In the previous discussion, I identified ways to access your inner resources to cope with trauma. The problem with trauma, as Tara Brach points out, is that we become cut off from our brain and from our relationships.
This separation from ourselves and others impedes our ability to access our inner resources. There are a number of things that we can do to move past these blockages and find some peace.
Connecting with the present moment
One of the issues with trauma is that we can keep visiting the traumatic event(s) and the associated feelings, so we are re-living the past. Resourcing begins with being in the present – being able to focus on the positives in our life including our achievements. For example, we can connect with nature through open awareness – listening to the birds, smelling the flowers and trees, feeling the breeze on our face, observing the sky and clouds and touching the fibrous stems of a plant.
Connecting with our anxiety and aversion
When we find that every fibre of our body resists delving into the depths of our pain and grief, we can make the anxiety or aversion the focus of our meditation. This involves being open to the anxiety involved and, instead of pushing it down deeper, we can establish a relationship with the feeling of aversion. One way to do this is to explore the relationship that is demanded by the aversion – what is it asking of us? Another way is to disarm it by picturing an image of the aversion- a cartoon character, an archetype (e.g. a witch) or a monster – and giving it a name such as “Mister Magoo”. When the anxiety, fear or aversion rears its ugly head, we can then say – “So, Mister Magoo, I see you are back, what do you want this time?”
Connecting to daily practice
Sometimes, we find that we cannot maintain a daily practice of meditation – we may lack the discipline or motivation. If we are driven by “shoulds”, we will be unable to sustain the habit of meditation. However, if we revisit our intention – purpose for engaging in meditation – we can find the necessary discipline and motivation to restore our meditation practice. Affirming to ourselves the benefits we seek, will help us to keep on track and overcome minor deviations from daily practice. Sitting in the place we always sit for meditation can help, even if we can only do it briefly. Journaling about the resistance we are feeling and recording how long we practised, can bring to light a pattern in our thinking and behaviour. Also, by naming the resistance, we can tame it.
Connecting with our body
Sometimes we cannot feel an emotion in our body – we can become numb to our feelings. We may feel, as a result, that we lack something that others possess when they can describe the impact of a feeling in their body in terms of colour, shape, intensity or location. Again, practice helps. When we feel a strong emotion such as kindness or disgust during our daily activity, we can try to notice our bodily reaction, exploring what is happening in our body no matter how minor or weak the impact. Regular practice of this noticing will heighten our awareness and open us up to sensing our body’s reaction to particular emotions. At first, it may be just a general sensation, but over time the features of the sensation will come into clearer focus.
Connecting to the community of suffering and love
The reality is that at any one time, most people are experiencing some form of suffering, whether physical, mental or a combination – suffering is a part of the human condition. If we can move beyond our own suffering and its intensity we can connect to others who are experiencing similar suffering or something different and more intense – compassion for others can take us outside of ourselves. There is also the wider “field of love” that we can tap into – be it from our friends, family or the community generally. There is a sea of kindness everywhere, if we only look for it.
Connecting to a source of wisdom
We can imagine a wise person besides us as we try to make decisions that affect our life and wellbeing. This can be a religious figure or someone who has taught or mentored us in life. We can envisage talking to them about our issue and the decision we need to make. This is a way to tap into universal wisdom. We might raise our aversion, anxiety or resistance as a topic of conversation and the focus of a decision.
Through these means of connection, we can realise that we are not alone, that we do not need to be “cut off”. We can feel the strength of everything and everyone around us and rest in that awareness. As we grow in mindfulness through connection practices, we can break free of the sense of separateness, numbness and overwhelm and feel energised to deal with our deeper feelings generated by the experience of trauma.
By Ron Passfield – Copyright (Creative Commons license, Attribution–Non Commercial–No Derivatives)
Image source: courtesy of markusspiske on Pixabay
Disclosure: If you purchase a product through this site, I may earn a commission which will help to pay for the site, the associated Meetup group and the resources to support the blog.