Our consciousness is rooted in the body because the brain is part of the body. The central nervous system is part of the body. The reality we experience through our sense organs originates in the body. The way our minds imagine and process thoughts is a direct result of the structure of neurons in the brain. Beyond just the brain, the entire adrenal system has an overarching effect on our emotions and state of consciousness. Pain in any part of the body affects our perceptions and our reactions. There is no separating the mind from the body in a practical sense. When the body is ill, the mind is ill. When the mind is ill the body is ill.
Amazingly, this organism which is our body has a reservoir of knowledge. It knows how to breath, process food, separate waste products into our urine, regulate blood pressure, sexually reproduce and birth infants. It is like a symphony with many different instruments playing in unity to a single song.
From the time of our birth, our bodies were in harmony with a vast transpersonal self because in our youngest years, the transpersonal self and our consciousness flowed and intermingled without division nor hesitation. At some point, the solidifying of our ego identity and traumatic events in our environment combined such that our consciousness withdrew into an instinctive posture of self-defense. From that point on, each of us is left with scars in our body and our consciousness.
When this trauma is inflicted on a child or even an adult, a portion of the body and consciousness tightens creating a container for the trauma. The trauma then lives inside of the person as a type of anticipatory residue that primes the organism to defend itself against similar trauma in the future. This is a natural reaction that keeps an organism alive, but it has sad consequences for the future freedom of an individual human.
As these traumas start to accumulate in the body and subsequently in the consciousness of a person, the ability to be in free contact with the transpersonal self beyond consciousness is limited. Each trauma shapes the body’s reactions into a defensive posture reminiscent of non-human mammals or even reptiles. The impact of a single trauma may seem extremely small, so much so that a memory of the traumatic event is never fully remembered. Yet, the body remembers and the mind also remembers in a way that may bypass visual memories. These traumas build up through childhood and often reach a breaking point in adolescence.
In adolescence, the pull of social conformity and collective identity is so strong that it often crystallizes many life traumas into a single glob. This crystallization happens by a decision (conscious or otherwise) made to embrace an imaginary construct of the mind as the primary self. This pushes away the nothingness of the unknowable transpersonal self that children are naturally connected with. In the most grim sense, this is what is meant by the phrase growing up. Once this false self is embraced, the body further suffers. From then on the body is imposed upon as a servant to comply with the whims of images that flow into a person’s consciousness. This is typically when the self-abuse of the body starts.
As time goes on we continually traumatize our bodies. Many times those traumas are entirely preventable. For example, we may hurt our back by lifting something too heavy with a bad posture. This by itself may seem like an accident, but if examined there may be a source of delusion responsible for the physical injury. In the case of hurting our back, we may have succumbed to a false image of ourselves as strong, in control and not needing the help of others. When we were wrapped up in our false notion of self, we stumbled along like in a dream and lifted something out of harmony from the signals that our body was giving us. Certainly there was an opportunity to stop at some point while lifting the object, but we were so identified with who we thought we were, that we failed to be who we are. We failed to just be our body in its simple presence. Examples like this compound through our life. As we age, the injuries accumulate and we start to have chronic health issues. Sadly, we victimize our bodies because we hold on to this false dualism that the mind is primary – it is like the driver of a car and our body is just a machine. When in fact quite the opposite is true.
If we can acknowledge our body as self and not a vehicle or servant. Then the possibility for it to be a source of wisdom emerges. The transpersonal self or the unconditioned reality beyond consciousness is always there. We are so deeply intermingled and integrated with that reality that there is no separating it from our bodies or mind. However, functionally our bodies and hence our minds can undergo so much trauma that we become unable to function at a higher level than a non-human mammal. In that state we are entirely subject to predictably reacting to whatever stimulus comes into our sense organs. Our bodies are conditioned to the point where they tense up when we hear a certain type of voice. With enough unhealed trauma accumulated, we can’t functionally integrate with a reality that is closer to us than our own jugular vein. It is like we are like a person on a boat in the middle of a vast lake of pure water who cries out in thirst.
This is why every real practice of awakening has bodily practice as a central principal. It isn’t enough just to think profound thoughts, have visions or to have deep emotional states. You have to be. You have to embody your existence at a level of depth that many people only experience when directly facing death. Mental images and emotional states are like dreams that possess us and block us from this embodiment. This is why using the mental facilities to change consciousness rarely leaves a lasting impact. Put another way, the biological computer that is the brain can’t become free of itself by thinking that it is free. Only when the unconditioned is let to manifest and the entirety of the body becomes involved, does true seeing does and freedom become possible.
When we do meditative practices, those practices help steady our breath, posture and mind. As the body steadies and relaxes, the breathing deepens and one’s posture improves. If we persist, then we start to listen, see, smell, taste and feel like it was for the first time. In a flash, we really hear the birds or smell the incense. In those moments, the image of what we should be doing drops away and we start to see just what is. This is how we start to let the unconditioned manifest through us.
The body knows what to do, when the controlling and judging mind steps out of the way. The breath, muscles, posture, heart rate and digestion all work together in a virtuous cycle when we give up control. We get more freedom than we had in the previous moment because once the body starts to unwind so does the intellectual mind and the facility within us that is always trying to create an identity. This process can continue until we reach a point where we have much more freedom than we do normally.
At that point, we can embrace the unconditioned and let it work through us. When we do that true healing is possible because in those moments, traumas of the past can be entered into deeply. We can disentangle the deep hurt in our body, soul and spirit. As we work out the pain, the body, mind and emotions become unconditioned.
The body can guide our mind if we learn how to listen to its voice. Put more accurately, the body mind dualism can be seen as a delusion and we can regain proper integration with our body. When the body and the mind aren’t separate we can truly be inhabiting our body. The transpersonal self or the unconditioned become embodied. Along with the physical body, the intellectual mind, the sense of self (ego), the imagination and the feelings all find their harmonious place in the physical world integrated with the unconditioned. As this harmony starts to unfold the process of healing also starts.
The call to heal comes from the voice of transcendental wisdom. It comes from the unconditioned. At first, we are so caught up in our notions of who we think we are that we fail to see how our body and heart is calling out. As we settle, the voice becomes more clear. The image of a moment in the past when an awful event left a scar upon us appears. In a flash, we see the full power of the event and how it shaped our life from that point onward. That becomes our call to heal.
The types of traumas that can call out vary widely. A moment of social ridicule in elementary school can make us believe that we are stupid and we are cast into ego compensation for that. In that case, the link with the body can be tied to how our body forms habitual postures when we take tests or sit in the classroom. For example, we may have a slouch that we fall into when we start to become possessed by the notion of stupidity. We may be totally incapable of addressing the false belief directly, but we may notice the slouch and ask our bodies to release. If we investigate further, we may ask the body “why are we slouching?” and the original cause may be revealed in a flash. With that vision, we can start the healing process.
In the cases of extreme trauma like rape, torture and abuse, the side-effects are so numerous that they can be hard to tease out because the trauma was so deep that it disrupted the growth of a healthy sense of self. Work on any part of the body will lead to that central trauma. If you have been unfortunate to suffer trauma like this, it is beneficial to get help from body work specialists who understand this territory. Going about this alone is an inadvisable path.
Regardless of how little a trauma or how big, each trauma is a collective scar on the soul of humanity. Each trauma healed is one step that humanity comes closer to peace and the effects of the healing radiate out in time and space affecting countless generations to come. This is why it is so essential that trauma is addressed and not ignored.
Our bodies are the culmination of hundreds of thousands of years (or more) of DNA. Each one of us is directly influenced by our most recent ancestors. The trauma sustained by them is passed on to us. Recently, there has been research proving the basis of hereditary trauma by way of gene expression and epigenetics. This research reaffirms the reality of hereditary trauma. For example, when our parents have undergone serious bodily stress or abuse, the effects can be passed onto their children’s bodies. These traumas also call out from within us to be healed and by healing them we heal a small part of the collective soul of humanity.
Sadly, we may never fully recover from an injury. When we heal from deep cuts in our tissue, we scar. Things are never the same again. However, the body has recovered as much as it is going to. Likewise injuries to our heart also can scar. We may never be able to go back to being how we were before a deep trauma, but we can get to a place of good enough. Healing is a multidimensional process that differs as much as the individuals and injuries involved. It is also a process that is measured years and it is best to have realistic expectations. It can move forward in sudden leaps at times or change gradually, regardless it takes a long time to integrate.
When we really start to look deeply at the injuries in our body and heart, it may seem that the trauma in us is endless, but it isn’t. It may be plentiful, but it isn’t endless. There is a finite amount of traumatic events that happen to an individual and each one of us has the capacity to get to a point where we become good enough. When we become good enough, we are ready to start to help others heal.
The process of awakening is a process of healing. Each and every trauma that we bring into the light and heal brings us more freedom because it frees us from conditioned instinctual responses. Those responses are etched into our muscle memory and the most primitive parts of our brain. When we heal them, we are literally modifying our bodies. Healing in the context of awakening is holistic. We awaken in a moment to a reality beyond time, space and consciousness all the while being present in our body. The opening to this unconditioned reality allows us to enter into the moment in the past in which our trauma occurred and facilitate a change. This is reality and not a metaphor. In awakening, it is possible for the unconditioned in us to enter into a time and place in the past and to bring a healing light into the present moment. As an individual, we sit in the crossroads between the unconditioned and the conditioned of our body. When the transcendental self or spiritual nature facilitates the healing of deep wounds in the past, it is also repairing the present state of the body and allowing for a new future to be possible in the conditioned physical world. This only happens when we are fully present in the transcendent reality of both worlds – the unconditioned world of nothingness of the absolute, and the conditioned material world of the relative.
When the skin is cut and heals, it never returns to the same state that it was before it was cut. It reforms, grows anew and perhaps scars. The new skin isn’t the same as the old skin. Just like this when we heal our emotional, mental and physical traumas by integrating wisdom from our spiritual nature (the unconditioned), we reform, rebuild and regrow our body integrated with the substance of the unconditioned.
As we heal, each cell of the body becomes permeated by the spiritual nature and it becomes spiritualized. The unconditioned flows into us and through our bodies, leaving traces with each contact made. As it quickens our body cell by cell the traces start to add up eventually creating a new body. Looked at another way, it is like the cells in the body are regenerated with a different quality and over time those cells start to add up until most of our body has the same spiritual quality.
The more of this new body is formed, the better the individual can regulate their own spiritual discipline because their very body (which includes all of consciousness) becomes spiritualized and autonomous with wisdom. Even if the mind wanders, the breath, belly or even the ears may reestablish contact with the unconditioned without the assistance of the dualistic mind. This leads to a virtuous cycle where the body and hence consciousness can increasingly heal by making contact with the spiritual nature.
As the blockages caused by trauma heal, consciousness as rooted in the body becomes a channel for the unconditioned. As each cell in the body becomes spiritualized, the wider the aperture available for the spiritual nature to flow into the material world unimpeded. Essentially, this is how a human being becomes a spiritual being who is liberated and can freely help others.