This bulletin is for the person who is dealing with past trauma and is stuck, either emotionally or with the way the trauma is manifesting physically (which it does) or both. This is an invitation to explore with me a philosophy of transformation when it comes to addressing trauma. It can bring profound shifts and is a critical part of healing. Trauma and its sequelae are so common that I dare say a philosophy that empowers and redeems is a necessity.
Here’s the goal:
“I wouldn’t wish my trauma on anyone, but now after all I’ve learned, I can honestly say I am grateful for all life has brought me. I really have had my most significant moments through my healing work. I made contact with true archetypal human forces and know much more about what it means to be me. I really wouldn’t change anything.”
Those words can light up the whole world. They come with the vision of a bigger system in which trauma can actually fit and be redeemed. The idea of transforming the traumatic experience is well-known in psychology. Post-traumatic growth is a phenomenon that already has a fair amount of well-deserved attention. An example can be the realization of healthy new priorities in the wake of a traumatic experience. Expanding that field of transformation further and further is what I would like to suggest is of great interest to all we do.
I honestly don’t think there is anything more central to modern mankind’s earthly endeavor than to face evil (adversity, trauma, and suffering) and to transform itthrough inner standpoint and spiritual work.
This establishes clearly that the goal of our existence is not to somehow live free of trauma or evil but to face it when it manifests. And, it instructs that the highest goal is not to annihilate evil but to transform it. We are not warriors in this model. Instead, we are channels for transformative archetypal power.
Through this lens, it’s not enough to be avoidant of past traumas. Nor is the point to somehow appear unaffected, with a stiff upper lip. It’s not even the point to unearth it so it can be soothed and processed. All are acceptable steps and important, but exploring the transformative element is a different thing altogether.
The following is what I would say to anyone who has experienced any of the big three categories of childhood adverse events: child abuse (emotional, physical, or sexual), child neglect (emotional or physical), and household dysfunction (domestic violence, substance abuse, mental illness or criminal activity, or parental absence).
It’s the same thing I’d say to anyone who has experienced extreme economic adversity, bullying, school violence, and community violence. It’s the same thing I’d say to anyone who has suffered through the traumatic loss of a loved one, sudden and frequent relocations, serious accidents, life-threatening childhood illness/injury, pornography (exposure or participation), prostitution, natural disaster, kidnapping, torture, war, refugee camps, and terrorism.
I would say be very careful of losing any energy in regretting your fate. Don’t fall for the lie that you’re not favored or that you are forgotten because your life includes trauma. It’s important to realize trauma is central to the human experience. Mediated reality algorithms may make it easy to forget. Don’t be confused by them or other messages of a hedonistic philosophy.
Accept that where you are is acceptable. Everyone needs a healthy dose of radical and complete acceptance of absolutely every aspect of their existence. This is a practice. It seems to me like an honest starting point for making change. In a transformational philosophy, nothing is broken. It’s all opportunity. Only with a transformational philosophy can you make your seemingly worst circumstance be what leads you literally to your finest hour. The goal of the first step is to patch up some of the energetic holes caused by trauma. It’s to be helped by the right understanding. This preserves energy, and we need that energy to heal.
Now that you’ve been exposed to what I mean by the prerequisite energetic patches, let’s take a look at what I am offering as possible steps to expand the transformative field.
There are two aspects I want to mention in transforming trauma with your inner work.
- Presence. You have to know and practice what it means to step deeply into the present moment. This is a skill that can be developed and needs exercise. Nothing happens without paying deep and close attention. The point here is to step 100% into the present space between the future in the past. Practice being cognizant of the felt sense of inhabiting your physical body by being aware of that sense.
The idea is that we come closer to the essence of our existence with this step. There is less commentary and less habitual thinking. This practice can help us avoid automatic thought patterns. It can open up new possibilities.
Presence is in many ways neutral. It has to be accompanied by something more, with the right impulses. This leads us to the second and final aspect I want to mention here.
- Once we accept our fate and we are all the way in the present — one hundred percent, now we make a turn. We now turn toward the human ideal. We do this because we ourselves alone aren’t the transformers. We are part of a network. We are the ones who connect to the real human ideal power that can transform. If the heart were perfected and fear were totally absent what would the human be? This is the ideal we seek in the transformative process. How do we practice turning to it? We can start by knowing the attributes of the human archetype. There would be a great focused intention. There would be strength and confidence in the tasks being undertaken. There would be trust, trust that everything fits and everything is workable. This is not to say suffering would be absent. Suffering is seen as a necessary pre-condition and is allowed. Suffering is not the problem, not meeting it with other steps is. Fear and regret never go unchecked in the human ideal. And finally, there’s a softness as we are in recognition of all other humans and other beings who are doing the best they can and have such potential. And there would be Love.
When we turn towards the ideal there is a recognition that the ideal is not just an abstract thought. There’s an invitation to practice embodying the ideal. Again this is done as a practice. The practice is to realize that to expand the transformative field we have access to an inner spiritual presence that we can help bring into the world through a healing impulse. Then it becomes an experiment of how to merge with and carry the ideal and let it transform the evil.
I am a firm believer that it is not what happens, it’s what you do with whatever happens.
Embracing a transformative philosophy expands your options and lets you know there is space for you, no matter what. It connects you to the most central project of our age: healing in an all-encompassing sense.
It’s important to remember that getting through adversity in this way is really only possible together with the help of others. That’s possibly the most important point.
Here’s to our shared striving!
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