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SAND18 US — Spirituality, Archetypes, and Trauma

By Peter Levine

The treatment of trauma is fraught with many pitfalls and “tight corners.” Generally overlooked, however, is an innate relationship between trauma, archetypes and spirituality. Understanding and applying these intimate relationships can suggest therapeutic strategies and support the genuine transformation of traumatic experience. The “awe-full” qualities of horror and terror may share essential structural, psycho-physiological and phenomenological roots with those underlying transformative states such as flow, awe, presence, timelessness and ecstasy. Our organisms are designed with primitive-instinctual-proclivities that move us to extraordinary feats of focused attention and action when we perceive that our lives are threatened. The bridging and “owning” of these survival capacities of readiness, “slow motion” perception, and intense, focused, alertness with more “ordinary” states of consciousness promotes the experience of “timelessness” and presence sometimes referred to, in meditation systems, as “the eternal now.” In addition, the effect of trauma involves a profound compression of activation. The ability to access, and integrate the rhythmic movements of this “bound energy” determines whether it will be destructive or potentially vitalizing. In the Yoga’s of the East, awakening of the “Kundalini” has long been utilized as a vehicle for spiritual transformation. In trauma, a similar mobilization of (survival) activation is evoked, but with such intensity and rapidity that it is overwhelming. If we can gradually access, titrate and integrate this “energy” into our nervous system and psychic structures then the instinctual survival response imbedded within trauma can also catalyze authentic spiritual- transformation.

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