From White Racial Shame to Empathy for People of Color Part IIJuly 5, 2013
“Finding Home in Your Bones” Videos with Dr. Vanissar TarakaliSeptember 3, 2013
Can trauma be a doorway to Spirit?
Peter Levine thinks so. He writes in his book, In An Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness,
“Trauma represents a profound compression of “survival” energy…these same energies…can also open to feelings of heightened focus, ecstasy and bliss…it appears that the very brain structures central to resolution of trauma are also pivotal in various mystical and spiritual states.”
Levine also connects kundalini awakening with trauma:
“In trauma, a similar (to kundalini) activation is provoked, but so intensely and quickly that it overwhelms the organism.”
For me, trauma and spiritual awakening have been two sides of the same coin.
Childhood trauma forced me to dissociate from the deathly assaults on my body and turn my focus to communing with the stars, the wind, trees, animals, and the unseen Divine. This continual childhood practice of dissociation and spiritual wandering likely set the stage for the kundalini awakening I experienced in my twenties.
That same awakening eventually unearthed my long-buried memories of child sexual abuse.
Barbara Harris writes in her book, Spiritual Awakenings: A Guide for Experiencers and Those Who Care for Them,
“Children exposed to physical violence, sexual abuse, neglect or other mistreatment or trauma learn to dissociate. They tune out this painful reality and then can tune into other nonsensory realities where they feel safe…allow(ing) absorption into alternate, nonordinary realities.”
Harris believes this practice of childhood dissociation instills the adult capacity to become easily absorbed in altered states and mystical experiences.
Trauma can be a spiritual opportunity. A gift.
However, as Peter Levine notes,
“Mystical experiences that are not experienced in the body just don’t “stick”; they are not grounded.“
My own experience confirms this. I was not able to embody the mystical realizations of my twenties. I was too terrified of the trauma-sensation landmines to be able to stay present with my body.
It is only recently, after twenty years of hard work—trauma healing work–that I am beginning to bring some of these realizations into my habitual behaviors.
Through steady meditative and somatic practices, these mystical insights are gradually being integrated into my daily life, and incarnated into the cells and tissues of this body.
My body is teaching me that authentic spirituality is embodied.
Spirit wants us to dwell in the here and now of stubbed toes and kisses, money and dishes, kind strangers and unjust social systems.
Anam Thubten reminds us to
“Love life, and love it with all its messiness. Life is both beautiful and messy.”
Healing trauma also unfolds in the body; healing is also beautiful and messy. May we all heal into an ever-deepening relationship with Spirit.
SPIRITUAL EMERGENCE/Y BOOKS
Arching Backward by Janet Adler
The Experience of No-Self by Bernadette Roberts
Kundalini: the Evolutionary Energy in Man by Gopi Krishna
Daughter of Fire by Irina Tweedie
Hidden Treasure: Jesus’s Message of Transformation by F. Aster Barnwell
Energies of Transformation by Bonnie Greenwell
Spiritual Awakenings: A Guide for Experiencers and Those Who Care for Them by Barbara Harris
The Stormy Search for the Self by S. Grof & C. Grof
A Sourcebook for Helping People with Spiritual Problems by Emma Bragdon
The Black Butterfly by Richard Moss
**If you enjoyed this article, check out the Navigating Spiritual Awakenings Workshop in Oakland, CA on August 27: