Nondual Therapy and Trauma
“It is the character that is doing it. There is a definite, inherited complexity. We are born into a pattern… We are a structure that is pre-established through the genes. There is a biological order of our mental functioning. If a man could look into himself, he would discover it. And when a man discovers it, in our days, he thinks he’s crazy, and really crazy.”
There is a limit to how much we can control, medicate, section or incarcerate parts of who we are, to avoid the confrontation with shared inner wounds. Condemnation of the perceived enemy simply leads to the general feeling of condemnation. This is because condemnation, for all its force and fury, cannot undo what has already happened. At core, condemnation is impotent.
According to The Sentencing Project, In the last forty years, incarceration in the US has increased with rates upwards of 500%, despite crime rates decreasing nationally. The prisons are overflowing with untreated crimes. Consider for a moment that it is precisely the energy of guilt – a deep somatic identification with being ‘bad’, a perennial feeling of being condemned, a background sense of unworthiness – that causes us to do bad stuff. What comes first? The guilt or the crime? Primed as we are to believe that doing something makes us ‘guilty’, we are hardly able to consider attending to the inherited energy of guilt that we carry collectively and experience as personal. It is not the doing that makes us guilty, it is the guilt that has infected our being, often long before we ‘do’ anything at all.
As Jung says: “The healthy man does not torture others – generally it is the tortured who turn into torturers.” This sense of being tortured through living punishment or guilt is a horrific pressure on the chest and on the very basis of the body. It clamps the buttocks and tightens the throat, limiting both freedom of movement and expression. It shuts down experience of pleasure, success and reward, and contracts us from others as well as from our own source. Left with this irredeemable sense of evil untouchability, the energy of guilt acts out that ‘badness’ on the environment. It expresses itself outwardly, seeking to destroy the projected accusers. Why? Because any connection with the world is better than no connection at all.
So, we lock them up, these criminals, in ghettos of the guilty, splitting them further from the whole, ensuring that this guilt gets passed to their offspring. It’s an epidemic of dosing affliction with affliction, accusing the accused, treating trauma with more trauma. The world gets split in one great illusory verdict of good V evil. Fear to fall on the wrong side of the line between insider and outsider prevails. At the same time, for each us, no matter how much we pretend, the person in and of itself is never good enough. We are always guilty and act as if we can never be proven innocent.
Beyond prisons, we have the splitting of ourselves into the sane and insane; the serious and the ridiculous; the smart and the stupid; the winners and the losers; the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’; the elites and the masses; the survivors and the suckers; the insiders and outsiders; rising stars and those who are ‘going down’; saints and sinners; wives and whores; successes and failures.
We scramble reflexively to become one side of the coin while pushing away the other, flattening the dimension of life into perpetual self appraisal and perpetual failure. The so called good stuff totally depends on the bad stuff to be good. Without the good guys, the bad guys cannot exist.
It was Plato who first observed: “The excessive increase of anything causes a reaction in the opposite direction.”
Whether outside of ourselves in the way we perceive others, or within our own psyches as it struggles through layers of inner conflict, we will see a balancing happening through these scales of duality. We grasp towards the light, the darkness emerges. We grasp towards our sense of self and find ourselves disappearing.
We need the insane people to make us feel sane. They define our assumed normality. We depend on the poor people to bring value to our riches. Our pleasure depends on our pain. The heaven in one corner of the planet depends on a hell somewhere else in the vicinity.
Every contraction has the potential to become a full trauma, just as every trauma will leave a legacy of contractions. This is true in an individual life-time, but also in the plethora of personal stress patterns inherited in our genes. While a contraction is a psychologically acute situation, trauma is chronic. Many contractions can be symptoms of a core trauma, and can continue to spiral around the trauma until it core imbalance is addressed. While contractions can play out with even a thin thread connecting them to the nondual quality that has become frozen (for example, with issues around rejection), in cases of trauma that thread has been broken and can be restored only through a progressive reintegration of the experiential universe of trauma with the experiential universe of the whole. In trauma, all sense of belonging here is lost, and because the loss of this connection to the feeling of belonging is simply unworkable in ‘normal’ life, the dimension of experience is simply severed from the whole. In this, the traumatic state forms a separate inner universe beneath the floor of normative consensual reality. It is like a rabbit hole. One moment a person is feeling fine, and then he sees a sick dog on the street which triggers his trauma, and then suddenly he is there: inside the trauma tunnel.
Part of what gives trauma its power over the human psyche and what allows it to pass through the genes from one generation to another is that in the splitting off from consensual, normative reality, there is an opening to a far greater reality. In the rift between our usual structure of personality and the traumatic state, there is pure emptiness, alive with the sense of truth. This sense of truth becomes associated with the traumatic state as a foundational reality. In this is gains a sense of momentous importance. This deeper truth is preserved in energetic memory to help future generations survive. However, what is mostly inherited is legacy of incongruous fear responses resulting in a confusion of how to integrate these with a fundamentally safe environment. This confusion separates people still further, as they have no good reason to be traumatized – nothing happened! This is partly why the acknowledgement of the epigenetics of inherited trauma and PTSD is a game-breaker in healing. It is also why Nondual Therapy – allowing whatever comes forwards as a perfect feeling response in the here and now to the needs of the form, can move more deeply than conventional therapy based on rationality and behavioural conformity.
At the same time, because of the rift of pure, underlying emptiness revealed through the splitting of part of the psyche, our traumas represent opportunities for spiritual awakening. The underlying truth in the split between one part of the persona and the other can be recognized as itself a resource – not just an ‘empty’ space. In addition, traumatic states, with their ability to affect perception and the nature of experience with a degree of certainty, can make a mockery of our belief in the permanence of our perceived reality. They can bring humility to the whole phenomena of personality and open up the possibility of perceiving more essential, existential layers beyond all forms of identity. As Nondual Therapist and expert in Somatic Experiencing Lynn Marie Lumiere writes:
“Because its effects are so intense and pervasive, trauma can be a catalyst for profound surrender and awakening. I see it as a wake-up call for the human race.”
The human psyche is in a dance of duality that will become increasingly contracted in multiple forms of paradox and senselessness until we open and restore the flow of the nondual qualities out of which every duality emerges. Only then is there space for healing. Only then, do we get freedom in the dance of duality, and only then is the dance liberated to move into the harmony and rhythm of the universal whole.