Trauma - explore the gift in the wound
Trauma is for me a fascinating phenomenon that I was allowed to explore theoretically and practically in the past few years. Like Dr. Keith Witt describes trauma is unavoidable and must even happen to every person. But first of all, what do we understand by trauma and why is it that we even need it for our development?
What is trauma
Trauma is an experience that has triggered stress in us and has not been resolved into a satisfactory or peaceful state. Trauma affects our well-being, our actions, our development, our relationships, it affects all areas of life. Trauma is inevitable. Why? Because we need to stress our development to become stronger and more resilient. It's similar to physical training, we have to push our limits to get better. Or on a psychological level, we need frustrating experiences with other people about our ability to develop empathy.
Francine Shapiro, the developer of the EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) treatment method, classified into two types of trauma. One describes them as a major trauma, including severe accidents, tragic environmental disasters, war experiences, rape, abuse, the death of a close relative, etc., and these need much attention in their healing process and can develop into post-traumatic stress responses. In the process, our nervous system is altered by a state of shock, which can manifest itself in increased reactivity, nightmares or even functional disorders in certain situations.
And then there is what Francine Shaipiro describes as a small trauma, such as being repeatedly suppressed by her big brother, feeling embarrassed by the class, feeling left alone by her mother, waking up at night and nobody is there, her parents say are not suitable for anything, etc. These events often have the tendency that they happen to us again and again and thus according to the motto: constant dripping wears away stone, to show their effect. Interestingly, it is statistically these smaller, recurring traumatic experiences that keep us imprisoned in blocked states and reactive behaviors, simply because they are not so obviously detected as causes of these effects.
How do we recognize that a trauma is working in us
There are clear signs of stress reactions such as severe confusion, severe anxiety, nightmares, despair, insomnia, chronic pain, attachment disability, severe fatigue, depression. However, the effects can also be more subtle, such as dreadfulness, heightened excitability, and difficulty settling because the autonomic nervous system is in constant alarm. Our reactivity is shown by exaggerating certain circumstances and not reacting appropriately. Our body can switch over like on autopilot and we have no influence on our behavior to change. We can feel that our nervous system is under severe stress. We can experience existential fears and feel in emergency situations that others would call harmless, just to name a few examples.
Big und small trauma – both leave scars
Such unprocessed experiences leave traces in us that could be called scars. And just as with physical scars, some may heal completely and others may last a lifetime. However, these types of scars are located in our brain, emotional and energy bodies. In the brain, areas that were developing when the trauma develops can remain at the developmental stage of that time. This becomes apparent by our behavior as a grown-up triggers in the case of our childhood pain, then e.g. that of a 3-year-old child. Or we have accumulated a depot of un-felt emotions that cloud our mental state, become energy blockages, because in these aggregates the energy can no longer move freely and this in turn can lead to physical tension, hardening and pain. If such sensations are permanent then our body intelligence will numb those areas so we do not have to suffer all the time. The downside of this stunning - even beautiful sensations can no longer be perceived because the mechanism of deafness is not selectively effective.
Do we need to know the cause of a trauma
A very clear no. Especially with the small traumas, it is often very difficult to find triggers for it and it is not necessary. It is not really important to relive the event, rather there is a risk of retraumatization. Even though there are some therapy methods that focus on living through, some trauma experts consider them very critical.
However, when we evoke memories and, above all, sensations in the client's mind during a treatment, an experienced therapist can help to keep those experiences to such an extent that it is now possible to feel and integrate them. Equally important is the development of resources that were missing at the time of trauma, such as grounding, centering, support. During the session, we then move back and forth between experience and resources. The bound life energy is set free again in small steps. In the jargon, trauma expert Peter A. Levine uses the term titration for this process.
To take responsibility
As soon as something happens to us, it becomes ours. It makes no sense to search for guilty people, to blame other people, the circumstances or whoever. If a car hit us, someone died, we were attacked, then we have to take one hundred percent responsibility for the consequences of these experiences and take care of the healing process. Sure, you can get money from the insurance and get help from a lot of experts, but it's our responsibility to do all this, make decisions, and get expert help.
Integration of trauma
The same way that the trauma has gone into the manifestation in the body, it must go back again. This means that numb areas must become sensitive again, this can be done through stimulation and touch, which often means that it hurts. Emotions are old feelings that were not felt at the time of their creation, can only be broken down by being felt. This does not require any stories why, why and why they came into being. Feel easy - done. And the resulting one-way streets in the brain ultimately develop through our ever-changing behavior in everyday life.
Trauma is not a mistake and no punishment
This may sound a bit provocative and heartless to some readers, especially those dealing with trauma, but experiencing and healing a trauma is an important experience for our development. Life is about more than that we always have it nice and comfortable. Trauma experts agree - processed trauma greatly expands human capacity for forgiveness and empathy, and when energy stored in trauma becomes free, in some people it can lead to mystical and spiritual, augmented states of consciousness.
Scientific studies on inheritance of trauma
In scientific experiments, the researcher Prof. Isabelle Mansuy has found that mice that have processed traumatic experiences are much more resistant than their spoiled fellows, who have lived only under comfortable circumstances. (An interesting interview between Prof. Mansuy and the spiritual teacher Thomas Hübl (in English) is available on Youtube with the title "Our Trauma as Heritage".) In this conversation, the current state of research is communicated, which is the inheritance of trauma for more generations. For this purpose, the experiments date back to three generations and it is clear that until this third generation of traumatic experiences are inherited further. There are suspicions that it goes even further. This means that we can deal with symptoms of trauma caused by our ancestors and also that we need to act if we do not want to pass it on to our offspring.
Beyond the polarity of good and evil
Please do not misunderstand me, we do not need to actively seek traumatic experiences, but if they happen to us then we can understand them as an invitation to growth. For in our development as a human being, we come to the world with a little-trained nervous system, and certain experiences train it, so to speak, and help us develop a value system that corresponds to us. If we succeed in integrating our trauma well, we can recognize the value of positive and negative experiences and begin to understand them as mutually dependent principles. We also receive lessons in letting go and forgiveness, which is an important prerequisite for developing compassion. We can see that love is salutary and that compassionate understanding could be called "love in action".
Trauma - a simple approach to spirituality
When we start to feel the unpleasant sensations in our body, we can often also realize that more space is created and we can perceive a kind of "flow" of energy flow and heat. Similarly, the fact that we encounter these painful or numb areas in our bodies together with someone else can strengthen our sense of connectedness.
In many spiritual traditions, the gates to enlightenment are devoted to devotion. And many talk about four such gates. The first way of achieving such a goal is through ecstatic sexuality, the second is through long-standing meditation practice, the third is through death when we can indulge in this event, and the fourth way to gain enlightenment is trauma. This can happen when we indulge unconditionally in body sensations and feelings. With devotion we understand everything completely as it unfolds at this moment, without evaluating it. This applies to physical sensations of every kind, whether it is pain, tension, deafness, softness, dilation, whatever and as well as all kinds of feelings, such as fear, anger, grief, shame, guilt, etc. The more we become aware of the present experience indulging unconditionally, yes, surrendering, the more we are gifted with grace.