Earlier this year on a cold an icy day I wrote about reframing the “dead of winter” as an invitation to rest. Just as the trees let go of their leaves to conserve water and nurture their inner root system, we may need to let go of the external activity and do the inner work of strengthening our roots through restoration. By doing so, our strong roots allow our dreams to blossom later in the year.

Fast forward about 5 months. The other day I did some yardwork that I had been procrastinating on. I pruned the dead branches from bushes that froze during the deep freeze that we experienced just before Christmas. The truth is that a few months ago I thought we had lost the bushes completely, but then around May a few little leaves started showing signs of life. They were resilient, but because of the bitter cold they experienced a trauma that delayed their typical blossoming. The dead branches were also preventing further growth. As I trimmed them off, I could see the metaphor continue to evolve with greater clarity. When we experience trauma, our emotional growth is stunted, but we’re not left without hope. Through some good tending of the soul we can be resilient and find healing. Then we are free to grow, and just might come out even stronger.


What does it mean to tend to the soul? The approach will vary depending upon who you are and what you’ve been through. For those who have experienced significant trauma or who are feeling stuck in addictive patterns, trauma therapy such as EMDR or Brainspotting may be necessary. Both of these interventions are mind-body-based therapies that facilitate healing on a deep level that can lead to lasting change. I am going to share a description of how trauma affects the brain from the EMDR International Association (https://www.emdria.org/about-emdr-therapy/)

Our brains have a natural way to recover from traumatic memories and events. This process involves communication between the amygdala (the alarm signal for stressful events), the hippocampus (which assists with learning, including memories about safety and danger), and the prefrontal cortex (which analyzes and controls behavior and emotion). While many times traumatic experiences can be managed and resolved spontaneously, they may not be processed without help.

Stress responses are part of our natural fight, flight, or freeze instincts. When distress from a disturbing event remains, the upsetting images, thoughts, and emotions may create an overwhelming feeling of being back in that moment, or of being “frozen in time.” EMDR therapy helps the brain process these memories, and allows normal healing to resume. The experience is still remembered, but the fight, flight, or freeze response from the original event is resolved.”

Brainspotting accomplishes the same thing as EMDR in a slightly different way. It is less structured and involves focused processing from a specific eye position. It was developed in 2003 by Dr. David Grand when he was doing a slow form of EMDR. I have seen amazing results with clients To learn more about Brainspotting, go to https://brainspotting.com.

Aside from trauma therapy, I also want to highlight a powerful tool for growth and transformation that I have enjoyed learning about and incorporating into therapy as well as my personal life. That tool is the Enneagram: A powerful and dynamic personality system that describes 9 distinct patterns of thinking, feeling and acting. “Ennea” is Greek for 9, and it is organized as a 9-pointed star within a circle representing the 9 types. It is an ancient tool, but has soared in popularity over the past 5 or so years, and many have found it useful in better understanding themselves and others. I have found it valuable in building self-

acceptance and acceptance of others, allowing for relating with more compassion and building

community. It is especially helpful in building intimate relationships and resolving conflict. Like any tool, however, it can also be misused and misunderstood. As I have sought to learn more about my type (Type 1) and my growth path and stress path, I can more quickly pause and recalibrate when I’m becoming less healthy. It reveals to me the “dead branches” or old patterns that are hindering my growth, and the “pruning” that is needed. I have enjoyed helping my clients to use it in the same way. In February my husband and I attended a marriage conference applying the Enneagram by Jeff and Beth McCord that was very helpful in understanding how our type combination interacts. Then a week later I had a lot of fun leading an Enneagram Workshop in partnership with 2 church communities. After these two experiences, I was motivated to deepen my knowledge and skill by becoming a Certified Enneagram Coach through Beth McCord’s Your Enneagram Coach Network. I have completed the training and am excited to start using this new skill set to serve individuals, couples, business and ministry teams and other communities! I hope to lead more workshops for groups, and can now offer Enneagram coaching as a separate service at Nurtured Soul for those who desire that focus as opposed to therapy. If you are interested in these services, please checkout my profile at https://myenneagramcoach.com/coach/mary-ann-green/#gf_6  If you would like to take a free Enneagram test, head on over to https://assessment.yourenneagramcoach.com/


As you consider how to tend to your soul, I will leave you with some encouragement that you don’t have to try to do transformation on your own strength. In John 15:1-2 Jesus says, I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” When we can surrender and let God be the gardener of our soul and do the pruning, our lives produce fruit to be a blessing to others.     



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