Sometimes it is difficult to see beyond what we have experienced in the past. This happens in everyday life. But also during eclipse season (which is now) I’ve noticed a higher frequency of the illusion of “history repeating”. As unique situations arise, we unconsciously run them against our traumatic history and as they say, the rest is history. Or, so it appears.
I recently decided to explore a new healing tool, for instance, and it felt right to reach out to a new healer with experience in this area. My gut said “all go- green light!”. Then self-preservation (fear) kicked in. My mind started objecting, “well maybe we should go to Yelp to confirm this idea/person”, which I knew would only open me up to a host of strange external energies. Gathering opinions from people I don’t know is a good way to work a triggered Mind into a frenzy.
When I asked myself why, I realized my Ego was trying to protect me from past experiences. Here’s a sample of those:
-“You are from another planet that isn’t like Earth at all. Wow. You must be very lonely, here.” (a psychic)
-“If you hadn’t come to see me you may’ve had an accident with your hands that resulted in permanent damage.” (a healer)
-“Your mother’s spirit wants the happiness you have in your marriage and she is causing you trouble.” (energy healer)
…There are more. On the upswing, hearing fear-inducing old paradigm ideas uttered from the mouths of healers have strengthened my compassion and integrity as a healer myself. But since history has repeated many times, it is understandable that this fear would arise, or stop me altogether from reaching out to someone new.
At the core of all of this, a belief: there is something wrong with you.
That was the conditioning. It began in early life and was reinforced by New Thought/New Age movement. Whether through law of attraction, ie, I was attracting healers into my life who reinforced wrong-ness, or whether this broken-ness idea was so insidious in and apart of the New Thought movement…When in a trauma state we adopt beliefs about ourself and the world to help us survive the trauma. When these beliefs are NOT accurate, if left unchecked, instead of protecting us they actually threaten our survival. My logic was: if there is something wrong with me that means I can fix it. This gave my Ego the illusion of being able to control the uncontrollable, which helped for awhile. I held onto this belief for a long time.
This led me on a long hairpin journey to attempt to fix myself. From healer to healer I went. I learned much in the process, but the belief was toxic. Eventually, I realized that while my experiences were different from the norm they didn’t make me wrong. Nothing changed, however, until I deeply, totally, became and embodied the new and accurate belief about myself: There is nothing wrong with me and there never was. Yet even as it integrates on different levels, sometimes old triggers still arise.
Triggers Happen for a Reason, So Acknowledge Them
Conditioning is the interaction of environmental factors (social, familial, religious) overlaid onto our life experiences. When the Ego needs a belief to survive something traumatic, it finds one – no matter how faulty. Like a computer program we download a belief without fully questioning its validity. We do so because it’s there, and we need it. This perception, unexamined, can run roughshod over our life. It can prevent us from having new experiences, or keep us in old ghostly loops from the past.
How do we work through such deeply wounding conditioning when it arises? How can we release it so we can allow each fresh experience to be uniquely new? And- even if we know we’ve changed and grown, why are we still triggered?
The first thing to recognize is when we are triggered it is happening for a reason. The racing heart, heightening of senses, foreboding or excessive thinking… all ask us to pause and integrate what is happening into our awareness, with the wisdom of our Self, today. We might think, holy hell why am I having such a strong reaction? The Ego is self-protective. It doesn’t throw up roadblocks to thwart us; it is trying to help us survive. Even if that thing we are trying to survive happened years ago, if we have more to integrate around it, if there’s a smidgen more to release, a reaction from decades ago can happen now.
It’s the way a friend doesn’t return a call, and you take it personally and feel abandoned.
It’s a feeling of overwhelm and threat of full on collapse at a seemingly minor event.
It’s a racing heart when (and endless analysis after) you talk to a relative.
It’s the flash of righteous anger that doesn’t seem to match the situation.
All are signs pointing the way back into our felt senses for deepened awareness. Despite how uncomfortable it is, with loving-kindness and conscious awareness, the repetition of old/ancient triggering responses always present opportunity true healing. I like what my former astrology teacher Steven Forrest has said about Pluto transits. I think it applies, here: ‘When you have a Pluto transit it means you are finally ready to heal.’ If you are being triggered, you are finally ready to heal.
How I Release Old Conditioning
How do you work with a four alarm fire in your body? A feeling of the bottom falling out? A full-on shutdown? As the adage goes, the only way out is through. These triggers don’t just “go away”. The challenge is staying present to the feelings and finding some neutrality. When these sensations come up, it’s vital to stay in your body.
For me, becoming really present to the moment I feel triggered, and then deciding to experience this in my body is key before I cognitively address any of the energies and feelings arising. I will lay down and feel into the stable and impersonal energy and support of Mother Earth. I set the intention to slow my energy down. I wait to feel connected to the Earth and to the Now. I may look around me while feeling the stability underneath. I am incredibly patient with myself.
Only once I am grounded in the Now do I feel safe enough to explore what’s arising. I identify the sensations in my body, which are considerably less now that I’m in my body and the Now. I allow the feelings to arise, identify them, and I bring in my own present-day understanding and wisdom to them. I might say to myself: “Since something traumatic happened in the past, it makes sense I’d feel this way…” I pay attention to the feelings: hurt, abandonment, helplessness, betrayal, sadness, overwhelm, anger… I also ask my body if it wants to do anything. Shake, yell at an imaginary person, punch into the air etc. all have been helpful. Trauma is easily trapped, and stays, in the body through conditioning that tells us we can only have certain responses, ie, “don’t cry, be strong” “don’t be so dramatic” “anger is bad” etc.
For instance, I was doing the above and felt anger arise surrounding an ex from many years ago. The triggering emotion/event was feeling unsupported by others. I stopped to question my response though and recognized this was “out of time”. Then this memory, from years ago, popped up. As I felt the depths of not feeling supported in my experience back then, I came to realize I was too busy care-taking his response toward our breakup to experience my own feelings. I hadn’t been there for me! I felt the fierce, repressed, desire to be dramatic and loyal to my own experience – unconcerned about others feelings, to be utterly “selfish”. This reflected early conditioning where I learned to put my parent’s feelings, first, to survive. Now conscious, this desire to be “selfishly” there for myself helped me integrate a new way of being in the coming days.
To move past old wounds, integrate and finally heal, it is vital to create the internal space in our self, and find the space in our daily life, to feel what we feel, fully and completely, without judgment, without shaming, and without a mental story about our experience. When triggered, it is easy to overlay an old traumatic story onto a neutral experience. I take time to slow down and give my self enough space to honestly explore the question, “Is this real today or is it old conditioning?”
And, through the benefit of hindsight…
I can clearly see that while the triggering event could be perceived as neutral, my emotions about it were not.
What is the Condition of your Conditioning?
“I pushed my soul in a deep dark hole and then I followed it in
I watched myself crawling out as I was a-crawling in
I got up so tight I couldn’t unwind
I saw so much I broke my mind
I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in
Yeah, yeah, oh-yeah, what condition my condition was in…”
-Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) by The First Edition
What’s the condition of your conditioning? Most of us need to keep working on it throughout our lives, in varying degrees. As mentioned, Pluto transits stimulate our core wounds and our ability and strength to finally, truly, heal from them. If you are Plutonian, or having a Pluto transit, life often feels like peeling a never-ending onion, the layers just keep coming! Yet if you’re committed to becoming aware and awake just the awareness of what is surfacing is most if not all that is required of you.
I will leave you with a story. Pluto, Saturn and Jupiter transiting my fourth house has kept me busy on fourth house matters (home, psyche integration). I have been dealing with ongoing and unrelenting pest problems that come with living on a tropical island, but the latest was a disgusting bug infestation in my beautiful carpet. Understandably triggering!
At first, I panicked because I wanted those pests out right away. The exterminator had no ideas. The solutions I researched had side effects. As I went into the feelings of it… the helpless feeling of being out of control, surfaced, triggering an ancient trauma “no one can help me”. As I allowed those to be there, the panic dissipated and I wondered: since there was nothing I could do, could that be the solution? I could steam clean the carpet, put some natural solutions on it, and simply continue to monitor the situation. I couldn’t get rid of them overnight, but four weeks later they are almost gone.
Awareness, acknowledgement, patience and presence were the solution(s). It
often always is.
This is often the place I end up with clients, too. Only by becoming aware of a dynamic that has been operating underneath the threshold of consciousness in the precise moment it is happening do we have the power to change it.
It’s how we change the condition of our conditioning.
p.s.- I did end up having a session with the new healer! It was so gentle and healing. I attribute this to my process above.