Healing Trauma: The Light Shines Through the Broken Places with Tara Brach

Updated : Nov 08, 2019 in Articles

Healing Trauma: The Light Shines Through the Broken Places with Tara Brach


Namaste and welcome. I often talk about trance, so I thought I
would start tonight with a… an illustrative story. And this was shared by a… a mom who, very
much, is into organic foods and a healthy life-style, and describes one evening when
she hadn’t had time to get to the grocery store and she was exhausted and I will… I will read what she writes, she sent this
recently as an email to me. She says: “I looked for what we could possibly eat
for dinner. Thank goodness there was a frozen pizza in
the freezer. ‘Okay guys, we are going to have a frozen
pizza for dinner!’ I tried to keep the guilt out of my voice
that it wasn’t going to be hand-made, home-made-organic-with-love-meal. My son instantly resisted, “But I don’t
want frozen pizza!’ I remained calm and said, “But that is what
we are having tonight.” And he remained resistant, getting more and
more upset, on the verge of a tantrum, ‘I don’t want frozen pizza! I don’t want frozen pizza!’ I tried to remain calm and repeat, out loud,
a calm mantra. ‘This is dinner tonight. It is what we have in the house. It will be okay. Have you ever had frozen pizza?’ all the
whi… all the while going crazy in my mind. I am such a bad mom, of course my kids don’t
like frozen pizza, I don’t like it either, I am doing the best I can and I am falling
short today, but it is the best I can and I have created a monster of a child who only
eat healthy, organic, home-made food! He is spoiled and doesn’t understand how
much work it is! I have completely lost my sense of myself
to these kids, they are taking over, I am raising entitled brats! I am a bad mom! Maybe I could make it to the store… No, that is just giving in. ‘That is what we are going to have for dinner
tonight, sweetie! And I am tired and that is what we will have,
it will be okay,” I say relatively calmly. I take a deep breath and look at my son’s
tear-streaked face. He looks at me and says, actually quite calmly
for a three-year old, ‘Okay mama. But could we at least heat it up?’” So this is a mild mannered trance story as
a kind of prelude to really what I would like to explore tonight which is a much more painful
kind of trance that occurs when our… because trance means that our perceptual filters have
narrowed and we are just taking in a kind of a sliver of the world and when it is driven
by our negativity-bias or… you know, the kind of sense that something is wrong we get
very torqued, it is a lot of suffering. So I would like to explore how we work with
trance when the trance is a very… is very strongly driven by fear or trauma. And it feels like a really important domain
to explore because trauma and strong fear are so pervasive. Even for those of us that don’t think of
ourselves as traumatized: We all have seasons where we get in the grip. So we will be exploring this tonight and,
for those who are interested, next week I am starting an online course that fleshes
out a lot of this subject called “Awakening Your Fearless Heart” and you can find out
more about that on my website tarabrach.com. So. Question I am most regularly asked after classes
or workshops or whatever is: What do I do if it feels like too much? Okay? Because the instructions are so often: “Come
into the body and open to what is here, be with it with kindness, with clarity” – What
do I do if it feels like too much? What if I do… if I feel I am going to get
overwhelmed? What I do if I feel so agitated I just can’t
even sit with it? These are the kind of questions I get. And the reason it keeps coming up is because
many of us have, within us, pockets of fear and agitation that we actually organize our
lives around not feeling and often they are trauma-based. Give you a little bit of the statistics: It
is estimated that seventy percent of us have had a traumatic experience in our life, and
that twenty percent of those of us that have had that go on to experience the post-traumatic
stress syndrome—the different symptoms that circle around trauma. So that is one of five of us that are sitting
here or that are listening. And there is further research that kind of
narrows it down: It says one in five Americans was sexually molested as a child, one in four
was beaten by a parent to the point of leaving a mark, and one in three couples engage in
physical violence. That is a lot of people, okay/ So we sometimes think of… of trauma as,
you know, emotional… as sexual abuse or physical abuse or war or major natural disasters,
but there is a whole range of life-experiences that are traumatizing. And they can include surgery and illness and
loss of a loved one, sudden loss of a loved one, they can in… they include this ending
of a relationship when it is not expected or even when it is. In our society – and I think many people
can feel kind of plugged into the nervous system of our society there is a lot of trauma
– and it really… it is… it is from all sides of the political spectrum. It is the trauma many segments of the population
traumatized by loss of jobs, sometimes for generations, traumatized by poverty. The trauma of immigrants, the trauma of refugees,
the trauma of non-dominant populations that experience regular violence, injustice, oppression. And a lot of the trauma is generational. I think of… so… so often, you know, just…
like what is the trauma of slavery—of having your people transported as slaves to another
continent and then continued violence and violations through the institutions of that
country, it doesn’t go away really quickly. And now research is showing that generational
violence is handed down, you can actually see it biologically handed down. Faulkner says: “The past is not dead; it
is not even past.” Okay? So you can see it in families, families that
have, you know, emotional abuse that is handed down through the generations or sexual abuse,
it… it goes on and on. So, I wonder here – and just us that are
gathered in… in this room – and there’s probably about… almost three-hundred of
us – How many of you have known trauma close up, either in your own being or with someone
in your close circle? Can I see by hands? I just want to… for those that are listening
to the podcast – and thank you, I appreciate you sha… sharing that – that was most
every hand. I saw a few that weren’t up and that may
be the case, I mean some of us just aren’t, for some blessed reason. But the reason I asked that is because if
we want to be able to help ourselves and each other and our society, we need to understand
the challenge of trauma. It is very easy to see the effects of trauma
and just be angry at yourself or the person that is traumatized or the society that is
traumatized, and not get the tremendously powerful set of circumstances that are driving
it. There is something that I have noticed – and
this is now the other side of things – which is: There are many people that, when they
have come to terms with “Okay, there is trauma here,” and they have actually gotten
into a path of recovery from trauma, have come into an experience of profound spiritual
healing. So trauma and the awfulness of it, when faced,
can bring about a very deep kind of a… a waking up. Many of you know Leonard Cohen’s… it’s
a well-known line: “In the broken places the light shines through.” In the broken places the light shines through. When we deepen our attention. So, I have seen – and I have worked with so
many people that have been traumatized and I have it very, very close up in my life too,
like all of you, most of you. I have seen that trauma is a cutting off. And we are going to explore what trauma is. It is a cutting off within our own body, it
is a cutting off with others. That is the pain, the pain of separation. But the process of recovery is a reconnection
that can really reconnect us to the sacred, to a real sense of spirit. So this is what I want to look at in this
particular talk like how can… what is the path of recovery that really goes all the
way to that deep sense of… of… of freedom and awakening. And we are going to do it in four parts and
I… this is somewhat of a new talk, although some of the pieces I have drawn from other
talks, and so… I will see if I can fit it in. The first part will be being able to recognize
and understand the suffering of trauma because, as I mentioned, if we don’t, we will blame. There is a lot of shame that surrounds trauma
– for those that are traumatized. And a lot of blame outwards. So that is the first is that we can relate
to it with compassion if we can understand the nature of its suffering. The second is how can we resource trauma,
how can we bring in enough safety and love to begin to work with it? Part three is presence. How do we re… how do we really reconnect
with the unlived life that is there that we have been avoiding? And then the last part is then, how do we
then live from a more fearless heart? Okay, so, number one: What is trauma? And, in a simple way, you could just say that,
when our nervous system is overwhelmed and our coping strategies don’t work, we get
traumatized. When our normal ways of coping – fight-flight-freeze,
being able to navigate a situation – don’t work, we get traumatized. And if… And if the trauma is not processed, if we
aren’t eventually able to fight off what is… what is attacking us, or get away from
it, or in some way manage it, then we freeze in a way that the fear… the unprocessed
fear… gets locked in in our body—in our tissues. It is there. And then that brings up all the symptoms that
are called PTSD that include anxiety, and include depression, and include dissociation
– because we are trying to get away from our body—and includes intrusive thoughts that
come in and really torment us. It includes sleeplessness for many people
and… and then avoidant behaviors that very much turn into addictive behaviors. As I have come back to a couple of times already,
PTSD is almost always very much coated by and held together by a sense of shame. It is like… it is a… it is a really terrible
Catch 22: something happens, we get traumatized, we are coping as best as we can with these
strategies and we hate our self for it because they don’t look good and feel good. And that shame, by the way, binds the whole
process. So, what is actually going on inside us when
we get traumatized? And this is what gets interesting to me because
I am beginning to, more and more, understand trauma as a breakdown in communication. We have… When we are an integrated person, we have
communication going on through all parts of our body. There is a flow of energy and information
moving through. But when we get traumatized, that breaks down. So there’s certain parts of our brain that
have evolved to monitor for danger and what happens is when they get over-activated—in
other words, when we have been traumatized and they are over activated—they are constantly
monitoring for danger, and they pick up on all sorts of triggers as oh this is… this
is trouble that might be just associated in some way in the mind, but are not really danger. So, the body is constantly in a flush of stress
and reactivity. And we are seeing the world basically, instead
of through rose-colored lenses, through the lens of pure fear. And the way I… I… I have shared… those of you that are…
might be familiar with it just to… for those who aren’t… that for me, the most useful
way of understanding this breakdown in communication that goes with trauma is an image from Dan
Siegel, who is a psychiatrist and author, where he says: Okay, so this is your brain,
this… this fist—you might want to make a fist yourself, if you haven’t done this
before in particular—this is your brain. And if you open it up, this is your spinal
column going up into the heel of the palm, the brain stem, and your thumb is your limbic
system, okay? And your brain stem and your limbic system
work together to regulate arousal, fight-flight-freeze, emotions. Okay? The four fingers come over, this is your frontal
cortex here, okay? And your frontal cortex is, first of all,
thinking… the cortex is thinking and reasoning and the frontal cortex, in particular—where
your forehead is—that is the site of mindfulness. It is the site of compassion—that whole…
the whole compassion network. It is a site of morality. It gives you kind of a moral direction . . . perspective
. . . Now when the brain is integrated, this frontal
cortex down-regulates. What that means is, you might get a message
saying: Danger, danger coming up! The frontal cortex will say: No, it’s…
it kind of seems like that thing that happened in the past but now is now and you are okay. And so, that calms down the limbic system
in there. Now what happens when you are not integrated
and in good communication? In other words, when you have been traumatized
and there is not good communication going on and the frontal cortex isn’t giving its
information, is fear and messages of danger come up and you flip your lid. Okay? You basically totally lose contact with the
frontal cortex, and so you are going around in an unintegrated state where this sub-cortical
looping, all fear-based, is in control. It has hijacked your system. Now here is… What I didn’t know until more recently was,
the stress-chemicals, corti… mostly cortisol, that flood through our system when we are
really frightened actually destroy neurons, and they particularly have an effect on the
neurons that connect the more far-reaching parts of the brain so that if you have been
traumatized, there is less communication already between the frontal cortex here and the limbic
system, and it is much more quick that you completely lose contact. And then you are living in that place of completely
feeling like, “I am in the thick of it, I am in the thick of danger with no really
good ways to deal with it.” That is the communications break down. If you think of the… the opposite, when
communications are flowing… In a way, the state of enlightenment is a
state of full integration where everything… all the circuits are connected and you are
really able to light up, right? So, not only do we have a communications breakdown
internally when there has been trauma, but our interpersonal communications also break
down. Why is that? This frontal cortex that down-regulates emotions
also is what allows us to pick up really important information from each other to be able to
have empathy, to be able to sense what is going on for another person. And when there’s not good communications
internally, we can’t tell whether another person means well for us or another person
is a threat, and we are much more at the mercy of that negativity-bias that is perceiving
threat and feels unsafe and can’t trust. Does this make sense? Is this connecting for you? Okay. Because I feel like revisiting it really helps. Now just to say…everything that has been
disconnected can be reconnected. I am going to move on to… The whole rest of the talk will be how we
reconnect, but I want to say that because it sounds pretty awful—okay, our communications
are cut off inside and they are cut off with the world—but when we are in the state of
trauma, it is pretty awful. Okay? Now, interestingly, to communicate fully,
in order to be able to play and to mate and to nurture our young and to nurture each other,
we actually have to be able to turn off our defensive systems. I mean, you can’t really make love and be
nurturing if you are in high alert and your defenses are on. And there was a very interesting experiment
that happened… this is back in ninety-ninety-eight, a neuroscientist named Jaak Panksepp. He had young rat cubs and they were in their
cages, and he observed them doing the whole rough-and-tumble of their play. And he watched them for a number of days playing,
and then he took one cat hair, put it in the cage, left it there for twenty-four hours
and then removed it. And what do you think happened? They stopped playing completely. As soon as that trigger for danger was in
their cage—completely wiped out their play and then, gradually, they began to play some,
but never again in the same way. So it brings up a really important question
for us. And this is eve… this is even if we haven’t
been traumatized, which is: Where, in some way, are we perceiving a cat hair? You know. Where do we have that embedded association
with danger! danger! that is keeping us on defense and stopping us from playing? And I actually mean the word playing because
we don’t play very much, you know. We get very caught in… So whether it is being able to be playful
or nurturing, loving, whatever – there is a cat here in there, and for some it is way
way more ongoingly triggered than others. So this is part one. And it is basically saying that we get cut
off and then we add on shame. We blame ourselves for the ways that we are
not communicating well, we blame ourselves for the ways that we are self-soothing and…
and behaving in addictive, avoidant ways. We blame ourselves over and over again. I’ll share a story from a few years ago
when there was this horrific… the economy dropped way down. And one man I was working with… his company
had down-sized, he had been laid off and he just tried over and over again. I caught him… like a year and a half… later, after he
had lost his job, still looking, and he was traumatized. He was traumatized. It was like his work, really… it defined
him and he was really, really panicking about, you know, his family and all the repercussions. So panic, depression, he was sleepless, he
was on anxiety meds and he was addicted to them, he was avoiding social… social situations,
and his marriage was really going south. So, the whole thing was wrapped in shame as…
as I have been mentioning. So we were working together and, you know,
he was telling me what was going on, how hard it was, and I paused and said, “Do you realize
that this is trauma, you have been traumatized?” And he said… And it was like startle, like he had never
named it that way. Now, sometimes naming it can be a box—you
know, it can be a category that… that locks us in—but sometimes it can be really freeing
when we get: Wow, okay, this is a form of suffering that is really intense! And I added to it: “This is trauma, and
it is not your fault. You are not alone. There are a lot of people I know that this
is really the case. Losing a job can be really traumatizing. And there’s a lot of people for other reasons
that are traumatized. But it is not your fault that your nervous
system is responding this way.” And that is when he began to weep. Because the burden of feeling terrible and
then hating himself for how he was dealing with it was crushing. Trauma is important… it’s important we
identify it and it is important that we begin to loosen the bind of shame around it. So this is part one, okay? Part two is: Once we have got it, Okay, this
is trauma, and, even though it takes a while to de-shame, and it happens in… you can
see in twelve step groups how powerfully helpful it is with addiction, to be able to really
get it, of, Okay, we are all in the same boat here. And it is less personal. Well, so it is with trauma. When we get: A lot of people are traumatized. This is how the nervous system does it, then
we start beginning to say: Okay, how can we resource? How can we begin to reconnect and reintegrate? And, it is interesting if you, you know, kind
of look in what… the way the shamanistic cultures put it. It is believed that when a person is traumatized,
their soul leaves their body and it is a way to protect it from intolerable pain. And so, in a process they call Soul Retrieval,
they bring together a community of, you know, people that… that basically are with the
traumatized person with trem… creating a tremendous amount of love and safety, and
the soul is invited to return. And so, likewise, in different healing contexts,
whether it is in the care of a therapist or friends or a group of friends, or with a teacher,
we begin to find ways to create containers of safety and love. That is the beginning. Because we were wounded, most of us, in relationship,
and most of us need relationship to heal. I mean, if you think about, especially the…
the huge pervasive amount of traumatic wounding in early childhood, when there is neglect
or when there is abuse, there is this basic lack of safety or trust, and that creates
huge, huge stress for the infant or young child—so much stress that huge floods of
cortisol and… and at the key developmental period for them, a key development for the
brain and for the parts of the brain that allow for socializing. Those neurons that connect are destroyed. Louis Cozolino says: “It is not survival
of the fittest. It is survival of the nurtured.” It is a really, really good line. When we are traumatized, the first need is
safety and love. And there is one man I know, young man, who
lives with a huge amount of anxiety, and he has tried every modality I have ever heard
of and… and he said, “After doing all of these different processes and techniques,
all of them,” he said, “there is only one thing that works and it is kindness.” You see it with children. I… I have this… this… one story of a group
of children… there is a… they are having a really big fight and the… they go to bed
after their fight and then there is this… this horrific thunderstorm in the middle of
the night and this woman says she found her… she her… she heard a noise upstairs and
she called to find out what was going on during the thunderstorm and then a little voice answered,
“We are in the closet forgiving each other.” In another similar story I heard there was,
again, a storm at nighttime which is just, you know, children get scared, and this little
boy is… wanted to sleep with his parents and… and each time he would call his father
and said, “Please can I come into your room?” And… And his father said, “You don’t have to. God is with you.” You know. Then, twenty-five minutes later, he hears
his son calling again, he would come and say, “God is with you. You are okay.” And finally, the third time, the little boy
said to his dad, “I know God is with me. But I want someone with skin on.” We know from research that relationship…
when we are in relationship it reduces fear. There is… There is all this research shows that when
somebody is… is filled with fear and they hold hands with somebody that they love or
trust, you could watch their brain… they were hooked up to an MRI… you could watch
everything calm down. Okay? And we know that hugs, you know, get the oxytocin
if you stay in a hug for twenty seconds. That really is incredibly soothing. And you can do the inner practices of loving-kindness
and compassion that, in your mind, invoke a person you care about with you, loving you,
and that can create the same biochemical shift—reducing the sympathetic nervous system, getting the
parasympathetic nervous system going. In clinical research—and this is bringing
us now to meditation, how we practice—it has become very clear over the years, that
it is not useful when there is a lot of trauma and really strong fear, to directly say: Okay,
I am going to dive into the fear and open to it and, you know, jump off the cliff and
be with it fully… That if… especially if it is trau… trauma-based,
that first, it is really important to do the kind of soothing and calming and bringing
in a sense of safety and love; and then the presence comes after that. So what I would like to do with you is share
a story that illustrates, now, how we can use meditation in concert with, you know,
spec… spec… mindfulness practices and practices that bring in that sense of safety
to work with really strong fears. And we will do a little bit of practice built
into it. This is for the last twenty minutes that we
have together. 30:27
The person that I would like to describe was a parole officer in a state prison facility
and she came to classes here, and attended for about four months before she asked if
we could meet and… and basically said, you know, that she is so restless it is hard for
her to sit through the class and she couldn’t feel her body, you know. When I would do a body scan, it was very hard
to feel her body and even… even trying to close her eyes felt hard sometimes. She said, “I am hyper-vigilant and I…
just very scary for me!” And those are… those are real signs of trauma. Many, many people find that if they have been
traumatized trying to meditate, close your eyes, come into the present moment, feel your
body… it is the exact opposite of what you can do. The more trauma, the more dissociation. Okay? So we talked together a bit about, you know,
her past and she had had, as I had imagined, repeated sexual abuse, her uncle, for a number
of years. And then her pattern continued with… in
abusive relationships with partners. So she had a lot of shame. I mean, she basically considered herself damaged
goods and was very hard on herself and tough on others in her job. She was tough. But when she got triggered, she said, “I
am just like this scared little girl and there is no center, there is nothing there.” And when she wasn’t immediately triggered,
she was self-soothing, a lot of over-eating, cigarettes. So the beginning is what I have already described
– as the shaman described – she needed some sense of relationship, love, safety to
be able to calm her down enough to begin to actually go to where the unlived life was. And I asked her some questions that I often
ask people who are meditators and want to be able to find that internally. I asked her, you know, “What… What is it that in your life gives you a sense
of… When… When do you feel safe? When do you feel loved?” For her, it was when she was with her sister…
or her she had one best friend. And then I asked more questions. She included me in it over the months as one
of the three—she called us her spirit allies. But I asked her some more questions. I said, “When you are… feeling… with
people that are safe and loving what is it like?” And I said, “I want you to imagine right
now.” And so she had me there already and she imagined
her sister and her friend. She said, “You know, it is like being surrounded…
being in this warm bath.” And I said, “And when you are in that warm
bath and feeling surrounded, what is your deepest, deepest prayer?” “Just: May I feel completely safe; may I
feel fully loved.” That became her practice. So even if we were not around – and the
shaman talked about having the whole community there – she had… was able to invoke her
community of spirit allies, right? She could bring us to mind and sense that
warmth and sense being held and she would use as a mantra that prayer, you know, “May
I feel safe and may I feel loved.” I also taught her a few other what I consider,
you know, really powerful ways to resource ourselves when there is trauma or strong fear. One is called grounding. And I would like you… I am going to guide you a little bit for a
few moments right now so you can kind of get a sense of them yourself. So grounding – and this is for any of us
when we are caught, when we are stuck, when we are in that trance of reactivity – is
to feel the pressure of your bottom against the seat that you are sitting on, the weight,
your body, the warmth, the place of contact, the floor and your feet, so you really feel
gravity. Like, just be aware of gravity connecting
you with the earth. You might feel where your hands are on your
legs or touching each other. And grounding means to know you are here,
right here. You can also ground visually by – you might
open your eyes and just sense whatever you see if you kind of scan in front of you, might
be you see feet, shapes of feet, you see the wood of the floor, you see the different shades
of color in the wood. Might be that you see the back of another
person. So part of grounding is to become aware of
what is right here in the moment visually. If you are at home you could look outside
and… and see if you can actually name what is here so it brings you fully into the present
moment. Now, if you close your eyes, another way of
resourcing is to feel through your body and sense if there is any place in your body that
feels like safe space—where the sensations are pleasant or neutral. So again you are grounding in your body, in
the present moment, anchoring, it might be just the sensations in the hands. Just feel them right there. Another way of grounding is to let the breath
collect you. And for some people that have been traumatized
the breath is really helpful, for others it is completely not helpful. So you have to kind of experiment. But if you want to use the breath to calm
down your nervous system, it is a long, deep in-breath with a slow, long exhale. So breathing in together now; inhaling; and
then a slow outbreath. And a slow inbreath, counting to six seconds
– if you count to six that is about it – and a slow outbreath. So you are matching the inbreath – the length
of the inbreath – with the length of the outbreath. They are each long and slow and no space in
between. It is a circular breath; it just keeps going. There is much research that this kind of breathing
– and there’s variations on it – but this kind of breathing can help to quiet and calm
the nervous system. Now the final piece for resourcing that I
will share with you is a bit of what Dana did in terms of bringing to mind others. And you might begin by placing your hand over
your heart. And sense that your touch is light enough
that you actually feel a quality of tenderness. So this is… Part of resourcing is you are beginning to
bring this quality of kindness, safety, presence right here to the inner life that needs it. Let your breath be slow, long, deep. Feel it in the heart. And scan in your mind to sense a time in the
past when you were with someone with whom you felt safe and cared about. It could be a person that is alive now or
not alive. Could be, not a person, could be an animal. Could be your dog. Could be a friend, teacher, healer… Or it may be a relationship that is not such…
so personal but you feel the presence of that person in your mind, a spiritual figure that
really helps you to feel safe and loved like Jesus or the Dalai Lama… the Buddha, Kuan
yin. Just imagine and sense the presence of this
being with you right now and notice what the feelings are like. Sense if there is a kind of warmth that can
wash through you. And then when you are ready, to relax your
hand down and just sense that this experiment and resourcing is something that you can do
at any time,, and especially when you are not caught in fear and you can start finding
the pathways back to integration, the pathways back to… back home again. Because the more you practice any one of these
the more quickly you find yourself coming back. So with Dana this is what we did. She was practicing this regularly—especially
her… her allies around her—and then we began the… This is the third part I wanted to review
with you, story… I am going to have to do this more quickly,
running out of time here. But she began the presencing. And the… the whole thing with presencing,
meaning being with exactly what is here, is that you have to get familiar with what we
call the window of tolerance and the window of distress. If you hit distress, that is a sign to go
back and resource some more, or to go have a cup of tea, or go for a walk—not to re-traumatize. Because the bottom-line teaching here is that
it does not serve to try to be mindful and present with something if it retraumatizes
you. So if you hit distress, give yourself permission
to stop—to do something else to try to get a little more online and integrated again. But gradually, you’ll find that you can,
more and more, be present with that unlived life that you are running from. And so that was Dana’s process… is that
she was practicing doing that. But her time of most intensely being with
that… with that pocket of trauma came when she wasn’t with me in therapy. It came at a time she had just broken up with
her boyfriend and he was enraged and she was afraid that he was going to be stalking her. And so she was… had a hard time sleeping
and she realized how terrified she was, so she began doing the grounding—the breathing
and the calling on her allies. And yet the fear was really, really intense. But she felt like she had just enough of a
resourcing anchor there that she could be with it. And as she described it was like broken hot
glass kind of tearing through her, it was really, really intense. And so she kept whispering, you know, she
would whisper our names and she would re-ground and let… let it happen, she would say, you
know, “May I feel peaceful and may I feel safe, may I feel loved.” And finally her body was trembling uncontrollably
and she was… yet she started feeling like she could be with it, she had enough safety
and love that she could let that huge amount of intense energy move through her. And she no… said gradually she noticed a
shift. And here is what happened: The fear was still there, but she was more
and more aware of the space around it, she was more aware of space inside it. And she said… She described it that the space of loving
that she felt held in was larger than the scared self. And that space started filling with this very
warm, luminous light. She said, “It was like I was part of that
light and then I realized my soul was back.” She said, “I started crying feeling how
all these years I had been lost, living without this light—living in a broken self.” That experience of being present with was
a soul retrieval. What does it mean her soul was back? She was reconnected to the spirit, the awareness,
the love that is intrinsic to her and she was beginning to trust it more and more. What makes us willing to go through something
like that? It is really hard, when there has been trauma,
to revisit and go back into the parts of our body where it is held because it is scary
and we have to be resourced enough. But here is what makes us willing: There can
be a time for many people that is really long that there is a sense with trauma that our
spirit has been tainted or destroyed, there is that much of a sense of being cut off. For Dana, she felt she had lost her soul. But it is not so. There is no amount of violence that can corrupt
that… that timeless inner presence, no amount of violence that can stay in that. It might be that the ways of shame and fear
takes… temporarily, feel like they are taking over. But, if we continue to pay attention and to
resource and then gradually get more and more present, we will discover that loving awareness
that really brings grace to our life. We intuit it. We know even when we are cut off there is
something more. We intuit that. I want to share with you… you know, after
this experience that Dana had she had many rounds of feeling fear and having to reground
and having to call on her allies… But I want to share one particular experience
that really touched me which is… She described… this is months after that
soul retrieval experience… and she felt like even though she sometimes was feeling
cut off, she knew her way home, like when she got lost she knew her way back. So she described getting a phone call… or
phoning… a recently paroled client who had missed one of his relapse prevention meetings
and when she confronted him he went on a rant that was… he was cursing and yelling and
basically saying, you know, “You are like all the rest! You don’t give a shit what my life is like!” And he hung up on her. Her heart was pounding and her body was shaking
and she felt like she had done something wrong and she was in a kind of… it set off some
trauma. So she did her practice… you know, she called…you
know, she sat still, she grounded herself, she called on her allies and… and she started
relaxing and sensed, again, that… that warmth and that light. And she said, “I sensed the larger me holding
myself.” Then, just as she had been with her inner
self, she started asking, “Well, okay, so what about this man who has been so aggressive
and threatening?” You know, “What has he been feeling?” So she started trying to feel into what it
was like for him. And suddenly, she could sense the humiliation
that he felt when she called him. She was confronting him about missing a meeting
and he felt humiliated. And she could sense the fear under his anger. And then when she asked herself, “Well what
does he need most?” she got it — how much he needed, in some way, to feel safe and some
way to feel like he mattered. So he comes in for his appointment, she is
nervous but she says she felt open and confident. So first he is very sullen and doesn’t look
her in the eye. But then she… her… she has this evident
concern, she is asking questions and so on, and he becomes more disclosing about, you
know, how wild his friends are and how hard it is to stay clean. And right before leaving he said, “You know,
maybe I got you wrong and I am sorry about that. Thank you for being on my team.” This is a woman who was hugely hard on herself,
hugely hard on others, wasn’t able to read people, that found her soul, her spirit and
then could live it with another. So I want to close on that note. We are going to just do a brief kind of reflection. That this path of recovery and healing and
awakening is one of reconnecting to the life inside us, reconnecting with each other, reconnecting
with all beings. And it begins in a very simple way: that we
create a safe and loving container for what is right here in the moment. So I would like to invite you right in this
moment just to scan and sense if there is anything asking for your attention right now?
for your acceptance? for your inclusion? And sense the possibility of whatever is here
of being able to offer some space of safety, some care. It might be simply the message “You belong”
or “I am with you”. Or it might be that you breathe right into
the place you are feeling vulnerability or that you bring your hand gently to your heart
and let the touch itself convey “I care”. Whether we have disconnected for a moment
or for ten years, we can reconnect with our heart and spirit as we begin to offer this…
this safety and this presence to our own being. We close with the words of Rashani Rea : There is a brokenness
out of which comes the unbroken, a shatteredness
out of which blooms the unshatterable. There is a sorrow
beyond all grief which leads to joy and a fragility
out of whose depths emerges strength. There is a hollow space too vast for words
through which we pass with each loss, out of whose darkness we are sanctioned into
being. There is a cry deeper than all sound
whose serrated edges cut the heart as we break open
to the place inside which is unbreakable and whole
while learning to sing. Thank you for your kind attention.

54 Comments

  • 29:43 Thanks for saying that! I think it's really important to be clear with the fact that, if one has suffered trauma, going directly to the pain can be counterproductive.

  • Reacently I started reading your book and I followed the channel years ago after recommendation from my dad. This video realy helped me to get more insight. There is however something I struggle with. I noticed that for me it is extremely hard to let the sensation of nurture and resourcing exist. I feel an urge to run away from this sensation, just as I have dificuly to alow myself the experience of joy and I fear this joy and sensation of nurture. Is this familiar for anyone?

  • I've swapped my NPR time for Tara Time! Slowly, I'm learning to do what helps / heals and letting go of areas over which I have minimal control. It's a process . . . Sending love. <3

  • You have helped me heal from some deep wounds and reconnect with my biological father to that SAFE spot of love that I haven't felt in years. Traumatized as a child because of divorce. This has helped me understand so much and I am so grateful that I can feel that re-connection with the spirit of my father whom passed on a few years ago. This particular talk has overwhelmingly given much needed insight on PTSD. I have practiced the breathing and meditation for years. This has beautifully blessed me to reconnect with long lost and missing love from many years of pain. Thank you! NAMASTE!

  • Danny D has totally turned me off from your so called meditation, I can make my own much better, and really help myself, compared to this junk

  • You have come at a perfect time in my life. Your words, priceless! Though your voice, and kind looks alone do it for me!

  • But what about the people who have nobody – who helps them to calm? What if meditation makes it worse? There are no answers clearly.

  • Hey Tara, loving your talks. Just wondering, have you considered putting a curtain over the windows behind you as a backdrop when you do your talks? Just that the reflections are quite distracting. Thanks for the talks πŸ™‚

  • Very hard to hear but Tara you are so gentle and loving, you have helped me so much, I thank you with much love and gratitude

  • I wish she had her microphone further from her mouth. The constant noise of her licking her lips makes it hard to listen

  • Thank you, Tara. I've been listening for the past year and have healed so much from scarring and violence. I love your voice.

  • I think we all should say thank you to Tara I am kinda of blown away at all that life throws are way and the complex nature of things that she can put together so many great teachings to all of us. I am very thankful for the YouTube videos they have been a blessing thanks for all you do. Really getting so much from these videos. πŸ‘πŸ‘Œβ˜ΊοΈ

  • thank you so much for your beautiful sharing(s) all along the journey….it touches my heart, and revive my courage to be open and vulnerable, to be….to love always, more and more…..

  • I feel ashamed for the maladaptive way I responded to a perceived slight that cost me my job and some friendships. πŸ˜”
    I fear that the gaslighting will follow me forever no matter where I work therefore healing will be a life long struggle. I may be damaged goods but I will learn to survive. I feel cutoff now.

    May I feel love, may I feel safe, may I feel peace ……πŸ’”

  • About the PIZZA's story : Funny but shows paradoxes. What is a froozen PIZZA doing in the refrigerator of a mother engaged in a natural bio hole foods diet ? And as this kind of items have no more than 12 months of conservation time, this means that either she is about to serve an potentielly toxic expired dish, or she started the family new healthy diet very recently ( since less than 12 months), so can we speak of an "ENGAGED" person ?

  • Tara, you are the light through my broken pieces. With immense gratitude, I thank you for sharing your wisdom and guidance. My spirit is returning, my life is returning because of you. Thank YOU!

  • I am in mental pain everyday and it is becoming so hard to bare .i cry , i am sad .i am broken, depressed. what am I to do?,I listen and i dont know if I can take in these teachings. any replies ?????

  • I am having trouble even to eat to nourish my body. how does one deal or manage this?. any replies would be appreciated. Peace and Love.

  • Beloved Tara. Your teachings on shame saved my life but did not prevent me from making a very serious suicide attempt three months ago. I have no shame whatsoever, but am still suffering from significant PTSD. I was held in solitary confinement, tortured and told that I would be tied up with a hood over my head if I made a sound. I went through eight days of pure torture. It resulted in two suicide attempts and experts say that what happened to me results in suicide 100% of the time. I've made a dramatic comeback but am still suffering a lot. I've been using re-evaluation counseling, dialectical behavioral therapy, rapid transformational therapy, neurolinguistic programming, etc. I am listening to you right now and just heard you say that it is love that we need and kindness. I have a deficit of that and have been videotaping myself every time I have an emotional release. The young person who said they want someone with skin on. I have a lot of online friends but my local friends are too busy for me and I can't get skin to skin attention. It's horrible and I can't wait to get that need met. Here's an impromptu video I made that shows my radiant joy and I wasn't traumatized at the time. But then the memories come back and the trauma is re-triggered. I'm not afraid. I have no fear. But the rapist who was involved just showed up today and has been driving up and down past my home. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahOabA1WzPY&t=478s

  • I totally understand all of this . I have come a long way from a traumatized childhood and then abusive men and self medicating with alcohol and drugs when I was young. I found myself and I get you totally . But my 24 year old committed suicide 1 and 1/2 years ago and although I push through it everyday and can laugh and enjoy life and think positive. Those negative guilt feelings are a constant battle. I try to ignore them but especially when alone and its quite its so hard to push it out cus I do then as soon as I relax from it and not even thinking of it , of course it pops up again. How do you deal with the loss of a child to become completely whole again. I love your talks but have heard nothing about trauma from death especially of a child. Id love to here what you have to say.

  • These presentations are always fantastic. I send all my clients to them and bathe in them. Thank you always x

  • wow. This hit home and was very therapeutic. Thank you for your part in my awakening and further guidance. This video is one I will watch and have already watched again and again. Thank you Tara!

  • The breathing technique is referred to as heartrate variability (HRV).. . helps align the heart with the mind with bottom/up signals and activates the parasympathetic nervous system (when in freeze/ fight/ flight/ faint/ fawn we go into shallow breathing which send a signal to the brain to remain in these sympathetic areanas)… the breathe is an internal closed circuit that is available to all of us …
    Hemisych is also a good understanding to begin, crossing our bodies midline with our extremities..
    Both of these self -soothing modalities can be done at anytime and without anyone noticing..
    Both very important to grounding/regulating and re-engaging the prefontal lobes and allowing to reconnect to the present moment…
    Doing it when not in distress/ disregulation is important, because we can recall these more readily when in these states/ frames of mind, because recall when in these states are very difficult unless it becomes familar and habitual… these intense reactions are imbedded in the subconscious and thinking cannot reintegrate because the thinking mind doesn't control those areas, however bodily functions will send the messages to help re-regulate to a point to be able to respond in the moment with kindness, compassion, understanding and empathy for ourselves and understand what we need and we can provide to ourselves…
    πŸ™

  • I listened to this about a year ago. It was good. After a year or two of reading many books on trauma, counseling and self-love- i am listening to this talk again and realize how far I have come in my healing- because, I can now fully "get this". My brain works better. Really wonderful talk.

  • Tara, I'm healing more with your YouTube videos than time with my old therapist! I can't believe how precious these videos are… So timeless. You have given so many a gift. May you be well, may you be healthy and may you be happy!!!!! Thank you and namaste Xoxoxo

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