Rick: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of interviews with spiritually awakening people. I’ve done over 520 or 30 of them by now. And if this is new to you and you’d like to check out previous ones, please go to batgap.com, B-A-T-G-A-P, and look under the past interviews menu. This program is made possible by the support of appreciative listeners and viewers. So if you appreciate it and would like to support it, there’s a PayPal button on every page of the site. Obviously today I’m not on Skype with somebody. I’m interviewing Julie Brown Yao in person. Welcome, Julie.
Julie: Thank you.
Rick: And we’re out here in California for the Science and Non-Duality Conference. And this is the first of a number of recordings that I’ll be doing out here and releasing over the next couple of months. Julie has a 30-year background in psychological, somatic, and spiritual traditions, providing her with a unique depth of knowledge and direct experience. Julie’s unified approach for addressing developmental and complex trauma includes the latest neuroscientific and psychosomatic findings, depth psychology, and Eastern wisdom. Julie is an author, speaker, and has a private practice in Laguna Beach, California. She works on Skype worldwide, as do I. Julie supports those on a spiritual path to embody realizations and assists those going through spiritual emergence.
Rick: Emergence and emergency, I would imagine. Sometimes those
Julie: Go together.
Rick: Words are interchangeable.
Rick: She is also the director of education and program development at Compassionate Care ALS, helping families and individuals through trauma and the dying process. Julie’s latest book, The Body Awareness Workbook for Trauma, release trauma from your body, find emotional balance, and connect your inner wisdom. And her website is juliebrownyao.com. So, welcome Julie.
Julie: Thank you. It’s good to be here, Rick.
Rick: Yeah, and it’s nice to be able to do this in person rather than over Skype. If I could, I’d do them all in person, but there’d be a lot of travel involved in that. But it’s fun coming to SAND once a year and interviewing a bunch of people in person and meeting people in person that I had interviewed over Skype. So, I really enjoy it. There’s some kind of an energy or chemistry or something that happens when you can do it in person as opposed to over Skype.
Julie: Yeah, it’s a little different.
Rick: Yeah. So, as I began thinking about this interview and looking through your book, the question occurred to me, I wonder if Julie is so interested in trauma because she herself experienced a lot of trauma at a younger age. And maybe that is true and you can talk about that, but I also overheard you in the car last night talking about how you seem to have the capacity to tune in to the collective consciousness when a major traumatic event happens in the world, like 9/11 or the tsunami in Indonesia or maybe some of these shootings, I don’t know. So, it really seems like this is your dharma. You’re wired to have an attunement to the collective consciousness that most people don’t consciously have. And probably that’s how you got into this whole field. What do you think?
Julie: I think you’re probably correct.
Julie: And it probably began from a meditation practice that began when I was about 15. So, I began an Aikido practice with my father. My father was an Aikido master. Fifth Dan, he lived and breathed and ate his practice. And I would go to the dojo with him. And before we would practice, we’d do a very short meditation. And in our tradition, we’d connect to the earth below, connect to the heavens above, and these energies would meet right in the physical body and then we would practice. And I just was able to feel these subtle energies that we were working with. And it was very natural because my father was teaching, so I never questioned it or thought it wasn’t a normal thing to be able to feel. So, very short meditation, but I really remembered that. When I was 18, I was in a difficult period in my life. I’d left England at 17 after high school. I’d come to California for a year. And I went back to England. My parents had left the country. My family home was gone. I really had no idea what I wanted to do with life, so it was a bit of a struggle. What got me through that struggle was remembering the meditation practice that my father had taught me. So I sat down and felt my body connected to the subtle energies. And then extraordinary phenomena began to occur from that. So first of all, this energy came up from my core and it seemed to open up the top of my head and that was the cosmos. And I had no context.
Rick: You said, “I was the cosmos”? Is that what you just said?
Julie: No, I wasn’t. It was a different–I could see the cosmos. So at that point, I didn’t know we were the cosmos. There was just this extraordinary expanse that seemed to be alive and vibrant. It looked like space and it was out of the crown of my head and I was fascinated. So every day I would sit down and I would explore by connecting with my body. I could feel these energies moving within me and all kinds of phenomena would unfold from that. So I feel, because I was meditating from a young age, maybe I was just wiring my system naturally for these phenomena to begin to occur.
Rick: Yeah. And it seemed like you had a proclivity for that kind of experience because not all people do.
Julie: Right. That’s right.
Rick: I mean, I know my sister started meditating when she was 13 or 14 and she still practices it 50-something years later. But she often laments that, “I don’t know, I have all these profound experiences like all these people you interviewed.”
Julie: Right. Yeah.
Rick: And I always sort of play that down with her. I say, “You know, flashy experiences are not necessarily the acid test of anything.”
Julie: No, that’s true.
Rick: We know people who’ve had all kinds of flashy experiences and then go off the deep end in some way or another.
Julie: Exactly, yeah.
Rick: And we’ll probably get into why that could be.
Rick: So one thing I often encourage her and others is not to belittle yourself or compare yourself with others
Julie: Absolutely, yeah.
Rick: who are having profound experiences.
Rick: Because ultimately they’re not a clear indicator of your level of consciousness or necessarily of anything else. I mean, maybe somebody sees auras, fine, but it doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily more evolved spiritually than somebody who doesn’t.
Julie: You’re absolutely right. And as I was going through all of these phenomena, I really wasn’t, I mean, they were fascinating. And it really built up an intense sense of curiosity about what was going on. But there was no grasping onto them. There was no, “Oh my gosh, this psychic phenomena.”
Julie: It was fascinating. What it gave to me, I believe, was the dismantling of belief systems, of fear and separation and unhealthy–or not unhealthy but maybe it allowed me to go into this field of trauma in a way that allowed me to hold a space in a different way. Because ultimately it opened me up to this profound sense of interconnectedness and compassion that we all are. And that that pointed the way, I believe, to trauma. I never thought I would be a trauma therapist or a psychologist.
Julie: It was by exploring the body that got me really interested in emotions and then got me really interested in the mind. And then this sense of suffering that we all carry in, in our beings, that led me into trauma.
Rick: So one thing led to the next.
Rick: And initially, as you just said, it wasn’t trauma. It was more like you’re having these profound experiences and this is interesting.
Rick: But it just sort of…
Julie: And I remember thinking, these aren’t the words that I was thinking, but I have the words now. I was more interested in the ground of which everything was happening in. So when I was seeing and experiencing all of this phenomena, what is this spaciousness? And maybe this came from this experience of the cosmos. What is this space that everything is experiencing?
Julie: So why I had that thought or that longing or that’s what I was interested in as opposed to all of the phenomena, I don’t know.
Rick: I think that’s a good orientation. Because one can get caught up in zingy experiences and get all enamored of them. And sort of lose the forest for the trees.
Julie: It can be fun. It can be exciting. There’s lots of paths you can follow. I wasn’t really that interested in doing that. Well, I wasn’t interested in doing that.
Rick: Yeah. Now, on the other hand, some people belittle experiences like that. They say, “Oh, it’s just illusion. It’s just maya. You shouldn’t pay it any attention. Just focus on the ground.” And I have more of a both/and kind of attitude. Not that you need to pursue those kinds of experiences, but if they occur, they’re natural. And they probably are occurring for a good reason. And all the saints and sages throughout history have reported having all kinds of interesting experiences, in addition to being well established in the ground.
Julie: Exactly, yeah. I think it gives us a lot of information and knowledge and allows us to hold the mystery of being and the mystery of the whole cosmos.
Rick: Yeah. And some sages have actually advocated culturing certain experiences, as long as the ground, as you put it, is your first priority or is the foundation of it. For instance, Patanjali devotes a whole chapter of the Yoga Sutras to developing certain siddhis, or certain so-called supernormal, unusual experiences or abilities.
Julie: I think it’s amazing the potential of the human mind.
Julie: When you go through something like a kundalini experience, I think that’s partly what was happening to my own body, which I didn’t know at the time because I knew nothing about that. Something would happen and I would go try and research what on earth is this.
Julie: So, in retrospect, I know I was going through a kundalini experience for about 15 years, and this very slow and very beautiful progression. So, it wasn’t like I hear a lot of people in a spiritual emergency, where these deep volatile energies are coming up and they feel it’s a kundalini and have traumatic experiences with it or it brings their trauma up. For me, it was this very gentle, these doors opening wider and wider and wider into the mystery and the potential of our human brain. So, that I thought was fascinating.
Rick: Yeah. Some people say, such as Joan Shivarapita Harrigan, who runs the Kundalini Care Institute in Tennessee, or used to, that, well, she says a lot of things, but one is that if kundalini experience is traumatic, it can very often be because there are blocks and obstructions and perhaps we could say buried traumas. And so, it’s sort of stirring things up in there. But if it’s smooth for a person, then very likely they don’t have too much residual trauma. And so, therefore, it can take an easier course and doesn’t have so many roadblocks to plow through. Do you agree with that?
Julie: It seems to be the way.
Julie: If I look back at my early life, I don’t think I had so much trauma. When I was 20 and I look back, I wouldn’t have said I had any trauma. But now, understanding what developmental trauma is, which we can talk about later, there was, of course, trauma. But when this energy moved, I believe it was moving in a very gentle way.
Julie: I mean, it was big energy, but it wasn’t traumatic. And for whatever reason, maybe I had that prolific-ty, as you said. I didn’t say that correctly.
Julie: Thank you very much. Trip over my own tongue.
Rick: Prolific-ty. That would be talking lot or something or being of a fecundity.
Julie: But anyway, so I just was able to hold that energy for whatever reason. And I would see flashes and images of all things, all kinds of things moving through me that seemed to be from my own life, other lives, who knows, a collective.
Julie: And I could just sit with this energy moving through me and all of these visions. And so this is fascinating.
Rick: Interesting. While that was happening, did you feel like you were serving as a kind of a filter or a washing machine to–you know, these things weren’t moving through you just sort of arbitrarily, but it was actually a process wherein you were neutralizing or resolving stuff?
Julie: Yeah, back then I didn’t think that at all. I had no idea why this was going on.
Julie: It wasn’t something I was seeking. It was all spontaneous, other than the fact that I was meditating, but I had no idea that meditation could possibly lead to these, phenomena
Julie: or these openings or this expansive awareness and consciousness. Later on it changed because I change and through many years of dedicated practice I think we can shift to where then I became aware of the energies that were and do move through me are somehow cleansing or transformative outside of my own individual being. And that becomes very clear sometimes. And again, it’s not something I’ve talked much about because I haven’t really found any value in talking about it. But as I’m talking more to an audience about my work and trauma and spirituality, people really want to know who’s talking to them and where sometimes I may get my information. Is this something you read in a book? No, this is something that I experienced directly and if I can experience it, we all can. And so it shows the potential of us all to be able to heal ourselves and heal part of the collective if that’s what we choose to do or choose to do us.
Rick: Yeah. One thing I hear a lot from people is that they feel that their process often involves initially a stage of self-healing. And when that has completed itself to a sufficient degree, then they naturally begin to serve as an instrument for more of the collective healing. It’s like they begin to sort of not take on but process or dissolve stress or trauma in the collective consciousness.
Julie: I hear that from people and I see that. But I think the opposite, another way it can happen is when we have a lot of trauma, when we’re younger, our boundaries are ruptured. And so we have more access maybe to the collective consciousness. So I work with a lot of people who are trying to work on their own trauma and they can’t separate it out from the collective. And they have a profound sense of pain because they feel as if they’re feeling everybody’s pain. And it’s just simply too much. And in some way that interferes with their own healing. So in that case, we try and work with boundaries and grounding and coming back to the body and being able to work with just what is mine as opposed to the too muchness of the collective trauma or pain that might be coming.
Rick: Yeah, that’s interesting. So obviously this is one more example there being no pat formula that applies to everybody.
Julie: Yeah, no, I don’t think so.
Rick: Because it’s true of everything.
Rick: But what you’re saying is that the boundaries do get ruptured through traumatic situations in many cases.
Rick: And so sometimes reinforcing or rebuilding those boundaries might be the first step. whereas for somebody else, they might have reached a stage at which dismantling the boundaries or allowing the boundaries to relax and dissolve might be appropriate.
Julie: I think it’s always important to have our own energetic boundaries.
Julie: So not wanting to dismantle or collapse that. I think that’s important. But yeah, very early trauma disrupts that, ruptures our boundaries. And I think that is really important to begin to heal and strengthen.
Julie: In the beginning of trauma, but I would say in the very beginning of healing trauma, what is most important is a sense of safety. So creating a sense of safety in our environment where we are working to heal, but also some kind of sense of safety in our body. Because trauma lives in our body. It doesn’t feel safe. It’s trauma. It’s frightening. So how can we begin to cultivate some kind of a sense of safety within that allows us not to go diving into the awful experiences when we’re healing, but to allow some more pleasant experiences, to feel that first. And that’s giving our body the environment of feeling safe, feeling okay, which allows our body to move on its natural path of its own wisdom and healing. And also gives us some ground in our own body to feel okay. And allows a sense of organization in our body systems to come about because trauma is so disorganizing. So rather than just diving into disorganization, we want to cultivate some kind of organization, some kind of ground or pleasantness in our body first.
Rick: So I want to get into talking a lot about things we’ve just been elaborating and embellishing the things we’ve just been saying. And I have a lot of questions about trauma. And later on, we have a small audience here and towards the end of this interview, we’ll see if anybody in the audience would like to ask some questions. But I want to, before we get into all that, I want to just pick up on what I alluded to in the introduction, which is you seem to, at some point along the line, have developed this capacity to quite spontaneously, not looking for it, tune into traumas in collective consciousness. It’s like, last night in the car, I was reminded of that line from Star Wars where the Death Star blew up the planet Alderaan, I think it was. And Obi-Wan Kenobi all of a sudden said, “I just felt a great shock in The Force as if a million voices were crying out in alarm.”
Rick: And you’ve had experiences when 9/11 and the tsunami and perhaps some other things you can tell us about where you just like, “Oh, what was that?”
Rick: So talk about that a little bit.
Julie: The first large collective experience that I went through, I was in Virginia on a meditation retreat. And in the middle of the night, I woke up because I was freezing cold. And it was in Virginia and there didn’t seem to be any reason to be so cold. And the room was very, very dark. And I just sat there, curious, what is this coldness? And then my vision opened up. First of all, I could hear voices and I could hear, “Help me, help me, help me,” which was quite alarming. And I could hear the depth of the alarm or the concern or the pain in the voices that I could hear. And then my vision opened up and I could see hundreds of men walking through the room in front of me. Very transparent, but I could see the clothes that they were wearing and their dark hair very clearly. And I really had no idea what was happening or what this was. And I remember just thinking, “What do I do here? What is this?” And kind of cliche, but I heard this voice say, “Tell them to go to the light.” And then here was on my right side this extraordinary bright light, this extraordinary. What was so extraordinary about it was I could feel it. This incredible sense of love, like beyond anything I’d ever known at that point in my life. And so I knew I could communicate with whoever these beings were who were moving in front of me. And I thought, “Go to the light,” because there’s some kind of telepathic information being passed between us. And I saw them move then towards the light. It was outside in our ordinary time space. And off they went, and then the room got warm again, and I sat. And it was a really, really profound experience. And I had this deep longing inside myself to also want to move towards that light. Just the feeling of it was so profound. So I sat for a little while in the darkness, and I went back to sleep. And I woke up in the morning. It was actually before I woke up, I had this dream of this beautiful being standing over me with these blue ocean eyes. And just looking at me as if he was stroking my forehead and just pouring compassion into me. As if knowing when I woke up, I’d be feeling something deep inside my heart from what I’d just witnessed. And sure enough, I woke up, and I was very teary. And I went for a walk outside just to contemplate what had happened. And a lady who was running a retreat was coming back from town. And she gave me a newspaper. And she said, “Oh, there was a huge earthquake in Turkey last night. Thousands of people died.” And I had no doubt that that’s what I was experiencing.
Julie: And again, it was fascinating, and it dissolved some belief systems. But I didn’t really tell many people. I told my partner and a couple of friends. It didn’t seem to be some spectacular thing. Somehow, it just seemed to be the ordinary for me, sort of the extraordinary and ordinary. And I thought, “Oh, that was fascinating, how beautiful to see and how beautiful to participate in some way.” And then I let it go.
Rick: Nice. Interesting.
Julie: But after that, that began to happen very, very often. And then after a few years–
Rick: Tell us one or two more, if you would.
Julie: Well, there was a couple of tsunamis where I could–then I would actually see what was happening. I could hear some really harrowing and upsetting sounds. And what happened in one of the tsunamis, then I’m surrounded by what I call a light being, who just feels like pure compassion. So I am her, and I’m me, and ordinary me is sort of out of the way a little bit. And these beings or the energy of these beings who just died seem to move through the heart center. Because, of course, when the heart center opens, it’s the vastness of space. There’s a cosmos. So there’s some kind of clearing or channel of moving of energy through the heart center that we all have the capacity to do that is in service in some way. Now, I don’t know exactly what happens, how to articulate it. I experience it. It’s beautiful. I don’t doubt it in any way.
Julie: And then it’s over, and I let it go.
Rick: Yeah, I was going to say something similar, which is I don’t know exactly what’s happening with this, but it’s fascinating to contemplate. And it sort of gives you, if you didn’t have it already, I’m sure you do, but it enhances your respect for the sort of divine orchestration of life. And how there are dimensions of things going on that we don’t ordinarily perceive or know about,
Julie: Right, yeah.
Rick: but that are very much involved in our lives and our welfare and so on. And that sometimes people can be used as instruments or aids in helping to affect a certain influence.
Julie: Yeah, possibly. One of the elements that I believe is that human emotion needs to be processed through the human body or through the human heart or heart-mind. So oftentimes emotion is too much for people to bear, and here’s the trauma side of it. And they’re unable to process that emotion. And so people may live their whole life and not have been able to process the traumatic energy or emotions from their lives. And here we can touch into intergenerational trauma. We know that trauma then can be passed on to the children and the children’s children and so forth. But it doesn’t necessarily have to go through a path of an actual family, right? We’re all a human family. So we can possibly or certainly be able to process a whole field of energy through our own heart-mind, because this isn’t an individual space, this is the cosmic space. So there’s a way in which we can then process a field of emotion and that gets healed and liberated. And so somebody else doesn’t then maybe have to do that.
Rick: Yeah. I was involved in the TM movement for many years. And one of the things that Maharishi emphasized was that trauma or stress, as he sometimes called it, collects in the collective consciousness much like static electricity collects in a cloud. And eventually when the static electricity gets strong enough or the polarity is strong enough between the cloud and the ground or two clouds, you have lightning because static electricity can only get so out of balance before it has to neutralize. And so his explanation of war, for instance, and perhaps some of these other kinds of cataclysms that take place in the world, was that it’s a sort of a release of an excess of trauma or stress in collective consciousness.
Rick: So at one point we had this project where we went in large groups to the most troubled areas of the world as close as we could get to them. I spent three months in Iran just before the Shah left. I remember vividly standing on the roof of my hotel watching all the banks and the movie theaters go up in flames as things were getting out of hand and they were trying to eliminate Western influences. But in any case, a lot of research was done as we were doing these projects and there did seem to be an indication that the larger the group in one of these areas, the more there was a correlated reduction in undesirable social and economic factors war deaths and crimes and stuff like that.
Rick: So I just say that to illustrate the point that you’re making, which is that either an individual or even better yet, larger groups of individuals can have a neutralizing effect on collective trauma if they’re doing something which can have that effect.
Julie: Did you feel in that experience that that emotion itself was being liberated or just dissolving in some way?
Rick: I’m not sure, but one thing I did notice is that when there was some kind of incoherence in our group, then incoherence would spring up more in society,
Julie: OK, yeah.
Rick: and in the society around us. For instance, at one point, there was a bunch of disagreement among some members of the group and we also had to split up and stay in separate hotels and it disrupted the groove that we had been in, the nice routine. And as soon as that happened things got wilder in the areas around us in Tehran.
Rick: And that’s a very unscientific observation, but it was my… It just seemed that it worked that way.
Rick: And it did also often feel like a battle, like we’re in the midst of this very chaotic place and we’re just doing deep meditation in the hopes of neutralizing a lot of that chaos, but it wasn’t like meditating in the Himalayas or something.
Julie: Right. A little different, yeah, up in the rarefied air.
Rick: Right. But anyway, it’s interesting. So, the point we’re, the reason I went into all that and the reason you just said, and we were discussing the idea that there is trauma not only in individual nervous systems or psyches, but in the collective nervous system or the collective psyche.
Julie: Yeah, absolutely.
Rick: Collective consciousness.
Julie: Yeah, and we can touch into our own and we can touch into the collective and heal both.
Rick: So, I would assume that, maybe we can get into defining trauma a little bit more precisely, but I would assume that however we define it, everybody, all 8 billion of us, are traumatized to some degree.
Rick: Sometimes just a little tiny bit, sometimes huge, and there’s a spectrum.
Rick: Is that correct?
Julie: Yeah, trauma is part of the human condition.
Rick: Yeah, I mean, getting born.
Julie: Yeah, it can be really traumatic.
Rick: It’s not a picnic.
Julie: And we are wired to be able to heal that trauma, but sometimes the events are just so much that we aren’t able to. So, just because something like a traumatic birth happens doesn’t mean we’re going to be traumatized. It depends on the environment that holds us through this. I was just talking to a lady this morning about my daughter’s birth. So, she almost died in childbirth. And fortunately, I had a beautiful, deep bond with her through pregnancy. So, on the evening before her birth, I knew she was going to be born the next day. I hadn’t had a contraction, and I was sitting meditating, and I heard her, and she said, “I’m dying.” And I was like, “Wow.” So, I didn’t doubt it for a moment. I got my family, and we rushed to the hospital. And I think the nurse thought crazy first-time mom and rolled her eyes. And I said, “No, no, you really… “How many contractions have you had?” None. And so, they put the heart monitor on me, and sure enough, her heartbeat wasn’t there, and then it hit a little bit.
Julie: So, straight away into the emergency room in an emergency C-section. And the whole time, I just stayed really connected with her and just calmed my own system because I knew. And I was so grateful that I knew about trauma in this instant, in so many incidences. So, I could stay as calm as I possibly could and let go of any idea of a natural, drug-free birth.
Julie: And as they were trying to pull her out, they were saying, “We can’t get her, and she’s dark blue.” And I just, just staying with her and just letting go.
Rick: You were conscious?
Julie: I was conscious, yeah. They gave me an epidural so you can’t feel below your waist. And then eventually, they pulled her out, and they suctioned her mouth, so she took a breath straight away, so she knew she was okay. And then I said in the deepest mother bear voice, which I couldn’t even say now, it has to be in that moment, I said, “Put my baby on me.” And they did. They put her right on me, and then she went to my breast. And I felt that was what really helped prevent that entanglement with death, as she came into life from her being traumatized. So, I was able to hold her and nurse her, and just, I held her in that hospital for three days. And the nurse would come in and say, “We’ll take her to the room now in the evening.” And I laughed.
Rick: No way.
Julie: No, you’re not taking her anyway. You don’t need to. So, she stayed with me, and I was very aware that her body could have been a very terrifying place to be in because she may have almost died in my womb. And so, I needed to nurture and hold and love and–
Rick: Compensate for what she just gone through.
Julie: Just to give that love and that safety and use my own nervous system as a place of safety and calmness. So, the first year postpartum–so, we’re getting into developmental trauma now– the first year postpartum of a baby’s life, they don’t have a capacity to self-soothe. So, when we’re born, we can’t calm ourselves. So, this is why if you put a screaming baby in a room of screaming babies, all the babies are screaming. Nobody can calm themselves. There’s nobody there to act as that system to teach the baby how to calm itself. So, I was that for my daughter, and we had a beautiful–I guess 13 years now. But those initial three or four years, I was very aware of just the presence and the calm states and the love that she would need to feel very safe in her body and very safe in the world.
Rick: That’s beautiful. That’s an amazing story. As you were telling it, I was reminded of some things I heard you say on some recordings I was listening to. About how in years past, decades past, there were certain psychologists that advocated letting babies cry, and you’re going to spoil their personalities if you coddle them when they’re upset.
Julie: Right, yeah. John Watson…
Rick: And so, parents would cower in the doorway while their baby screamed itself for hours,
Julie: Yeah. and afraid to touch the baby for fear they’d ruin its personality or something.
Rick: Completely the opposite of what they should be doing. I also heard you mention founding homes, because a lot of babies were abandoned, especially when there was such a stigma against unmarried pregnancies. And so, babies would get left someplace and be found and put in founding homes, and they were sort of like in isolation, each baby.
Julie: They put them in isolation because there was a lot of germs being passed back and forth. It was around the time of germ theory, and they thought, “Well, if we separate the babies from one another and other people, they won’t die, they won’t get germs.”
Julie: So, of course, they isolated the babies and the death rate went up higher, because of the isolation, the child didn’t survive. So, it wasn’t necessarily the germs that were killing them then, it was then isolation. We come into the world so dependent on other people. We need other beings to help us learn how to soothe ourself. So, if something horrible happens in the environment or in our own body, we learn that it’s okay, because love then comes back to us, and that’s how we build resilience. So, people will say, “Babies, children, they’re so resilient, they’ll be fine.” No, resilience is nurtured and cultivated and built within us by the love and the holding and the safety of the environment. So, when something awful happens, something nice happens, and we say, “Okay, I can get through this.” Just because something bad happens doesn’t mean I can’t stay connected to my body or the world. I can actually feel better. That builds resilience and allows us later on in life, maybe when more troubling events or challenges come, we can stay with them and are less likely to be traumatized by it, because we’ve built that resilience.
Julie: But if that doesn’t get built in childhood, we’re more likely to get traumatized in adulthood, in a frightening event.
Rick: That would make sense. So, obviously the baby has the proper kind of upbringing, with the proper kind of touch and closeness and affection and everything else. It builds a much more invincible personality.
Julie: Yeah, in a way, yeah. Whereas if you’re damaged from the outset, then you’re going to be susceptible to new damage later on.
Julie: Yeah, or more if we are disconnected from our body, because the body becomes a really frightening place to live.
Julie: If our body is traumatized, it doesn’t feel good, right? We contract in the face of trauma, so being really deeply in this contracted, restricted body doesn’t feel good. So we disconnect from the body or completely dissociate. So it’s not necessarily, I don’t like to use the word damaged, it’s more it just doesn’t feel good, it feels so painful. But when we begin to address that pain and that contraction and allow ourselves to open and soften, and there’s many ways to do that, then we naturally will reconnect to the body
Julie: and come home.
Rick: I’m reminded of indigenous cultures, Native Americans and so on, where the mother will basically wear the child.
Rick: And one of those, I forget what they called them.
Julie: I can’t remember either.
Rick: Either on the back or on the front, basically the kid is part of the mother’s body.
Julie: Yeah, I really believe we should wear our children.
Rick: They’re out in the fields or picking corn or whatever, baby’s right there.
Rick: It must have had one. I guess modern mothers are hip to that idea more and more. You see that thing.
Julie: We do see it, and I think that’s wonderful. What we also see, though, is a mother holding a baby, which is beautiful, but looking on the phone.
Julie: The experience of the infant in the mother’s arms is lovely. But if a mother isn’t looking, you look, you look away, you look, you look away. But if you’re just continually on your phone, the baby has this sense of being–
Rick: Might as well be holding a sack of potatoes.
Julie: Yeah! The baby knows that. It’s tuned to the mother. It knows it’s being ignored, and it doesn’t know why. And the experience of an infant of a child in the environment not being pleasant and helping them is it’s their fault.
Julie: So the baby isn’t thinking, “Oh, God, Mom’s on her phone again. For goodness sake, look at me.” No, the baby’s like, “There’s something wrong with me. This is really frightening.
Julie: I need to disconnect.” If it’s severe enough, I mean, just an occasional look at your phone for a few minutes is good. But that continual repetition of not really paying attention and attuning and having eye contact with that infant and then child is really detrimental to the well-being of the infant and child to know themselves as love.
Rick: Is it generally understood and accepted these days that babies are as conscious and as cognitive as you are saying they are? I mean, in our case, we don’t have kids. We have a couple of dogs. And we have to talk in code language about taking the dogs for a walk because — and actually not even put out any kind of a feeling or a vibe that we might be doing that because the dogs pick up on it right away.
Julie: That’s so intuitive.
Rick: Even like going out for a shopping trip or something and not wanting the dogs to come, we have to be so nonchalant because one dog in particular is like uncanny. He knows when we’re going shopping. He’ll go outside and stay in the garage and not come back in because he knows you’re going someplace. I know it. And I’m going to get in that car. So, I mean, if a dog can do that, it seems like babies must be…
Julie: Yeah, I mean, where this relationship is built, right, when a baby goes in distress, distress, you know, crying, there’s something in the mother, right, that feels distressed to bring the baby and child back together. And oftentimes that distress is ignored. And then the baby goes into a high state of arousal. If that keeps going, then they might.
Rick: It’s a vicious circle.
Julie: Yeah.. So, we’re designed to be with our children is just society and culture and so forth right now often doesn’t allow for that. So, it’s not that a mother or a father or parent doesn’t want to be with the child.
Rick: They have to work.
Julie: It’s they have to work or they’re really busy. And so, then that’s what we have these…
Rick: And daycare centers probably don’t provide the kind of one-on-one that a child needs.
Julie: They don’t. They don’t. And then depending what the birth was like, what the time in the utero was like is going to give something or not give something to the child who’s then in daycare and how safe that feels to be away from the parent. So, there’s so many considerations to look at, but there’s just not that much time for parents to be able to do that. So, I felt incredibly fortunate that I could do that with my daughter, that I could — you know, I didn’t have to work right away. And when I did work, I was doing some retreats and people would come and I’d say, “This is part of life. My daughter’s nursing. She’s going to be in a room with us. This is just the way that it is.”
Rick: That’s great. Some of the more, I would say, intelligent countries in the world actually have very good policies about people being able to spend time with their kids after they have a baby.
Julie: It’s important. That’s the ground, right, of the human being to be able to grow up in a way where they feel connected. So, we disconnect from ourself as a child, it’s going to be really hard to really connect with other people when we grow up.
Rick: I assume that trauma has both a sort of neurophysiological component and more of a subtle or you could even say astral or kind of something in the cloud kind of component. I mean, I bet you if it were thoroughly understood, and I’m sure it is understood to a certain extent, there could be identified various chemical or structural abnormalities. So, I assume that trauma has both a neurophysiological component and a subtler one, just as we have sort of a mind and then maybe a physical instrument which enables the mind to function. And so, theoretically, scientists could look into the biochemistry of trauma and how impressions are left in the nervous system. I think in Sanskrit they call them samskaras, these deep impressions. But I think even the Vedic tradition, which would use that word, understands that they’re not exclusively physical. There’s also samskaras that are somehow deeper in whatever the subtle body is. And we actually carry those from lifetime to lifetime, they say. So you can be born with a whole packet of traumas that you incurred in previous lives. In fact, there are contemporary stories of kids who wake up screaming because their jet fighter is going down in flames. So, what do you have to say about that?
Julie: It’s a great possibility. I know I read some of Ian Stevenson’s work
Rick: Yeah, University of Virginia.
Julie: yeah, who did a tremendous amount of research on that.
Julie: So, it’s a great possibility. The work that I do myself, people come in and often will share some information of what they feel is a past life. It’s not necessarily my job to believe that or not believe that. It’s really just to hold the space of what it is they want to explore. But certainly, we have imprints in our psyche that we could carry from lifetime to lifetime. And it seems that that’s what shows up sometimes. And maybe that’s why I had this, what’s that P word for meditation that I have? I’m more, I couldn’t say it earlier. A P word for meditation? No, when we were talking earlier. I’m going to mess it up if I say it because I can’t get the word.
Julie: Yeah, for meditation. Maybe that was an imprint that came in with me. So maybe that’s why some of us are more prone to be able to sit
Rick: Oh yeah.
Julie: and open up in that way.
Julie: Some people, mathematics,
Julie: some music, things like that.
Rick: I definitely get the sense with a lot of people that I interview and when I hear some of the experiences they had as children, that they did a lot of spiritual practice in past lives. I mean, I just, to me, that whole past lives thing is not a big mystery or a problem. It just seems kind of logical.
Rick: But, you know.
Julie: I don’t know if there’s so much wisdom in dwelling on it. We’re here now.
Julie: Let’s be in this life.
Julie: But if there’s imprints that come up in this life and here right now, then we work with them.
Rick: Yeah. But even the knowledge that our lifetime consists, our life consists of much more than the span of a single lifetime, can, I think, relieve great fear and trauma. Because if you think that this is all you are and when this body dies, that’s the end of you, then as that time approaches, I would think, unless you really want to check out and not exist in any way, shape or form anymore, in which case, I’m sorry you had such a rough life, I would think that you would take find comfort in the notion that there’s an ongoing process of evolution. And just like education, I’ve gone through fifth grade. Now I’ll get a chance to go through sixth grade.
Julie: Right. Yeah, for some people, it may bring comfort. For other people, it might evoke a little bit more fear. Where will I go next? A lot of people don’t like the unknown anyway, so an unknown another life.
Rick: Yeah. A friend of mine who’s sitting here was saying how he was raised in a Catholic family and his earliest trauma was being told that he was going to go to hell for all eternity if he thought a bad thought or did a wrong thing or something like that. Imagine drumming that into kids’ heads.
Julie: And then there’s another perspective, there’s an individual consciousness that goes from lifetime to lifetime. And then there’s a larger consciousness that is all of that.
Julie: So we could experience ourself in what seems like a past life, right, in this construct of time, as all of the beings that are experiencing that. And I say that, I was speaking at breakfast this morning with some of the people here about exploring my own intergenerational trauma. I was looking at the masculine side of my family and looking at my own life and how that shows up in the world around me. And I sat down just to contemplate that in a meditation. And what showed up, kind of a vision, it was more than a vision because it was as if I was in that vision, was World War I. And I was really taken aback in this huge scene that consciousness was in, but it wasn’t as if I was remembering a past life and I was one person. I was all of those beings in that scenario, which was absolutely horrifying to see these young men, And they– you know, tears and screaming of horror at what they were doing
Rick: Yeah. and checking out and then being in the trenches. And just what that possibly could have done to that masculine or male side of my lineages over the generations. So, you know, is it we have past lives, you know, future lives and so forth, or is it all one body experiencing all of it and we just tap into an individual consciousness? Again, it’s a mystery. Do we know for sure? These are amazing things sometimes to explore.
Rick: Yeah. Well, as many people say, it seems that the deeper you go, the more universal it gets.
Rick: And so the ocean analogy, we’re a bunch of waves here and yet deep down, we’re, it’s all
Julie: It’s all ocean.
Rick: unified ocean.
Rick: And whatsoever you do unto the least of these, you do unto me.
Julie: Yeah. One of the beautiful aspects of that experience that I had. Right, it’s just an experience, it came and it went. But I was feeling the pain of what I felt was I was feeling the pain of these young men. And I could feel it go through me. So my knowledge, some of that pain was being released from that intergenerational trauma, from the male lineage of both my maternal and paternal sides. And there was a subtle sense of then freedom with my own self as I’d acknowledged that pain, and felt that pain and seen that pain and maybe some dissolution of it.
Rick: One thing, remember earlier I was talking about the idea that perhaps stress accumulates or trauma accumulates in collective consciousness and when it reaches a breaking point, we have a war or something. One thing I never understood about that, and I think I asked Maharishi about this one time but I forget what he said, is that it seems like if the war is the expression of the release of the accumulated tension or stress, it seems like wars generally create more than they release.
Rick: I mean, they would exacerbate the stress in collective consciousness, it would seem. Maybe not. I don’t know. A lot of times there is a sort of a beautiful reconciliation after a war. I mean look at how Germany has evolved since World War II compared to what it was like beforehand. So perhaps despite all the trauma it incurred, the bombing of Dresden and everything else that happened, there was some purging of something in the collective consciousness of Germany and now it’s a much brighter place than it used to be.
Julie: Possibly, yeah. And then we see in the work of intergenerational trauma, individuals still processing some of their emotion from their ancestors as it travels down intergenerationally.
Julie: Maybe that’s part of that cleansing or part of that healing is that even after the war and the generations after, continue to do that healing.
Rick: Yeah, Thomas Hubl works on that a bit. You know Thomas, he speaks at the SAND Conference and he’s been on Batgap, but he specifically works on the collective trauma between Israel and Germany and does things to try to help reconcile it and neutralize it. I often, though, think about when I see the news and what’s happening in Syria, for instance, and the children being the victims of chemical warfare and bombings and everything else. I think, “Oh, what is happening to these kids?” Compared to any trauma I may have ever experienced, there’s a whole country full of children who are experiencing something so horrific and we’re kind of breeding a whole country, at least, of severely traumatized people. I’m not sure if there’s any conclusion to the thought I’m expressing here, but it’s just like I’m kind of, I lament what’s happening to those kids.
Julie: Yeah. The likelihood of them growing up as healthy, loving, connected beings isn’t very high.
Rick: Yeah, much in the amount of repair work that would have to take place.
Julie: Right, right, yeah.
Rick: Speaking of that, have you ever–you sometimes see stories of people who were severely traumatized. They were sold into sex trafficking or seriously abused by their parents or something. I mean, I’ve interviewed a woman, Shelley Ray, I believe her name was, who was sexually abused by her father at a young age. But then they somehow, despite the horrific nature of their experience, blossom into these amazing people who have–I don’t know if they would– in some cases, people even say things like, “I’m still ungrateful for everything that happened in my life, despite how bad it was, because look how I’ve kind of turned out.” It was actually conducive to the spiritual awakening that ended up resulting.
Julie: To maybe becoming who they are now, right? We could call that post-traumatic growth. You find yourself becoming more than who you were prior
Julie: to the trauma taking place in some ways. It builds resilience. It creates greater connection. And I think that feeling of that hidden gift in trauma comes later on once trauma is beginning to heal or heal. It’s very difficult to feel that or to know that in the midst of the pain of trauma. But I see that all the time. People who’ve gone through just such horrendous trauma as children, just horrendous, and yet there they are in my office or in a group, and they’re just these beautiful, loving beings who are doing this courageous work to heal. Typically what I find is there was someone, even for a moment, that looked at them with love, that resonated within them at some level, that they know who they were, right? They knew who they were. One of the things that I talk about is, as children, we really need to be seen, we really need to be heard, and we really need that beautiful eye gaze. Of course, there’s possibilities that somebody is blind, but there’s other senses, touch, sound, smell, but that gaze will pour love, right? The delight of the parent seeing the child or the caregiver seeing the child just pours that love into the child, and that resonates with who they are. “Yeah, this is who I am. I am love.” When we don’t get enough of that, then we forget we are love, and we separate from that or we block the heart from the pain of the loss of that. So these people, individuals and groups who’ve had just such horrible, horrible trauma somehow either have had that experience of somebody looking at them with love or caring about them or seeing them at a level that touched them, or there’s imprints that we were talking about earlier in our own psyche that allows them to grow up as what we would think of as good, loving human beings.
Rick: Yeah. One thing I, kind of one of my bedrock beliefs or assumptions or understandings or whatever it is, is that if you zoom out large enough or far, to the big enough picture, then the universe is a benign place. It’s a big evolution machine in which ultimately the welfare of all beings is the concern or is the agenda. And that if you don’t zoom up far enough, you have, it’s very hard to come to terms with things like Auschwitz and other things we’ve been talking about. But if you could zoom out far enough, take a God’s eye view, so to speak, then you would actually be able to see that everything that happens, however atrocious, is in the big picture, in the interest of the ultimate enlightenment of all beings concerned, all beings involved. Do you sometimes think of it that way? Or is that a little bit too philosophical for you?
Julie: No, I don’t think it’s philosophical. I’ll experience something similar where I can be sitting with an individual doing some trauma work and then all that is seen is that, I’ll use the word God right now. All I can see is that expression of that’s what that individual is. So is the air, so is the carpet, so is the walls, so is this. There’s an individual here looking, but there’s a recognition of everything as spirit itself. And then there’s no agenda to heal or to fix or anything for this individual. There’s just this pure expression of light and love, I would say, just expressing itself in this sort of luminous glow.
Rick: Nice. Have you, can you give us some case studies, so to speak, of different people you’ve interacted with or helped or dealt with and some of the things they’ve gone through, however you want to tell it, but some examples of the means through which trauma is discovered, healed, and the outcome of that healing.
Julie: Let me see what comes. I always want to honor the people that I speak about. You want to honor confidentiality, of course.
Julie: No, no, no, of course, but a number of people will say to me, “You can share my story,” because it gives meaning to them.
Rick: It gives hope to others.
Julie: That gives hope to others.
Rick: Right, which is why I ask.
Julie: Yeah, it also gives them something because their pain is being heard.
Julie: I’m actually showing a few pieces of art on Saturday at the SAND conference from a lady– she paints after our sessions. And I asked her, I said, “Would it be possible to show one of your pieces of art?” And she said, “Oh, absolutely.” And she said, “It’s really meaningful for me that people witness my pain.” So, and the same thing as sometimes people say it’s important that my pain has been witnessed, maybe even more than just by you, but by a larger audience. So I just–I wasn’t prepared who I’m going to talk about. I’m just going to see what comes up.
Julie: But I always like to say I’m just not going to talk about anybody’s story. It’s always one where I have that permission because it’s important. So I work with a number of people who are born in a war zone or a revolution or an uprising, and that seems to create a horrendous amount of trauma because, first of all, they’re born into a collective experience of fear, and of course their caregivers or parents are going to be in some kind of fear because there’s a war or a revolution or an uprising happening around them. And then the whole environment is disturbed. And so a number of people that I’ve worked on from that kind of background have disconnected from their bodies–I’m just going to sort of group it into a few people– disconnected from their bodies so severely because there was just nothing safe here. Their parents weren’t a safe container to help them self-soothe because their bodies were feeling disruption, you know, the fear itself. And so they’ve either gone into their mind and their intellect and become incredibly brilliant intellectual beings, and a number of them very highly successful in what they do because this has just become such a focus. Others have gone into deep spiritual practices. Okay, so now it’s coming to me, two people that I’ll speak to directly. So one individual who became very bright, incredibly successful man. Everybody would look at him and say, “What an amazing life.” All of the riches you could imagine and so forth. And everything that in some places in our society places success, so good looks and money and all of the bells and whistles. But inside is such profound suffering. Here’s an individual, again, who grew up in a revolution, and he said his teacher, one of his teachers, when he left his home country and came to America, would look at him with such love that he remembered that resonating within him. But it didn’t shift the trajectory of his life until later on. He decided he knew what he wanted to do, and he knew he was going to get there, which was meaning getting this huge corporate job and then owning a huge corporation. And he said, “It didn’t matter what I did or what I did to anybody to get there because I couldn’t feel it.” He said, “In retrospect,” he said, “I couldn’t feel it. So even though I had those thoughts and those drives, I didn’t have the empathy or compassion,” that he cultivated through healing his trauma, back then. So, of course, he thought that having that great success would bring him happiness. And, of course, it brought him moments of happiness and luxury and this and that. But inside, he said, “I’m just tortured, and nobody knows I’m tortured inside.” And so we begin this trauma work, and it’s really a courageous path to face the horrific things that happen inside ourselves because I think we spend a lifetime avoiding feeling that. So being so disconnected from the body is to avoid the pain that’s living there and the disconnected emotions that go with that trauma. And, of course, the fragmented or split off parts of our consciousness that are frozen in time or outside of time as we grow. So it’s like going back and touching into those places.
Rick: What kind of symptoms was he experiencing that motivated him to come in for therapy?
Rick: That clued him in – oh.
Julie: Misery. So he was fortunately physically that he didn’t have any physical symptoms, and he was only in his mid-40s. So he gained a tremendous amount of success relatively young. So when he’s in mid-40s, he just recognized, “I’m absolutely miserable. There’s nothing else that I could get externally that could make me happy because I have everything I could possibly want.”
Rick: Perhaps it wasn’t until he was where he had hoped to get that he realized that he was miserable because, “Okay, I’ve gotten all this, and I’m still not happy, so, ooh, there must be–”
Julie: So he wrote his life and became that success with a false sense of pride or traumatic pride. So he was better than everybody else. He looked down on everybody else. He deserved more than everybody else, and he said, “That was my drive, and I kind of believed it.”
Julie: Even though there was a tiny part of me that didn’t–
Rick: He was a stable genius.
Julie: Yeah. He got there. So through our work, then he had to face– Usually what’s under that type of pride is profound level of shame that a lot of people just won’t even go there. So I admire this person so much because he turned around, and he would experience that shame and the neglect that he went through and the horror that he went through of feeling so bad inside of himself
Julie: because he didn’t know it was his environment that was failing him. With the war and his parents and the neglect and the lack of love, he just thought there was something wrong with him. It’s like that gets embedded into our system. Another person I worked with–
Rick: Before you go on to somebody else, so how did you work with this guy? What kind of healing did he undergo, and how did his life change afterwards?
Julie: So his life is– I’ll sort of work backwards to that. His life is changing to where he was very isolated before. Now he’s very connected with other people. He feels a sense of joy inside. He’s enjoying the fruits of his hard work in a way that he never had before. And then he’s connecting with different types of people. He was very limited in who he wanted to associate with because it had to fit with this particular view of himself. And now he’s open to all kinds of people.
Rick: And did he undergo that shift in orientation just through talking to you, or did you have him do something, some kind of particular practice?
Julie: So it’s– The way that I work is always organic. So we see what shows up in the moment. So as he’s expanding his awareness by bringing awareness to what’s going on both to his body and what’s going on inside of him. At first he had no connection to his body, so his body wasn’t really in the picture other than, “I don’t feel anything.”
Julie: So the first thing was cultivating some kind of sense of feeling something. And you say, “What do you notice in your body?” It was a little bit disturbing because there was nothing there. So we learn, “What do you notice in your experience?” and it becomes less disturbing.
Rick: Every time you say that, I’m reminded of a line from “Good Morning, Vietnam” where Robin Williams is going to the radio station for the first time and he has to get up really early and he’s walking down the hallway and says, “I’m not even in my body.”
Julie: Yeah, well, who would be, right? I mean, it’s horrifying.
Julie: So it’s not– There’s not a one, two, three step that we could write down, do this, this, this. It’s all– I find it is like this weaving in and out from different places, touching on sadness, touching on grief, touching on longing, touching on rage, touching on annihilation, touching on all of these aspects of our being and gathering them and weaving them back into us until we begin to feel a greater sense of wholeness. So sometimes it’s as if I can do a deep dive with somebody into what feels like the underworld. One lady would talk about it as the underworld. It’s like you come down into the underworld with me, and she meets all of these dark forces within herself and then we come back up. Some people say, “I go down there on my own and you throw me the rope.” There’s different metaphors and analogies of how people experience the work.
Rick: There must be a good reason why a lot of stuff does stay hidden from us.
Rick: There must be either protective or just a– It seems to me nature’s way of how we’re wired that we’re not necessarily aware of all this buried drama. But obviously it’s kind of like– I don’t know what metaphor to use, but it’s sort of like we can never sort of rest easy as long as that stuff is down there. It’s kind of like trying to push a beach ball under the water and it’s always trying to pop up
Rick: and you have to keep pushing to keep it down there.
Rick: But obviously–I don’t want to mix my metaphors– but obviously at a certain point when you realize it’s there and you need to release it, there must be a way of artfully releasing it and there could perhaps be ways of releasing it too abruptly or prematurely or something.
Julie: Oh, absolutely.
Rick: And also what comes to mind is psychedelics and ayahuasca and all that. What if somebody has all kinds of buried trauma and they do that stuff and it’s too much too soon as a result?
Julie: Yeah. I’ve worked with people in that scenario who have done some deep profound breath work and things have come up
Julie: or gone to a meditation retreat for 10 days and as they gently soften and relax, it comes from beneath conscious awareness all of this traumatic memories or feelings or emotion. So there is, I believe, in working in a gentle way, creating safety, creating connection boundaries, and allowing–
Rick: Pacing it.
Julie: Pacing it. So every little piece of work that we do is done. It’s integrated. It’s finished. And we let that settle. And then the next piece–and I allow the wisdom of the individual and their psyche to show what comes next. But we have this mechanism within us that we can split off. So we don’t have to feel what’s too much to bear. It’s nature’s gift, if you will, that sometimes these horrifying experiences that we can have as a human being, to have to feel all of it–
Rick: Yeah, it’s better to check out.
Julie: Yeah. So we can disconnect from the body. We can disconnect from the emotions. The problem with that is the emotions don’t go away. They’re still affecting us. They’re below our conscious awareness.
Julie: But we’re still being deeply affected by them. So maybe we’re going to stay isolated because we’re too afraid to connect with other people. There’s all kinds of ways it can show up. And so we want to gently explore and hopefully explore before too many symptoms begin to come up. Because at some point, symptoms will show up. And it’s not always obvious that it’s trauma or developmental trauma because people don’t understand the subtleties or the nuances of early trauma. They think it’s just– there’s no just about it. They think physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, the death of a parent, a surgery, some big event that’s obviously traumatic. But oftentimes, it’s not enough nurturance, holding, love, comfort, connection.
Rick: Yeah, subtle stuff.
Julie: Subtle stuff that feels– that’s really essential as a human being to have. It feels too much for the infinite child in their body because it elicits a sense of threat. There’s a threat. And an infant child, we can only experience so much threat in our body. It almost feels like death is approaching. We’ve got no way to escape other than to leave our body. There was a Frank Putnam who was a psychiatrist said it, “The escape when there’s no other escape.” We disconnect from our body and we split off the emotions. So we really want to gently collect those and bring those back.
Rick: I’ve heard that people with multiple personality disorder are usually traumatized. It’s almost like it’s not even enough to have one personality disassociated from the body.
Rick: It’s like they’ve got
Julie: A number.
Rick: maybe half a dozen of them or something.
Julie: Yeah, it’s an extraordinary phenomenon to witness that.
Rick: With regard to spirituality, the main theme of this show is spirituality. Most of the people who are listening are interested in awakening and they read Ramana Maharshi. They’re on the kind of the seeker’s path. So let’s talk a while about how all this relates to spirituality and what its significance is for the spiritual aspirant.
Julie: I see healing trauma as a spiritual path. I don’t separate them. I just maybe don’t always speak that way because that’s not always the audience.
Rick: Or perhaps as an important or even essential component of a spiritual path that might have other components.
Julie: So we are connecting back to ourself. In trauma, often that self is hidden away and we are living from a sense of self that’s inauthentic because our expression as children– again, I think so much trauma goes back to our childhood. That’s why I really always lead my conversations back to developmental trauma. So our authentic expression of who we are gets squashed. Maybe our core or essential self gets hidden away somewhere. And so we have to develop strategies and patterns to live in a world that are really not really who we are. We’re attending to other people’s needs rather than our own. It’s a subtle and sometimes not so subtle way of suffering. Sometimes we go into a spiritual path of seeking to find something. We’re seeking something. We’re searching for something. But if we’re seeking without our core essential self, our nature, or being connected to that, and we’re not being authentic in our expression of connecting, then maybe there’s a little something missing. Or if not missing –let me see another way of putting it. I work with a tremendous amount of people who have profound realizations and spiritual openings. And then something comes up, some kind of pain or memory or emotion bursts through into their awareness, and it’s as if that realization becomes obscured. Maybe this faster awareness or expanse that they were living with all of a sudden is gone. And then shame comes up, and then depression, and I’m not good enough. And my teacher is going to shout at me. All of this. It’s awful, and it’s real. What I find that is, is the unresolved early trauma finding its way through.
Rick: Yeah. Perhaps as a result of the spiritual awakening that took place, that becomes sort of a solvent which enables the embedded trauma to loosen up.
Julie: Yeah. So it’s beautiful in one way. It’s very valid. Of course, the experiences are very valid. But when they seemingly go away, and of course nothing goes away, when it’s obscured, it’s giving rise or it gives rise, that expanse gives rise to the unresolved trauma. So up it comes, but because it’s in the body and maybe the person hasn’t been so connected to the body, it feels really frightening. And they get overwhelmed maybe by the shame or the disappointment or the sadness or the grief or the loss.
Julie: And so a lot of those individuals will come in to me and work with that, and so we’ll work with whatever’s present. And then, of course, awareness of the expanse opens up again. But there’s a different sense of it. The experience, if they’ve been disconnected in their body in this spiritual opening or realization, when it’s grounded in the body, the experience of it is different. And it tends to be less transient because it’s grounded in this vibrancy. The body becomes this vibrant expanse of feeling of being home.
Rick: Yeah. I think a lot of the — there’s a syndrome that a lot of people go through of, “I got it, I lost it. I got it, I lost it.”
Rick: And sometimes that can go on for years. But I think that there’s a kind of a development taking place sometimes with that cycle where when there’s some dawning of clarity and expansiveness, it enables another batch of embedded trauma to loosen up and be worked out.
Rick: And then when that one’s pretty much processed, boom, expansion again. And then that allows a deeper level. But eventually that cycle seems to play itself out, and people get into more of an abiding state, which doesn’t get disrupted.
Julie: Yeah, which is beautiful. It’s the recognition if something emerges that feels difficult, “Ah, let’s resolve this. Let’s see what this is,” as opposed to being overwhelmed by it and hiding away and feeling shame or pretending it’s not happening, which I see a little bit. Because then there’s some spiritual pride comes in, and we have to pretend and not be authentic. So it’s really finding that balance of being able to recognize and work with whatever comes up in our experience is here to be met with a certain amount of presence. Or because trauma is relational, it really helps to work with another person, whether it’s a therapist or a friend or somebody who can witness what’s happening for you to help it resolve itself or the fear dismantle, whatever it might be.
Rick: This afternoon, you and I and about 20 other people are going to be in a meeting that’s being hosted by the Association for Spiritual Integrity. It’s basically a discussion among a bunch of teachers about the spiritual community and how there have been so many examples of spiritual teachers behaving badly and causing all kinds of new trauma in their students and all sorts of disruption and so on. And yet many of these spiritual teachers have a reputation for being in some highly evolved state and apparently not in the “I got it, I lost it” phase, and yet still really off kilter in terms of their behavior. Maybe we’re defining–I don’t know how broadly we’re defining the word “trauma.” Can a person be relatively free of the residual effects of trauma and yet still be seriously undeveloped in some aspect of their personality? Or do you think that if one were trauma-free, then correspondingly, all facets of the personality would be nicely developed?
Julie: So is there an assumption then that a spiritual teacher is trauma-free?
Rick: Is there? Right.
Julie: Yeah, I don’t think so. None that I’ve witnessed.
Rick: And who would be trauma-free if anyone ever gets to that point?
Julie: Exactly. I think we’re all a work– like one of my teachers said, we’re all a work in progress.
Rick: Right, I always say that.
Julie: I see this in different ways with different people that I’ve witnessed a lot of teachers in the spiritual traditions, in the trauma and psychological traditions, as presenting a particular image of themselves. That becomes very destructive. And there’s so much projected onto a teacher. So much projected. And everybody’s human. And there’s this point where I see that certain teachers stop doing their own work. So they’re no longer a work in progress.
Rick: They begin to believe the vision that some of their more starry-eyed students have of them.
Julie: Exactly. And if that underlying trauma that they may not know is there begins to come out, if it’s there, this is the bursts of anger whipping out.
Julie: This is the condemnation that they do. This is the sexual behavior. Whatever it is that is really disturbing in breaking that trust and that confidentiality of the students. I mean, it’s heartbreaking.
Julie: The other story that I was going to tell you when you asked about–
Rick: Oh, right. Another person?
Julie: A person who went–she went to India to work in an ashram. So she went on a spiritual route to avoid the pain of her past. And fortunately, she didn’t get so involved in this ashram to where she gave everything up to the guru. And that guru right now in this last year or so, all kinds of horrific stories are coming out about him. What–he had all of these siddhis that you were talking about earlier. So these powers, he was exuding some energy that people would feel. And then they would feel that within themselves and have bliss. But he was clearly manipulating people’s minds to take their money, to take their possessions, to–
Rick: Take their bodies.
Julie: Take their bodies, to bow down to him. And in my discussion and work with a number of people who’ve had similar scenarios, it’s not always as big as an ashram and so forth, but gurus and teachers, is they have–some of them have an ability to attune cognitively or cognitive empaths to tune in to this underlying early trauma, again taking it back to trauma and spirituality. Maybe not on purpose, but maybe, or who knows. And becoming the parent, becoming the loving mother, becoming the loving father, becoming everything that that child didn’t have or couldn’t receive as a child. Now somehow this guru or this teacher is giving them that in a very clever, sometimes sublime way. And then becomes very painful because it’s not resolving something, it’s repeating. So I would say everybody in that scenario who I’ve worked with, who’s worked with a teacher who’s had some mishap in that relationship or the sangha or the community is working on resolving. It’s a repetition in some way of their early trauma. And the teacher, the guru, mentor becomes the person, becomes the parent, or becomes the person that’s going to help this person resolve if they’re able to see it that way. But there’s a problem out there, clearly.
Rick: Yeah, and it’s not limited to gurus.
Rick: I mean people can politicians
Julie: Of course.
Rick: can play those mind tricks.
Julie: Yeah, it happens everywhere, but trauma and spirituality is that conversation and I see that a lot.
Rick: Yeah, one thing that I think that will have to happen if this tendency for these guru-disciple, ashram-type train wrecks is going to end, is that it’s going to have to be a kind of a greater upsurge of self-confidence among the students and among the sort of greater collective mentality of spiritual aspirants and seekers. Because there’s this tendency for people to think, it’s kind of alluding to what you just said, to think, “Well, this guy seems so flashy and I am just a schmuck and he’s doing these weird things, but who am I to judge? I mean, he’s supposed to be enlightened, so maybe that is okay if you’re enlightened.”
Julie: But that’s, what’s it, projecting all of this stuff on them.
Rick: Yeah, you’re projecting and you’re doubting your own common sense.
Rick: So if people could just get a little bit more confident and if there could be a greater collective appreciation of what is and is not appropriate, such as has happened in the #MeToo movement people no longer putting up with this kind of crap, then I think that would go a great way to clean up the weekly scandal announcements.
Julie: I know. But if we look inside, what is it within us that thinks this person is so fantastic and why not? I mean, is that lack of self-worth or self-esteem, they can, I can’t, only this person can give it to me?
Julie: Like, my life, I would say, there’s certain teachings that I loved. I love the teachings, not the teacher, so to receive teachings, but see, look inside. What are you projecting onto that human being who’s a teacher even?
Julie: And, in looking, I really feel that within ourself we can find that. Of course, with the assistance and helps of others, teachers come and go, but to give everything and your whole being and your possessions to somebody, of course, that’s an extreme experience, but people do that.
Rick: Not very uncommon either.
Julie: But we have it inside, and I feel when we heal those traumas, right, those subtle nuances of trauma that actually don’t feel so subtle, where we have unresolved anger that can turn in against us, which gives us self-criticism, self-loathing, self-hatred, then we’re more likely to search out the goodness and the brilliance and the radiance that we have in ourself and another.
Rick: Yeah, but unfortunately it’s a bit of a Catch-22 because a lot of times people seek out a teacher because they have those traumas. It’s not like, “Okay, I’m going to fix my traumas, then I’ll be able to find a good teacher.” It’s like, “I’m broken. Save me.”
Julie: Yeah. Well, that’s why I don’t particularly love going out in public and talking and talking about my experiences and this and that. The reason I do it, I think it’s important for us to understand more about trauma and developmental trauma, how it distorts our sense of self and who we are and how we see the world and how we see others. So just this awareness of how trauma can affect us in any path in life and just being aware and taking a peek and let’s see, what is the dialogue that goes on in my mind about my own being? How am I with other people? Am I always trying to please everybody, or am I actually confident and upright and secure in my own being that I can receive a teaching without worrying that the teacher might not like me or I’m not doing it good enough or I’m not doing it well enough or I might get kicked out or he’s not going to like me. All of those are aspects of that lack of our own self-esteem and worth that can come from not having that nurtured in childhood, which is a form of earlier developmental trauma.
Julie: So rather than seeking out somebody to save us because we really don’t need saved, we can resolve the pain that’s within ourself and find our own way to our own way of confidence and uprightedness and this strong sense of agency and self. And I say self and love aren’t separate. So it’s not, “Now I have self-love rather than self-hatred.” It’s, “No, we are love.” There’s not this self-existing entity running around. We are love and when we know that as a direct experience, we’re much more likely to see that love in the world around us and to be less affected by those who may not experience that within themselves and are being mean or critical or awful. We don’t want to enable that, but we’re not going to buy into it so much.
Rick: All right. Any questions from the peanut gallery?
Julie: I think the questions might stimulate it.
Bonnie Collins: Okay. Hello. I’m Bonnie Collins from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and I’m really very privileged to be here today and to have met Rick Archer and Julie Brown and everyone else in the room. I feel very privileged, and I’m very heartened and touched by the story that Julie told of her daughter and how she pulled the daughter. She asked that the daughter be put on her chest when her daughter was born, and I’m just really so touched by that. And I feel and I actually know, I guess I should say, of someone who is caught in a paradigm of that, that the buried trauma, and who believes that we are born either blessed or cursed, as in Deuteronomy and the Bible, so it goes way back deep into that. And it’s almost to the point of it’s a cult, and they aren’t really open and willing to discuss it with a therapist right now.
Rick: They feel they’re cursed?
Bonnie Collins: They feel they were born into a cursed family.
Rick: I see.
Bonnie Collins: And so they’re not open to any of that change. But I, knowing them, feel I want to save them, although as you were discussing that, you can’t really save someone else. So do you need to let them fall on their own, or can you send them subtle energies, because you were talking about the subtle energy bodies? And I read somewhere that the past can be healed, but one must be willing to do it, do the work, in their own right, and I don’t know how that plays. I don’t know how that works. And I guess it brings back the spiritual, what you were talking about, both you and Rick were talking about, about the guru-disciple relationship, and that the teacher of, say, an occult can lead the “disciple.” And I think they’ve pulled this person downward and downward and downward.
Rick: So this person you were talking about was in an cult?
Bonnie Collins: Is probably now in a cult. Yeah. And communication is sort of limited, but it’s on and off, and I feel like I want to do something. But I’m wondering if you could speak to that a little bit.
Julie: I really don’t know the exact circumstances. It’s hard to speak directly to it, of course. We can always offer some thoughts or our feelings to individuals, as our thoughts and feelings. I don’t know if it’s our job to save people in that sense. Your question about subtle energies and on the traditions that I’ve worked in or studied in or practice in, work and talk about subtle energies and how that can help heal. But the piece about that is to always ask permission. So if we are in touch with those subtle energies and can use those for healing or feel they can be used for healing, like prayer and so forth, to maybe put with it if this is accepted, if this is okay at some level, some form of practice so we’re not putting our ideas and our beliefs and our life experience on somebody else. Because we really don’t know if somebody comes in and chooses something as an experience or if this is their karma or if this is what they need or don’t need. We really don’t know. So I always try and stay away from the saving somebody or having an agenda to do anything for somebody. I always, in my work, if somebody comes and asks and wants to explore something, we’ll do that. Does that answer that enough for you?
Bonnie Collins: Very much so. Thank you, Julie.
John Cowhig: Julie, thank you very much and your insights on all the different things that you’ve been talking about. My question is simple. I’ve always had a sort of default kind of contraction sort of in the back of the neck, say the brainstem area, a little bit in the front. And it’s almost like if I was going to define it, it would be like what you get if you have, say, stage fright or impotence or insomnia or golfer’s yips. It’s just this sort of little contraction, what if I hit it the wrong way and then I will hit it the wrong way. And so it’s sort of like a default kind of thing. There’s always maybe you could say a 2% to 5% flight or fight mechanism. And if I isolate it with body awareness, which I understand, I can feel it. It doesn’t overshadow me or anything, but it’s like a huge wasted energy because something is going on that–it’s like as though there’s a blind spot or something, just this one thing I’ve never been able to figure out. And sometimes I feel as though, like say I’m a balloon and I want to be free. I want to be free and then just float up into where I could be. And maybe there were 50 ropes holding me down, and it’s just this one rope left. I’ve done this, I’ve done that, but there’s this one thing, and whether it’s one rope or 50, you still can’t float in the sky. So what do you do with your understanding of trauma and body awareness if you had any comment or any insight or suggestion on that?
Julie: Well, if we were in session together, I’d be so excited to explore everything that you just said because it could go so many ways with your languaging. This floating up for freedom, is that leaving the body freedom? Or are you going up with your body into an expanse? I mean, we’re not our bodies, we’re more than our bodies, but we’re here to dwell in our bodies in this lifetime, I believe. And the contraction at the back of the neck and the brainstem area is really interesting. I find more often than not that may have to do–and again, I don’t know your story, I’m just speaking–could have to do with very early trauma. Often there’s a deep contraction at the diaphragm, at the back of the neck, or the diaphragm here too, with very early trauma. And because it’s so early, when it’s very early, it’s trickier to reach, if you will, because of the development of our brain and our awareness and consciousness and so forth at that time. But it can elicit some sense of fear and wanting to get away, but where do we go when we’re a baby because we can’t fight or flee because the motor apparatus isn’t on yet for us to be able to do that. So therefore, if there was some frightening experience as an infant– and I’m not saying there was, again, this is just bouncing–
John Cowhig: No, there was actually.
Julie: Okay, then it could be that you needed to disconnect. And this is often a place where I find people disconnect from. And so then that could possibly make the sense that this is what’s holding me back from freedom. There’s a sense of completely disconnecting from the body as a sense of freedom. It’s one way to ask, but it’s not. Let’s be in this body, in this life, to have this grounded, vibrant sense of aliveness and joy in this vehicle. So you could possibly explore whatever that trauma was. Sometimes I find with very early trauma, touch can be really helpful because, let’s say, the infant isn’t receiving the touch that he or she needs to feel safe in the body and connected. And so just a simple touch with no manipulation in any way, just a simple holding and presence can begin to help the nervous system relax and downshift from that little fight or flight that might be in there. And if there’s any disconnection or dissociation from the body, it then allows that beingness to gently, naturally come back in to the body because all of a sudden there’s a sense of safety in the recognition of how long this non-safety is being. Even though you might have very connected places in the rest of your life and a lot of safety other places, this one place, this very early consciousness, might not have integrated enough to know that it’s completely safe to be here, which could then possibly explain what you were talking about. Tell me the words you said again. It makes me feel as if we were afraid of something when this little contraction happens.
John Cowhig: It’s sort of like–how did I put it? One scientific way would be to say that the conscious mind is interfering with something that’s just automatic, that’s kind of done by the autonomic. That’s why I use those metaphors like insomnia or golfers’ yips or impotence or stage fright, where all you have to do is walk on the stage and say what you’re saying, but then there’s this noise going on in the background. And so it divides the energy, and then you become unnatural.
John Cowhig: But I understand it clearly. You know, I had a good childhood. I had a very loving mother, but I was born traumatized. I had some disorder, so I screamed for the first three months of my life. I couldn’t hold down her milk.
Julie: Wow, yeah.
John Cowhig: There was a little miracle, actually. She put a card that she had gotten from– it was blessed at Fatima, Our Lady of Fatima. She put this card on my tummy. I was lying on my back screaming. And then she said the prayer on the card, and I stopped crying. I never cried again until I was about one and a half and learned to walk and fell.
Julie: Oh, my goodness.
John Cowhig: But something was going on. Maybe I was killed in a knife fight or something in my last life.
Julie: Well, I think screaming for three months is enough. So even if your mom is holding you and loving you, the distress in your system that’s causing you to scream is enough to have to disconnect from the body, possibly in some way. And I hear a lot of people come to me– they’ve been referred to me for one reason or another, and they say, “Well, I’m not traumatized. I had no trauma when I was a kid. My parents were great.” But again, it’s those nuances of trauma that we don’t recognize, that maybe the mom was afraid or angry or depressed in some way, and that transmits in the baby through her eyes, not in any way that she meant it or understood, but that can happen. But just your experience of screaming for three months can leave an imprint that can embed in our system, that can create that division. So there’s not that complete sense of unity that creates that little bit of stage fright in life sometimes that doesn’t quite make sense because you’re confident, you know who you are, you’ve done so much practice. Why is this thing still happening where there’s a little bit of fear coming up? So that could possibly be something to explore from an early trauma perspective.
John Cowhig: Thank you.
Julie: Yeah, you’re welcome. Thanks for coming up.
Rick: This is my old friend, John. We met in Belgium in 1974.
John Cowhig: That is true.
Rick: I just remember when you first showed up, I was there.
John Cowhig: That’s right. Yeah.
Rick: Had some wonderful adventures together.
Angel Marcloid: So there are a lot of people, a lot of teachers, and a lot of therapists and stuff, mindfulness-based ones that say that if you can see your trauma, if you can face it, then it will dissolve. You just need to see it or feel it. And once you notice it, once you’re really noticing it, then it just kind of melts away. I feel like there’s a lot of people that sort of have that sentiment, and then there are other people whom I tend to agree with that sometimes that is just not enough, obviously.
Julie: Yeah. Yeah.
Angel Marcloid: So in my talking to–let’s see, the last professional I talked to– she’s kind of a non-dual therapist, but very grounded and embodied and great, nothing sketchy there. She was really helpful, and I would explain to her my experiences and how much of this trauma and this energy I feel in my body all the time, mostly right here. She was saying, “We need to get in there, uproot those core beliefs and everything.” And I’m like, “You know, you’re right, but I feel like– I don’t know if these are the right terms, but my heart, I think, doesn’t even believe the core beliefs that the trauma energy seems to have.” I hear what the trauma is saying. I hear those fearful statements. I hear the worries, but something just knows that they’re not real. And it’s almost like my higher self knows–my higher self is okay, is confident, is not so affected by that fear, but I’m still carrying around a sensation in my body, and it still has things that it says. It still makes statements, and I hear them, and I’m just like, “No, that’s not quite real. You’re fine. Things are going to be fine.” And I don’t mean to keep saying they’re going to be fine, because that assumes that we know the future, and we don’t, and we should be totally open to whatever comes up, but there seems to be just this weird–it’s almost like a different entity. And this teacher I was talking to, this therapist was telling me, you could think of it as your inner child. It’s like your adult portion of yourself is very sort of evolved and with it, but then there’s the child that is screaming and crying all the time and making these fearful statements, and I think I might be kind of trying to tell this child, “It’s fine. It’s fine. Just shhh. It’s going to be okay.” And I think that there needs to be maybe a more, I don’t know, motherly, nurturing approach. Maybe I need to listen to the child more.
Julie: Can I–
Angel Marcloid: Yes, please.
Julie: Is it okay if I put my hand up?
Angel Marcloid: Oh, yeah.
Julie: Okay, I love what you’re saying.
Angel Marcloid: Please, go ahead.
Julie: No, I wanted to hear, but a lot came up. So I don’t necessarily think of this sense of us having an inner child and that we run around with these inner children. My view is that when we’re growing up and there’s trauma, parts of our consciousness, it’s as if they split off and are encapsulated at that time, right, and then don’t reach the psychological maturity that we are today. So you know that you’re safe and you know that you’re okay and so forth, right? And there’s this higher self that really knows all of that. But let’s say parts of your consciousness are remaining at two and then three and a half and then five, and that consciousness doesn’t know you’re okay. And that’s also informing you, but it’s informing you in a way where sometimes it might get triggered, and then you view the world in that way, and then you feel more fear or more upset or act out in a little bit of a way.
Angel Marcloid: Yeah, that does happen.
Angel Marcloid: It really does.
Julie: So sometimes these split off parts of our consciousness, there’s different ways to access that, but not to think of it as a separate entity, or sometimes it does work and it is helpful to see it as a young part of ourself. And just like a mother would do to a child, if we’re in the middle of a horrific event, to say, “Oh, be quiet. Go to your room. You’re fine. Oh, stop crying. It’s going to be okay.” It’s like, “Hey, what’s going on? What’s happening? What are you feeling? What’s going on right now?” Inquiring and attuning to those parts of yourself, or parts of your consciousness, or parts of yourself that are trying to get your attention, that don’t know that the danger is past. I mean, it’s still the nervous speaking –nervous system, body speaking to you, parts don’t know, some of it doesn’t know that the danger is over. So we want to communicate, and there’s different ways to do that, to that consciousness, to see what’s needed. So for instance, at three and a half, what you may have needed more than anything was for someone to come over and put their hand on you and look at you and say, “It’s okay. I’m here.”
Angel Marcloid: And that feels really good, and when people do that, especially in vulnerable moments where they know I might be upset or something.
Angel Marcloid: It’s incredible how healing it is.
Angel Marcloid: For someone to respond to my upsetness with compassion, it’s like instant, like the shell just breaks. There might be a lot of crying or whatever, but it’s like the tension just disappears.
Julie: Yeah, yeah. So then the invitation would be to not just say, “Okay, this feels great,” and then move on, but, “Wow, how does that feel in my body to be without that tension?” And to really anchor that experience within you, so that becomes a more familiar experience than the tension and the pain and the upset that might be stored. So you’re giving yourself these very pleasant experiences that the body can then anchor and become more used to, which allows the body to become a safer place to be, which might allow the next layer, if there’s another layer of trauma, to come up, or maybe the emotion to be able to come in, so you can begin to liberate that emotion that got split off, because at the time of the traumatic event, it was too much to feel, so the emotion’s gone, parts of your consciousness are split off, and it’s exhausting holding that down. So very gently, we begin to bring it in piece by piece, not in one big cathartic scream, because that’s re-traumatizing,
Angel Marcloid: Yeah.
Julie: but in a gentle, compassionate, nurturing, sometimes feeling the shakiness. It’s like I say we have to work just beyond the edges of our boundaries of our capacity, right? So there’s this dance occurring where we’re taking risks to feel a little bit more.
Angel Marcloid: It’s like exercising, like lifting weights.
Julie: Exactly. So we can feel more and more and more. So let’s say anger or rage got split off. When you begin to feel those, if they come in, it’s not this terrifying experience where you have to whip it out at somebody or it whips back in against yourself, but you begin to transform that energy, that vital life force of anger and rage, back into your system, where you become more empowered, upright, and confident, which we were talking about earlier. [laughter]
Julie: There you go, in a nutshell. But yeah.
Angel Marcloid: Thank you. All right, well, just a really quick part too before we move on. Is there –I tend to get a little annoyed at questions like these almost, but I’m about to ask one. What is maybe one thing that I can just take with me back to my seat that I can do or keep in mind maybe when I’m having these feelings, like palms are sweaty, this feels really contracted, but I know everything is fine? Like in those moments, besides maybe just noticing it and being okay with it that it’s there, is there something? I mean, there’s probably a million things.
Julie: There’s a few things, so I’ll give you a couple. One would be to connect with somebody else. If you’re with somebody else and you trust them and they’re kind and you can make eye contact. So kind, loving eye contact is often what’s missing in trauma because that’s what would help soothe us and calm us and prevent that maybe trauma from embedding in our system. It stays out there in the event, not in us. So if you’re feeling uncomfortable, sweaty palms, if there’s somebody safe around, and you can look at them and have that nice experience and notice what happens in your body. If there’s nobody around, sometimes just looking around. Like do it right now. Just look around the room. Take in what’s around you. But move your head, neck, and eyes. You’re just moving your eyes.
Julie: And see if you notice–
Angel Marcloid: Yeah, it’s…
Julie: Your breath starts to move. You see? Sort of in this frozen, stuck place with your head, not wanting to look around. You’re like, “Okay.”
Angel Marcloid: Oh no –I go through my whole life like that, especially in public and around strangers. I love all of you and I’m comfortable with you, but simultaneously I’m absolutely terrified.
Julie: Yeah, so sometimes to tell that fear experience, a part of you or your nervous system, that there’s no danger, right? How do we know there’s no danger really to the nervous system? We look around.
Angel Marcloid: That’s beautiful. That’s really helpful. I’m going to do that.
Julie: Yeah, sending messages to your body, to your nervous system. Actually, we’re safe because I can look around and nobody’s coming. And then you can maybe put your hand on your heart. That releases a little oxytocin sometimes, which is a bonding.
Angel Marcloid: I found out that doing this to myself sometimes, probably making the mic– but I think my mom used to rub my tummy a lot when I was a kid,
Julie: Nice, yeah.
Angel Marcloid: And it kind of invokes that feeling, but it’s very soothing. But I can’t always just be walking around in public, like touching myself, especially because the warmth of my hand is helpful feeling it on my skin. So it’s like I can’t do that all the time, but that’s really beautiful and helpful, and I like that.
Julie: Yeah, and I know you–I’m going to promote my book I know you said you were going to buy, but there’s a lot of exercises in the book that help with just what you’re saying. So there’s five or six that in the right environment we can use one but not the other. And it talks about collecting resources, so when I’m in a place that feels uncomfortable, is there an image that I can bring to mind? Is there something with my breath I can do? Something with another person? So there’s all kinds of exercises that can help people who may not have the resources or the access or time to reach out to somebody to help them, but they can do it within themselves, which is really empowering.
Angel Marcloid: That’s great.
Rick: Here you go.
Julie: There you go.
Angel Marcloid: Oh, what was this, yours or something?
Rick: Well, she sent it to me, but now it’s yours.
Angel Marcloid: Oh, well, that’s great.
Angel Marcloid: Well, thank you. Yeah, a million more things I could say and ask everything, but I’ll leave it at that, and that’s great. I’m excited to walk away with that.
Julie: Thanks for coming up.
Angel Marcloid: Yeah.
Julie: Yay, so the book, the Body Awareness Workbook for Trauma, I wrote it because–
Rick: I’ll hold it up again.
Julie: I wrote it because I was asked to write a book. Actually, before I was asked to write this book, I was asked by a different publisher to write a book on trauma, and I was halfway through it, and a horrific traumatic event happened externally to me that shook me up. It was something so beyond the sphere of my own existence that happened that I don’t think there’s any way anybody couldn’t be traumatized by it. And because I had a 10-year-old at the time, I had to navigate what was occurring in the environment with my daughter, so I let go of writing the book. And through that six-month period of really… of making sure I didn’t become traumatized and my daughter didn’t because of these events, I was so grateful that I knew everything that I did about trauma so I could work with my own being, I could work with my daughter. And so on the other side of that, then New Harbinger came and asked if I would write a workbook. And first I thought, “Well, I don’t really want to write a workbook because it’s trauma and it’s relational.” And I said, “Well, I don’t want to miss this opportunity,” so I decided to write a workbook that would really work and that it would be relational in a sense that I would put myself in it as much as I could, that people might be able to feel that I know trauma, I’ve gone through trauma, I feel trauma, and so forth. And I put in what I feel are some of the really important parts of healing trauma, the initial steps, which is safety and connection and boundaries. So a lot of people that I work with, Rick, come in and they’ve done a tremendous amount of healing work, psychological or spiritual work, but they haven’t created these foundational structures of safety and connection within themselves. And so often these other pieces of work that they do don’t integrate enough for them to actually dismantle or dissolve. So I begin with a lot of exercises that set a great foundation and then go on to deeper exercises and deeper experiences and practices that we can do. And you can go through the book step by step, you can flip through it and just choose exercises that might feel good for you in the moment. You can keep coming back to it. As I say, we’re a work in progress, so we might do one exercise and come back a few months later and do it again and just go deeper and deeper and deeper into the core of the trauma, if you will, to resolve it.
Rick: Great. Thanks, Julie.
Julie: Yeah, thanks.
Rick: Yeah. So thank you for the whole thing.
Julie: Thanks for inviting me.
Rick: Yeah, I really enjoyed this and our little audience has enjoyed it and I think our bigger audience will enjoy it. So it’s really, I’m glad we got to do it in person.
Julie: Yeah, me too.
Rick: With a little audience.
Julie: Yeah, it was lovely.
Rick: Yeah, thanks.
Julie: Thank you.
Rick: To those who’ve been listening or watching, this is another episode of Buddha at the Gas Pump. And if you feel like it, click the little bell next to the subscribe button on YouTube and clicking the bell tells YouTube that you want to be notified every time I post a new video, which is about once a week. And if you’d like to be notified by email, there’s an opportunity for that on batgap.com. There’s also a place to sign up for the audio podcast if you’re the type of person who likes to listen to things while jogging or commuting or whatever. And a bunch of other things if you explore around the site. So, appreciate your time and we’ll see you for the next one. And thank you again so much, Julie.
Julie: Thanks, Rick. See you later.
Rick: Yeah, see you later.