I’m in a strip-mining phase of the awakening journey. This shows up through intense emotional triggers, and old trauma nervous system responses. I’m being called to resolve trauma in the system in real time.
Fortunately I’ve got the practices, tools, techniques and skills todo this. Most importantly, my Beloved is able to hold the space with loving-awareness.
He understands the process I’m in, and he knows how to be loving and caring in response.
Here’s an example from this week of how this plays out.
I finish work at 10pm. After putting my son to bed, I head to bed with my partner. We listen to a Tantrik Yoga Practice in bed.
Afterwards, I don’t feel very connected, or like reaching out to my partner.
He notices – normally I’m highly communicative and sensory.
He asks if I’m ok.
His question makes me realise I’m not – I’ve disconnected from him, because I’ve disconnected from myself. I’ve disassociated – this is a trauma nervous system response. It hasn’t happened for years, but has been happening again over the past few weeks, since moving in with my Beloved and his children.
Now that I’m aware of what’s happening, I focus on my breath, and drawing myself back to centre. It’s hard, but I do it. The desire to resolve trauma is strong.
I feel myself come back online… and as that happens, my body begins to jerk around in convulsions.
This is not new. It’s been part of the kundalinī awakening process I’ve experienced for years.
On Monday, in a live call with Tantra scholar and teacher Christopher Wallis, I asked him how the Tantrik traditions address habitual nervous system responses – trauma responses.
He replied (I’m paraphrased, this isn’t a direct quote):
‘When you notice that happening, focus on melting, on softening. If you have someone there who can hold you while you’re doing that, it helps. Often the body will start to jerk and convulse once the melting happens, as it releases the trauma from the body.’Christopher Wallis
It was nice to have external validation of something that has been unfolding for years in my system. And, it was also somewhat infuriating because when those nervous system responses happen… my entire system can get hijacked and there is so much fear that the idea of “softening and melting” is impossible.
Soften and melt! I’m in DANGER! Are you fucking kidding! I could DIE!
Oh yeah, sure, just ‘melt’.
Last night though, once I caught the disassociation and tuned into breath, possibly because my Beloved was physically and energetically wrapped around me with loving-awareness, I was able to melt.
And as soon as I did, body convulsions.
Intense body convulsions.
Surrendering to this while being seen by someone else is also challenging – who’s the freak being jerked around the bed? Yet at the same time, being seen in this space is profoundly healing.
This is just me, allowing what needs to happen in the body/mind to resolve itself.
If my partner had reacted with any rejection, or anger, or ridiculing, or fear… it would have shut me down, and potentially added fuel to the story ‘there’s something wrong with me, I’m so fucked up’.
That’s an old story which doesn’t really have any traction in me anymore. But it’s important to point out that the way the other person holds space in resolving trauma is CRITICAL, otherwise re-traumatization occurs. (Trauma isn’t what happened, its what happened inside us when something traumatic unfolded. Often what happens inside us is that we feel bad, and that there’s something wrong with us. We then become hypersensitive to how other people perceive us.)
So we’re there, in bed. My Beloved is beside me, holding space, and I’m jerking around like popcorn on high heat. It’s uncomfortable, it’s edgy, and yet I know that it’s a golden opportunity to resolve trauma so allow myself to go as deep into the experience as possible.
It gets gnarly at this point. Sense impressions start to arise – rage, fighting someone off, being violated. These impressions are fleeting, shadow-like, vague. Yet also very present and real.
A part of me wants to get the hell out of the experience. Yet I also want to allow the body to do what it’s doing.
The only way is through.
I hold the course.
My Beloved holds me.
Breath holds me too.
A wave passes. My body shudders into stillness. I feel like weeping with relief but just focus on my breath.
The respite is brief. Another wave kicks off. More intense. Stronger, more vile sense impressions. Did these things happen to me once upon a time? I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. Stay out of mind. Stay with breath and body awareness. Continue being with, and meeting fully, whatever is happening.
I’m grateful for the mantra that is playing on my UE Boom, and I focus on working with expanded awareness – awareness of breath, awareness of body, awareness of mantra, and awareness of Beloved. Awareness.
Finally, the convulsions ease. It’s over, for now.
I feel connected, present, anchored and grounded. There’s a continuity between me and everything else. I feel capable of holding and responding to my Beloved now.
This is resolving trauma, in real time, through orientaion to loving-awareness throughout
This morning I feel clear, open, strong and grounded. There’s a new kind of energy showing up in my embodied experience. The energy trapped in that trauma has been released into my energy body.
Mostly though, I’m grateful.
I’m grateful that I’m no longer doing this alone – that I have someone to hold the space with loving-awareness as this level of strip-mining occurs.
I’m also grateful that I have context and a map for these experiences. I understand what is happening, and I know how to orientate to the experience to support liberation, or the resolving of the trauma, rather than deeper bondage, or re-taumatization.
I’m grateful that I have the skills, practices, tools and techniques that make all this possible.
And I’m very aware that there are so many people out there in the world right now in pain, suffering deeply, who don’t have the support, the context, the map, the practices, tools and techniques to meet and resolve the trauma they’re carrying. Not yet anyway.
Here in New Zealand, Mike King, a mental health advocate, just returned his Order of Merit medal to the government because he’s so dismayed by the mental health services.
I don’t work in mental health services. I work in spirituality – in awakening and liberation.
Yet really, it is one and the same thing. When we awaken to our true nature as awareness, we KNOW that we are not our thoughts, that we are not our minds. Our mental-emotional bodies can be traumatized and scarred, yet that which we are – pure awareness – is untouched.
This shift in identification is the core of the work I do with people, even as I teach skills, practices, tools and techniques which support the healing of mental health challenges and help resolve trauma.
That’s why I was able to go through that trauma healing process last night, with my Beloved.
The psyche knows how to heal itself from the inside out – there is an intelligence there which, when held in loving-awareness – can literally just do it’s thing. (You might call this intelligence Kundalinī.)
All the person has to do is ‘get out of the way’. That’s what I did last night. I noticed where I was, I orientated to breath, I allowed what was happening to happen, and I wasn’t afraid of what was unfolding. Even when it got real gnarly with the vile sense impressions that came through.
Orientation to awareness is critical for these processes. It is the resource that allows the healing to unfold in a safe way. It is the power that prevents the person from identifying with what’s coming through, and potentially re-experiencing trauma, or drowning in the intensity of it all.
In The Recognition Sutras, a Tantrik Text written 1000 years ago, this process of trauma resolution is named.
The Fire of Awareness, though obscured in its descended state, still partially consumes the kindling of knowable objects.The Recognition Sutras, Sutra 14 translation by Christopher Wallis
Attaining one’s innate power, one absorbs everything into oneselfThe Recognition Sutras, Sutra 15 translation by Christopher Wallis
These two sutras point to this process – of awareness consuming and dissolving whatever is unfolding. Sutra 14 says that even when someone is not self-aware, this process happens, however the entire experience (event) is not consumed. Impressions remain. This is the trauma stored in the system. But as Sutra 15 points out, it’s possible to dissolve it all, by attaining one’s innate power – that of being loving-awareness.
This is how the spiritual path can help resolve trauma – through a process of embodiment, awareness, and surrender to innate intelligence.
Healing trauma and walking the spiritual path are not two separate things. They are intimately intertwined. Both invite us into direct connection with our deepest selves, and in doing so, reveal all the aspects of self we might have locked and hidden away. Both have tools, techniques and practices which support the integration of those rejected aspects of selves. But spirituality brings the fundamental understanding that there is a part of is that is always whole, always untouched, always perfect.
This is what has made all the difference for me as I’ve leaned into and healing trauma – knowing that even though the body/mind might always carry the scars of previous experiences, that which I am is the awareness of it all.
This is what carries me through when I have phases of trauma resolving, triggered by new situations that bring up the old wounds. I recognise that I am not the pain I’m experiencing, I am not the controlling aspects of self that show up, and I am not the defence mechanisms that arise.
I am not that, and neither are you. You too are whole, perfect and untouched.
Know that, and it becomes so much easier to work with the conditioning created by the trauma.
Know that, and it becomes so much easier to resolve trauma in real time.
And who wouldn’t want to be able to do that with ease?
A brief overview of the skills needed to resolve Trauma in real time:
- An ability to notice ‘where’ one is – embodied or disassociated?
- An ability to come back into embodiment.
- An ability to orientate to awareness of whatever is unfolding. (Which implies NOT identifying with the thoughts, feelings and sensations that might arise.)
- An ability to surrender to and trust the unfolding process, including body movements and sounds.
These skills unfold as a result of the spiritual path – embodiment, awareness, surrender to the unfolding. They can be taught, and they can be practiced.