How moving through trauma can return us the the complete self we were born to be.
Traumas, both massive and minute, are an inevitable facet of this life. This article will explore the healing systems set in motion the moment traumatic wounds are investigated, and how our surroundings can assist our recovery process, as well as the dignity, intelligence, and grace inherent in the body itself.
Trauma has many forms
Though the word is frequently associated with horrific events along the lines of rape or war crimes, trauma is also caused by less obvious incidences and often results from repeated patterns or events that are overlooked. The list of these more subtle or misunderstood potential causes of trauma can include cultural mores, stereotypes, expectations, prescribed grieving processes, growing up in a culture or climate that is not one’s own, or anytime one’s innate sense of self is mismatched with the external environment. Over time, these small acts of aggression leave one with compounded feelings of vulnerability and confusion, eventually corroding one’s context of self, freezing the flow toward our authentic nature, and halting the creative expression of an individual life.
My father passed when I was a teenager and it was a loss too large to understand when it occurred. The trauma to my young self, my social sphere, my family structure, and my belief paradigm were challenged to such an extent that I closed down my heart and lived in a numb state for years.
The effects radiated out in a way that I could not see at the time. That disconnected place tainted my every decision and all my thoughts. I was so out of contact with my body and emotions that I was unaware of the disruption to my sense of self until many years later.
Can trauma be inherited?
Chinese medical philosophy believes that the Shen (the spirit) is housed in the blood. Disturbances in Shen are said to be packaged within bundles of DNA and are sent down to the next of kin to process. The biomedical field has a branch of scientific study called epigenetics, it has proven that traumas can pass through the mother to the child. This opens up trauma to a whole new level and expands the territory; not only pre-recall examples like birth trauma or trauma experienced before the age of three, now it is recognised that there can be a pattern in place before you are even born.
In my case, my own bloodline flows from the stock of Jewish immigrants that carries with it immeasurable trauma. Were you raised in an agricultural area, or are you the child of parents from a different culture? Was there any way that you were fundamentally different than those that surrounded you? The answer is almost always, Yes.
The early signs of trauma
Whether we are exploring these questions for ourselves or not, the first awareness of trauma is usually initiated by signs of suffering or maladaptive symptoms. These can appear physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, or in combination. The question then becomes: which pattern is the most obvious and which pattern is causing the most discontent and ill-ease? Is it my acid reflux, low energy, insomnia, or my chronic back pain? Trauma can be related to any symptom. It does not mean it is the direct and fundamental cause of the problem but it does mean it is contributing to the pattern.
The important thing to remember, is that the very act of identifying the trauma is the spark that initiates the beginning of the return. The path to rediscovering our whole self, accompanied by all its flaws, and how that being would naturally and intuitively operate within the world. Awakening from a state of numbness and apathy: this is the process of healing.
To move forward or away from our pain?
Most lift their gaze when suffering begins to move to the centre stage of their life. Targets like relationships, work, physical environments, personal or medical shortcomings will gather the most attention in the beginning. Commonly, there is a rush to place outside blame, followed by searching and problem solving to resolve the issue.
Certain issues or aspects of them will be resolved that way. Some will be temporarily suppressed, and some will yet persist. The stubborn symptoms will crave a lot of attention. There may be all sorts of medical, religious, spiritual, even self harming attention thrown at this problem. The point being, it takes a long time to unravel. You must make many decisions along the way. You must be patient and persevere.
Open the heart and trust
There are two key factors in this process. One is learning to open the heart, the other is trusting the natural environment for breakthroughs and support. It is our mind that often puts roadblocks in front of us, such as outside blame and a desire-fueled search for resolution. Moving ourselves towards embodiment – the journey back to our centre – starts by not letting our mind make all the decisions. The emphasis here is on paying attention to what is, opening to the immediate communications surrounding us or within us, and trusting that these communications will guide us toward an integration.
How we respond to suffering
As things begin to shift toward healing, a fork in the karmic road presents. You may yet again turn away from suffering and let a distraction take over by way of familiar routine. Or – meet reality, stick with the nowness of facing it, being vulnerable to the unknowable future of the healing process.
When I look back at my own traumas, I now realise that if I had not had a robust inner sense of knowing I could have become an addict or made even poorer choices regarding my health, education, and relationships. I believe what lifted me up was that, deep down, I had a strong belief in a greater framework that operated around and within me. Attention and trust prevailed over the numbness and confusion.
The way forward
You might be reading this and still be left wondering how to become aware of one’s own patterns, much less be able to change them from the inside out. So, how? This process began for me when I pursued meditation, yoga, dance, breath-work, and a spiritual practice. As I opened my horizons up and reconnected to my body, more things around me began to shift. I was able to see that my intellectual mind was unreliable. It was duping me, controlling me, convincing me of the safety in that painful-yet-familiar rut. There was a subtle power that emanated from staying within my body, a knowingness that I could learn to trust.
That quality of vulnerability is the quality of the heart: soft, open, courageous and entirely unprotected. The more we allow ourselves to be receptive to love, the more it will flow in our lives. Stagnation gives way to motion, calcifications fall away, the tension that was maintaining those complex knots begins to slacken. Love is the force that heals trauma and opens up avenues to opportunities for change.
Opening to and acknowledging our vulnerability is the edge of love and the work of the heart. The avenues leading to this edge are as varied as the ones leading away: any number of healing modalities or changes in lifestyle choices. Whichever approach, they all present as opportunities for possible change, and integration. Our inherent grace is there waiting, under the confusion, fear, and inherited patterns. Vulnerability grants access to the intelligence and dignity at the centre of us all. It does this while simultaneously cutting through layers of now useless and excessive armour.
When we examine how we lived until trauma and disease broke us open, we consciously move toward the path of return. We begin to flow with the healing process and rediscover our original nature; an unfettered energetic slate.
We can see for ourselves that the body has an incredible capacity to heal itself. When we witness the life force we can tap into, even amidst devastating illness or injury, we are shown clues to what we can access when we choose to turn toward the healing process. This is where more and more complex wounds of trauma are involved.
Paving your own path
This journey is about engaging in the experience and the process of trial and error. Much like jumping from rock to rock, but not being able to see the next rock until you leap. I look behind me at the path of rocks I have leapt from, thinking it couldn’t have been much different. There were good rock choices and horrible ones that lead me down a paths of misery and pain, but above all else, it was the evolution of my own life process in tandem with the society that surrounds. We don’t have to change into anything different than what we are designated to be at the time of our conception. It is the natural movement of this life; to experience separateness and come back to wholeness.
Evolve back to the nothing that we are: the non-dual loving person, that is part of a living web in our environment, that has an effect on all living things and the planet, that is above all else reciprocal. It is not really about doing and controlling. It’s more about settling into the physical mass of the embodied self and staying tuned and opened to surrounding messages. In a sense, it is getting out of our own way. When we allow the healing process to awaken and interact with our life force, it builds momentum, plotting our trajectory.
We do not know ourselves that well. We think we do. At the initiation of every new decade in our lives, we are sure that now we have it figured out. However, we do not know what will happen. So we do not know ourselves. We will only know ourselves better through time if we choose to see clearly.
This reminds me of how it feels to change. It is like you are standing in exactly the same spot, looking through the same eyes, in the same body and yet everything around you looks and feels different. I have emerged from the numb state of my youth, however I still feel sad, and angry, but I also feel keenly alive. I see the movement of the life cycles that surround me and I feel connected.
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