What is Trauma?
Trauma is an experience that causes emotional and psychological distress. Traumatic experiences overtake a person’s ability to process emotions and thoughts in a calm manner. Distress related to a traumatic experience will reoccur in the subconscious mind and body until they are released.
Trauma occurs from single overwhelming incidents as well as experiences over time. We often associate trauma with a shocking event such as a violent crime or the sudden loss of a loved one. Such incidents are traumatic, but trauma can also result from everyday life challenges. Therefore, trauma can occur to any one person and is not something to stigmatize. Unfortunately, many people do feel shame about experiencing and talking about their past. When we feel embarrassed or unable to talk about it, it is important to acknowledge that emotion so that it does not stop you from healing.
What Does Trauma Look Like?
Trauma manifests in a variety of ways. For some, it becomes overwhelming anger or sadness. People may “snap” easily or yell at loved ones for seemingly no reason. More extreme forms of anger include violent outbursts or self-harm. Underneath anger and self-destructive habits are feelings of sadness and vulnerability. Alcohol and drug abuse are maladaptive coping mechanisms that people often use to deal with unprocessed trauma.
Unprocessed emotions may also manifest as depression and anxiety. In depression, feelings of anger are turned inward. People experience low energy states as well as feelings of hopeless and indifference. When a person experiences depressive symptoms over several weeks or months, he or she could be clinically depressed. With anxiety, people may experience physical symptoms such as heart palpitations or sweaty palms. There are several clinical diagnoses under the umbrella of anxiety, such as generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. With generalized anxiety disorder, people may have reoccurring worrisome thoughts. A licensed clinician would make a diagnosis regarding mental illness after a thorough assessment.
An Example of Trauma
As stated before, trauma may occur after a shocking experience in which a person’s sense of safety and security were at risk. For instance, a person who grew up with a chronically ill parent could have experienced trauma. If the child constantly had emotional highs and lows and lived in a constant state of anxiety, then they may have developed feelings of insecurity. The child may have had thoughts such as, “I can’t think about myself because this other person needs all the support.” This thought may have led to guilt and/or self-loathing. When these emotions remain unprocessed, then they will affect their ability to take care of themselves or form healthy and balanced relationships with others.
Trauma may leave an imprint in a person’s psyche without the person even realizing it. For instance, trauma could occur on a very subtle level through racism, discrimination, and even poverty. If a person is inundated with subconscious messaging that the color of his/her skin is second-class, then they may internalize feelings of low self-worth. The person may develop a lot of anger (even without realizing it) to protect themselves against a threat to their own well-being.
Finally Healing Trauma
Fortunately, there are solutions for healing the emotional and psychological impact of trauma. Some solutions include psychotherapy from a licensed social worker or psychologist, art therapy, yoga therapy, and spiritual healing retreats with plant medicine. Psychotherapy interventions may include cognitive behavioral therapy to recognize and change negative thought patterns. Yoga therapy uses postures and breathing to cultivate awareness of your emotions, body, and state of mind. An example of a spiritual healing retreat is an ayahuasca healing retreat in the Peruvian Amazon with Temple of the Way of Light.
Ayahuasca is medicine drink made from two Amazonia plants. The medicine opens the person to a journey deep within the subconscious and unconscious mind. The person can uncover issues which have been hidden and result in emotional and psychological imbalances.
Temple of the Way of Light offers nine, 12, and 13-day retreats as well as three-week immersion and three-month residency programs. The ayahuasca retreat consists of healing ceremonies that combine ancient Amazonian, plant-spirit shamanism with self-reflection and deep processing. The experienced Shaman healers provide gentle and compassionate support as people process their experiences and restore their emotional/psycho-spiritual balance.
The three-month program is for people who have been to a Temple of the Way of Light retreat before and who feel called to serve the community. Selected participants attend weekly ayahuasca ceremonies while also supporting the community through supportive roles.
Whereas psychotherapy can be a long process and may not necessary tap into the subconscious and unconscious mind, ayahuasca plant medicine effectively opens you to the possibility. Temple of the Way of Light healers provides a safe and comforting space to do deep healing work. Participant reviews show the depth of healing and positive changes they experienced. Participants cleared many different emotional/psychological issues as well as physical ailments through the plant medicine and healers’ support.