The Pit

The Pit

The World in a Nutshell by fdecomite
The World in a Nutshell by fdecomite

Few of us had a childhood where we felt fully supported and didn’t experience any trauma. Losing a grandparent or pet is common, but the loss or departure of a parent, poverty, abuse, illness, and more can leave lasting impressions.

But it depends on how we respond to what happens. And how we respond to the fallout. And that depends on our resources and past experiences. That’s what sets the impact.

The heavier emotions, like fear, grief, sadness, and shame are the ones we avoid dealing with the most. Plus anger. We store away what we’re unwilling to see in subtle spaces within.

As those spaces tend to be in the physical and emotional bodies, they’re associated with the lower chakras. Subjectively, we may experience them as resembling a dark pit..

Some of us will have a more central garbage dump and some of us will be prone to squirrel away our hard nuts in many smaller spaces.

We can be afraid to face our past. Like a bogey-man under the bed, our pit can seem an unknown, dark horror. And yet much of that trauma is from our childhood. Our fear of it can be greater than the old trauma itself.

For the big stuff, it is helpful to have some presence established so we can just observe and don’t get drawn into the old dramas as the emotions surface. But in time, all we have to do is be willing to see it. Life events will gradually bring the old junk to the surface for an opportunity to heal. And we’ll never face more than we can handle.

With a little practice, we learn to trust the process and go with whatever comes up. And that allows deep healing.

I discovered that a few things were expertly camouflaged. But I could see side effects showing something there. Anxiety is a common flag of resistance, for example. If we’ve healed general anxiety, it can be a flag for something unseen. Being triggered by events is another flag.

Where once we saw our reactivity as a bad thing, we come to see it as a helpful indicator of what is not yet seen. Sitting with those things and healing can have the biggest impact.

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  1. Sharon

    Just as it’s useful for us to know if we have an allergy or genetic pre-disposition, so too is it useful to know if we’re having the effects of early childhood trauma (ECT). Because then we can seek out good healing modalities. And, since complete healing won’t usually occur overnight, we can also seek out good work-arounds for our ECT symptoms. And, most importantly, we can have compassion for ourselves and others who also might be having the effects of ECT. Plus, it’s really helpful to know about ECT if we’re on a spiritual path, especially one that includes mental techniques. Almost all ECT involves brain injury, if only from cortisol and other stress hormones continually flooding the system. And if something was lacking in the early environment, then perhaps parts of the brain didn’t develop or developed in a skewed way. I’ve found Sanskrit phrases to be very useful in the moment of being triggered.

    1. Hi Sharon
      You make several great points. It’s not at all unusal for us to discover childhood trauma as we do healing work but it can sometimes be well hidden, sometimes as self-preservation.

      I’m not sure I’d frame it as injury, but certainly imbalances can develop from the stored trauma.

      Seeing ourselves as weak or broken isn’t healthy. But yes, self-compassion is an important step in acceptance, which then allows deep healing. Too often, those unhealed parts of ourselves that we are conscious of have become part of our identity and our stories. That can get in the way of their release.

      1. Sharon

        I agree and that’s why I think of it as similar to finding out we have an allergy or a genetic predisposition. People probably don’t feel weak or broken about those. As for the brain injury aspect, I’ve read that in the work of several trauma experts. Again, that helps us realize that there’s quite a physical component to trauma. It’s not just psychological. I’ve found that having a naturally neutral attitude makes it easier for us to recognize trauma in triggering events. That in turn easily allows for healing in the moment.

        1. Hi Sharon
          Right, the physical adapts to the trauma but will also adapt when it heals. We don’t need to worry about healing the side effects. Rather, look to the source.

          And yes, when we have that neutrality, it makes healing much easier. We’re watching rather than in it.

          Thanks for your thought.

    2. Sharon

      Oh, it’s not at all about worrying about the side effects/symptoms nor worrying about healing them.
      It’s about dealing with them when they arise in daily life. For example, many with early childhood trauma have a certain degree of what’s called social anxiety. When that arose in me, I simply recited silently Sahanav avatu…Then not only was the social anxiety gone, it was almost as if it had never existed. Quite wonderful!

  2. Michael

    Hi David!
    I wanted to ad something…
    Another wound from childhood which is very common is repression.

    Meaning how parents react to certain emotions of the child. Usually they will either tolerate anger/rage OR hurt/sadness/fear more. The other emotions are repressed by the child because showing them results in a break in the relational binding (even if subtle).

    So if a parent is ok when the child shows anger but not if it shows fear/sadness/ hurt (or vice versa) etc. the child will repress those and later in adulthood this repression will cause problems because not being able to experierence them will create inauthenticity and compensation mechanisms (all the while these emotions that are not allowed are stored in the body and the charge increases)
    This often also happens with sexuality, masculinity/femininty) etc.

    Basically the child learns which emotions are accepable and which are not and this creates basic structures in our personality.

    with love!

    1. Interesting, Michael.
      I’m not sure there was that distinction in my family home. Emotional expression in general was unacceptable and our single parent repressed the works due to the unresolved pain of losing her partner.

      But yes, I agree with what happens with repression. My siblings and I are also illustrations of how each of us dealt with it as adults.

      1. Michael

        Well that is of course the worst form, if emotional expression in general is not acceptable as children are very emotional.

        Such people often have a hard time in adulthood getting back to feeling emotions and even more difficult is really reversing that condition fully because the nervous system has learned that feeling and expressing emotions results in danger (relational break with parent is survival threat for a child).

  3. K

    This is the best sentence “Where once we saw our reactivity as a bad thing, we come to see it as a helpful indicator of what is not yet seen. Sitting with those things and healing can have the biggest impact.” I have only recently learned not flagellate myself for my reactivity and unskilled responses. Sure – apologize where appropriate – but my responses are now a matter of curiosity – and also acceptance. Just resting in the feeling.

  4. Neville

    This is an area I have been looking for a direct comment/discussion on in relation to spiritual path/practices for some time. It’s been a personal journey of discovery and some healing to see how early childhood trauma and meditation interact, its benefits and limitations. As always you craft your words very well and hit the right notes. So thank you David, this is most appreciated.

    1. You’re welcome, Neville.
      Meditation can be very valuable is softening things up and shifting us into presence. But there are some things that need to be seen to be released. There can be habits of mind that sustain our shadows. And some try to use practices as an escape (spiritual bypassing) to avoid what they don’t want to see (feel).

      It can be a significant journey of discovery as we learn how we are and how we can heal.

  5. Neville

    Yes indeed the key phrase here for me is ‘seen to to be released’. It took me a very long time to realise the power of talk/discussion via a therapist to help with this seeing and understanding my ‘habits of mind’ which did remain stubbornly fixed despite years of meditation practice. And really started to shift once I started to open up and ‘see’ things properly. I’ve seen a few people over the years give up on their practice because they thought mediation would fix everything, or give up because they didn’t or couldn’t confront something.

    1. Right, Neville.
      I use “seeing” words but being able to feel whats there is perhaps more apt. And CBT can help in that process.

      I’ve similarly had some stubborn mental habits. Meditation can help, but if we get up out of practice and reengage them again… some of that we have to address more directly and work into our hidden places. Meditation helps with presence so we can let this stuff go.

      Yes, I’ve similarly seen people quit because of poor expectations. Not to mention those monks who’ve been in extended practice for decades and remain entrenched. That’s why I emphasize supplementary energy healing.

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