The Rapture

We have another chance to choose

The experience of unresolved trauma can be a kind of personal hell, with all manner of seemingly endless suffering and torture.  In such cases, our minds are often not our best friends, haranging us day and night about the missed opportunities and poor choices we’ve supposedly made.

Everyone in pain wants a “quick fix” which will separate them from their suffering, preferably forever.  What a surprise it is to discover, then, that a big part of true relief lies in paying closer attention, both to the sensory experience in our bodies, and also to the beauty and aliveness everywhere around.  We have often completely neglected to notice these because our thoughts and our avoidance of the pain were grabbing all of our attention.

This paying attention is a process often called “mindfulness”.  It is an essential healing and life skill.  One can experience benefit in mere minutes of practice, though it can easily take a lifetime to attain mastery.

Why does mindfulness help us heal?  Because if you have been overwhelmed, traumatized, or abused in ways that left scars, your mind is probably often overactive with worries, hypervigilance, and self-criticism.  It goes with the territory.  These kind of thoughts trigger your nervous system just as if you yelled “fire” in a full theater.  Your nervous system, in turn, triggers various bodily reactions, called the “fight-flight” response, including accelerated heart rate, tight chest, etc.  Then your mind notices those and adds more worry, vigilance, and self-criticism.  That’s the vicious cycle and it’s not a pretty picture.

One of the most powerful tools to break this cycle is mindfulness practice…paying attention to some chosen experience, such as your breath, or to the flow of sensations in the body.  For more specifics, subscribe to my newsletter below and receive free tips on beginning a body-centered mindfulness practice.

There is a moment in the learning of mindfulness which I call “the choicepoint”.  It is when someone realizes that they can choose what they give their attention to and the thoughts around that.  That is a powerful moment and a turning point.  May you experience such a moment, and may this poem help you.

The Rapture

They say the Rapture came yesterday,
and went.
It seems I am still here.
along with all my friends.
Thus, to those who announced the party,
we are all surely damned.

But a different source of information,
Robin, gleefully announced,
“We are the blessed.”
Then a lavishly laden Lilac bush confirmed,
“This is heaven, we’ve arrived.

I looked about and saw it was true,
that the boundary between heaven and hell
had divided only my mind, and nowhere else.

I asked of Heaven,”How can I stay here with you, in beauty?”
It was clever Fox, prancing by, who answered,
“Open your eyes,
listen,
smell.
Heaven is not somewhere else.
Hell is also right here.
Which do you choose this moment?”

Do you have questions about the body-mind connection or about recovering from trauma, loss, or abuse? Click here to leave me a private message. I’ll either answer it in an upcoming blog or privately. Either way, it’s anonymous.

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Paul Chubbuck is a practicing psychotherapist in Fort Collins, CO, using Somatic Experiencing to help people release trauma, abuse, and loss. He may be reached at 970-493-2958 or through his website at www.releasingthepast.com.

Your comments, questions, and stories are welcome below. I will respond.

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