When Hell Freezes Over: Trauma & Nonduality
Even when hell freezes over, it is still here. We can numb ourselves to DREAD for a while, but sooner or later we will move through its precincts in processes of expansion and liberation.
In a traumatic environment (in which natural and authentic responses are repeatedly oppressed or punished), or through a traumatic event, the energetic impact can be uncontainable for the sentient form as a whole.
Pure perception of what is happening can pose a direct threat to structures of identity, character and freedom of feeling. As an emergency response, the windows of perception slam shut: the conscious mind stops processing, retreating to a witness position outside of the body; the sentient awareness shuts down at its root, as the emotional pain is so great. A way to express it is to say that the doors of the heart slam shut, leaving the body and mind to somehow negotiate connection and direction through a bypass of feelings and emotions.
Sometimes, (such as in childhood or in extreme events), the system is simply not mature enough or capable of processing the consequences and depth of traumatic experience. To a greater or lesser extent, forms of personality are being carved out in real time, mostly through the reflexive rejection of un-consumable mental and sentient data.
Yet the energetic impact doesn’t vanish because it is uncontained mentally or unprocessed through feelings and emotions. It is absorbed into the physical matter of the body, from where it exudes a mist. When the light of consciousness falls there, it begins to sing its tragic story. Sometimes that song is a scream of panic and rage, like one facing an immediate threat of death. Feelings and emotions come forward that are out of all context with the present situation. In psychological terms, there is a “loss of proportions”.
The traumatic state and frozen emotion is held in sensory freezes and visible through muscular postures. It is collected in the spine and pushed down to the tail-bone which is a storage hall of living experiential memory awaiting reunion (as well as a space of unlimited potentiality and unconditional power).
At the same time, all traumatic events are witnessed from the higher mind, outside of the body. They are witnessed and imprinted on a substrata of memory, yet without a natural linkage to feeling responses. This lack of integration even of conscious information with appropriate emotional responses is why a highly traumatized person can relate the most dreadful incidents with a totally incongruent feeling – such as laughter, or a wave of the hand as if the story is far from relevant.
In psychology, these deflected and buried energetic forms are believed to be sourced in the ‘unconscious’: an indecipherable black box of the psyche that somehow escapes time and space and threatens to make us wild with its raw, irrational power.
It was only Carl Jung who introduced and researched (on himself) the possibility that this so called “Un”conscious could actually be the same dimension of unity, spiritual liberation, collective mythology and ultimately, freedom within form. “There is no energy unless there is a tension of opposites;” he wrote, “hence it is necessary to discover the opposite to the attitude of the conscious mind.”
Part of our collective responsibility while we are here is to do what we can to defreeze the surface of hell. This can seem counter-intuitive: when hell is no longer frozen over, all hell breaks loose. Yet the trapped living energy in these subterranean halls of our collective being will not vanish.
The life in this energy will anyway create movement and effect the whole. It vibrates through the causal layers of feeling. It rattles and haunts through repeating dreams and through life-time patterns of karma. Yet the movement of transformation and healing of trauma is entirely possible. In the words of the pioneer of trauma therapy Peter Levine: “Trauma is hell on earth. Trauma resolved is a gift from the gods.”
In this process, the energy of dread can expand, refine and integrate, manifesting as compassion. The other possibility is that it is pushed so deeply into matter that matter loses its harmony, and begins to destroy the local unit for the sake of the preservation of the whole. This is the origin of many physical afflictions, and perhaps a reflection of the way in which our planet is presently being injured by our collective difficulty in coming to peace.