The purpose of this article is to give a perspective on working with trauma with the tools of energy healing and soul retrieval, to elucidate the necessity of deep preparation (the long training) that this delicate work asks of us.
Firstly, my background: I am NOT a trauma specialist or therapist or psychotherapist. I’m an energy healer and shamanic practitioner with a personal and professional interest in trauma. I’ll be speaking from that perspective, not as a stand in for a specialist. I’m not an expert or master healer, just a passionate person with a great love for the healing arts, in all forms.
Trauma is, at a mechanistic level, undigested psychological content. It comes from an experience or experiences that were too much at the time, that couldn’t be felt. Instead, those feelings were defended against, escaped from, buried. In the psyche and body, as the felt-energy of the moment.
We all have traumas; from what happens to us in the womb (or even around our conception) and at birth, and the time soon after, to how we’re treated and what happens to us as infants and young children, teenagers, adults. Trauma can come to us at any time, although the earlier its occurrence the more impact it has on our future personality development, on the way the foundation of the walls (and battlements!) of our ego are planned, laid and built. In my work I look mostly at the traumas of the womb and birth and soon after, as they relate most closely to my interest in grounding and incarnation, but it’s said that the early years (0 – 3 especially, but also 0 – 5, and 0 – 7) have the greatest significance for future development.
Looking at trauma holistically, from the perspective of the soul, psyche and physiology, trauma is complex.
Physically, it looks like arousal, like fight or flight or freeze, the response that became hard wired, or frozen (or both) in our limbic systems and nervous systems and even in cellular consciousness. I know it’s a bit woowoo to talk about cellular consciousness, but the new field of epigenetics is revealing how lived experiences do change the phenotypic expression of genes. Science is catching up with what hippies have always known! :-)
Emotionally and spiritually, trauma can look like a wound to the inner child; and if it’s a deep enough wound, one big enough to split off part of your psyche and spirit in that moment. In core shamanism that’s called soul loss, and if it’s a young part that is wounded and/or split off, then it’s sometimes called a wounded inner child (as different from *the* wounded inner child – we’re recognising the multi-faceted nature of self and sub-selves with that phrasing, and also that the inner child has usually more than one wound..! But the name/semantics doesn’t matter – a rose by any other name…).
Energetically, trauma can look like frozen energy, rips, tangles, dark clouds, constriction, distortion, misalignment, depressed energy, excited energy, disturbed or frantic energy.. It may have a constant scream to it, or shrill shriek, or collapsed and defeated moan, or a scared whimper, or terrified silence. There’s often an acuteness, panic and overwhelming quality of the energy. Its nature feels ‘overwhelming’, but it felt that way to the young person, it isn’t an objective quality. The current adult now usually has more inner resources, not to mention egoic armouring, than they did as a child, and so the trauma and its feelings are usually not literally psychically dangerous or threatening as they once were.
(still, it isn’t a good idea for all the trauma to be released at once. More on that soon.)
It’s the acuteness that I believe differentiates a wound from a trauma – a wound is also a deleterious indentation or depression (all of the Ds!), and we can certainly be taken entirely into the experience of woundedness as we can with trauma, but the sharpness and pervasive depth and breadth that trauma penetrates to seems to be what distinguishes it from a wound. There can be both, of course. This is just my way of categorising it, but to me wounds feel calmer or even duller, while trauma is more total and catastrophic (in how it feels). I’m not suggesting my experience is absolute; because of the filters we all have, psychic perception is always, at least in part, personal, and often also symbolic.
Another difference between the two is that wounds tend to have stories (beliefs and thoughts) such as “He’ll leave me” or “I’ll never get enough” or “I have to look after myself to stay safe” or “other people will cheat me”. Trauma and wounds do often go together, but its wounds that speak.
So what can bring about the healing of trauma?
The way I conceive of it, there are four main aspects or stages of healing. Not strictly sequential (although there’s a certain natural flow to this order, but since when has real life resembled the textbook examples?).
1. Feathering the nest
This is to comfort and soothe; to create a nurturing, inviting environment in both the physical body, psyche, energy body and immediate external environment (the room you’re in) that can welcome the traumatised part back home. This can include gentle touch, massage, soothing music, mindful exercise, hugs, open sharing, time in nature, and so on. They are each little things that together provide a sea-change, an atmosphere which is participatory to and helpful towards the healing, rather than part of the problem, antagonistic, difficult, another hurdle for the wounded spirit to overcome.
2. Readying the energy body
This is the more direct analogy to ‘prep’: cleaning the wound before a surgery, inserting the drip feeds, balancing the blood pressure, checking the vital signs etc (the medical analogies aren’t perfect!!). Energetically it means grounding, centering in the body and what’s happening with the energy of the body, and into the earth. It’s connecting to the support of the non-physical beings and worlds, and the almost magnetic alignment of the greater force that is unfolding the healing. It’s perhaps clearing energetically some of the old energy, and mending tangled or broken energy pathways that you have the sense will be needed for the release of the trauma. And raising the energy, charging the system, for the forthcoming healing process.
3. The return
If working from a shamanic or soul retrieval or inner child kind of way, there’s a space (energetically, symbolically, spiritually, or shamanically) for the soul fragment or lost/traumatised child to return.
There’s a caution here that can’t be overstated. It may be casually mentioned when such methods are taught, but is extra important when working with trauma for this to be held at the heart of the process, as part of the great respect and delicacy that healers must embody.
And that is, the lost part sometimes (or often) needs healing first, and time before it can come back. Not just cosmic time as can be dropped into in a session (although accessing the timeless now *is* a way to seemingly time travel, and to wrangle out what would otherwise seem like an unlikely or impossible healing outcome considering the 3D time constraints), but the physical time that the client’s being is incarnated into. In other words – hours or days or weeks or months or years. (Let’s hope not for decades, but we need as healers to be unattached enough to allow it to take as long as it takes, be that a very very long time, or even never, in this lifetime. We do our work of welcoming unconditionally.)
And it’s important not to try to dominate or coerce that healing process with your own (or taught) beliefs about either the efficacy or speediness of a particular method, or a belief about the new paradigm we’re moving into, or anything like that. It takes as long as it takes. Requiring speed is part of the western sickness. As is requiring perfect health, and perfection generally. Allow the mess. Allow the incompleteness. Allow the sloppiness. Allow the un-doneness, the frayed edges, the unravelling. These are states of movement, and healing, and life. Healing isn’t to be found in a neat capsule of exactly 55 minutes (or 15/30 minutes if you’ve purchased the laser focus session). Of course our session time may be divied up like that, but that doesn’t mean the calendar of human healing seasons, of the uncovering and healing and integration of wounds and traumas, accords with the wishes and demands of our egos.
So – this stage can absolutely be about the healing, rather than the return, of the soul fragment or inner child. It may be ‘enough’ in one session or even several sessions for there to be a small amount of closeness or contact with that part – that may be a big step for the traumatised person and that part of them, which may have been kept in psychic seclusion for years or decades. Baby steps.
If the soul fragment or inner child is ready to come home, then that’s what happens. Like a long-lost family member returning, or a fallen star returning to its place in the heavens, the return is also a restoration. There may be a period (again, possibly a long one) of integration as this part rejoins the whole, and the gifts and life force merge with the greater being. Like a block of ice melting into the lake.
4. The release
At any point, but especially towards the end of this process, there is releasing.
That may mean discharging of the limbic system – which may or may not be felt distinctly at the physical level, but is often followed by deep tiredness and need for rest.
The same caution from above absolutely applies to this process too.
It may feel like a regression to the feeling or experience of when the trauma happened, or to later times when the body and psyche locked the trauma in more deeply. It isn’t a regular regression; the body and system may be remembering as it’s releasing, but the important difference is that the remembering is an effect of the releasing, it isn’t a regression done for curiosity only.
There may be intense energetic movement and discharge, especially through the sushumna (the central channel close to the spine that kundalini moves through). There may be thawing of previously frozen energy and feeling, or the waking up and then experiencing of previously blocked energy-feeling. It is, broadly, a waking up and melting and enlivening and clearing, all at once (or in other ways that better describe the individual unfolding of the process for the person).
It’s very important not to force a movement or process or release, as that can overwhelm. Remember that part of the nature of trauma is overwhelm. It’s very possible (and happens a lot, unfortunately, in both traditional therapy and spiritual approaches) for a person to be re-traumatised by releasing too much of the original trauma at the same time.
That is the main danger and caution that must inform even the most high vibrational and advanced approaches to healing trauma.
A question that we need to ask is “what is asked of healers when working with trauma?”
There may not be a definitive answer, but here’s a start, something for reflection.
- Patience, both as an expression of supreme love and unconditional acceptance, and as a way of dropping into the timeless now, where the client and their traumatised aspect can rest deeply in no-time.
- Gentleness, the appropriate quality of energy that’s needed. Like holding a newborn, the energy we hold and run and emit must be soft and gentle enough to contribute to the healing of the trauma, to soothe it.
- Sensitivity, the ability to track how the client is doing, where they are in the process, how much they can safely handle, if they need additional support, or on the contrary if they’re being impinged on, and so on. There are so many elements, not all of which can be listed, that sensitivity touches upon and holds during the healing.
- Presence, the unwavering ability to hold the space and accompany the client and their soul part along the journey
- Experience, to have both skill and knowledge, so that even when facing the unknown, the healer is an ally in the darkness
These things (and others like them) take time to develop and nurture.
Also – they are qualities, not knowledges; there is surely vital knowledge, particularly about the danger of fragmentation, re-wounding, and psychosis, that must be known about in this work. There’s a maturity that’s desperately needed of knowing one’s own ability limits, and the limits of the modality one has trained in. Nothing is a magic wand of instantaneous healing. Healers are just facilitators or bridges or guides etc. We, and what we do, have limits. And in understanding that there might be dangers, that we might be in over our heads, that we may not be the right helper for this person in this particular matter.
Being comfortable to refer to a more experienced or appropriately trained colleague is a very beautiful action of humility and surrender to what is, an embrace of the reality, as opposed to the fantasy.
I’ll finish with the session I gave yesterday. The session was about a severe childhood trauma and wound.
It was a good session, that I hope had just the right balance between venturing into new territory of exploration and expression and release, and also of holding safety and knowing when ‘enough’ was. Of encouraging without forcing at moments of release, and supporting without colluding at moments of difficulty.
I used every bit of my training in the session. In the moment the trauma came up, the training I’ve had and my experience and knowledge (such as it is) clicked into place and I ‘knew’ how to proceed in this delicate territory. I didn’t operate from textbook/taught knowledge, but from a kind of informed instinct, the muscle-memory of my being.
What I’m saying is that I’ve had comparatively a lot of training (all of it relevant to trauma) for someone who isn’t a trauma specialist, and I feel and know very clearly that it’s taken all of my experience and journey so far to come together to equip me to be a helper.
AND in the same knowing, I also know that this was possible because the person has a strong functioning ego. If they weren’t so resilient, if they had veins of psychosis or hints of fractures to their being, I’d have needed to refer them to another practitioner with more experience (and probably, specialist training) in trauma.
My wish in writing this article is for aspiring or new healers and helpers to be inspired about the depth of possibility for the healing of trauma, to flesh it out and explore it as a REAL thing! Not just as a concept. Healing is real. Our inner world is real. I hope for us to take that seriously and as an invitation, to take further steps along the path of our own healing, and into healing mystery.