What exactly is trauma?
My passion for language is immense. It is the avenue through which connection is created. It is the avenue through which disconnection is created. The articulation and expression of language, physical or verbal, are amazing realities as it pertains to the union of one human being towards oneself, others, and environment.
Why is that important when approaching how to answer the question, WHAT IS TRAUMA?
Before, I go any further; it typical Mangaliso style… I pause.
Before, I tell you anything more. What would you say? What would your answer be?
Close your eyes.
Take up space.
Feel yourself grounding into the present.
Tune in towards your body, your breath, your heart and your mind.
What comes to you as you ponder the question, What is trauma?
I wept the day that I found a definition I will hold as solid for the rest of life. It is common. By that, I mean uncomplicated. It honors and respects each individual. Obviously, that is of utter importance. However, I will get into WHY that is more important then we could ever imagine.
My definition of trauma emerges from my work as a trauma informed yoga specialist.
If yoga literally means to yoke or unite.
And what it is bringing together is the physical body, the breath, and awareness.
Then for me and I would be audacious enough to invite it to become an industry standard, trauma then can be defined as this:
“Anything that hinders, interrupts, disrupts, distorts, damages, or devastates that union.”
Why will I champion such a definition?
One word exists that keeps me up at night. It lays a hold of me as I ponder how to tackle that beast of beasts. What is such a word?
I wish in the work of Trauma it did not exist.
What I hear often from clients, friends, family, strangers are statements that undervalue and express insignificance towards their disruptions. Why? Because they are comparing their experience with the experiences of others. Then deeming that which they went through as less tragic, less traumatic, less then another’s experience. In the industry of tackling and building awareness around trauma, we have identified lower case ‘t’ and uppercase “T” as delineations of what an experience is or isn’t. I will not say it isn’t helpful. What I will say is that it isn’t full enough. Who is anyone to say what is a lowercase t versus an uppercase T level of trauma. Within the construct of any one individual, what most would deem a lowercase ‘t’ reality, could indeed be a uppercase “T” for the person whose encountering such a moment. If they were to ever read material, or come across such information, how would that person be left feeling?
Perhaps, in other industries such nuance doesn’t matter. BUT in the reality of working with and championing those who have known and experienced trauma, IT MOST CERTAINLY DOES!!!!
Every effort should be made to never re-traumatize a person within the constructs of the helping professions. The onus is upon the helping individual. NOT upon the client. Personal responsibility of course exists. BUT ALL EFFORTS, should be made as to watch over linguistics and practices.
What is trauma?
Trauma is ANYTHING that hinders, interrupts, disrupts, distorts, damages, or devastates the union of body, breath, and awareness.
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