Poking Through

I think that what constitutes as healed or healing depends on the person that has experienced the trauma. If you have ever done any serious work on yourself involving healing your own mind then you may know first hand that the degree of your healing depends on how much you were damaged. Over the course of our lives, through sometimes no fault of our own, we are accosted by nature of our interactions with the world. Engaging in society involves a sort of collective trauma that makes up the fine print of our lives, that we don’t often read into. After the uncomfortable circumstance, whatever it may be, moving onward involves a daily process of talking about it, being distracted from it, and allowing time to have it fall behind you. But if your mind is as anxious as others have suggested theirs may be then you too could suffer from what Tibetan Buddhism refers to as Shenpa. Shenpa is the hooking of things in us. The feeling behind our action to respond to the uncomfortability or the aftermath of a distressful event that our bodies and minds are participants of, right before we respond to that thing. Shenpa is the feeling behind our response.

Psychologically, how one deals with shenpa, whether it is flicked off as if it doesn’t exist at all, or suppressed and avoided altogether, can determine how we move through trauma. Trauma happens to us all; no two traumas are alike, and it is not the aggressor that gets to decide the impact of the display of trauma, it is the recipient of the traumatic incident that decides how effective it is. Shenpa, when it is allowed to do its work, hooks us after we have been distressed and it expresses our attachment to an expected outcome. The need to clap back, the need to defend ourselves, the need to walk away, the need to not respond, the tendency to judge an incident by labeling it good or bad are all ways to describe the feelings that grip us and pull us in either direction.

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