Even though I’ve researched and sampled almost every trauma therapy there is, even though I’ve published stories about some of the amazing new healing modalities, even though I’ve experienced occasional instant releases from fear through EMDR and EFT (see more on these on my Art of Collapsing blog from 2009 and the attached article, Radical Change Through Radical Disruption), I was skeptical that the Thundershirt™ would calm my dog Maya’s terror at thunder, vacuum cleaner, and rain-on-the-roof noises.
“Pressure has been used to successfully reduce anxiety for many years for both animals and humans,” says the package copy. But $43 for a little grey cotton (55 percent), polyester (35 percent), and spandex (10 percent) garment with velcro-attached straps? Despite the fact that I was near-comatose from an all-nighter of futilely trying to wrap myself around Maya as she shook uncontrollably from the noise of rain hitting solid surfaces, I was reluctant to spend so much money. “You can bring it back within 30 days,” said the store clerk. “It works for almost everybody. Just make sure it’s snug.”
When we got home, I tried it on Maya for size and she instantly looked dopey and tried to sit on me. Interesting, I thought. But how will she react when something is actually happening?
The next morning, motivated by the impulse to test the garment, I decided to finally clean my apartment. To be more precise, to vacuum—which usually sends Maya into tremors with panting. Before pulling out the vacuum, I dressed her in the new garment, and again, she got dopey. But at the sound of the vacuum, there it was: instant tremors and panting, running beside me as I attempted to speed-clean. Shit, I thought. But then something interesting happened . . . nothing. Nothing was happening. It stopped. I mean she stopped. She still alertly followed me and the vacuum as we dashed and rolled around the apartment, but the shaking and the panting stopped. Perhaps I wouldn’t be getting that refund after all.
Then last night the rain began. At the first hard patter, as she began to tremble, I reached for the Thundershirt, fastened the straps as snug as they would go, and I waited. Again, it was as if she rewound—her breathing, her blood flow, even the way she looked around the room—it all got very Zen.
Maybe she can’t breathe, I thought. I watched for a few more minutes and determined I was not suffocating my dog. She was merely deep in meditation. And most remarkably, she stayed in that state even after I took the shirt off.
Had I just witnessed instant reprogramming? New research has found that this kind of instantaneous change is possible. I’ve experienced it firsthand by throwing myself different signals through EFT when I’m in the middle of a fear response. I cannot wait for the next rainstorm to see if the change is now hard-wired.
My guess is that Maya will soon be effectively cured of her fears. Soon I will not even need her handsome new shirt with the patent pending. My guess is that there will soon be garments made for people. It’s a zillion-dollar moneymaker. Just think of the uses: undergarments that wrap and hug, clothing liners for everything from dresses to coats that exert calming pressure. Clothes that Calm—I give you the idea, all you fashion entrepreneurs. Make them hip and perhaps we will become a new society of peaceful people. Who knew fashion could be the antidote for anxiety and inane actions?