The word ‘havening’ comes from the word "haven", which is a noun that means "a place of safety". To put it simply, havening is a method aimed at inducing feelings of safety, stillness and comfort, and can be applied to almost any scenario, whether it’s for relaxation, pain reduction or de-stressing. Havening techniques are a combination of ancient practices and modern research in applied neurobiological fields such as neuroanatomy, neurophysiology and neuroimmunology. They’re based on cutting-edge research in epigenetics – the study of changes in gene expression that don’t involve DNA mutations. Havening techniques work by bringing about an endorphin flood, which is associated with an altered state of consciousness. The endorphins are a class of opioids that are naturally produced by the body. They’re often referred to as ‘pleasure hormones’ because they induce feelings of calm and contentment.
What are the benefits of Havening?
There are many benefits of havening techniques, including increased calmness, improved focus, better sleep, reduced anxiety and stress, and an overall greater sense of well-being. Other benefits include reduction in inflammation and pain, improved immune functioning, better management of blood sugar levels, and improved capacity to metabolize fat. What’s more, havening can potentially help manage or even prevent serious long-term health conditions, including heart disease and stroke, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, autoimmune diseases, and cancer. It can also be a great way to manage the symptoms of mental health conditions, including anxiety disorder, panic disorder, PTSD, OCD, depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. We use havening techniques when accessing traumatic events to be able to process them with ease.
How does Havening work?
First, let’s discuss how havening helps to reduce the fight or flight response. When you’re feeling threatened, one of your body’s primary physiological responses is to activate the sympathetic neurological system by releasing a flood of stress hormones into your bloodstream. These stress hormones help you respond to the threat by readying your body for action, increasing your heart rate and blood pressure, and increasing glucose in your bloodstream to provide your muscles with energy so you can fight the threat or flee from it. In the short term, this is a great thing, as it helps you deal with the threat at hand. But in the long term, if this becomes chronic, it can have devastating effects on your physical and mental health.
On a neurological level, havening helps shift the brain into parasympathetic mode. It does this in part by boosting oxytocin, a hormone that is normally conjured up by human touch and bonding.
Your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems have opposite roles. While your sympathetic nervous system carries signals that put your body’s systems on alert, your parasympathetic carries signals that relax those systems.
What are the types of Havening?
There are three main types of havening techniques:
- Havening touch
This is a form of touch therapy that uses subtle touch to induce an endorphin rush. There are two types of havening touch: self-havening touch, which involves self-touch methods, such as hand-squeezing or hand-stroking; and partner-havening touch, which involves a therapeutic type of touch between two people (for example, a massage). Havening touch is one of the easiest and quickest ways to induce an endorphin flood, making it useful for relaxation, reducing pain, and increasing feelings of calm and contentment.
This involves the use of focused imagery to create a safe, secure environment that can be accessed by the mind, providing the body with a biochemical response as if the environment is real. Imagery can be used for a variety of purposes, including relaxation, pain reduction and de-stressing.
- Sound therapy
Sound therapy is the use of sounds to create a biochemical response in the body, including inducing an endorphin rush. Sound therapy can be used for relaxation and pain reduction, and for inducing feelings of calmness and contentment.