Why Trauma?

Why Trauma?

Tree Trauma by Don Stott
Tree Trauma by Don Stott

By the title, I mean why the sudden interest in the topic here on the blog. There are several reasons for this.

1: healing has a key role in spiritual development. When I learned to teach meditation back in the 1970s, we studied the role of resolving stress in awakening. Essentially, the finer levels of our being require more refined levels of experience. If our physiology is agitated or unsettled by unresolved stress (experiences), this becomes problematic. We can’t see or feel through the fog and shadow, just as we can’t see into a lake when we disturb its surface.

Effortless meditation has a key role in resolving stress by giving the physiology a deep rest and by touching into our deeper nature so those fine experiences can grow.

However, while this may soften our hard nuts, it usually requires more direct tools to get at our core pockets of resistance. When they’re laid down in early childhood in the unconscious and protected to avoid uncomfortable experiences, they need a different approach to recognize and release.

Early childhood is also pre-cognitive, so there aren’t cognitive memories yet. Those impressions are somatic, through sensation and senses only.

Even after awakening, the unconscious habit of protecting those nuggets can keep them hidden, yet still influencing our choices and worldview. Ironically, this is through the filter of the awakened perception.

2: The science has evolved quite a bit over the years. It turns out trauma isn’t just from acute events like a car crash. Sustained stress or an overwhelming experience of any kind can lay down impressions in the same way. What has such an impact varies by person. This deeper understanding has led to more powerful and complete modalities. Also, the recognition that all of us have trauma. It’s in the collective and the family, so we get it too.

3: I’ve found a modality that helps with both healing and regulation of the nervous system. You need both for the healing to stick. Otherwise, old habits (samskaras) can undo clearing charges (vasanas).

I’ve seen modalities that can make things worse, such as in amplifying or validating our trauma. This deepens its effects and our identification with it.

This modality is also oriented to allowing, while avoiding the “fix it” mode that the Western mind is so prone too. Feeling wounded is not a mode for healing. Nor is the idea we’re broken and need constant renovation.

4: I’ve been using an “inside-out” approach of allowing emotions to arise in a neutral presence so they can be resolved. This has been effective, but doesn’t get at all the physically embedded unconscious ruts. These may need an outside-in (somatic) approach, following sustained sensations inward.

5: I’ve been guided into the arena to support the physical embodiment of the awakening here.

6: I’m also fascinated by the approach and very curious about the framework. It’s great for spiritual growth. And there’s a community around the students.

7: The training supports my coaching work and can expand what I offer. We’ll see how that unfolds.

I won’t only be talking about trauma but it will be a theme this year as I’m taking related training. It’s prevalent personally, in families, culturally, and collectively.

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  1. Sharon

    D, in point #3, you use the phrase “amplifying or validating our trauma.” Did you mean to equate amplifying with validating or did you mean them as two different things? If you meant them as two different things, then I agree that amplifying isn’t useful. But validating, I think, is quite necessary especially if part of the trauma involved invalidating or denying or dismissing the child’s harmful experience. Also I think it’s important to recognize that identification occurs on several levels, some deeper and thus more hidden than others. The deeper levels of identification require a guide skilled at those deeper levels as well as the more superficial or expressed levels.

    1. Hi Sharon
      I mean them distinctly. By validating, I mean validating our story of suffering. This helps the identification rather than the healing.

      But I take your point. To process it, it’s important that it be conscious and it does require a skilled practice or facilitator. Otherwise, we can be re-traumatized. And being conscious means validating it’s there. Some therapies validate the experience itself. But there’s a distinction between validating we have trauma and that we are trauma. In the example I’m thinking about, the subject was made proud of his trauma and felt special because of it. This is supporting the identification rather than the healing.

      1. Sharon

        I know, from personal experience, that that can happen. With one friend in particular, she kind of got into a contest with me about who had the worst trauma! But I would say, even feeling proud of the trauma or special because of it, is something that needs to be healed rather than being labeled as bad because of the spiritual rule against it. I can see how it’s a very fine line. And also that the client’s degree of yoga stah might not be as profound as the coach’s.

        1. Hi Sharon
          🙂 Yes, identity likes to feel our drama and suffering is important.

          Agreed – nothing should be labeled bad. Trauma is a natural response to a perceived threat. Our narratives are there for us to feel secure. And so on.

          You raise an important point. There are a number of spiritually-oriented approaches that assume an established presence. Mindfulness, for example, requires some detached observer established or it just becomes mind trying to control.

  2. harrison

    Thanks David for sharing this modality with us. It looks interesting. Is there a video of someone working with a person or a group? Is there a practisioner of this approach who offers sessions? I looked at their list of topics but did not see a skill practice in terms of actually facilitating trauma release and the format they use. What is different or unique that they offer? I’ve done years of facilitating trauma with in an individual and group session using a variety of methods including systemic constellation work. The subconscious and the collective subconscious play a much larger role than most people or approaches realize. Someone who brings a much large field of reference like you do of course will shine in their work no matter what the modality.

    1. Hi Harrison
      I can’t speak for the modality yet – still learning. But I’ve been impressed so far. At this point, I’m still in the theory. The application comes near the end – but I did get a sample technique in one of the classes and was surprised how potent it was. I have become aware of physical contractions that had been hidden before.

      As for a sample, here’s 2 I’ve seen:

      Note – they offer several modalities. These are both Embodied Processing.

      Some of the classes, like the one I first took, are about understanding trauma. The practitioner pathways are the ones that add techniques. As far as comparing with other systems, I’m new to such modalities. It’s a surprise I’ve been called here. I have experienced Constellations before but not in this context.

      And yes, I agree. They’ve talked about intergenerational and collective trauma, suggesting a lot of our identity is trauma-based as is large parts of our culture. This makes sense as I’ve written about how our language is ego-based and thus in itself, reinforces identity.

      (laughs) Thanks. Need to shine into those samskaras if it’s going to be part of the work…

  3. Jenifer

    I am here for all of this. The bit about childhood being pre-cognitive and ‘those impressions are somatic, through sensation and senses only’ really struck me. I have very clear memories from about 2 years of age onward, and can see how this reframe will help disentangle identity from those impressions. Also, in point #3, I’ve read this line over and over but can’t quite grasp it ‘old habits (samskaras) can undo clearing charges (vasanas)’ — do this mean if we healed a bunch of stuff during a period of time (say for example, an astrological cycle) but were unable to regulate, then the healing won’t stick and the charge will come back through old habits (to be addressed in the next astrological cycle)?

    1. Hi Jenifer
      Many don’t remember much prior to age 4 because of the “synaptic pruning” that takes place a little later. Dropping the less-used pathways means access to those memories is muted. Plus, as we become more mind-oriented, somatic memories become less familiar.

      I’ll be writing more about this but the trauma itself generally has 2 aspects. One is the emotional charge. This is the part that makes us reactive. When released, they flow again.

      The other is the ruts or habit patterns. These are not mental habits but rather impressions in the physiology. They’re pre-physical in the etheric but have a density. When experienced, they don’t just flow out in release, they need to be dissolved.

      When we heal the charge but still have the impressions, we’ll tend to act in the same old ways, so will be prone to create similar new emotional resistances. (Although post-awakening, if we’re conscious enough, this is less so.) Once both charge and impression are healed, it’s done.

      1. Jenifer

        Hi David,
        Ah, I see. Thank you for that clarification. Looking forward to more on healing impressions! Curious if this relates to my experience last night — while drifting off to sleep and feeling myself fall deeper and deeper, marveling at how much space is within us, I touched what felt like a ‘hard nut’ of some kind, and I don’t know if I read it here or somewhere else but what immediately came to my mind was to tell myself I felt safe and to just notice, and when the ‘hard nut’ opened it was like a jack-in-the-box of fear and anxiety pouring out in waves. Wave after wave. It was intense, but on some level I also remember feeling excited that it was releasing? I had a pretty sleepless night and didn’t feel like it completed, only when I did my morning meditation did I return to homeostasis. But it was something. Any thoughts? Thank you, David

        1. Exactly, Jenifer.
          It surfaced in awareness, you allowed it, you reassured the body, and it popped.
          It’s a big one, so there may be residual charge yet. And there is probably some somatic impression there too that may dissolve over time.

          It may surface again, or it may just complete in the background, with a bit of time.

          Congrats! Some of those may field like a load off after.

          1. Okay yes! A residual charge came up to be processed yesterday evening – it wasn’t near as intense as the initial pop but wow, it took me a moment to be able to relax back and just let it do its thing – what a sensation. Sharp and acidic. Phew!!

            Curious – I have a sense that I’m getting close to touching something that does not want to be touched in the sense that the amount of grasping & fear that arises in me is astronomical. Did I read something somewhere about what that is?

            And, it is also curious to me that I am having these experiences right along with your articles. I remember a similar experience when you visited Utah where you mentioned something about the transition from sleep state to waking (that if you ‘pay attention’ (or something along those lines) that you could experience complete unbounded Silence before being gathered together into a sense of Self in the waking state), and then me having that exact experience the very next day. Does you giving an experience a voice catalyze our own experience of it?

            1. Hi Jenifer
              Right, they can have various “flavours”, depending on the initial contraction, and then how and for how long it’s been suppressed. Like rocks, they evolve under compression and can get more concentrated. Aged to perfection. 🙂

              The “not want to be touched” is probably childhood or generational. As a survival and safety response, we hide the uncomfortable stuff away. When they start to surface, we can notice the resistance to being seen. Again, reassurance and a cultured sense of safety can help reassure that it’s safe now. So yeah, for the big stuff, there’s the charge, and there’s the resistance to being seen, and secondary charges layered on over time that were used to hide it.

              On the sync, there can be a few things. Yes, sharing it can be a catalyst for some. Also, when speaking from the flow of life, we’re all in the same flow, so it can show up concurrently at various points. Also, the support for an unfolding can show up with it. (Later, the intelligence within the experience becomes more conscious so they become self-explanatory.)

              Most memorable for me was on my teacher training. Each afternoon, we’d watch experience tapes after small group experience discussions. For a period of time, I’d have a new experience unfold, we’d puzzle over it, then it was described in the afternoon tape playback. 🙂

              That support evaporated back home later…

              1. I don’t know why but I’m just over here laughing and giggling in response to your comment. I love every bit of it. It feels like my endlessly curious (and endlessly frustrated) childhood self is finally getting the answers she was always searching for. What a gift! Thank you, David 🙂 haha!

  4. Peter Goodman

    Thank you David;
    There is so much work to do for “wellness”.
    I am excited that you are learning ways that can help us in the future. I will be “in line” when you go “on line”.
    I am trying to simplify and deal with fewer people that influence and assist me.

    Again Thank you David for the post and keep us updated on future offerings to assist us.

    Peter Goodman

    1. You’re welcome, Peter
      Be careful with thinking you’re broken and health is a chore. While you are in a healing mode, note that the body is doing the work. You just need to support that. Health and healing are natural. It’s only that our culture has forgotten how to support that and has laid baggage onto the body, which has adapted as best it can. By learning better ways of being, we can clear up the backlog and live our greater potential.

      We’ll see where I’m guided to go with this. I don’t expect to become a healer but may add modalities to support what I’m already doing. But who knows. I didn’t plan on doing what I’m doing. 🙂

      1. Peter Goodman

        Thank you David!!!
        Your advice and assistance is invaluable.
        I look ahead to what May be with what you are doing in expanding your “toolbox” to help us.
        In this transition of healing I hope for the best outcome and will deal with whatever comes my way.

  5. jose

    Thank you so much for expanding on this topic. As a trauma-informed therapist working on myself and with clients is refreshing to see spiritual coaches integrate trauma-informed care into their work. So often, in spiritual circles, the emotions and ego are seen as not “real” or we are told that meditation will take care of everything. It seems that the awakening itself leads us to work back with our emotions and parts that don’t know they are awakened. Somatic work is great, feeling into my body has been key to healing, the work of Peter Levine in somatic therapy has been quite useful to me. I am also training in Internal Family Systems, many of these modalities had their origins in Eastern (Tibetian, Zen, and Vedic systems, which may be why they feel different than previous therapeutic modalities. The therapists that originated them, came up with them after long periods of meditation retreats. One issue, with these modalities is that without the meditative aspect, a client may spend a lifetime healing the ego and exploring emotions, not a bad endeavor in itself but it misses the Absolute aspect of life. I’m looking forward for more trauma oriented posts from you!

    1. You’re welcome, Jose.
      I have been pleased to see the classes I’m taking are spiritually informed. One of the teachers is awake.

      TM has what’s called “General Points” for when someone’s meditation is “checked” to give an effortless experience. This includes using body awareness to help facilitate larger releases.

      I agree on meditation. One of the early researchers on meditation brought out a body awareness practice that triggered the “Relaxation Response.” Having what they call resource, coming back to calm, is very valuable. But it shouldn’t be the central practice. As Maharishi put it, too much body awareness dulls the mind. But as a way to facilitate release – excellent. Right use of right techniques.

      I have several more articles in the pipe…

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