A few words about trauma – used in a broad sense

I am using the word trauma here in a broad sense. Any situation that combines a feeling of threat and helplessness can create trauma for us. It can be a one time event, or – more commonly – an ongoing situation (bullying, unhappy relationship, unkind boss, poverty or financial problems, health challenges etc.) We all have trauma to varying degrees.

With the more ongoing situations, we often see that trauma gets passed on from one person to the next. Hurt people hurt people. This can happen structurally, through policies and ideologies favoring one group and hurting another. (Which, in reality, hurts everyone.) It can also happen in any kind of personal relationships.

Trauma has a bodily component (chronic bodily tension contraction) and an imagination component (associated images and words). It can be very helpful to work on both of these, for instance combining therapeutic tremoring and bodywork with inquiry and kindness practices. (Kindness towards ourselves, the parts of us in pain, and anyone in our life including whomever was involved in the initial traumatizing situation).

– from a previous post

Since I am working with trauma these days, I tend to see things through a trauma filter. It’s easy to broaden the definition of trauma so it captures a great deal – or even all – of the painful part of human experience.

For instance, we can see trauma as behind the creation of any belief, identification, wound, or velcro. These are all ways we try to protect ourselves – the imagined separate self – from harm.

It only makes sense that when the mind experiences a situation that feels dangerous and it feels helpless, it wishes to protect itself – or rather the imagined separate self. And it often does so through creating beliefs, identifications, and velcro.

Note: Beliefs, identifications, and velcro refer to the same dynamic. Beliefs means taking a story as real, true, and solid. Identifications means identifying with the viewpoint of a story. Velcro refers to sensations associated with imagination, where sensations lend a charge and sense of solidity to the imagination, and imagination lends a sense of meaning to sensations.

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