When we have suffered a lot of trauma, our emotional and physical systems have literally been overloaded with input. It is as though the inner circuit board of our being is endlessly lit up with warning lights flashing, sounds blaring, neurons endlessly firing backwards and forwards in an awful cacophony of inner white noise, electric pain and fury which revolves endlessly around and never seems to stop.
We need to find our own individual circuit breakers to interrupt the endless feedback loop cycle from endlessly refiring within us. To me this means developing an awareness of what has caused us pain and trauma in the past, amped up our nervous system or triggered us. It means creating and finding peaceful places within and without which are nourishing for us on every level, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually, places of soothing, calm, expansion and warmth within which our hurting, contracted places can release and let go of what limits, restricts and confines in an unhealthy way or endlessly re-traumatises us.
I have been thinking lately a great deal about the pain body, a concept that Eckart Tolle has written and spoken about. All of us carry some degree of pain within us, some people such as myself carry a huge pain body around. The pain body consists of all the pain from trauma, injuries, hurts and/or losses we have suffered in this life that may affect us unconsciously. According to Tolle developing awareness of or consciousness into our own pain body as well as the pain body of others, developing some intelligence into the ways in which we react out of the pain body and can retrigger our own and other’s pain is very important to learning to becoming more skilful and happy in our lives.
I started to write a blog this morning about compassionate communication. It was prompted by a book I started to re-read last night on love. Suffice to say for this blog we are only able to be compassionate towards ourselves and others after we have developed an awareness and acceptance of the fact that some pain is part of life. We carry pain, others carry pain and the best answer and healing remedy to deal with the pain body in ourselves and others is an attitude of what Pema Chodron calls unconditional friendliness, an open, loose, expansive, state of awareness, acceptance and presence, a radiant field of loving tolerant energy within which pain can be embraced, soothed and de-potentised (Word press isn’t recognising that word but I think its a good one for stepping down the potent charge of a pain body that is firing off and getting magnified and magnetised by a triggering event or state we are encountering within ourselves or in our relationships).
Trauma and pain’s most noticeable impact upon many of us is a state of contraction, a state of pulling in or away as a result of hurt. We either react, run, hide, avoid or attack, play dead, freeze or spin out. And it is perfectly natural that we react in this way, from the more primal centres of our brain. However over time and when these kind of reactions lead our pain to repeat or magnify or get us caught up in a fruitless destructive cycle we may feel the urge to reach for a better way of responding. Is there a chance we could lean in, take a deep breathe and hold ourselves still in the midst of trauma allowing its vibration to release and have its way its way with us?
Over the past week or so this is the kind of practice I have been attempting to engage in. I find the Universe often has a tendency to present us with challenges and lessons when we put our hands up in this way. Today I lost my car keys in the shopping centre where I had gone for a cup of coffee. I am sure they were in my bag when I went to the discount pharmacy to buy some things, not so sure if they were still there when I visited the library, but by the time I was heading towards the carpark I reached my hands inside my bag to find it void of any keys at all. I started to feel sick inside as I do in this kind of situation. (Its a while since this sort of thing has happened to me as I have been much more mindful of my keys after having lost them on at least 6 occasions over the past year or so.) My first impulse was to freak out and panic after I had checked the concierge desk and customer service in the department store I was in at the time. It was not possible to check the library as the library closed at 4 pm.
I stopped myself mid panic and said “the keys are lost for now, you need to stay calm and think of how to solve the situation.” My phone was in another bag in my car in the car park. I knew I had a spare key at home, taxis stood nearby in the taxi rank so I got into one and told the driver what had happened. He drove me home and waited while I collected the spare key then returned me to the shopping centre from where I drove home.
I still noticed that I was running a ‘disaster’ script in my head, self judgement over how careless I was to have lost the keys in the first place, a sick feeling thinking I had no idea where they were and may never find them back. But then calmer voices came into play. How much of a disaster is it really if I loose those keys? I don’t have any control over the situation now and making it worse by awfulising things will just end up adding stress that I don’t need. The keys may turn up later, but for now isn’t it just best to let it go, kiddo. Problem solved. I did not have to add to the difficulty by amping up things and I just had a chat to a friend about it and we had a huge laugh.
A few days later I went to the library and was told my keys had been found on the floor near the self issue station. My calmness payed of. Everything was really okay. By not freaking out I had stopped more pain for myself. It took a lot of work and conscious intent and taught me some really practical things about dealing with the pain body.