Trauma and the creation of the false self

Trauma is an event (or series of events) which threatens life. Classic examples of trauma include physical and sexual abuse, incest, sudden lose of a loved one, an accident, fighting in war, being the victim of violent crime, and surgery – the body under anesthesia still knows on some level that it’s being cut open.

When trauma happens during childhood development it can have deleterious life-long effects. In addition to the previous examples, children can also be deeply traumatized by a host of seemingly ‘normal’ or ‘ordinary’ circumstances such as living in an unstable home, domestic fighting, alcoholism or drug use in the family, divorce of parents, bullying from peers, and confusion about sexual identity. Even being sent away to a boarding school, or being subjected to extreme temperatures can be traumatic for a child.

There are two responses that occur during trauma – ‘fight’ and ‘flight’. These reactions are ‘wired’ into our biology; adrenalin and cortisol levels rise, breathing accelerates, muscles engage and our bodies instantaneously engage in either aggression, or getting away as fast as possible. But Dr. Peter Levine, in his book HEALING TRAUMA, describes a third reaction that can also occur, and its this reaction that can be utterly devastating to the normal development of a child. Levine calls this the ‘immobilization response’ – it’s when the child does nothing. For a myriad of reasons, aggression or flight do not seem to be viable options for the child, or he intuits that either reaction could ultimately cause him more suffering. So the child does nothing. This immobilization is a defense mechanism that seems to happen automatically.

Levine saw this mirrored in nature. A Gazelle, when hunted and chased by a tiger, knowing that there was no escape would, before the tiger had actually gotten hold of him, simply lay down and give himself to the tiger. The Gazelle’s biology sends an instantaneous signal for it to stop fleeing in order to minimize the inevitable pain and terror of being ripped apart. Conversely, this immobilization can cause the tiger to be confused, to pause, and the gazelle is given an opportunity to possibly get away. It’s like a small ‘death’ before an actual death, and it is experienced in humans similarly.

During immobilization, conscious awareness leaves the body. Psychotherapy calls this ‘disassociation’ – a part of our consciousness, our ‘spirit’, separates from the body in order to endure the trauma. The last place you want to be during a car crash is in your body, and nature seems to help make this happen. From a shamanic perspective, this loss of consciousness is called ‘soul loss’; a piece of our vital essence splinters from us. But the trauma remains in the body. When clients come to me because they have ‘bad energy’ or think they are being ‘haunted’ by ‘evil spirits’, often my first instinct is that they have trauma trapped in their body. And from a Shamanic perspective, that is essentially what is happening.

This process of disassociation, of soul loss, wreaks havoc on the child’s development of self. It greatly compromises the natural and biological intuitive system that we all possess – the part of us that, when functioning normally, tells us that we are in danger, that someone or something is bad for us, that we are being violated, even that we are angry. Without a healthy and functioning intuitive system, we go through life defenseless, vulnerable and without clear direction.

This is why so many of my clients; intelligent, educated, often extremely gifted people, have no idea what they want to do with their lives. They have little sense of purpose, no clarity on what is good for them or what they truly want, they are in jobs they hate, in relationships that are damaging etc.

In addition to a dysfunction in the intuitive system, trauma causes another problem, and this is perhaps the most important factor in how trauma creates the false self. Children are incredibly adaptive, but they lack the intellectual capacity and autonomy to see the truth about their situation. In other words, they are unable to understand that it is the perpetrator that is at fault. And they begin to draw conclusions about what has happened to them, laying the blame entirely on themselves. After all, from a child’s perspective, a parent (or any adult) is a magical person who seems to know everything, who feeds and clothes them, has taught them language, potty training etc. The child simply can’t understand that he is not the one at fault.

Children therefore, have no other alternative but to begin to draw false conclusions and create misperceptions about themselves and the world. And because this process is happening during formative years (they are called formative for a reason), these become the foundation of the child’s core beliefs. These beliefs look like this: ‘there is something wrong with me’, ‘I deserve to be hit’, ‘I’m a bad girl’, ‘I’m unloveable’, ‘relationships are violent’, ‘I don’t deserve any better’, ‘the world is unsafe’, ‘the world is cruel’, ‘women don’t like me’, ‘men don’t like me’, ‘I’m dirty’, ‘the way to get through life is to be as quiet as possible’, ‘my only power is when I am sexual’, ‘I have to be perfect’, ‘I’m a failure at everything’, and on and on.

This mis-knowledge, this fundamental mis-take, becomes the basic groundwork for the development of the self. And, these beliefs become as ingrained and automatic as recognizing ‘that is a cat’, or ‘this color is red’. A persona, an entire sense of self, is created that has absolutely nothing to do with reality. And it becomes habituated and totally unconscious.

Negative beliefs and misperceptions, unexamined, will remain with us forever. This is why people, even with an ‘adult’ understanding of what happened to them, having even forgiven their perpetrators, will still attract (and unconsciously seek out) energy, relationships, situations, careers, addictions etc. that mirror and support the fundamental negativity that they acquired during trauma. This follows the Freudian model of seeking that which will help us ‘work through’ what was dysfunctional or incomplete in our early primary relationships.

But healing is about being in present time. This means knowing where your energy is going, having an intimate awareness of what thought forms you give clout to, and what perceptions and beliefs about yourself and the world that you are currently ‘financing’. It means facing squarely all the ways in which you compromise yourself, and calling your soul back to you with bravery and purpose. If ANYTHING in your energy, your psyche, and the world that you have created for yourself is not serving you, is antithetical to your true nature, and is not leading you to your heart’s content, it must be consciously released, and vigilantly guarded against returning. This takes time and it takes effort. But it’s way better than letting a terrified child run your show.

You CAN come back to yourself, your true self, after trauma. You can at anytime begin the process of finding out who you actually are. And when you take even one small step in this direction, you will find to your surprise, that the universe will help you in ways that you never imagined. And there just may come a time when you say ‘thank you’ for ALL OF IT (even the bad stuff), and go on your merry way.

Alice Miller, psychotherapist and author: 

The truth about our childhood is stored up in our body. And although we can repress it, we can never alter it. Our intellect can be deceived, our feeling manipulated, our conceptions confused and our body tricked with medication. But someday, our body will present it’s bill. For it is as incorruptible as a child. Who, still whole in spirit, will accept no compromises or excuses. And it will not stop tormenting us until we stop evading the truth.

Om Namah Shivaya

I’ve been wondering if I should edit myself or just honestly share an experience. I decided I would.  It may mean something to someone reading this; so here it is:

Babji’s presence became known, ok, appeared to me last night during work with the Santo Daime in New York. I only vaguely knew of him, in that I had heard his name. Truly. He kind of just appeared.

Babji was an Indian guru for many and died in 1984. His simple message of ‘Truth, Simplicity and Love’ touched innumerable lives. This morning, I looked him up and read about him. He’s pretty extraordinary. People who’ve met him described him as ‘the embodiment of love personified’.

OM NAMAH SHIVAYA is Babaji’s mantra. It is translated roughly as ‘Thy Will Be Done’ or ‘The Truth Sets You Free’. But I like to think of it as ‘a call to ask and then to LISTEN”.

Uttering this mantra puts you in harmony with the world during these troubled times. Traditionally, it is said 108 times using mala beads. But Babji said that is not necessary. OM NAMAH SHIVAYA invokes the creative principal of the universe. It is said to be the first words uttered by the Creative Source; the oldest mantra. It can be translated as I bow to/surrender to/take refuge in Shiva. Lord Shiva is known as the Doer of Good, and the mantra is also interpreted to mean: ‘I bow to whatever Good is happening and to Whomsoever is doing it’.

The following is an interview with Babji. It’s odd that although this is from over twenty years ago, it seems to speak to the dawning of the new age that seems to be imminently upon us:


And how do you use this mantra? 

Babaji: Repeat the mantra on a daily basis when at work or during meditation. Japa is repeating the mantra while passing a mala bead or what you call a rosary bead through your fingers each time you say the mantra. There are 108 beads in a mala. But you don’t have to do this.You can simply repeat it silently. 

For those reading the transcript how do you pronounce it? 

Babaji: It is pronounced like this” Ooommm Na-ma She-veye” 

What are these great changes you are speaking of? 

Babaji: The great changes or Great Revolution has started. It will be both wondrous and destructive. Most of mankind will be destroyed as Nature balances out the great injustices that mankind has caused against the environment and each other. There are a few out there who will be open to this message and will repeat the mantra, live in Truth, Simplicity and Love and serve others. They will live on the higher path, attach themselves to God. They will be brave and always walk on. There will be many mountains to cross,but they will not stop until the goal is reached. They will be strong, and will never feel disheartened. These will survive the Great Revolution. 

What does your message have to do with change? 

Babaji: Change is nothing new. It is a Law of nature. What is born must die and what dies must be born. The human being is enslaved to his lower path. The higher self must be developed, so that the lower self is destroyed and the heart is transformed. 


Babaji’s talk of ‘revoltion’ and ‘destruction’ can seem like some pretty ominous stuff. After reading this interview this morning, I heard shamanic teacher Sandra Ingerman talk about the ‘shift’ that is now upon us as a species and as a planet. She said that the current evolution of the global organism will be ‘one of love, not procreation. Not survival of the fittest, but cooperation of spirit’ – This is a profound change in the DNA of humanity. It begs for a different conciousness and intention for the entire human race; one that seems not only required, but inevitable as we move toward a higher plane of existence as a species. 

The answer seems to be love. I mean ‘love’ as a PRACTICE. The Course in Miracles speaks of only two choices at any given moment – Love or Fear. Doesn’t it seem better to open our hearts, embrace all, and find a way for all of us to have a place at the table? Isn’t this why the Earth isn’t well, and despite it’s incredible abundance there doesn’t seem to be enough to go around?

So, If it’s true that we are all Divine (which we are), let’s give in to our inherent goodness; the same goodness that we inherited from the creative conciousness of Shiva (or if you’re science-minded, the creative conciousness of hydrogen, nitrogen and sub-atomic partcles!). Take care of our Earth and each other, embody OM NAMAH SHIVAYA, and have a nice day! At least!

You’re more ‘cloud’ than you are ‘you’.

Taoism, in my opinion, is essentially the Chinese version of Shamanism. It’s a philosophy and way of being that has been referred to as ‘the wisdom of nature’.

There is a concept that underlies Taoist philosophy, and this idea is key to personal healing and transformation. In Chinese, it is called tzu-jan — that which is ‘of itself’, ‘by itself’, or ‘of itself so’. In other words, tzu-jan expresses that which is automatic, that which happens by itself, that which simply is with absolutely no effort.

Now this is actually a really easy thing to understand. We are, as alive human beings, brimming over with tzu-jan. Let me show you what I mean:

As you read this, take a moment to find your heart beat. Right now, as you are reading, slow yourself down enough to actually find it. Pause, and find it. It may be in your chest, your armpit, your groin. You may feel it, or you might just sense a movement or life-energy in your body; a feeling that your body is doing its thing. Now, in your mind’s eye, imagine all the functions of your body that are happening right now – You are breathing (you can take conscious control of your breath, but it’s always there even when you aren’t paying attention to it), your stomach is digesting food, your eyes are sending signals to your brain and your brain is interpreting these words on the screen, your glands are secreting chemicals that help maintain your immune system, your hair and nails are growing, even the neurons sending signals to move your finger on the ‘mousepad’ of your computer is so automatic that you arent even aware of it. All of these things happening with absolutely no conscious effort whatsoever from you.

In fact, that thing that you call ‘you’ (John Smith, dentist, 45 years old, father of three) has no control, and no part in just about anything that is happening inside you. It is ALL occurring by itself; effortlessly, and perfectly. It is ‘of itself so’. And you – your personality, your ego, that persona that you define as ‘me’, has nothing to do with any of it. You don’t ‘grow your bones’, they just grow.

Now for a moment, think about waves crashing on a beach, cloud formations on a sunny day, a tree in a forest that you once noticed, a school of fish shoaling in perfect formation. These things, just like the processes in your body are likewise, totally spontaneous. They just are. Yes, the cycles of the moon can effect the tides, gases and elements merge in just the right way to create a cloud, photosynthesis is responsible for the growth of the tree, fish respond instantaneously to tiny vibrations from the others in their school, but these are just explanations and conceptualizations of a bigger process; a Great Happening – Nature occurring all by itself. Can you now entertain the idea, that you actually have a tremendous amount in common with a cloud, a tree, a school of fish?

Even a hawk making a conscious decision to swoop down and eat a mouse is still a completely spontaneous event. Its the hawk’s nature to eat mice (they have the vision to see the tiniest movement thousands of feet away), and mice were meant to be eaten by hawks (they make up for this by being incredibly procreative as a species). You might think that the hawk/mouse example is a little more like us. We do, unlike a cloud or a tree, have a conscious mind.

But here’s the thing: until we learn to teach it not to, our conscious mind lies to us. It tells us who we should be, what rules we are supposed to follow, what we are actually allowed to have, even what we are supposed to look like. But no matter how hard you try, you can’t get out of nature; true authentic nature. You cant tell it what to do, boss it around, or beat it into submission. Nature will always win. And just as your heart beats ‘self-so’, if you give it a chance, your mind can function in the same way. We are just too afraid (confused, beaten down, socialized) to let it.

This is all that healing is: Aligning what is happening in our minds with our real nature. The same nature that beats our hearts and the same force that produces the clouds. And by opening our arms to the Great Happening (and its going to happen whether we embrace it or not) and saying ‘YES’, we stop fighting with nature, we make friends with ourselves, and we see our reflections in the trees.

THE CHAKRAS – what they do, and why you might need to know about them


The seven major chakras are energy centers that are located along the spine. While they are invisible, we know from Chinese acupuncture (and other eastern systems of healing) that there is a vast and complex system of meridians and nadis that are energetic pathways in the body (similar to veins and capillaries). And, the chakras can be likened to the major organs of the luminous energy field of the body.

The chakras store, assimilate and process information. Carolyn Myss (ANATOMY OF THE SPIRIT), describes them as being like ‘computers’. This analogy seems quite accurate. In the same way that computers store information and log memory, the chakras contain all of the emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual ‘data’ of the human energy system.

The chakras are also directly related to the biology of the body. Each one has a connection to (and are located near) the seven glands of the endocrine system. The endocrine system chemically regulates every single function of the body and brain. Processes like fighting illness, digesting food, and cognition, begin initially, and are overseen by, the glands of the endocrine system.

Further, each chakra is housed near vital organs and are connected to groups of nerve ganglia that transmit the information that the chakras absorb from the outside world into physiological response in the body. This is why we get a ‘tension headache,’ a ‘nervous stomach,’ or an overall increased physical vitality when we receive good news.

Any chronic physical or emotional condition, is the result of pre-existing imbalances in the human energy field. These imbalances can be caused by negative thinking and self-talk, anxiety, unresolved trauma, compromised self esteem, abusive relationships, poor work or home environment, fear, addiction , etc. Any of these types of problems can cause a chakra to close or function in an impaired way.

The chakras contain the energetic blue prints of every aspect of our being. Below is a an overview of where they are in the body and what they contain:


Location – base of spine at the perineum

Content – basic survival needs (food, clothing, shelter), connection to earth, family and tribal beliefs, continuation of the species

Organs – elimination system


Location – 2 inches below the navel

Content – sexuality, sexual identity, giving and receiving pleasure, money, emotion, sensuality, the fight or flight response, relationship, creativity

Organs – reproductive system


Location – solar plexus (the soft spot below where the ribs meet)

Content – sense of self, self-esteem, personal management of ones own health, who we are in the world, persona

Organs – digestive system


Location – Central Heart area

Content – our ability to love, self-love, compassion, higher quality of relationships

Organs – circulatory system


Location – throat

Content – self-expression, communication, the seat of will and will-power, addiction, professional/career will

Organs – thyroid gland and ears


Location – third eye (center of brow)

Content – thinking, cognitive center, processing and assimilation of ideas, intuition, physic sight, executive will (how we ‘run our show’)

Organs – pineal gland and brain function


Location – crown of head

Content – connection to Spirit, higher self, inspiration

Organs – pituitary gland and brain function


The information contained in the chakras is often detrimental, out-dated, and largely unconscious. We let negative beliefs, unhealthy perceptions and bad habits determine the quality of their content. This is often the result of mis-knowledge about ourselves and our identity that are the result of abuse, trauma or emotional neglect. Not to mention the host of societal norms and family customs of which we unconsciously subscribe that do not serve us.

A common idea of the new age is that we ‘create our own reality’. And in truth, we absolutely do. We can, at any time, begin to change the content of our chakras. We can reconfigure, restructure and resurrect our energy system into one that glows with health, vitality, and abundance. Like computers, the chakras will hold any information that we choose to ‘download’. They will open to any new energies and ideas that we decide we want to take in as part of us.

They function best when we are running energy through them that celebrates, encourages and supports our highest good. When we align with a vision of ourselves, and a view of the world that is expansive, inherently abundant, joyful, and filled with possibility, they function optimally.

In fact, even when we are unconscious of the severity of the problems in our lives – when we deny the existence of a negative situation, when we pretend that a relationship that is stifling us is ‘just fine’, when we accept a falsehood about ourselves that keeps us stuck, abused, or unable to move forward, the chakras will send a message (through a feeling, an intuition, an illness) that we are out of balance. In other words, the chakras help align us with Higher Intelligence, with our Higher Selves, and with Spirit.

They help to light our way.

So Glad I Waited…..

When I launched this new website a few months ago, I knew that I wanted to include a blog page. This ‘healing’ stuff, with it’s talk of energy bodies, chakras, and soul retrieval can seem a little ‘out there’, for sure. So the idea of including a blog I thought, would be a good way to write about the work that I do in ‘everyday’ terms; lessening possibly, a bit of the ‘otherworldly’ aspect of this work, and explaining it in more concrete terms.

And, although I have had the impulse to write something many times, nothing felt quite right, or ‘universal’ enough to become the dreaded ‘first blog’. So I have been waiting until the inspiration (or the material) presented itself as the perfect jumping off point.

Yesterday, I had a client who came for a SHAMANIC HEALING session. This morning he received (and he sent me) a poem that was written by his twelve year old neice. What she wrote is the essence of what it is I (and all of us, for that matter), are trying to do and be in this lifetime. And it is said with such profound simpleness, that I will let it speak for itself.

For those that know me, they know that I can TALK. 🙂 So it is with tremendous humbleness that I defer my ‘first blog’ not to my own voice, but to the wisdom of a twelve year old girl:



by Emily A. Aubin


As I blitz fast and free

I feel emotion over me,

and I am bound.

As if to the rythm of a beating drum,

laughter shatters sky,

formerly deep and glum, a sky of sorrow shatters.

Avoid no water,

shatter silver,

let joy overcome you through 

shattered silver.

Never lose hope to fierce wind,

Run forward and shatter air.

Fight the wind and

shatter air.

When darkness takes you prisioner,

blitz right on and

shatter darkness,

out-blitz dusk,

and shatter darkness.