EMPOWERED ACTION IN THE FACE OF TRAUMA

Recent world events have stirred up many emotions. Louise Androlia shares her wisdom on how to use our feelings as a catalyst for empowered action…. Images: Katya Volpato

Recent world events have left many of us feeling traumatized, whether or not we’ve been directly affected by acts of mass violence. These are turbulent times, and having been working on my own path to trauma recovery recently, I feel called to share some thoughts on how to work on being present in reality—but at the same time not becoming immobilized by fear.

At the root of it all, whether facing our own crisis or confronted with mass crisis, the difficult art to master is that it is safe to feel our feelings and continue to connect, especially when we feel as though it would be wiser to shut down.

The strong emotions being stirred up among switched on communities now are actually a valuable call to action. Here are some ways we can use them—while avoiding losing our connection to our highest selves, or getting swept up in the hype.

THE EMOTION: Overwhelmed
THE GUIDANCE: You can’t save the whole world at once
THE EMPOWERED ACTION: Focus your attention

Pick something you currently feel very passionate or perhaps frightened about, and then learn and feel your way through it. Endless browsing through social media feeds may make you feel more frustrated because you also end up reading the comments, which can lead to yet more overwhelm. Instead, choose to focus on your chosen subject and learn all you can. Yes this will be hard if you are used to endless scrolling—because as well as learning, you are re-training your mind to be present.

THE EMOTION: Fear
THE GUIDANCE: Catastrophizing only fuels the fears
THE EMPOWERED ACTION: Get involved in local politics and community

Looking on Facebook lately, all I’ve seen is people screaming into the Internet abyss about the apocalypse and giving fuel to their own fear and sadness in the process. This helps no one, including you. So look at how you can actually get involved within your community, and if you don’t see anything obvious, start something. It is so easy to just say ‘Fuck the world’. But this is not the time to give up. It’s time to shout louder, IRL, and to remember your voice and your vote DOES count.

THE EMOTION: Anger
THE GUIDANCE: Do not fight fire with fire
THE EMPOWERED ACTION: Feel your anger; then channel it into positive action

The elements can always teach us something—for example, anger is a fire element emotion, while compassion and feelings are water element emotions. And you don’t put out a forest fire by setting another part of the forest on fire! Action, and so activism, is a positive channel for anger, and if what’s needed now is more of the water element, become an activist for love, compassion, equality, empathy, and connection.

THE EMOTION: Grief
THE GUIDANCE: It is safe to feel your feelings
THE EMPOWERED ACTION: Explore and nurture your shadow side

Man of us are experiencing a huge collective sense of grief, coming in all forms, and for anybody not used to this emotion, this level of pain can seem very frightening to the mind, body and spirit. This is not a time to numb the pain, but instead an opportunity to dive deeper in your own self-inquiry practice. Checking out of reality serves no one, including you. Allow yourself to acknowledge and feel all the fears that have arisen recently and know that it is okay to do so. It can sometimes feel like our own personal crises are not ‘bad’ enough to warrant being the focus of our compassion—but ignoring your own pain will leave you unable to serve. By learning to compassionately address what is currently coming up for you, then you are actually helping to heal the collective and creating connection between yourself, your peers and those strangers you are really feeling for.

THE EMOTION: Helplessness
THE GUIDANCE: Re-connect to yourself
THE EMPOWERED ACTION: Take a media break

First of all, avoid watching or reading the mainstream news on a loop. Studies show that when we keep recycling the news over and over we are re-traumatizing constantly. And the more scared we feel, the more helpless we can feel. To be able to start being of service it is essential that we learn to reconnect to our selves, as once back in the present moment we feel more stable to help others. I’ve also lost count of how many people I hear saying they wish they could use social media less, as this can have a similar way of hooking us into judgment and fear, and distancing us from our own truths. The great news is…you can!

Some easy ways to start:

  • Leave your phone at home and go for a walk in your neighborhood.
  • Put your phone on airplane mode at night.
  • Create a ‘no social media after ***pm’ rule.
  • Log out of all your social media channels on your computer and phone. This means that when you go to use them you become aware that you have to login. This allows using them to become intentional.
  • Move your social icons on your phone to a folder and put it on the last page of scrolling. Again this means you CHOOSE when to look rather than it just being there.
  • Do not read the comments. I repeat DO NOT READ THE COMMENTS.

These small actions may feel massively uncomfortable, and if so, good. If you feel anxious without your phone, good. The present moment will continue to feel painful until you learn to be IN it. And look how much time you now have! What would you like to do with it? I suggest reconnecting to PLAY. Connecting with your inner child is another way to ease anxiety and help you reconnect to your natural energy of love and connection. When you refresh your true north, you are more likely to be able to shift your helplessness into self-love.

THE EMOTION: Frustration
THE GUIDANCE: Express yourself in the way that works for you
THE EMPOWERED ACTION: Show don’t tell

It can be really hard to express yourself in a way that you feel helps, especially when you’re angry and upset. It’s good to remember that we rarely get our point across when we try and force it upon someone and so preaching doesn’t usually feel good. You will always feel better when you can express yourself articulately and if you find it difficult to feel confidence with expressing yourself with words, remember also that you can always just BE the change. We always positively affect those around us with our behavior. So think: what small steps can you take in your day-to-day life that will provide example of the kind of world you’d like to live in?

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A Final Word on Black Lives Matter. Vs All Lives Matter.

This is an argument that’s been raging, and below are a few of my favorite simple ways to explain the situation to someone who is having trouble understanding. It is part of human nature to make everything about ourselves (regardless of the topic) since in times of trauma our survival instinct kicks in. But it’s important to learn to recognize that not EVERYTHING is about us. The more that we can see ourselves connected to everyone else, the more empathy we can ignite.

  • “When we say ‘Save the Rainforests’, it doesn’t mean that all other forests suck.”
  • “Choosing to go to a rally for Breast Cancer does not mean that Liver Cancer is less important.”
  • “Saving an animal that’s about to go extinct does not mean that other animals aren’t important, it just means that right now, this one needs our help.”
  • “Yes, of course all lives are important, but currently it doesn’t feel like black lives are as important as other lives—and until the world is equal, meaning ALL people receive the same level of kindness and judicial treatment, then we need to speak up.”
  • “Choosing to support black lives does not mean your life is any less significant.”

You get the idea.

RELEASE AND RENEW: A DARK MOON RITUAL

Transform the unhealed and unloved aspects of yourself this Dark Moon, says Shaheen Miro

Before the birth of each New Moon, the sky grows rich and velvety—it is the night of the Dark Moon. We enter the infinite darkness of the Crone Goddess. She is the keeper of the mysteries, the underworld, the expansive void that tingles our psychic receptors.

The Dark Moon is the gatekeeper between the waking world, and the rich, fertile land of inner transformation. She holds the key to the soul’s mysteries. Penetrating the surface of superficial life, the Dark Moon awakens our zest for life, our sensual nature, and our most inspired magic.

When we tread into the Land of Darkness, we delve deeper into our own soul. Riding on the dark wings of the Owl we sweep further into the enigma of our Shadow… to where our unloved, unhealed, and unacknowledged parts silently wait. But answering the call of the shadow awakens our tenacity and power. We show up bigger and brighter in the world, as we learn to express our most mystical self.

So lay down your hurts at the altar of the Dark Moon. Spin your woes into strands of gold. For healing only comes when you go into the places that hurt.

:: A Dark Moon Ritual for Purging Pain and Restoring Vitality ::

You Will Need:

Your Statement of Release. This can be a written statement, or an intention you carry in your head.

A black candle.

A black scarf.

Some Dragon’s Blood, or other rich, earthy incense.

Walnut flower essence. (Black walnut is a powerful tree for severing ties with the past, as well as with things that hurt you, especially unhealthy relationships—walnut Flower Essence has a similar releasing power)

The Ritual:

Set aside the night of the Dark Moon (the night before the New Moon) to perform your ritual. This ritual will result in a bath, and if you can perform the entire ceremony in your bathroom that’s perfect. If not, find a space where you will be uninterrupted and then carry on into the bathroom.

Darken the ritual space (or simply turn off all lights). Lighting the black candle, make a declaration of intent. Such as:

“I enter the Dark Moon Kingdom with reverence and respect. With perfect love and trust. With bravery and complete surrender. I visit the garden of lost soul fragments, seeking bones discarded by choice or force throughout my life. I honor these parts, I sing to them, I quicken them back into life. Enfold me in the arms of rebirth and regeneration. So Shall it be.”

Holding the candle, walk in a widdershins (counterclockwise) circle to stir banishing and releasing magic. Begin where you like, but the West is the power spot for soul work and metamorphosis. Walking the circle summon protective energies. Let the Dark Moon energy settle around you, creating a zone for inner work. Include your bathtub in the circle if you can.

Seat yourself in the circle’s center. Begin breathing deeply, in and out. Slip into a light, relaxing trance.

Now light the incense, letting the snake of smoke waft through the circle filling the atmosphere with sacred protective energies. As you continue to breath, go deeper into your center. Repeat the above invocation.

Now allow yourself to gently crack open, traveling down the path to your pain and heartache. Feel how your body has become dense with the garbage you have accumulated, staying mindful of the intention you came to release. When you are filled to the top with heavy, sticky feelings, begin to release them into the dark void.

Repeat the Statement of Release as they slip out—reading something you have written or simply speaking from your heart. Become vulnerable to the receptive energy of the Dark Moon. Give her your pain and trauma. You are ready to purge, move forward and heal.

Be here as long as you like. Let your body respond as it needs. Shake, cry, curl into a ball, slip into silence. Whatever spirit moves you to do is perfect. The Dark Moon will move you through this experience of release.

The Black Walnut Bath: 

Fill your bath tub with warm water. If your bath is in another room, gather your accouterments, and see your circle move with you into the bathroom. You can recast the circle if you like.

If you don’t have a full tub, fill a bowl big enough to submerge both your feet.

Pour a few drops of Walnut Flower Essence into the water. Visualize or feel the water being infused with the dark, generative powers of the Moon. See it become an inky black sky. The great void of transmogrification, where there is nothing to fear.

Now wrap your eyes with the black scarf to disrupt your sense of sight. Then slip into the bath. Relax into the embrace of the dark. You are in the alchemical waters of healing. The vessel of rebirth, the womb of the Dark Moon.

Do you feel any resistance? Is there still lingering pain in your body and spirit? Is your heart heavy? Are your wounds still bleeding?

Allow the remaining feelings to fill you up until there is a sense of surrender. Now release them into water. Speak your Statement of Release again to the Goddess, asking the Dark Moon to take it all away…to return it to the void. Speak out loud, and speak from your heart.

Fully release and float in these healing waters as long as you need. When you are ready, let the water drain. Unveil your eyes. Thank the Goddess for her counsel. Release the circle clockwise. Then blow the candle out, or allow it to burn down.

The Healing Aftermath:

Major blocks of energy and pain have been purged. You have asked for the guidance and protection of the Dark Moon. Her energy and influence will curl through your spirit and move through your life in synchronistic ways. Honor her process, and yourself by being compassionate. Rest, eat something rejuvenating. Sleep as long as you like.

You may feel spacey for a few days as your soul parts knit back together. You have undergone a type of psychic surgery. Go as deep into this process as you like. You have just scratched the surface. Meet the Dark Moon each month with a new pain to lay to rest. Healing is always an expansive, ongoing process.

Seeking spiritual guidance or doing divination with a favorite intuitive, friend or oracle is also welcomed during this process. They may help you see how the pieces are coming together. How life is heading in a new direction. And never forget to ask for the guidance and protection of your Spirit Circle: Your Guides, Angels, and Ancestors.