Coping with Distress: Pendulation Technique
Pendulation is a key technique from Peter Levine’s Somatic Experiencing (SE). SE is a therapeutic approach that is informed by our biology and our inborn ability to heal from trauma. I originally learned this technique from Pam Stockton, who specializes in SE. Like the hand-over-the heart technique, this technique is about noticing a feeling in your body and noticing how that feeling changes.
Here are the steps:
- When you are feeling distress, start by noticing how you feel physically, somatically. Where do you feel the distress? What does it feel like? Take a moment and let yourself fully experience this. Special Note: If you feel that you might become overwhelmed by focusing on the distress directly, focus on just a little piece at the edge instead.
- Now scan your body and find a place that feels neutral or calm. Maybe there is a place that is free from the emotional pain or maybe there is a place where the feeling is just less intense. What does it feel like? Stay with that feeling for a moment, really giving yourself time to experience it. Special Note: If it is difficult to find a place in your body that feels less pain, check your pinky toe.
- Now continue this process, shifting your attention between these two areas of your body, or “pendulating.” Move slowly. Stay with the pain, allow yourself to really experience it. Then, shift your attention back to the part of your body where you don’t feel the pain. Then shift back to the pain. Then shift back to the area without pain. As you continue to pendulate, notice how the distress changes.
Levine notes in Healing Trauma and also in In an Unspoken Voice that pendulation is something that we naturally do to facilitate emotional healing. This technique allows us to intentionally tap into and support our innate healing process.
To learn more ways to access your natural ability to heal from trauma, contact me at 713-659-9634.