Trauma has become part of our everyday reality. There's no need to list the specific atrocities of this world. We live them daily.
You may be left wondering lately, how are we to live in a world like this?
Although it may seem counter-intuitive, it may not be the best strategy to immediately try and fix what is broken out there in the world. We must first do our internal work before engaging externally.
When tragedy, unjustness and strife strike, we first need to STOP and attend to the completely normal feelings that come up when exposed to the results of an often sick and confused culture. We can't keep our heads down and keep going on consuming, working and spinning in confusion like we always have. It’s OK and healthy to feel our raw, unfiltered and yes, often excruciating, emotions.
The meditation practice of RAIN with Tara Brach - Recognize, Allow, Investigate, Nurture
- is a great starting point to be with your feelings before making those external changes. After all, we don't want our pain to overflow to others.
Before reacting externally from a place of unchecked emotionality, anger and pain we must take some time to process and understand the grief we are feeling. Do whatever it takes to pause and feel. Try the STOP, DROP and ROLL Mindfulness practice. This is not the famous fire prevention ad from 80s TV! In this context it means, when you are feeling off inside you STOP what you are doing. DROP the storyline and sit with your feelings. Finally, ROLL - meaning feel and process - the underlying feelings.
Next, get into your body and out of the monkey mind. Move your body. Shake (as taught here by the Neurosculpting Institute). Dance. Stomp your feet. Hum. Shout. Do a body scan. Splash cold water on your face. Breathe deep into your belly. These things will calm your nervous system.
In this crazy world, we need as many of us as possible to have regulated nervous systems. We can’t shift things if we come at the world from an angry, upset, dysregulated place. Without rushing your process – it may take minutes or days – do whatever regulating practice you have until your mind and body feel calm, centered and clear. Then - and only then - make a plan for compassionate action to do something within your control to help raise consciousness in our culture.
We often feel out of control when traumatic experiences happen because we don’t know what to do about them. Hopefully this post gives you an action plan of what to do anytime something traumatic occurs. I’m convinced that the more each individual does this practice the less often, less severe and more intelligently resolved these external situations will be. The only way to peace, "out there," is to realize it already exists within you and then project that commonsense wisdom out into the world.
To review, when the next unthinkable act happens... stop and feel, take time to process, do your internal work; see through your anger, fear and dismay to discover your birth right of presence and wisdom and then respond/contribute/vote/protest/make change from this place of inherent your inherent peace, wisdom and presence.