Healing from trauma is about restoring connection with self and others. It is essentially about restoring a person’s ability to feel alive, whole, and connected with life. Roberto Assagioli offered psychosynthesis mind-body-spirit practices to uncover and heal hidden roots and dimensions of impaired connection and psychological dis-ease linked to trauma, well ahead of his time.
Today science has proven survivors of developmental and shock trauma develop psychological and/or physiological survival responses in the form of neurological shut-down in order to survive traumatic experiences. These survival responses continue to kick in long after the trauma ceases, taking the form of unconscious nervous system dysregulation, disruptions in attachment responses, and numerous identity distortions. Roberto Assagioli pioneered new healing alternatives knowing we were more than our pathologies…i.e. pathology did not define intrinsic (S)self. Today, thanks to neuroscience we understand that focusing on the psychopathology or the dysfunction, we risk reinforcing the dysfunction, not healing it.
Since Assagioli’s time neuroscience has corroborated his beliefs in brain plasticity and the importance of a mind-body connection. Medical approaches do not universally prone the importance of a spiritual dimension in healing, but somatically-based psychotherapy has become prevalent and alternative therapies such as yoga, mindfulness, EFT, and many others have achieved recognition for their contribution to well-being and overall health.
Working to heal developmental trauma in my own life and in that of others, I have found Eastern (Buddhist) practices of compassionate mindfulness and loving kindness invaluable. Awareness of our responses even when these feel disruptive, unwanted, or ‘bad,’ is imperative to letting them go. Without recognition and ‘naming our demons,’ they quietly change form and slip through our fingers to become a new form of addiction or phobia that controls our life, short of authentic freedom, offering yet another crutch that helps us ‘get through the day’. As one therapist remarked to a client struggling with cigarette addiction on proudly affirming to have not smoked a cigarette in 12 months, 21 days, 15 hours and 30 minutes. “That merits recognition and applause; still, while you may not die of lung cancer, anxiety and high blood pressure created by an over-active mind may very likely do you in”.
How often the fear to honestly look at what scares us, preferring to run away to distraction or another form of denial…keeps us caught and identified with something we give power to. Only in looking deeply at our foibles, fears, desires etc…with genuine compassion for ourselves and those who have hurt us, can we find a path to healing. For this to occur we must awaken to responsibility to our lives (not for, but to), commit to awakening, and explore what we do and why; and in all of this take refuge in a cradle of loving kindness.
Loving kindness is not about a path of resignation. It is not about condoning behavior and does not mean acceptance in the sense of ‘oh well, I am powerless, so I have to accept this’. As Assagioli explains in his notes on Acceptance, accepting ‘what is’ reveals a door to peace and true power. If you are willing to deeply explore what you find difficult to accept and why… not in someone else’s behavior, but in your own… wisdom, insight and freedom follow. It all comes back to knowing yourself….what you honestly feel, believe, want…and why? And the only way to know that is to look moment by moment… and keep looking. A wise author said. “The price of freedom is eternal mindfulness”.
Thich Naht Hahn (renowned Zen Buddhist monk and father of mindfulness) teaches; “the way out is in”, not in a judging, critical, hateful manner. To look deeply, with mindfulness in order to be free, requires the balm of loving kindness and acceptance, gentleness and love… to whatever arises. With this approach (which needs support to repeatedly cultivate), I find for myself and in observing those I accompany, the malaise we seek to release…. melts of its own accord. No longer focusing on what we hate and seek to destroy, no longer watering the ill, the fear, the hate, the hurt dissipates. In courageously looking while holding ourselves (and others) in a cradle of loving kindness, old triggers and patterns melt by themselves. In removing the nourishment they need to exist, they naturally wither and die in time, creating space for the new life and freedom we seek to create!
Can we choose to water and cultivate loving kindness in our lives as we start this new year and decade? Trauma whatever its form, does not have to define us, if we choose to follow a path of freedom and renewal. Blessings on your journey! Joy, happiness, and renewal to all in this new moment! There is hope and there is a way out!
Let me help you learn to be kind to yourself….no matter what your story is, your past, your beliefs…..no matter what! This is not a journey we can do alone. Start now, this year, this month…Life goes fast, especially as we get older. Sign up for 10 hour-long coaching sessions by March 31st and receive my book, the story of my own journey ‘home’ as a gift, at no charge.
Carpe Diem….you have nothing to lose but the heaviness of pain, sadness, anger, guilt etc….and everything to gain as you move forward in life with lightness and freedom!