The right place to begin is with the knowledge that you can heal. No matter what you experience in this life, it is possible to come back to a place of safety and wholeness. At Mindlight, we have seen people recover from the traumas of war, sexual violation, adverse childhood events, religious and racial discrimination, and emotional and physical abuse. You can heal, too.
That is because we have a foundational relationship with life that cannot be broken. We are made for this world. We are made for life. This isn’t a spiritual ideal; it is biological. Like all living things, we are made of well-being. For these reasons, humans are wildly resilient.
Healing comes from our inherent knowledge that we are safe in our bodies, our needs will be met, and the universe ultimately will provide for us. It is OK if right now you are having trouble imagining that you can feel safe or you are not believing that healing is achievable for you. Possibility lies in the understanding of what trauma does to the body and what it needs to recover.
What is Trauma?
Trauma occurs when the body’s nervous system becomes so overwhelmed that creates a wall to protect itself from the fear, pain, or other intensely uncomfortable feelings. This internal separation develops so we do not have to live in that overwhelm. The traumatic memory, feeling, or experience gets trapped behind that wall. We may not remember it or be aware of it, but the energy that was created by that event is still alive in the body.
This internal compartmentalizing can make us feel really messed up, broken, and confused. One minute we may feel fine, and the next we are sweating and our heart is pounding. That is because part of our mind is reliving the trauma over and over. The other part is doing its best to move past the experience — by growing up, trying to love again, or getting back on a horse. The strategies we develop to stay away from the power of the internal trauma can keep us locked away from possibility and potential.
Finding Resources to Heal
To heal, we have to find a way to connect with the trauma again without going into overwhelm.
That means that we need to call upon more resources, safety, perspective than we had when we first experienced the trauma. By doing so, we feel supported enough to build a bridge between the scary thing and our innate sense of wellbeing. As our sense of safety expands, we can hold even the scary thing by relating to it.
You can think of this like parenting yourself. There is a part of you that is clear and strong and safe. There also may be a part of you feels scared, small, and trapped. For healing to happen, a relationship between these two parts needs to be created. This relationship creates internal unity.
The healing process can be a gentle, even enjoyable process. And, it doesn’t have to take that long. Go slow, engage with that inner nurturing parent. Surrender your wounded child to the loving kindness. Remember: Slow is gentle. Gentle is fast.
The Process of Integration
A note on the offering of this process:
Here we are offering a way to guide yourself in the experience of integrating a trauma. Please take care of your well-being. We recommend beginning by reading this in its entirety, and then, if it feels safe and you feel grounded, you can guide your inner world in the experience. If you want to be held in a stronger way, we encourage you to seek a practitioner (we can resource you with that here, or, by all means work with any practitioners who you hold dear) who can be in your well-being with you through this process.
To begin, simply be kind to yourself and breathe deeply. Then, follow these steps:
This is the medicine called integration. The art and care required to do integration work is about managing your pace. You want to be lightly in touch with the emotion around the trauma, but not trying to go all in to relive it. Healing happens when you can hold the trauma in your being, so the wall can fall away. Then the emotions that have been stuck on repeat can finally move through your body.
Trauma often has multiple layers, so this process may need to be repeated for the same topic. Give yourself time in between integration sessions. When you go back to it, try to pick up where you left off. Return to step one, but this time play with adding a few more details or allowing deeper feelings to trickle in. Then go through the steps again.
When you are complete, notice how the topic is no longer as overwhelming. You now house that experience as a resource for greater wisdom, resilience, and compassion for self and others.