I have lived on the lip of insanity, wanting to know reasons, knocking on a door. It opens. I've been knocking from the inside.~Rumi
Healing & Transitions
We are often called to seek support or guidance when we find ourselves in a time of transition. Sometimes these transitions are very evident and other times they are below the surface of our conscious mind, felt only as a slight numbness or wave of anxiety. Be our transitions gradual stirrings from within or sudden changes created by outside forces, they can and often do cause emotional, spiritual, psychological and/or physical unrest. Yet, transitions are also an essential part of self-growth & life. They can become strong bridges that lead to more empowered and enlivened ways of being.
Like most embodied experiences, in my experience, healing is more of a spiralling in and out of awareness rather than a linear progression or goal-driven journey. Transitions often choose us and when we learn to pay attention to natural rhythms in our environments. During these periods in our life, something often breaks through our consciousness and tells us, be it our body communicating through pain or a change at work telling us it is time to find a new path, a transition is upon us and a new rhythm of life must be cultivated. These times of transition allow us to enter a liminal state of being and in this place, creativity and opportunity abounds when we learn how to see them, work with them and appreciate them. I view healing as the process of becoming conscious of new pathways opening up inside and through us. Of course, a shift to the new often means a release of older patterns and conditioned ways of seeing and this release can come with pain and grief that of deserve to be honoured and met with self-compassion.
Transitions are also times that, depending upon our experiences in life, can bring up past (and current) traumas. In my academic life, I am a trauma scholar and I approach trauma from a feminist, eco-conscious & survivor centred perspective. This means that I acknowledge that most of our sufferings and the ways they affect us intersect social norms and complicated social histories. As a result, everyone relates to their trauma (and to the word itself!) differently. Yet trauma is part of so many of us. It lives in our bodies and psyches and we do not have a society, educational system or mass media that adequately teaches us to to acknowledge, meet, respect or work with individual and collective trauma. Below is a little more on my approach to trauma, which may or may not show up in the work we do together. If you are living with a significant trauma that interrupts your life in a way you don't like, it may be a good idea to do some work with a psychotherapist that is a good fit for you. This is something that we could certainly talk about. Sometimes, however, therapy is not needed. Sometimes, we just need to shape a more holistic and accepting approach to life and to ourselves. Feeding our learning & creative spirits in 1-1 relationships in spaces that allow trauma to be present without silencing, repressing or digging it up more than it wants can be a route into self-growth, empowerment, healing and our own inner worlds of wisdom.
A Little More Background on Cultural Trauma Theory
Quite literally, trauma is a wounding. In the context of my work, it is a wounding of the emotional, psychological, physical and/or spiritual being. Usually at least 2 if not all of these dimensions of experience entwine in our woundings even if only one dimension manifests symptoms of dis-ease. Just like a physical wound, emotional wounds need to be attended to. Simply put, trauma work is attending to the wound. Sometimes this simply means acknowledging its presence. In my approach, we can meet and have less fear of our own trauma by realizing our wounding almost always has roots in complicated systems of social oppression and marginalization. While 'our story' is very much our own, we are never separate from the social realities that shape and hold us, often in unjust ways. In this respect, we can soften our own experience with trauma by integrating cultural studies into our own personal self-inquiry processes through art, philosophy, literature, creative expression and other mindful practices of study, learning & creating. This lens of cultural theory is often missing from traditional practices of self-inquiry like mindfulness. Brining them together is very important.
Often in our society, we are taught to do all that we can to push away awareness of our emotional woundings. We grit our teeth and pretend our pain does not exist. We are taught to push through, work harder, become stronger. In fact, our society rewards us the more we are able to separate ourselves form our pain and pursue 'success' at any cost. But doing so causes much stress and disease on the body and mind and it worsens the wound that trauma tends to create within the psyche-body-heart complex. Ignoring our wounding often silences our intuition and creativity.
After years of researching and writing about trauma, of working with survivors in community and attending to my own trauma with love and respect, I have come to believe that meeting and learning to be with our wounding (rather than trying to "cure" it) is a gateway to joy, ease, confidence and a deep feeling of connection. By meeting the parts of ourselves we have been taught to disown, we often reclaim a spirit of creativity that can carry us to places we never imagined ourselves going- or perhaps did imagine when we were very young before the world began to teach us that our dreams were not valid or that we did not deserve to take up the space our body takes up in this life. Working with trauma through intuitive arts-inspired & embodied practices paired with critical thinking and cultural theory is a path to transformation and liberation. It brings about great release that often changes our lives, because we no longer live fearing or blaming ourselves for the situations and events that are almost always out of our control and about something so much bigger than ourselves. I consider it such an honour and privilege to accompany others on their paths of meeting, befriending and integrating the shadows that trauma can form in our psyches, hearts, bodies and minds into broader and more holistic outlooks. I welcome any questions you might have about doing this work with me.