“It costs so much to be a full human being that there are very few who have the enlightenment or the courage to pay the price… One has to abandon altogether the search for security, and reach out to the risk of living with both arms. One has to embrace the world like a lover. One has to accept pain as a condition of existence. One has to court doubt and darkness as the cost of knowing. One needs a will stubborn in conflict, but apt always to total acceptance of every consequence of living and dying.” (M. West,1963, Shoes of a Fisherman, p.117)
Beauty and the sublime seem to be born out of an essential friction that rules the major incidents of the world. I got to know that very early in my life. When I was a teenager I met a boy who survived war. At this time I had no idea what a war is, what „survive“ means, was not aware of the long-lasting effects of trauma and was unconscious that people could conserve a war inside. Traumatic life experiences are woven in a very complex way in the survivor's personality, behavior and thinking. But at that time, all I knew was, that I loved him foolishly with a young and strong heart, that I was hungry for his thinking, longed for his laughing, admired seeing him playing and I was proud of his handsome and sexy appearance. Violently pulled out of this light I saw a dark shadow approaching. In these dark moments in our relationship I met a boy who could not help himself and struggled with something bigger than I have ever seen. Being together with him meant going through situations of aggressive shouting, insults on my body, my intellect, my family and violent abuse. I also nearly died one time. The police could not do anything; there were no laws at this time to save me from a boy who carried a war-born monster inside. He did not kill me, didn’t he? So what's the point?!
This experience put me in the place of a woman in this world. I witnessed the male pain-body and aligned with the collective female pain-body. The pain-body is traumatic memory in our human body. We have a pain-body due to our own traumatic life experiences, due to our family's trauma, gender-specific trauma, trauma conserved in our ethnic memory etc.. When I say that I aligned with the female pain-body, I want to say that I made a traumatic life experience only a woman can do. This experience injected me my dose of pain that I understood I had to heal in order to give other women around me the opportunity to heal, too: every healthy woman shrinks the female pain-body until maybe our granddaughters don’t know it anymore (watch Eckhart Tolle in order to understand what the pain-body is).
For my teenager-me there were no friends and no family members left who had spared energy for keeping me away of this frightened force that I felt responsible to calm down. They tried it too often and were tired of doing so. Struggling some years like a beetle laying on his back, one early morning when the sunlight warmed my vulnerable belly I had an insight. Finally, I stopped wasting my energy by moving my legs and arms all over the place, kept silent and pretended I was dead. Then, I opened my eyes, fully aware of my chance to take my power back. I knew that it would be him or me; and of course I chose me! An unknown power rushed through my being: I turned around, got back on my legs and cut the ties to two persons: him and the girl I was. They died in a romantic position holding each other, unrecognizably black from the fire that burnt them down. I took a picture with my heart and wrote a report of the crime scene, but no one likes to read the tormented ones (only when they are dead). He and the girl faded away like the echo's ashes of war’s destructive power. I heard: Little love tried to heal big pain! But little love died! Great big pain left alone! I understood: in the end it was simply not enough love! ,Let’s try it again, but easy and light’, thought I and ran away like a refugee.
However, the dark does not disappear, just because you ignore it: dark is a shadow over something that exists. The shadow sneaks into our energy-field and darkens the crippled experiences that ate holes in your aura. Others can take energy through these holes and you lose your energy through them. You are cut open, damaged and because you are ashamed you ignore the pain, you ignore reality, you buffer the friction inside to pretend false harmony. You want to belong because you know that with that weird thing inside you, you don’t. You cannot localize the pain; it moves like a poisonous snake through your body, its memory is slippery like a freshly caught fish and the healing power of love is unreachable like a bird flying high in the sky. You freeze together with your ego story that aims to protect you; you become a narcissist; you are afraid when people want to be close to you: What if they see it? What a shame! Nevertheless you let them smell your delicious vulnerability and they lick their fingers for your free energy. Run, baby, run! Make fire! Light up the shadow material! Burn down the point and free the narrative! Only when you keep silent, they keep your power! In doing so I felt warm. Standing in the flames, I devoted my whole life to renewal. Today, I honor the snake, the fish and the bird. I love them deeply and they are a part of me. Today, I contemplate my opportunities, canalize thoughtfully my energy and use my power for what I perceive as good. Today, I do the best I can without searching perfection because perfection is a dead end. It is still daily work to detach from ego, but I bow with curiosity to the colorful chaos that life is.
The Kübler-Ross-Model identifies five stages of loss and grief, which are denial & isolation, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. These stages are not in chronological order, in fact we are moving between them until we can finally let it go. Especially bargaining (,If only I had been calmer, he would not have behaved that way.’) can get you trapped in a thought cycle, but all stages can get your ego stuck in it. If you feel overwhelmed by traumatic incidents in your life, I urge you to seek out for professional help. Professional help is accelerating the healing process and it can even stop severe mental or physical illnesses resulting from trauma. To be honest with you, it took me years to cope with the traumatic flashbacks, with feelings of hunger, guilt, shame and fear. Still I have moments where I simply react to my environment instead of acting on my behalf and my higher self. Infected by the trauma of another person, I buffered a war that was over for years but that kept on searching his way through my relationships. It installed its echo in my body and shouted military orders from inside to my mind, darkened my heart and wanted to mutilate my soul.
Although my own painful experience should have forbid me to harm others, I did so and I committed also self-harm on several levels: I hated myself, acted destructively with too much eating, drinking, smoking, was unable to feel, left men and women behind that would have truly loved me. I grew bigger, gained weight, wanted to be unattractive for men, as they would just cause me harm, as their hungry, sensual eyes reminded me of the stealing eyes I knew so well. Then I became promiscuous, wanted to feel through others, showed irresponsible behavior, hurt other people; finally I lost my appetite, wanted to disappear, wanted to be unknown, never existent, searched to please in order to forget me.
My self-destructive thoughts disrupted my career development and attracted persons who wanted to put me down. Love became equal to a narcissist combat and I searched offenders of my wellbeing because it felt familiar to what I thought was love. When I miraculously found a loving relationship, I tried to hide myself whenever I could and they left my poor chameleon-me alone. I could not regulate myself on any level of my life and often I ran into abusing dynamics and protected myself from loving persons. My world seemed normal, but felt somehow upside-down. I showed my environment what it expected me to be, never less, never more until I fitted in like grey sports shoes. I trusted few and have still been disappointed. But on this imaginary lonely road I finally asked a guy at the petrol station to slap me in the face, so that I could feel reality. With his dirty handprint on my cheek, I thankfully realized that if I did not believe in myself, no one else would!
I got back to where I am from, searched in the shadow of my family line. Searched in the countries, in which history I was born into; recognized the war, the bullets, the sadness, the pain, the fear. Looked into the mirror of human kind, contemplated my ancestor’s heritage and changed the perceptions on my home countries in order to release the emotions holding me back. After all, wasn’t this what I called my home? And if I wanted to feel the love that allowed me to grow didn’t I need to be seen, heard and accepted in the place I called home? I became aware that any solitary happiness was an illusion; that growth can only happen by interacting and learning, by feeling the other and get in touch with our soul again. In distinguishing the emotions of others and our own emotions, by taking off the layers that were put on us when we were in an unconscious state of mind, means to chose the elements that influence our life. I decided to block what tried to inject the destructive power of war into me. In her book “Seeds 4 Change. A Path to Health and Healing” Laura Dankof writes: “What we carry around in pounds and emotions is often other people’s baggage we have allowed to be placed on us. Let it go. Shed it and forget it. There will be always someone ready to judge you. Quit doing what everyone expects you to do. Quit carrying around other people’s baggage. You have enough of your own to shed. You can be an angel or a demon and someone will always be judging you. Stop giving up your power. This is your life.”
During my healing process I produced poems and songs, developed profound friendships, had astonishing insights and met soul mates that accompanied me on my way finding myself. Whatever their role was, a friend, a lover, an enemy, a sort of tourist, they all loved me, made me laugh, admired me and challenged me and so did I. How beautiful human beings are! However, in “Keeping the State of love” Neveen El-Gamal (pp.34-40) explains that people who live in fear have a low energy level. They are not only less likely to go through change and transformation, but they are also more likely to steal energy from other people (undermining the self-confidence of another person is stealing his energy, for example). She identifies four manipulation types in social interactions:
1. The intimidator threatens other people to forget his own anxiety. He uses drama to get attention. By giving him high attention because of his made up dramatic incidents he gets our energy.
2. The interrogator asks questions in order to find something wrong about you and then he criticizes you. We lose our energy by seeing us through his judging eyes.
3. The Aloof is mysterious and secretive. He never reveals his true self, but keeps us so much interested so that we continue giving him energy by wanting to know more about him.
4. The poor me-type takes your energy by telling you how much he suffers (because of you). Automatically, you feel guilty in his presence; no solution you offer will stop him suffering.
For all these interaction types it is important to understand that energy is the target and that you can always leave the scene if you simply don’t want to give in; sometimes that even changes the dynamic for the better! I am sure that you recognized one or two types, or maybe even all types in the people around you; I am also sure that you recognized yourself in these types. In fact, we set up our energy stealing behavior during our childhood when we try to get attention from our parents. Adults who live in constant fear still show these energy stealing dynamics. The more we care about our physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing, the more we are mindful and healthy, the more we become aware of our energy stealing mechanisms. This is when change begins: we are ready to connect to true and authentic connections with other human beings. Many persons around me showed me that love, creativity and sincerity are fluid and complex entities and the source of a fulfilled life. Together with them I learned that life is full of chances, joy, discoveries, that it is worth living and inherits a fantastic prism of beauty. Thanks to my social environment I can even tolerate that this multispectral beauty can be shuttered and laced with ugly dots and sparkles; that the echo of destruction will always try to manifest its voice and that days of inexplicable fear and fury, situations that trigger shame and guilt need to be embraced by love and compassion when I wanted to continue my mission of an independent life. Though, there will always be shadow, we have to turn to the light around us and breath in its healing power.
In the rhythm of my travels and returns, I learned that my agony was not the norm, that my life could change when I wanted it to change and that it would be a way with many fall downs, but at least a possibility to balance out my pain and to follow my dreams. Going the difficult way of emotional cleansing, embarrassing nervous breakdowns, senseless worries, inappropriate reactions and speeches, allowing the outburst of uncontrolled emotions and exhaustive disastrous encounters with persons that didn‘t want my well; going this necessary way made me jump even higher than I have ever imagined before. In the beginning, I felt like a stiff robot making his first steps and over time and through my learning I got more flexible and eloquent. I learned that I am responsible for my own wellbeing and no one else; that I grew stronger, with more compassion and respect for myself and others and that there was no sense in comparing; that we not only need to cherish freedom, but to fight for it; anywhere and anytime.
Being aware that the tiniest thought creates a world, I wanted to get rid of negative thinking and helped my colorful world to exist with a long list of positive words in my vocabulary. Furthermore, I repeated five healing mantras that helped me to be less defensive (Meier, pp.160-163):
1. I accept myself fully.
2. I am good enough as I am.
3. I trust myself and I confront any situation with an open heart and open mind.
4. Deep in myself I am good and I will stay whole.
5. Even though I am not perfect, I am a unique part of the universe.
I discovered that a peaceful mind offers true power like a sort of silent glue that keeps the acting, speaking, thinking and feeling coherent; that peace provides space to grow endlessly and offers (self-)respect as it loves all beings on earth independently of the mainstream’s opinion of them; that peace has the power to replace fear with hope, so that we will find the courage to embrace change and transformation (check Dankof's blog here).
How to get into a peaceful state of mind and cultivate hope? How to access courage in life? First it is necessary to become aware of the body-mind-connection: the gross form of the mind is the body and the subtle form of the body is the mind (see also my post “Notes on happiness”; Bihar School of Yoga). This means that every mental tension has a respective physical tension and vice versa. So in order to stay balanced and healthy, it is important to observe your symptoms and emotions.
Do you overreact over a certain topic? This might be an indicator that you touched a wound from the past that reveals itself now in order to be healed in the present. That is a good sign. You are ready!
Do you have chronic pain, like headaches, for example? It is worth to analyze when and why the headaches occur. You might block thoughts/feelings or another person/ life circumstances might prevent you to live all the facets of yourself fully. Which part of your personality wants to be acknowledged?
Do you obsess about a person, a feeling or an event? You might contemplate the person, the feeling and the passed event with compassion and let it heal. You need to look at yourself and your reactions in order to understand yourself.
In How to fight Thich Nhat Hanh recommends to write all kind of uncomfortable feelings down in a letter until you feel at ease again. It can take some hours, but after that it has to be over. If the feeling comes back, read the letter on a certain event or to a certain person again, or write another one, but don’t get caught in a negative thinking spiral or develop the emotional addiction of feeling negative feelings about yourself in order to feel safe. You are always safe when positivity, love and compassion is passing through you. You are always safe when you are you.
In order to stabilize your emotions health professionals recommend breathwork, meditation, yoga and any kind of exercise that stabilizes the nervous system and makes you happy (check LePera's blog here). There are indeed actions that trigger good feelings and strengthen your immune system, for example by spilling out endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, adrenalin etc. (Meier, 2017, p.161): funny activities, dancing, joy, to stretch, deep breathing, devotion, concentration, consciousness, phantasy, creativity, meditation, to be cheerful and lighthearted, to be euphoric, touching your or someone else’s body, hug someone, to cuddle someone, have erotic moments, sex, to bath in sunlight, tenderness, silence, relaxation, connection, loyalty, to speak openly with someone about something. When was the last time you had your dose of good feelings ?
In chromotherapy, an interesting pseudoscience, there exists the idea that each color has a healing function (find the healing functions here). In order to benefit from the healing power of colors, one can practice color breathing: you need to imagine the color and breath it in until you feel fulfilled by this special color (for further information check Jacob Olesen’s blog). Even though chromotherapy is scientifically not recognized and could not prove that people’s healing progress stands in direct relation to color treatment, it is interesting to note that chakra meditation also works with colors (see picture above). Chakra is a Sanskrit word and can be translated as “wheel” or “circle”; chakras are energy centers in our body and they influence a certain organ, an area of our body and of our brain (that depends on which of the seven chakras is activated). Thus, they control the circulation of energy in our body, but be careful: for a real energy flow concentration and prior and regular practice is a must. Indeed, most of the people’s energetic centers lay dormant and inactive and so it is important to be physically prepared to chakra meditation because an increased amount of energy is set free and can be overwhelming and even dangerous for the person’s mental and emotional health (Bihar School of Yoga). The first step of the chakra visualization meditation technique (Dankof, 2013, p.204) is that you sit in a cross-legged position and inhale and exhale five times to calm your nervous system. Then you start to imagine the color red for the root chakra, for example, and visualize a red ball at the base of your spine (where your root chakra is located). You repeat this visualization with all the chakras and their respective colors (see picture above). To end the meditation you say to yourself that you are healthy, balanced and peaceful (Dankof, 2013).
To deal in an elegant manner with painful and contradicting feelings, even nearly unbearable situations in our world is the art of life. While we are walking to the Rainbow Bridge, which leads us to the heavens (mythological speaking), turmoil always appears. Sometimes it spares you for a moment, sometimes it is cute and soft, in other times painfully striking; outrageous and life-disturbing. Look around you. War, violence and abuse have always existed. And as long as we are healthy, feeling, thinking and acting human beings, we have the ability to see it collectively, to release the pain and to stop it. But who knows when? Outside of us is no quick remedy that can help us to deal with the pain. The beauty, the ugliness, the dark and the light you see outside of yourself are also inside of yourself. We need to approach it step by step. They are symptoms of endless forces we cannot understand so far. Some call it God(s), some call it nature, some the universe, some aliens. But we can learn to handle the unknown in embracing our experiences and learn from them. We can get ourselves together and put on a candy-striped bow tie: no experience is wasted; everything is preparing us for something bigger; something we reach when we walk our talk; something that leads us to our life’s purpose.
Your work is to take an imaginary pencil and to draw the line of what comes in and what goes out. To draw a line symbolizing your boundaries in this world because we are the artists of our life‘s color, shape and message. If you had a traumatic life experience (a car accident, loss of family member, job loss, war, seeking political asylum, migration, sexual abuse, separation from partner/children, giving birth...), and you ask yourself if you will ever be able to put the fragments together again, I can tell you, that it is more than perfectly possible (for more information consult the works of Peter Levine, Leslie E. Korn and Nicole LePera in my bibliographie). By observing ourselves thoughtfully and with love and compassion we become aware, we become awake. And this is how we heal: taking care of our body, our relationships, our emotions and our mind (for further information see also Deepak Chopra's work on Quantum Healing; you can watch an interview on quantum healing here). By fully recognizing the nature that made us live these experiences we transform ourselves into a real force of nature. So please spread your colors in this world because we need them to heal collectively!
One day you will wander and find a strange street with rainbow colors that leads you to a new place. You will be happy that you have put on your costume and your candy-striped bow tie because of the solemn place. As you come closer to the colors you will see a dancing silhouette. She seems to dance in a room to a fantastically dark tune ("Morning Sun", The Underground Youth). You greet her a bit shyly and tell her that it seems safe outside and that she could come out of the house and enjoy the morning sun with you. Let's go together. Then we would look down on our lives from the height of the Rainbow Bridge, judging that our movements might not be perfect, but that we responded somehow in the best way considering the given circumstances the world provided: the fundamental and life-saving difference between perfection and excellence.
Note: I am aware of the devastating effect of traumatic life experiences and that many trauma survivors struggle their whole life with its consequences. With my modest and light witness of a traumatic life experience I aim to open up a dialogue for those who search positivity and colorfulness despite of experienced negativity.Traumatic life experiences caused by human beings destroy our confidence in life and the world; we don’t know why that happens to us or our loved ones; we don’t know why some persons have traumatic life experiences and others don’t. The only thing we can do is to be kind towards ourselves and the persons around us; kindness creates a welcoming, comfortable and safe place for mutual healing. The more we open up about emotional and mental health and if possible share our experiences, the higher the chance to find a cure for the soul's damage provoked by these experiences.
Bihar School of Yoga (2008). Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha. Swami Satyananda Saraswati. Thomson Press (India) Limited: New Delhi.
Chopra, Deepak (2015).Quantum Healing. Exploring the frontiers of mind/body medicine. Bantam Books: New York.
Dankof, Laura (2013). Seeds 4 Change. A Path to Health and Healing. Lexington, USA. URL: https://www.pathtohealthandhealing.com/
El-Gamal, Neveen (2015). Keeping the State of Love. A guide to a life of minimized stress and maximized enlightment. Al-Hadatha: Cairo.
Gregory, Christina (2019). The Five Stages of Grief. Examining the Kubler-Ross Model. In: Psycom.net. URL: https://www.psycom.net/depression.central.grief.html
Korn, Leslie E. (2013). Rhythms of Recovery. Trauma, nature and the body. Routledge: New York.
LePera, Nicole (2020). The Holistic Psychologist. URL: https://yourholisticpsychologist.com/
Levine, Peter (1997). Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma. North Atlantic Books: California, USA.
Meier, Georg (2017). Geh durch die Wunde und alles ist heilbar. Goldmann: München.
Olesen, Jacob, (2020). Spiritual Colors – The Difference between Auras and Chakras. URL: https://www.color-meanings.com/spiritual-colors-the-difference-between-auras-and-chakras/
Olesen, Jacob, (2020). 7 Best Colors for Healing. URL: https://www.color-meanings.com/7-best-colors-healing/
Thich Nhat Hanh, (2017). How to fight. Rider: London.
Tolle, Eckhart, (2013). How do I respond to another’s pain-body? Eckhart tolle TV. URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcYrm7h86Rk
Tolle, Eckhart, (2014). How to Identify and Stop your Pain-body. A New Earth. Oprah Winfrey Network. URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fzj7R9IB48s