I think of trauma as heartbreak. It’s life picking up our sphere as we know it, our personal snow globe, and shaking it fiercely. Break up, divorce, illness, death. They haunt us, break us. These moments affect us deeply. They change us forever.
In my personal life and working with clients, I often refer to these circumstances as impressions. Traumatic situations quite literally impress upon our hearts (emotions) and minds (neurological system) the pain and anguish connected to the experience. In scientific journals, this is known as epigenetics — the fact that trauma has the power to change our DNA.
In other words, the tremble of the once solid foundation beneath us quakes us into an entirely different realm. The stance in modern scientific studies supports that of Ayurvedic belief. Ayurveda, or the Science of Longevity, stands firm in its belief that a change in the soil we’re rooted in has the power to shape or impress upon us a new mold. This is called samskara.
Let’s not forget the ripples. When one element shifts, the others are affected. Just the same, when the structure of life suddenly changes, we must bend our knees and take a lower center of gravity not to fall over.
So why do we expect ourselves to endure ups and downs and sideways shifts without taking the time to reconfigure? It’s a process of absorbing, allowing, being, releasing. And it doesn’t happen in a day. Hell, sometimes it doesn’t happen in a lifetime.
When we have heard the news about infidelity, cancer, death, we feel our sorrow more than we had once conceived possible. We have an all new understanding of how deep the “trenches” are. When we truly feel all of our fear and anger that surfaces during a time when life as we knew it is over, then we know we are truly present. When we are present, we are able to slow down, feel, and heal.
Ayurveda is the glue that keeps my feet on the ground when I’m going through a rug-pulled-from-under-me experience. Little by little, layer by layer, I choose to care for myself in ways that soothe from the inside out. When I do this, I first consider my sensory self. How does this feel? Sound? Taste? And how is it affecting me? Do I contract? Expand? Feel disconnected or connected?
The goal is to return to connection. According to much research including Brené Brown’s deep dive into how we as humans thrive, we NEED connection for survival. Without it, we don’t have the resilience that it takes to rise to the surface after the weight of trauma has dragged us below our baseline.
Trauma gives birth to grief. It’s a process that is personal and unique. There is an immediate call to action, a process that can heal when we share our stories and connect in our vulnerability of “this f*ing sucks”. Without connection, our grieving process is longer and heavier and darker.
When we face trauma, our perception changes. If we don’t slow down, it may drag every bit of energy out of us. Today may be the day we think we don’t have any choice other than to ride the roller coaster of emotions as we grieve. It’s normal to have those thoughts. And we can choose to overcome them. One thought at a time we cleanse, reset, and renew.
Yes, these impressions may leave scars. Though scars don’t define us. They refine us.