The Havening technique is a form of psycho-sensory therapy. The particular kind of touch activates electro chemicals via the skin receptors that bring relaxation and a sense of safety to the body and mind. Dr. Ronald Ruden who created Havening discovered that certain kinds of touch in particular areas of the body – the most receptive areas to the touch being arms, face and palms – activate hormones and neurotransmittors in the body such as GABA and serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin. These hormones and neurotransmittors bring about relaxation, a sense of love and connection, activate the social engagement system and regulate anxiety and mood.
The Havening also releases or inhibits the production of adrenaline and cortisol. It is these hormones and neurotransmittors that make us react in fight or flight compelling the body to react to a stressful situation. This is crucial when there is an actual threat, but many people experience these resonses when there is no imminent danger at all. The mind is still believing there is a threat and the body responds accordingly. Hence why when you remember a very stressful event your body responds by flooding your system cortisol and adrenaline causing you to want to flee, run or freeze.
The Havening changes brain wave from Alpha to Delta. The state is very powerful healing state. Many meditators and healers access this state. It helps us access emotional knowings from our unconscious. It also creates deep relaxation, activating the parasympathetic nervous system, taking one out of fight, flight or freeze mode and into the sense of safety. It is a powerful state for change. When the brain waves shift to Delta something called Calcineurin is produced in the brain, which, when original memory/problem is triggered, releases something called PKM Zita like enzyme from the Amygdala. When this is released the problem or emotional knowing is no longer accessed. It is extinct. For a lot more in depth science about this read ‘The Past is Always Present’ by Dr.Ronald Ruden.
The touch itself feels very comforting whether self Havening or receiving it from another. It plays a role in letting the unconscious mind of the person receiving it know they are safe. Just like when a baby is born and one of the first things he or she receives is that of the care givers touch, and with that touch comes deep relief and relaxation. All tension and fear melt away.
The Havening technique also utilises Pattern Interrupt, a type of pull out of a trance or hypnotic state, by having the person count backwards, hum a song, imagine walking etc as they are Havening. This approach also helps to prevent the person from going too deeply into a traumatic memory. A person who has experienced something quite traumatic invariably will have a window of tolerance. Which basically means that if they are feeling too threatened or scared then they will react as if what did happen is happening all over again and can either dissociate, panic or shut down. In this state it is a lot harder to create change as the person’s body/mind is focussing all his/or her energy on managing the perceived threat. The experience of the Havening touch and distracting the persons mind can help, very quickly, bring them back into the window of tolerance so that change can be implemented. And as the kind of touch also changes the brainwave state to Delta then the person is often much calmer and may be surprised to find that the original problem is no longer there.