04 Okt trauma and awakening
In the past years I have come across a spiritual practice that draws a lot of attention to intense emotions (especially fear). The idea is, that if you fully surrender to the depth a feeling like fear of death, you will directly dive into the grounds of spiritual awakening. This is perfectly true if the fear has a pure emotional quality that you can swandive into. As you let go, you might discover the bliss of the grounds of stillness beneath the stormy waters of fear.
In my experience, surrending to what is real in this very moment, is in itself a beautiful spiritual practice if it is done gentle and not pushing. No matter if you sink into the sensation of the lovely warmth of the sun on your skin or a you give space to a challenging feeling inside of you. But this is not always the case. Read below to learn more.
In this year´s beautiful summer retreat with well known Zenmaster Adyashanti I was very happy to hear him talk about the importance of working with the somatic nervous system as soon as you become aware of feelings that are hard to place (anxiety, panic, helplessness, despair) and intermingled with existential emotional experiences (like fear of death).
This is exactly what made me participate 4 years ago in Peter Levine´s refined training with the nervous system, Somatic Experiencing. In order to fully enjoy spiritual awakening experiences in daily life, it´s useful to integrate ascending traumatic memories into your emotional and physical wholeness. You learn to slow down, cultivate an understanding of your own being and, probably most important of it all, be empathetic with yourself.
What I realised in my work over the past years is a crucial difference between existential feelings that you can dive into deeply, and traumatic overwhelming emotions that set your nervous system on fire. When we sincerely engage in spiritual work and our emotional body opens up, unpleasant feelings might be coming along with it. Peter Levine and Marianne Bentzen confirmed my perception when they explained about the vast amount of energy that is set free in profound spiritual experiences. With this intense expansion of consciousness, painful traumatic memories can come to light, simply to be integrated into the wholeness of your being.
As an integral part of the awakening process, these memories can take different shapes. Sometimes they appear as chronic physical symptoms that don´t seem to have any clinical source. Others show themselves as reoccuring overwhelming emotions like fear, anger, helplessness, despair, anxiety, panic, sadness over a longer period of time.
In that case, diving into the feelings of despair or panic or drowning in sadness over and over again doesn´t make any sense at all. Instead of experiencing the relief of surrender, one only re-experiences the traumatic spiral again and again, reinforcing the notion of helplessness.
As soon as you feel overwhelmed and lost in an emotion, it´s time to pull the break and offer yourself a warm hand in the very moment. Instead of pushing yourself further, be gentle and understanding with whatever you are experiencing. Ask yourself what you and your body need right now and be kind to yourself. Learn more about your system and how you can support it.
When freedom of awakening unites with the bliss of trauma resolved, pure aliveness makes your cells dancing in your body!