel my body, you know. And so being able to have someone guide you through that, being able to have like also, you know, with the group program that you're running, there's like a container for people to be like held with each other, you know, in these little, tiny, like approachable sorts of ways, you know.


And I'm assuming that some of it, you know, like you said, is just getting connected to that stability. I know one way that, like, I've heard another practitioner talking about it is like taking a shower or drinking a glass of water. Those kinds of things can also like be those little tiny steps, right? Absolutely. 


R: Yeah, I use a shower often as like a nervous system reset. Like I, I'm not like attached to taking showers every day, but I will often take a shower in the morning if I feel like, if I wake up with like, freezy energy in my system, like if there's like, I don't want to like do this day or I don't want to do this thing, or I don't want to, you know, like do the work that I have on my to-do list. 


I'll often just take a shower because there's some sort of like little reset that happens in that. And there's also like a transition sort of an energetic transition that it provides for me too. And I think like bringing our awareness and attention to those really small things or those doable things. It's like, and that moment taking a shower feels doable to me in that moment, doing some like 30 minute meditation, whatever, blah, blah, blah exercise would probably not feel doable at all to me. 


Really, you know, like in that moment, someone suffering with freeze, drinking a glass of water might actually feel like a huge thing. Whereas like, you know, again, like doing some elaborate process around a thing might feel just like, Oh gosh, there's no possible way I could ever show up to that. Like it's just too much for the system. So yeah, love you naming those pieces, too. 


A: Do you think that I've heard this other strategy as well for like kind of addressing particularly like doom scrolling or like being on your phone is like a form of freeze that I think a lot of people like easily go to, right? Someone was saying that they like to set a timer and they pick like a ringtone that they find like funny, like a little like a funny noise to go off, and they give themselves like a timer and then like make sure that it's like not like that it's a sound that like they find humorous versus like irritating. I don't know if that. 


R: That I mean, I love that. I've never heard that. I've never done that. But I do. I have like an app blocker on my phone. And some people I know find app blocker super annoying or like even like shame and do seem because they're like, you've been on your own, which I get like it can feel that way. 


But for me, honestly, it just like made me quit like doing it. Like it would interrupt me, you know, I would like unsnooze it for five minutes. And then it would be like, you're five minutes is up. And I'd just be like, okay, my five minutes is up. Like, I'm not going to do this again. But I think, yeah, finding any of those little ways where you can interrupt the pattern, but in a non-shaming way, like I think that's extra important, is great. 


It's like just those little pattern interrupters. And I'm also like a bit like, don't go cold turkey, you know, when we're trying to like shift these dynamics, it's like, like if someone has been chronically ill and they've been laying in bed for the past six months, like, don't assume that tomorrow you're just not going to lay in bed anymore. 


It's like, okay, could you spend five minutes today not laying in bed and make that enough and then give yourself full permission to lay in bed for the other 23 hours and 40 or 55 minutes, you know, like, it's like, what is the, like, can you not shame what you're doing, but just add a little bit of something else in. 


A: Yeah, I love that. That's been a tool of mine. And, you know, a somatic approach in general to changing habits and behaviors is like, we can bring in support now. We don't have to wait for you to not be doing this thing anymore, or for this cycle to be over, or for you to be better than this. We don't have to like wait; we can bring in that little bit of support. 


As you mentioned, the stability of like the surface you're sitting on is there for you right now. And we can bring that in that like love and awareness without any like prerequisites that doesn't need to be perfect conditions, so to speak. 


R: Yeah, absolutely. I love that. Yeah, like, how can you work with yourself conditionally? How can you work with yourself exactly where you're at? Not, oh, I'll do it when I'm over here. It's just like, how can I do it here and now with what is alive? And I feel like that's a big part of healing, actually. 


Again, that's like the presence thing. I think many of us, you know, delusional thinking is like what I, I would qualify as like flight response, where we get hooked into like, Oh, it'll be better when this happens. Oh, when, when I do this, then everything can change. And like, when this thing finally stops, then I can do this. 


And it's like, that's actually a flight response playing out in the system, which is understandable. Again, let's not shame that. Let's not condone, like, not make it wrong or bad. 


A: I mean, what you just said is interesting, because there's a term, and I'm not sure, like, you know, you use delusional thinking, but there's another term that they're there's, I've heard it coined now a couple of times in relation to kind of the discussion about narcissism and that the way that narcissism, I wonder if that could be like an extreme version of some kind of like flight response in a way of like, you know, that the way that, you know, classically, like a narcissist doesn't take any responsibility for their like actions and behaviors, you know, and puts it all on other people. 


And so that's like an extreme, like, you know, kind of heightened version of a freeze where like they're totally in that state of detachment from like the impact of something that they've done. But there's a term that's being used in like the world of psychotherapy. I don't know if you know what I'm talking about. It's something like delusional thinking. Grandiose. I think it has a word. 


R: Yeah. Yeah. There's word is used often with that concept. Yeah. I actually see like, like, something like narcissism, the patterning of it. Absolutely. I think it's actually, like, again, a syndromal patterning in the system. But there's, there's my teacher, Bridget Viscans, who I've studied with. 


I've done alchemical alignment multiple times, actually, I've studied with her quite extensively. And it's like a, it's kind of like somatic experiencing, but it includes a lot of body work, like a lot of craniosacral influence, a lot of polarity therapy influence. 


Like there's a there's a lot more layers there. She breaks down freeze into five layers of freeze. So we have, you know, like, like functional freeze. What I would consider like narcissism would be like the fourth layer of freeze, which is fake. It's also been called ragdoll. 


I think that somatic experiencing might use that language of ragdoll, but I don't know for sure, because I haven't done all of somatic experiencing, but that fake dynamic is like, yeah, like I'm cut off. I'm disconnected. I don't even know that that's there. And like the dynamic of narcissism is often like, I'm so disconnected from self that I don't even understand these dynamics that I'm playing out. 


Like, I can't even, so I might shoot up into that fight response and be like freaking out and like screaming at someone and like shaming someone. And, you know, just like, like taking that dagger and freaking stabbing someone with it, but I'm like so fractured that I don't even recognize I'm doing that, which is almost also a freeze response happening simultaneously. So it's like a really like cold and hot double bind connected. Yeah. So I like your astuteness and awareness of that. Yeah. 


A: Well, and it's interesting because I think that, like, it's been such a buzzword in the last, you know, five to 10 years to talk about narcissism and, you know, obviously, you know, many of the people who are having conversations about it are victims of, you know, narcissistic abuse and relationships. 


And there's sometimes a vilification of narcissists, you know, but there are ways in which, you know, many of us have narcissistic tendencies or have behaved that way at different times in our life in more circumstantial situations where maybe it hasn't been like, you know, our complete patterning, but it's a pattern that we, you know, in certain circumstances and certain environments can become very cut off from ourselves. Like you said, that form of freeze where we were going into this like fake mode where we're not, you know, touching any of what's over there because it's too painful to look at in this scenario, in this environment. 


I think like when people are very prideful, like maybe in a professional setting, and they don't want to see like something they're being criticized about, they could easily step into some of those narcissistic behaviors as a form of freezing. Right. 


R: Yeah. Yeah. And again, it's like, it's, I do feel like it's, um, like a double bind kind of response where it's like, I'm both in a fight response. Like, I have this defensive posture and like a don't fuck with me energy and like, maybe I'm like, have like walled off entry to myself, and simultaneously there's this, this deep freeze that's happening where it's like, I am actually out of touch with massive aspects of myself as a whole. 


And I think when, when we're talking kind of like personality disorder dynamics, that is definitely what's going on. Like it's deep, deep, deep freeze, but over coupled with really strong fight, like super hot patternings as well. Wow. 


A: Yeah. It's, you know, it's, uh, it's one of these things where you would really hope that someone who had those things going on would seek this kind of somatic reprogramming, but the sad thing is, is that a lot of people who are really locked into that are, are not available for it yet. 


R: Yeah. I know it is. Yeah. As someone who has experienced narcissistic abuse, yeah, it is a really challenging thing because, you know, I, I guess I just want to name this piece because I think it's important because I understood these dynamics. 


Actually, I had studied nervous system quite extensively prior to getting into the abusive relationship that I was in with someone who played out these patterns in quite a severe and very detrimental way. And, um, I was kind of astounded, you know, like post it. It was kind of like, how, how the hell did I get myself into that? 


Like I recognize what was happening. I had like an awareness to some degree of what was happening. But my own lack of awareness was around my freeze, around those dynamics, in my own life, and in my family history too. Cause there was a lot of like narcissistic abuse. 


If we want to use that terminology in my lineage line that was completely unspoken, that was completely hidden, that was like brushed under the bench that like we weren't allowed to talk about. It was like, we don't go there. And then even in my own family system, there was a lot of like, we pretend that everything's great and fine and like shiny on the outside. 


And, like, we don't talk about all the codependency that's happening in the inside. And so my system had its own freeze response, which is partially what made me such a, you know, good match for that dynamic. But I will say understanding what was happening sort of got me hooked in even deeper because I could justify what was happening. 


I could make it make sense. And I have a really high capacity. Well, had, I should say I had a very high capacity to tolerate chaos and to tolerate kind of like crazy and like a little bit of insanity, like because I trained myself to have a high capacity for that. 


And that like high capacity coupled with like over compassion, and I'll even say over empathy, led me to staying in it longer than I think I would have. If I just didn't have any knowledge or know-how of these dynamics, because I was like, Oh, this is what's happening. 


And this is how it's playing out. And like, you know, the person I was with was even like, not actually receptive to it, but seemingly kind of receptive to it. Like, and then I would go into that delusional thinking that flight response of like, Oh, it'll be different. If I can just get him to see this, if I can just get him to see that, it'll be different. 


Oh, tomorrow he'll wake up to what he's doing to me. Oh, tomorrow, he'll realize that like screaming at me and calling me horrible names and like psychically abusing me isn't okay to do inside a relationship. Like, uh, you know, and so I would go into that flight response of like tomorrow and like, it'll be okay. 


Okay. And so I think something that is like really important to recognize in these dynamics and to bring it back to like a grounded reality is like, you can have all the compassion and understanding in the world, but none of that ever justifies behavior ever. And so you can have the compassion for someone and how and why they play out these dynamics, but that doesn't mean that there's no consequences to them playing out those dynamics. 


That doesn't mean accountability for them playing out those dynamics. I just think it's important to name because if anyone's listening to this, like, and has like similar makeup to me, like it took me a long, long time to figure that one out, like, which is embarrassing to name, you know, it's just like, really? But it was like because of my trauma, because of my, you know, emotional makeup. Yeah, that was like a hard pill for me to swallow. 


A: Yeah, I think that's really amazing for you to share that because it also speaks to the strength of our unconscious conditioning, like in a way like our muscle memory and our generational patterning that is underneath the surface. It's that hidden, invisible stuff that's going on that has so much power. It has the power to keep someone well-educated, well informed, like you in a relationship dynamic that was really unhealthy because you had the patterning. 


And like you said, in your lineage, it was unhealed, right? And so there was a patterning of like accepting this as the premise, accepting this as the reality, because there was a part of your nervous system in your body that was like, this makes sense because this is, this has been the pattern already unconsciously. 


R: What love is, you know, which is insane at this point in my journey. I'm like, wow, how twisted that like my system thought that's what love is. But to some degree, it is what my system thought. 


A: Yeah, no, it's crazy. And it's actually having me reflect: when I was 19, I ended up in a relationship with an alcoholic who is older than me. And I did not know like what an alcoholic was from my own experience because both my parents are children of alcoholics. And so I never really saw my parents drinking. So, I didn't grow up with like alcohol being a thing. And I never saw like someone getting like fall over drunk or, you know, couldn't stop drinking. 


That was just not in my reality, but it was in my genetic like lineage to have parents that witnessed alcoholism and said no to it really aggressively, actually. And so when I got into this relationship, it took me about a year of observing it because I was kind of like an alien. I was like, what is happening? Like, why is he doing this? Like, I was like, I don't totally get this. Like, why could he not stop drinking? 


Why does he drink 18 beers in a row and then turn into a different person? Because I was so young and I didn't understand it. But then, after a while, it was like something in my muscle memory was like, no. It was like it was the kind of the opposite of accepting it. It was like a refusal to be in that dynamic. 


And, you know, it still took me, you know, even with that refusal, it still took me because probably of other patterns in my nervous system, like a year and a half to actually get out of the relationship. You know, once I realized that, oh, he's not, this is something systemic in him. 


I'm not going to be able to help him out with this, you know. But I just as you were talking, I was realizing how that rejection of being with an alcoholic was in my physical, you know, lineage at that point, because both my parents had had been through that and said no to that, you know. 


So that that's part of that muscle memory being like, you know, responsive or not responsive to our environment, you know, to what's happening in our environment, you know, and it sounds like you were able to actually move through. And maybe even maybe you can say whether this feels true to you or not. When we complete these patterns in our day, right, like in our world right now, in your world as Rachel, like, do you think it vibrates into your ancestral lineage? Do you think that your ancestors like cheer you on? 


R: Oh, I mean, I like, yeah, I utilize ancestor support a lot in my work, personal work, also client work. If I have clients who are receptive to it, I'm never one. I believe we can only work with little layers of support in so much as we can sense them, feel them, want to sense them and feel them. 


But yeah, for me, the ancestor line is like a huge layer of support. And like any time I do, like I've done so many like pieces of my lineages healing. And every time I feel like the ancestors are just like, oh, thank God, like they're just so relieved. 


But they're also like, girl, we got your back. Like I often will feel into like behind my heart space. And I really just feel like ancestors lining up behind me, just being like, yes, like you are not alone. 


We are here with you, and we are walking this path with you. And like what you're doing will influence the descendants as well, whether you have children or not. Like it is rippling across time and space. It is impacting, influencing that lineage line. And yeah, I mean, I absolutely believe in that because it feels so somatically true in my own system. Right. 


A: Well, and, you know, our lineage doesn't have to be genetic, as you kind of just mentioned, like anybody who's going to be taking, you know, your course, this, you know, this round and like connecting with you somatically, even if it's through a Zoom screen, they're going to be feeling into your nervous system as you lead them through these processes. You know, they're going to be co-regulating together as a group. 


They're tapping into not only your personal individual lineage, but the lineages of the teachers that you have connected with, that you have, you know, taken in and then now giving that back, you know, to the people in their personal worlds. 


R: Yeah, so, so, so, so true. Yeah. And I even have like in all my courses, I always have like a lineage page that just is like, these are the people I've studied with. Like this is all influencing and impacting this work. 


And, you know, I even say like, I don't necessarily even endorse all these people, but they have influenced and impacted me in some way, shape, or form. And therefore, their, their body of work, their knowledge, their understanding, their whatever you want to call it is, you know, there's seeds of it throughout everything that I do. Right. 


A: Yeah. Sometimes those like teachers that, you know, not everything about them is resonant now because they come from like a different time. They come from maybe a different culture or they come from a different background. 


Right. But there are still like valuable things there that they brought, you know, in, in their imperfect human way. You know, like I remember I read like a somatic book from like the sixties that had a bunch of these references to Freud and it framed it in these like really interesting ways that I was actually like, wow, like I never really thought of like Freud's work as being like this level of groundbreaking because I mostly have heard all the criticisms of, you know, the things he got wrong. 


You know what I mean? But there was some really interesting like framing of like, oh, you know, he really did have this really amazing impact. And some of the things he did get right have been become the foundation for other, you know, things that have developed that resonate more with me, you know, totally. 


R: That's that's cool. I love that. 


A: Yeah. Well, tell us a little bit like for the people who've been listening and feeling really drawn to everything that you're talking about, you know, how can people join this cohort if it's if it's open still for joining? And what does that look like? 


R: Yeah, it's totally still open for joining. At this point, we've already had our first session and so there's replays. So everything is recorded and I'm really encouraging of people going at the right pace and right timing. So like if you come in and it's already we already had our first session, you're not behind like you really are not. 


And I really want that to be known and felt and sensed. And like even the people who started, I'm like, you can take this at the pace that you need to if this is going too fast. You can, you know, you're welcome to just watch the replays, but still participate in the Facebook group. So there is a Facebook group that is a pop up group, meaning it'll be open for the time of the course, but then it won't be open after that point. 


But just a sharing space of what you're moving through. This is an eight week long course, so it'll go for the whole month of June and July of 2024. But then there's also, you know, I have like a $15 workshop called Why We Freeze. So that could be an entry level place too. 


Like that's an easy thing you can sign up for. It's a two-hour long workshop. It gives you those five layers of freeze that I mentioned, offers like that description of those five layers, and like the ways that we can move through them. And then there's always like future work as well. Like this isn't, you know, this eight week course is called Finding Flow. Finding Flow isn't like the only way to work in freeze dynamics. 


I also have a course called Slow Burn, which is a five-month long course that covers freeze dynamics in sexuality within relating. And that goes into like codependency and like dynamics that happen in the ways in which we are intimate with other humans. 


And so, you know, there's a lot of different ways in which people can get this knowledge. And even just follow me on Facebook, follow me on Instagram. Like I talk about it a lot. So you can even just get free information about it and like, yeah, keep digesting it, integrating it, being with it in your body and system. Excellent. 


A: Yes. I do highly recommend following Rachel because her posts sometimes, you know, on, especially on Facebook, where they allow for longer form posts, like you really offer. Like sometimes, I'm like reading, and I'm like, this is practically like a blog post or an article that I'm just happening upon on my Facebook feed. And there's so much like really valuable information here, you know. And I know Instagram has like a, you know, character limit, but like, you know, sometimes like can hack that by creating like the words on like the picture. 


R: Right. Yeah, I do that a lot. The carousel writing. 


A: Yeah. Totally. Yeah. Because you're very prolific in that way and you are very well-spoken about these things. And I love that you, you know, as I mentioned at the beginning, you bring in personal stories of what has happened for you in your body. 


And that is so beneficial because it gives people like something that they can relate to in you. And then they can start to feel that sense of safety of like, oh, she understands. She understands and she gets it because she's been through this too. Totally. 


R: Yeah. I'm a firm believer in like not pedestalling teachers and to take a very vulnerable approach to teaching, not in the sense of like, oh, here's my mess and I'm dumping it on you all. But like in this sense of like, I'm in this with you. 


Like, I am not coming to you teaching this from some place of, like, I have it all figured out, and I am a master who never phrases. It's like, no, I still freezing. Let me tell you all about it. Like, and I am probably four steps ahead of you, perhaps. And so I can hold space for you. I can create, you know, the safety. 


I can point you and orient you back to yourself, back to your truth, back to your knowledge, back to your attunement because I've done that. And because I know what that's like inside of my system. So I can offer that transmission, but not from this place of like, I've got it all figured out. 


It's actually from this place of like, hey, like I'm holding your hand. And just so you know, I'm also still working on this stuff. Like I'm still growing and will be for the rest of my life. 


A: Totally. Well, and I think that's what makes, you know, someone like me, another somatic practitioner, attracted to working with you is that, you know, how I prefer to like learn things is through my own experience. And so when I see you offering from your own experience and then I start to think like, oh, there, you know, there's optimization. It doesn't have to be just about like fixing something or stopping myself from having these problems. 


It's like, how can I continue to optimize and grow and enhance what I'm doing in my own body so that, you know, when a client shows up who has that same challenge or maybe a slightly different challenge that I wasn't even aware of, but that someone in the group container or maybe you brought to the forefront and I recognize it. 


Oh, they're in a freeze. I get that now. What little tool or little like, you know, morsel can I offer to help that person, you know, through something that I've literally experienced, not just read in a book, but like you said in your beginning of your classes, giving people that felt sense somatic experience of what this concept is, you know, or what this work is about, I think that's really valuable. 


So, you know, if you're listening and you're another practitioner of some kind, you're a coach, and you work with people in this intimate setting, I highly recommend checking out Rachel's programs and just learning more, developing yourself more. We get in that freeze of thinking we know it all already, and it's like a trap. 


R: It's totally a trap. I know I'm like, I would love all practitioners everywhere, even like business coaches, like you, like your clients will massively benefit if you can understand freeze dynamics on a different level. Cause then you can, oh, my client's not just being lazy. Like, no, my client's probably dealing with a deep nervous system dynamic. 


And if I can show up for them in that, like actually, like the results will be even more prolific than if you don't understand the freeze dynamic that's happening. So yeah, I love you putting that plug out there for practitioners of all variety. 


A: Right. Right. Cause you don't have to, you know, people are so busy collecting certifications or thinking that they have to like learn a whole system around something and you don't, if you already qualify to help people in the various ways that you do, you can always add in like a little something to see if it works for this person. 


That's so welcome. That's so beneficial. We don't have to like endlessly seek certifications. We can learn and then express from our, from our lived experience. Exactly. 


R: Yeah. Yeah. I love that. 


A: I go there with you on that one. Well, thank you so much for coming on and sharing. And, you know, I was so excited to have this conversation just like from weeks of reading your content and, you know, really looking forward to learning more about this with you in the future. It's not going to work out this round, but in the future sometime, I think that would be really beneficial. 


R: Absolutely. Yeah. Look forward to having you in the container and really enjoy this conversation and thank you so much. 


A: Yeah. Excellent. 


A: You've been listening to the Free Your Soma podcast. To find out more information about today's guest, check the show notes and to find out more information about me, Aimee Takaya and the Radiance program, visit www.freeyoursoma.com.


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