Tarka #013

On Transforming Trauma


On Transforming Trauma

Trauma is a medical term that means injury.  While not always easy to fix, medical traumas are usually recognizable, at least to a trained professional.  On the other hand, psychological trauma is something that can remain hidden.  Often invisible in the weeks and years that follow a traumatic event, survivors of trauma can struggle to find adequate words, or a complete memory, that allows them to share and process the experience.

Thus, trauma is at once illusive and overpowering, manifesting in ways that might appear unrelated to the original trauma to the point that many suffering from psychological trauma either never seek help or appear to be unresponsive to the standard forms of therapy available.  Nonetheless, the discovery of “intergenerational trauma” demonstrates that unresolved trauma can repeat itself.  The effort to understand and heal trauma is a vital component of holistic healing.

A rush of recent studies and new possibilities for treatment has made trauma something of a buzzword.  More and more, we are able to understand how trauma can impact well-being and also how it blocks certain survivors from accessing therapies and group experiences that might otherwise be helpful.  The link between unresolved trauma and/or PTSD and substance abuse is irrefutable, yet PTSD does not typically go away with abstinence from substances and it may often be the cause of relapse.  The underlying trauma requires specific treatment, attention, and care.

Leading up to the forthcoming conference, Tracing Trauma, this month’s Tarka features work from a number of our guest teachers and returning authors.  This collection of articles provides a glimpse into their research and will introduce various therapeutic approaches and perspectives on healing trauma.

In the first two articles, returning author and instructor for the upcoming course, “Light in the Shadow: Shadow Yoga, Shamanism & Psychology,” Isa Gucciardi looks at veterans and the challenge of processing wartime memories.  In “War and Soul Loss,” Gucciardi introduces how Shamanic traditions of sonic healing and Depth Hypnosis can address the dichotomy between violent acts of war and everyday life at home.  Next, in “Using Depth Hypnosis Techniques to Treat PTSD,” Gucciardi takes a closer look at PTSD and the process of Depth Hypnosis using a specific case study.

Continuing with a more in-depth look at the particulars of PTSD and the possibility of combining modes of therapy, Daniel Mintie and Julie K. Staples present, “Healing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder with Kundalini Yoga and Cognitive-behavioral Therapy.”  As the title suggests, this article looks at the specifics of PTSD, Kundalini Yoga, and Cognitive-behavorial Therapy and at their recent pilot study to suggest that these therapies are effective and merit further investigation.

Next, Joann Lutz’s “Guidelines for Teaching Nervous System-Informed, Trauma-Sensitive Yoga (NITYA) to Survivors of Psychological Trauma,” builds upon Lutz’s article in Tarka #12, Yoga and Neuroplasticity.  This is a practical set of fourteen specific suggestions to help lead a group class with trauma sensitive instructions.

Trauma Releasing Exercises include the intentional vibration of muscles, tissue and joints in order to reduce stress and anxiety.  David Bercelli, founder of this technique for addressing stress, looks at its therapeutic potential and also at how, for some individuals, it is a natural coping mechanism.  The article includes scientific analysis of the technique as well as specific case studies.

Judith Blackstone then offers an excerpt from her book, Trauma and the Unbound Body: The Healing Power of Fundamental Consciousness, (2018).  In this she discusses the therapy termed “Realization Process,” and the intentional practice of “inhabiting the body,” as a transformation of learned habits and of learning to live in the body in ways that allow for a deeper connection with others.

Rae Johnson’s, “Oppression Embodied: Exploring the Intersections of Somatic Psychology, Trauma, and Oppression,” explores how oppressive social conditions are embodied and how this can inform a particular approach to Somatic Psychology. The article is distinctly multi-layered, incorporating therapeutic approaches, critical analysis, and personal narrative.  Johnson will be teaching the course, Embodying Social Justice: Understanding the Trauma of Oppression starting May 9.

The final article this month also combines narrative and critical analysis to consider the complex dynamics of love and power in traumatic experiences.  Renowned activist Anneke Lucas will join the on-line conference, Tracing Trauma, to speak about the Unconditional Model, a healing modality that addresses power dynamics as a means to heal the self and others.  Her article, “Personal Lesson: The Role of Love In Facing Childhood Sexual Abuse,” is a personal account of Lucas’s traumatic experience and her realization of how love and power shape both trauma and healing.

This issue of Tarka marks the beginning of our quarter long focus on Healing Trauma.  It supports the Embodied Healing 75 Hour Certificate Program: the Somatics & Psychology of Trauma, Healing & Embodiment as well as the upcoming free conference, Tracing Trauma.

~ Stephanie Corigliano, TARKA Managing Editor