Imagine a little child falling and hurting themself. What do we instinctively do as adults? We hug the child, hold them, stroke them, and perhaps even rock the little one. That touch has an immediate effect on the child’s nervous system. Touch calms cardiovascular stress and triggers the release of the feel-good hormone oxytocin. It soothes us, reduces the pain and alleviates the shock or anxiety we are experiencing.
The “Havening Technique” is a psychosensory therapy. These therapies are aimed at psychological or emotional healing by using physical touch or body movements to create healing. Other psychosomatic techniques are EMDR, which uses lateral eye movements, or tapping techniques like EFT. When we are anxious, our brain is racing, and our body is going into fight or flight mode. Physical touch creates delta waves in the brain. We feel calm and safe when our brain is flooded with delta waves, the slowest brain waves. Havening also delinks our thoughts from our feelings.
Havening has been made popular by the American hypnotist Doug O’Brian, a Havening trainer, and the British hypnotist Paul McKeena. McKeena has rightfully called it a “deceptively simple process that has a powerful effect on our nervous system”. It allows us to clear past limiting experiences which are creating anxiety in the present, and to overcome problems that are the consequence of past traumas. For the neuroscientific background on why this technique can help with phobias, PTSD, and anxiety, you can read more at havening.org.
Dr Ronald A. Ruden, the founder of the Havening technique, names three applications of this method. The first one is for emotional disturbances and encoded psychological trauma like PTSD. The second is for general wellness, stress management or performance. And, finally, the havening technique is also a great self-help tool.
You can apply this technique to soothe your child or partner by touching them. Self-havening allows us to self-soothe. In the following video, I will demonstrate the specific havening touch and also guide you through a visualization and some lateral eye movements to help bring down your anxiety levels.