Trauma and the Journey Toward Love
Holding Consciousness of our Experiences and of Possibility…
From the front page
The work that we do is ultimately about finding a place of love and joy within ourselves.
But that, unfortunately, is not always such a simple process.
The reality is that the consciousness of dreams and of many practices, do reflect a possibility of that love and of joy. But they also reflect back the ways that we have lost connection to the part of ourselves that knows they are worthy of this love.
One of the greatest challenges in finding the path back to this part of ourselves is the way that trauma, adversity and abuse have become normalized in our culture. Traumatic experiences, for the most part, are either held in secrecy or diminished to the point that people believe this is just the way things are.
And there is a sad partial truth in that belief.
It has indeed become far too normal for people to experience overwhelming adversity and abuse.
There is growing mainstream medical research as to the frequency of these experiences. The Adverse Childhood Experience Study (ACE Study) done by Kaiser Permanente and the CDC, found that two-thirds of the population experience overwhelming adversity/traumatic occurrences at least once in their childhood.
The research shows that the effects of those experiences can be devastating to one’s health, particularly with multiple occurrences.
In her book “The Deepest Well” by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris argues that we are in the midst of a crisis, that as a culture we are for the most part completely ignoring. Many of the health crisis’ in our country – from heart disease, to addiction, to suicide, to ADHD are actually often rooted in untreated traumatic experiences.
She rightfully argues that we are treating the symptoms and ignoring the source.
For her, the research on traumatic experience is groundbreaking and opens a possibility for revolutionary health prevention and treatment breakthroughs equivalent to the discovery of germs as the cause of infectious diseases and the resulting miracle of antibiotics.
I bring all this in here because it is so relevant to the work we do as healers and seekers.
Traumatic experience does not just affect us on a physical level but also has profound emotional and spiritual effects.
What is most heartbreaking in this regard, is that the greatest problem is unprocessed traumatic experience. Our bodies, given the space, have an enormous capacity to heal themselves from traumatic experiences.
The dissociative part of trauma, where our bodies protect ourselves from the overwhelm of traumatic experience – by separating from our immediate experience, is evolutionarily meant as a temporary survival strategy.
And that is where the opportunity lies.
If we refuse to accept the cultural acquiescence to unprocessed traumatic experience as a normal state of being, then we can make space to fully love, to fully live again.
Being honest about the endemic level of traumatic experience and abuse in our culture is the first step in reminding all of us that this is not normal. In this culture of trauma and abuse unworthiness becomes the norm but this is not normal or true.
We are worthy of love even if we have forgotten this birthright.
I say forgotten, because even in the kind of separation from self, that has become the norm in our culture, that self-worth is not actually lost but instead just buried in our unconscious being.
We look in the mirror and instead of seeing the truth of who we are, we see the part of ourselves that has survived and managed in this world by hiding our own beauty and brilliance. In a culture of trauma and abuse, our actual vision gets physically distorted.
We need each other, to see what we have lost the capacity to see, in ourselves.
In this regard relationship and community become an integral part of the healing process emotionally and spiritually.
But this becomes another riddle/challenge in and of itself. If our culture is in some way traumatized, then how do we find relationship and/or community within that culture in a way that opens us to the possibility of that love instead of just re-traumatizing us once again – as so often happens.
We can do this by creating communities that hold a consciousness of both love and of traumatic experience.
I am of course partial to dreams as a modality for this work but the bigger issue is to bring this consciousness to whatever relationships and communities of consciousness that we are a part of.
If we are to give meaning to love on an emotional or spiritual level then we must find safe ways to face what tears us from that love in the first place. This is the foundational piece of all healing work in regards to traumatic experience.
And we will need each other to do this.
This will not always be as attractive as just practicing being in love and light but it is a practice that is actually sustainable and rewarding because it is real to the entirety of our experience.
That is a practice that is not always easy. It means being more serious about being grounded in our pursuit of joy and being more joyous in our pursuit of being grounded. It means letting go of the spiritual ideals that have grown out of this culture of trauma and abuse and genuinely rewriting what it means to be whole.
There are many pieces to this process.
Pieces that we each need to contribute our own experience to. That means letting go of many old versions of teacher-student and healer-client relationships.
We need to learn to honor our need for help without diminishing our own capacity for self-healing and growth. All the research on healing traumatic experience points toward our own need to learn to trust our own experience again. It is a core need in this process and it is also a protection of sorts, against the re-creating of old power dynamics within our communities, that have all too often lead us back into abuses and re-traumatizing experiences.
It means ultimately empowering our need for self-discernment.
And learning what it means, to have that self-discernment in a healthy relationship with each other and with our broader geographical, social and healing communities.
One of the things that have inspired me in regards to the writings of Dr. Nadine Burke Harris is her belief that we need a revolution in how we think about health and our health care systems.
We likewise need a revolution outside of the more traditional healthcare systems.
A consciousness of the depth of traumatic experience and abuse in our culture, while it may at first feel overwhelming, actually gives us real access to a radically different and sustainable way of being with our need for love and joy.
It acknowledges why so many struggle with the ways that we have tried to heal and grow.
And it lets go of the shame and cynicism all too often associated with that struggle. It instead replaces that with a tangible path that is both truly radical and at the same time holds a kind of humility for what we are up against.
It allows us to acknowledge the seeming impossibility of this task, with a kind of tenderness for the reality of what we are up against. And it allows us to do this with a very practical knowing that the way forward is actually wired into each of us.
With respect and gratitude,
I hope that this piece contributes to your own journey for self-discernment. If you are interested in being in further conversation in this regard, then please consider coming to the webinar – see sign up module below.
Or consider joining our upcoming three-month program called Complex Trauma, Dreams and Community.
You can find more info about that program here: “Complex Trauma, Dreams and Community”. (Pricing is variable dependant on your ability to pay.)
FREE WEBINAR: TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCE and
the JOURNEY TOWARD LOVE
Wednesday Feb 6th 11am eastern
(8am Pacific, 5pm Jerusalem)
Exploring how our journey toward love and joy is actually empowered by our willingness to be with the depths of traumatic experience and abuse that is endemic in our culture. Creating safe space for the healing of that separation, on whatever level we experience it, genuinely opens the deepest possibility for our own innocence to reemerge.