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Trauma: our oldest "friend"


I am overwhelmed by the feedback I received in response to the most recent TOTEM blog post: “I don’t believe in coincidence”. Thank you for replying, reaching out, and sharing your own experiences. At the risk of sounding like a sap, your input and support mean the world to me, and I cherish the communication with all of you.

I’ve been inspired by your bravery and transparency and decided to address a topic many of you have requested: trauma.

*Requisite preliminary disclaimer*: I am not a doctor, psychiatrist, or any other form of therapist or mental health professional and I am NOT THE ONE to guide anyone's mental health journey. That said, I am a shaman, and it is from this shamanic perspective that I write this.

As a shaman who has worked with literally thousands of clients, I firmly believe that trauma is the original boogeyman. Trauma is, more than anything else, the ultimate "gateway drug", opening the energetic field to all variety of negative energies, experiences, and patterns.

Trauma's origins are usually fuzzy for the individual. Its exact form is nebulous. Sometimes, it even looks like a friend. Trauma lives, seemingly unimposing, in the dark recesses and poorly lit corners of our minds and our energy bodies. It hides its nature, and it’s very good at hiding.

And yet, in spite of its often mysterious origins, trauma is everywhere. Trauma shows up in every single energy work session. In every single reading. In every single shamanic journey. As a shamanic practitioner, I become aware of it and interact with it energetically. Despite its subtle nature, trauma is ubiquitous, permeating our energy bodies, our relationships, our homes, our jobs and broader society.

So, what do we do about it?

Whew. Isn't that the ultimate question! From a shamanic point of view, it's both incredibly complex and bizarrely simple. It is truly a bit of a paradox. But there are some basic lessons learned and best practices I've developed in working with clients and, quite frankly, through my own journey with trauma:

1. Acknowledge trauma. Because I'm not a therapist, it's really not my place to dig into the subconscious mind of my clients to excavate the exact cause or nature of their trauma. But, if this does come up in a reading or an energy work session, I commit to being both respectfully transparent and affirming and supportive about this "spiritual data", acknowledging its presence and taking my lead from the client to ensure I'm respecting boundaries. Sometimes, you don't need to comb through the details or the "drama" in the session- a simple acknowledgment of the existence of a trauma is often enough, and just that one affirmation brings immediate relief. In other words: energetically, we see you, we hear you, and this happened to you.

2. Expand the definition of trauma. Many things in modern society are not really considered to be traumatic, but, to the energy body, they are. Relationship breakups, someone "ghosting" you, the loss of a beloved pet, an argument at work, a personal financial crisis, a fight with a close friend, an elective surgery, or even watching a Disney movie (ever notice how the parents always die and orphan their child in the beginning 5 minutes of a Disney movie?!?) can all have lasting, traumatic effects on our energy bodies. This, in turn, impacts us profoundly in the short and the long term, often echoing through time as repetitive patterns, struggles, or blockages. The energy body doesn't care if the trauma is physical, sexual, mental, or emotional, and some of the worst damage I've seen- particularly in the heart chakra- is from a simple breakup, sometimes going all the way back to high school. Acknowledging that the net effect is the same to us, energetically, is a huge step to relief.

3. Work with "soul parts". In shamanism, we look at the energy body much the way a doctor looks at the physical body: there are energetic versions of cells, tissues, organs and organ systems, which are collectively referred to as "soul parts". These soul parts, sometimes manifesting as an inner child or as a chakra or symbol or animal, will effectively raise their hand and ask for attention. Through shamanic energy work, we can acknowledge the trauma and work to release it, effectively impacting the holographic memory and any related epigenetic elements for the benefit of the client. This is incredibly powerful work- I've seen, with perfect clarity, a hologram of a client holding themselves as a newborn, writing a new script for themselves and reintegrating lost or dormant soul parts. It was, perhaps, the most profoundly moving experience I've ever had. Period. Full stop.

4. Accept that it's a process. Shamanism, yoga and even energy work are called "practices" for a reason- you have to keep doing them, day after day, and there is no such thing as a destination or final goal to achieve. Rather, it's a process for us as practitioners and a layered, iterative healing process for our clients. And just because an old pattern or archetype reemerges after a session doesn't mean it wasn't successful- trust me, I'm currently in a bit of a loop with my landlord and acknowledge that the process is a continued part of my healing and learning- and not a sign of failure at the hands of past trauma! Be kind to yourself, be firm in your boundaries, and keep at it- it sounds cheesy, but the real victory is in never giving up. Alice Walker, the Pulitzer Prize Winning author of The Color Purple has coined an incredible phrase: "Resistance is the secret of joy". Your resistance against past, current and future trauma will be the key to your joy; likewise, living joyfully is one of the best ways to resist and remediate trauma.

Trauma does not have to have power over you. There is a way out. I've been on my own journey with the long-term effects of traumatic experiences, and I can tell you that this is what first brought me to shamanism- as a client. If I can pull out of victim energy and move forward, shedding layers of trauma and reintegrating soul parts along the way, so can you. Trust me: I was a gigantic mess before starting this shamanic journey. And, if you want to learn more about the energy work I do at TOTEM, book a session, or you just want someone to hear your story in a respectful setting, let me know. I'm here.

And besides- I like kicking trauma's ass. Trauma is a total jerk. And a creep. And a party pooper. And we just don't need characters like that in our lives anymore.

-Rachel

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