Keeping family trauma free

Excerpted from Feel to Heal: Releasing Trauma Through Body Awareness and Breathwork Practice 
By Giten Tonkov 

Pretty much everyone pushes back anxieties, fears, and worries, trying to focus on work and dinner and getting kids off to school. And even when we’re not actively engaging in our trauma, we still inadvertently, unintentionally pass it on to our children. With trauma release, we can truly accomplish what we are consciously or unconsciously trying to accomplish through repression. When we “ignore,” push away, or numb our feelings, we almost will the feelings to disappear. Of course they don’t, but for a moment, we feel rid of them. On the other hand, when trauma is actually cleaned out of our bodies, it really does leave us. We really do feel different. In the process, we also lift the cloud from the shoulders of our children. And, miraculously, when we release our own tension, somehow the worries of our parents are reduced. Just try it and see. When a son or grandson, daughter or granddaughter, successfully shakes free of past agony, something shifts in the elders. Our positive efforts actually impact the past. This means that we are able to cease carrying anger, resentment, injury, illness, and fear for ourselves and our ancestors, and we remove from our children the burden of carrying our troubles into the future.

How do we do it? Aside from releasing our own trauma, and living with good intention and action in the present day, how do we keep our family free of trauma? The basic rule of thumb is to remember that love is the answer. Think about it: when our needs are not met, pain results. Pain has to be healed. However, if our needs are met — and we are supported during uncomfortable, scary, injurious moments — then trauma simply doesn’t have to result. If it doesn’t settle in, then it doesn’t require healing. Children in healthy families reach to their parents for support when difficulty presents itself. Adults in healthy relationships reach to their family and friends for support. Governments in need reach to one another for support. When the human impulse to reach out is responded to with love, then trauma is avoided. This is true for physical, psychological, social, and developmental trauma.

On a day-to-day basis, try these approaches:

  • Bring laughter into the family.
  • Recognize your children’s natural talents and support their development.
  • Educate yourself in sensing your own bodily responses and know what to do when stressful moments occur. Help your children to do the same. For example, if a child has been scared and expresses emotion, or begins to shake, let him. Don’t say, “Man up, don’t cry.” A situation remains traumatic only if a person’s responses are incomplete. Trauma doesn’t have to get stuck in the body.
  • Use exercise and playful movement meditation to support children to know themselves.
  • Talk to children, and touch them lovingly.
  • Share the power of community; children need to know other loving adults besides their parents.
  • Model social support by participating in your community. Take your children along to assist those in need. Serve soup at homeless shelters. Do something. Show your children that each gesture can change a life.

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