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  • Writer's pictureZenho Chad Bennett

Vol 4. Trauma and Awakening Video Intro

In the first video segment of two, Rob Boswell and I begin by differentiating the paths of Waking Up and Growing up, discussing the importance of making this distinction. I have also covered this topic in my prior blog posts of “The Zen Mind Body Bind”, Volumes 1-3. We then move on to define “trauma” and the importance of uncoupling the physical symptoms from the assumptions we make about it. Most people who experience trauma unconsciously make meaning of the overwhelming experience which, while well intended, is not often helpful. In short, in trauma we experience overwhelm and the narratives we generate on top of this are likely to be ones of fear, hopelessness, helplessness and unlovability all of which may lead to a basic life stance of victimization or feeling shame for who we are. Basic mindfulness skills are essential to making these discernments, uncoupling the sensations of overwhelm from the emotions and the belief systems all of which unconsciously got created faster than you or I can say, “Oh $h*T!”

In the last portion of the first video, Robb and I emphatically agree that any degree of Waking Up has been and continues to be helpful in alleviating trauma symptoms. Robb’s experience of seeing “through the mind” and my articulation of having space and a “view” of everything arising in a larger, more trustworthy context both point to the importance of the fruits of spiritual practice which psychotherapy may overlook.

In the second video- less theoretical and more experiential- Robb and I move into some of the practicalities of working with traumatic symptoms. We discuss how to look at pain appropriately and how both of us worked with the intensity of the often debilitating impacts on daily life. Robb and I also offer our experiences of what has been helpful along the way, reiterating the importance of gingerly uncoupling the sensations from emotions and thinking as we balance the importance of courageously staying with our direct experience and knowing when and how to resource ourselves and our physical bodies.

I also make a case for the importance of working with all of our experience including the somatic, emotional and mental. This topic could be an entire blog post on it’s own but I want to stress the importance of discerning for ourselves what we may need on the journey of Waking Up and Growing Up. We should question our tendency to think in narrow ways or to swallow what we have read, studied or heard without digesting first. Instructions such as “It’s all about the body” or “Just change your thinking” or “Just witness it”, may be as equally helpful as they are dogmatic. We are just entering a New Age of integrating Eastern and Western modalities and there is no single recipe for the bumpy and awkward ride, so having a general overview of different types of psychological healing, embodiment and Awakening schools may be some of the best knowledge we could acquire.

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