What Is Trauma?
Trauma is not a disease, a deficiency, nor an event. Even though Trauma is accompanied, and identified, by body-mind dis-ease (or dysregulation), that may be triggered by an event, or a series of (unfortunate) events, Trauma responses are, simply, the body-mind’s normal attempt to regain homeostasis, and resilience, after intense shock to one’s “system.” Trauma responses are, paradoxically, psychophysical protective responses that occur when one exceeds his/her normal manageable capacity for stress, which causes a deterioration, and/or loss, in that person’s sense of safety and security in personally meaningful ways. This sense of loss of safety and security, which is unique for all impacted individuals, can, generally be seen as manifesting in the form of grieving the loss of a certain level of manageable and/or regulatable comfort/familiarity in one’s body-mind, external environment, way of being, and/or “identity” in the world.
To emphasize the point again (so that there is absolutely no confusion), the dysregulated responses/reactions that one experiences after Trauma are normal.
Unless left unaddressed for too long (which is unfortunately often the case for many, since trauma-awareness is not pervasive in most societies, and feelings/emotions of any kind that do not conform to any given socially normative version of “happy” are often stigmatized) Trauma responses are (dare I say) healthy to have.
Trauma only becomes problematic when a person’s dysregulated responses are not adequately and/or quickly addressed/balanced, and, an effected individual (or individuals) begins to actually become overstressed, and harmed, by the hyper-aroused state that their body-mind went into in order to fight or flee a dangerous (or, perceived to be dangerous) situation.
To more clearly illustrate the point that the initial Trauma response that humans experience when faced with overwhelming stress from danger, or ongoing adversity, for example, is normal, just consider the fact that, if you were faced with an emergency of any kind and you did not get an adrenaline rush and experience a psychophysical reaction to your emergency, that would be considered abnormal. Since human body-minds are programmed to survive, failing to respond to something that is potentially detrimental to your well-being and safety goes against the very “Laws” of nature itself.
Being Uncomfortably Right
Traumatic protective responses, although often incredibly uncomfortable (which is what defines them as traumatic in the first place), are important physiological and autonomic responses to systemic overwhelm. These responses are physiologically correct stress responses that push healthy body-minds into states that attempt to create balance in over-stressed systems. And, everyone can benefit from effective trauma recovery by learning to 1) regulate their body-mind (creating relaxation and a sense of calm after it becomes hyper-aroused due to stress), and 2) building resilience (widening their window of tolerance for stress) after extreme overwhelm, among other things, which can actually make Trauma survivors stronger for having faced, and overcome, this extreme form of body-mind dysregulation.
How Yoga And Meditation Can Help Build Resilience After Trauma
Yoga and meditation, which can both aid in relaxation and support the effective development of resiliency after trauma by safely supporting survivors to improve their skill of body-mind self-regulation, also provides its practitioners with a blueprint for transcending suffering altogether. These qualities make Yoga and Meditation powerful tools for strengthening a person’s capacity to effectively handle the distress that comes from experiencing any uncomfortable Trauma responses in life.
The two inseparable and complementary practices have the potential to create long-term and/or powerful inner strength in its practitioners, as opposed to just temporarily providing relief from uncomfortable trauma responses and vulnerabilities, which makes Yoga and Meditation incredibly valuable resources for human society as a whole (since Trauma effects not just individuals, but also impacts families, communities, and entire countries).
The Breakdown Of Trauma Recovery
The indisputable ancient wisdom of the 4 Noble Truths reminds us that there is always a cause and an end to suffering. Inevitable Traumas will come and go throughout life, and these Traumas will be ongoing until one breaks away from the Karmic (cause and effect) cycle of suffering entirely through Spiritual Liberation.
Breaking this cycle of misery is where Yoga and Meditation, and, specifically the Eightfold/Eight-Limbed Path of Yoga-Meditation, comes in and truly shines as a solution to the issue of Trauma in any given body-mind and society.
The Eight-Limbed path is a well-structured, time-test, roadmap for overcoming, and transcending, suffering. It empowers those who successfully “walk it” to develop unshakable Self-Awareness and resilience in their body, mind, and spirit, freeing them from even the potential for suffering altogether and setting the stage for them to experience the height of bliss in any given lifetime.
A Bold Claim Or A Proven Fact?
To some, the previous statement almost sounds too good to be true. But, the fact of the matter is that, Yoga and Meditation have a solid success rate for creating happy and healthy human beings, and this has remained steadily true for thousands of years throughout history.
Yoga and meditation practice, when effectively applied to one’s life and being, can provide true and lasting inner transformation as opposed to temporary karmic balms that get one further entangled in, and overidentified with, the issues and trappings of the world.
Since Yoga and Meditation can help you to relax your overwhelmed nervous system, and to widen your window of tolerance before, during, and after you experience Trauma in your body-mind, the two interconnected practices inevitably increase your ability/capacity to cope with high levels of stress without being overwhelmed by experiences that could have otherwise potentially create long-term suffering in your life. This increased capacity to handle the overwhelming stresses in life can–with deeper practice–become so well integrated/ingrained, that nothing can truly “shake” you out of a natural state of balance and inner peace.
The Final Nail In Suffering’s Coffin
Your worldly identity, or what is most commonly referred to as your ego, is a karmic (cause and effect) construct that is reinforced and continually shaped by your over-identification with your body-mind as who you are.
But, you are not your body-mind.
Your True Self is a pure expression of Sat Chit Ananda (or Existence, Consciousness, Bliss) that is not bound, nor defined, by the fleeting and illusory expressions within Maya (or the appearance of perceived “reality”) in the ever-changing, ever-fluctuating, world, maintained by the influences of the three worldly-forces of nature known as the Gunas, which make your body-mind, and world, flicker constantly and distractingly between states of activity, inertia, and harmony.
Getting your body-mind stable, and focused into the unchanging Reality of your Pure, unaffected, existence, and concentrating your sense of “I” into your higher spiritual expression, Liberates you from Karmic entanglement and suffering in the world. After this occurs, you have no delusion of limitedness to form that will make it so that you feel a constant sense of gain or loss of safety, value, and/or security as things come and go and change within your body-mind and external environment.
Through effectively practiced Yoga and Meditation, you will come into a level of clarity and understanding that makes you fully secure in and of yourself/your True Self beyond your ever-changing and fleeting form.
And, when you are secure in yourself (manifested into this world for life experience), and resting in your True Nature that is unaffected by experience and form altogether (which you can call your spirit for the sake of communication), you achieve a level of equanimity and self-mastery that makes it so that you can fully be in a state of secure joy. When you achieve this goal, you are free from Trauma and suffering altogether, since you will know that nothing can shake, change, nor break you, and, you are always a pure expression of unbounded awareness and bliss.
There is nothing esoteric about anything that has been stated here, just plain experiential facts.
Does experiencing uncomfortable/inconvenient reactions in my body-mind, due to trauma, make me broken, defective, or weak?
No. Unless you are a fully transcended/Realized being, your suffering from the experience of uncomfortable reactions in your body-mind due to trauma makes you a normal, healthy, person. If you do not feel discomfort in the face of danger or extreme stress, and you are not yet Realized, something is “off.”
Am I doomed to experience misery for the rest of my life because of a trauma, or a series of traumas, that I survived?
No. But, technically, this is up to you. Trauma can, and will most likely, heal with adequate self-care and support. And, many people who overcome traumas in their lives (even unimaginable tortures) go on to live happy, thriving, lives (in addition to gaining the skill of greater resilience that comes with overcoming immense challenges–think of Nelson Mandela, and the countless others like him, who experienced suffering and Trauma and still rose beyond it).
Does trauma effect how I show up in the world?
Yes, and no. While trauma responses certainly impact some of your thoughts, words, and actions during times of dysregulation, trauma responses cannot be blamed for your general relational shortcomings, character flaws, or moral/ethical deficiencies. Trauma is not a personality or moral disorder. PTSD, for example, is a physical-emotional stress disorder accompanied by symptoms such as intrusive flashbacks that recreate the experience of severe stress, anxiety, and so forth. The disorder disrupts a person’s normal daily functioning and overall well-being while he/she is working to create body-mind regulation and healing. Trauma does not “make” anyone do “bad things.” You are best served not using trauma as an excuse for your life choices and issues (although it may certainly impact many aspects of your life) since multiple factors most likely effect your behavior and ways of “showing up” in the world.
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