Among other things, spiritual awakening is the trigger for radical release, the popped cork that frees up the suppressed energetics held in place by the egoic self. So post-awakening there can often be — but not always — a strong and sometimes lengthy release of embodied trauma. Many people experience this to varying degrees, but many don’t and they wake up without skipping a beat.
For myself, I spent a large part of my life in persistent, afflictive emotional pain. And it took decades to untangle what was going on. From my current perspective I’d say the main reason that it remained persistent for so long was because my main strategy of dealing with it was avoidance. I avoided it because it was painful, scary, but mainly because not for one moment did I consider that turning towards it, meeting it and allowing it deeply, could be a rational and helpful thing to do.
Why was this? Well in terms of meeting and healing our embodied traumas — and we all have them — our social, familial, and cultural conditioning is utterly incapable of guiding us. It points us, nay trains us, to go in the exact opposite direction of what’s needed. For me, and for many, these conditioned strategies of avoidance and suppression are only abandoned when the suffering exceeds the capacity of the strategies to handle. And one day, instead of running away, for the first time we find ourselves turning to face what we’ve been avoiding for so long.
So what was it that I was avoiding? Difficult emotions for sure. But mainly is was strong energetics, I want to say IN the body, but that’s not it. The body IS energetics; it’s not that there are sensations in the body, but the ‘body’ is made of sensations. But anyway, I began to turn my awareness ‘in’ towards the sensory-energetic field of experience, which in practice meant allowing what was present to be, noticing ‘resistance’, and meeting and welcoming and releasing every new ‘edge’ of contraction as it arose. I say it was a practice, but in fact is was just surrendering to the only place of relief, a razor’s edge of attention and surrender.
I haven’t very written much about this aspect of the work because it requires the articulation of subtle internal dynamics of felt experiencing that don’t easily lend themselves to description. Not for me anyway. But one way to look at this is that this Being is both noun and verb. We can discover through self-inquiry and introspection, broadly speaking, that there is a groundless ground to us, that we ARE, we exist. But when we get to the heart of that sense we find that it’s formless, awake, awareness.
Some can get waylaid in this emptiness, believing that this is the final destination, having transcended the messy forms, the world, our human nature. But it’s not the end of the story. The verb of being is ever-present as the fullness of the flow of experiencing, the ever-transforming nowness that requires the moment-to-moment integration of the multilayered embodiment. This occurs spontaneously post-awakening.
But years of avoidance and suppression and non-processing of emotional stress stores in the body-field as trauma. For me a releasing was happening somewhat before awakening, but once the body identification dropped as my primary identity the mechanism for suppression went with it. The result was that I experienced — and still do to a lesser extent — the periodic emergence of turbulent energetic arisings; trauma release. These ‘disturbances’ surface in my energetic body to be released, dispersed. This I’ve come to see is a natural process of ‘purification’, releasing and unwinding energetic knots and their emotional and mental correlates, but conditioned egoic structures usually inhibit its effectiveness. It’s a messy, difficult, ugly business sometimes.
This is why I’ve come to believe that the identification of our fundamental existential ground as the field of open-awareness is the powerful precursor and facilitator of the release of embodied trauma. But I also know that trauma release itself can be traumatising or at least destructive. Awakening for many is followed by a period of great upheaval, it’s not all sweetness and light, and shouldn’t be taken lightly; it can often be a lot worse than what preceded it, for a while anyway. But I feel it’s like a spinning electric fan; once the wire’s been cut it might still go round for a while but ultimately without any added power it winds down.
Lastly I want to say this.. that awakening, with its processes and descriptions is an imperfect ‘science’. It shows up in so many different ways, but we can observe commonalities and themes that reveal themselves across time and in many individuals. And this is me thinking aloud on all this, reflecting on my own and others’ experience.
This is my ‘work in progress’ and a continuous unpacking. Like life itself I offer no final answers, no absolute end points. No one thing I write will be a complete picture of even a single aspect of my experience and perspective, which I’m also discovering as I go. What I’m doing here is just an imperfect, ongoing, good-faith exploration of the nature of our lived reality.