Friday, September 17, 2010

Spirituality & Trauma

Spirituality & Trauma

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.

- Kahlil Gibran

Traumatic experiences force victims to face issues lying outside the boundaries of personal and collective frames of reference. As a result they are forced to confront psychological and spiritual challenges that are unfamiliar to the average person. Therapists need to recognise that organisations of self and God are often thrown into question or destroyed by experiences of trauma. The deconstructive power of trauma exposes the lack of substance and cohesiveness that comprises identity and images of God.

Initially, trauma is grounded in pain, loss, and fear. Often it leads to breakdowns. Ultimately, with proper support and guidance, it has the potential to transform individuals into compassionate and deeply spiritual beings.

Traumatic events expose victims to aspects of life that most would prefer to ignore. Trauma creates confrontations with the lack of security and certitude that underlie all human endeavours. It has the power to throw into question or obliterate any organisation of self, God, and humanity. The implications of traumatic events assault anything considered sacred or foundational. Trauma brutally demonstrates that the ego (the rational aspect of consciousness) cannot contain or make sense of certain aspects of life.

Certain experiences, such as peak, near death, and mystical experiences often project individuals into another realm of consciousness that is often referred to as transpersonal or spiritual. At these times the ego is displaced or cracked open. This enables transpersonal dimensions of consciousness to emerge. Many of these experiences, despite their beauty and sublime character, are unnerving and terrifying.

Trauma, in addition to its ability to deconstruct reality horizontally in terms of belief systems and frames of reference, also initiates a vertical deconstruction. It either displaces or obliterates the ego. Victims are thrust into the realm of the Deeper Self without warning and preparation. This brutal exposure illuminates the fact that the ego is a mosaic held together by personal narration, continual feedback from others, and internalised object relations.

Trauma, in spite of its brutality and destructiveness, has the power to open victims to issues of profound existential and spiritual significance. The displacement of the ego forces confrontations with deeper levels of self and reality. Trauma throws victims onto a path that mystics, shamans, mythic heroes, and spiritual seekers have been walking for thousands of years. The difference is that victims of trauma must work this territory or be overcome by it. Non-traumatised seekers have the luxury of getting off the path at will; for theirs is not a life or death struggle.

In receiving appropriate care, compassion, and direction, victims can overcome the destructive impact of trauma, break through restrictive approaches to life, and become more soulful and compassionate beings in the process. Traumatic injuries, when accompanied by love and understanding, do not become places of deadness, denial, and disease. Rather they become bridges of compassion that connect victims to all sentient beings. Survivors accept that they can be broken, overwhelmed, and rendered powerless. These realisations are not considered shameful (as they were at the beginning of the journey) but are now recognised as the common ground that connects victims to all forms of life. Becoming comfortable with one's inherent capacity to be rendered powerless enables survivors to encounter the brokenness and wounds of others without fear.

Source: Spirituality & Trauma: Robert Grant Ph.D.

See also:
# Heeding Pain as a Call to Personal Growth - Michael Nagel
# The Places That Scare You - Pema Chödrön
# Turning Toward Pain - Pema Chödrön
# The Spirit of Tonglen - Pema Chödrön
# The Practice of Tonglen - Pema Chödrön
# Spirituality & Suicide
# Music: Flowers Become Screens

Spiritual Emergency, Shamanism, Mysticism, PTSD, The Hero's Journey, Spiritual Awakening, Ego Death, Ego Collapse, Ego Integrity, Ego Fragmentation, Identity Crisis,The Dark Night of the Soul, Delerium - Semantic Spaces, Tonglen, Robert Grant, Pema Chodron, Michael Nagel
Posted by Spiritual Emergency at 6:27 PM

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