Is trauma the root of all suffering?

Photo by Thewonderalice on Unsplash

The following quote from a Heal Your Heart Through Meditation courageous community member is shared with permission.

HYHTM Community Needs Survey Question: Are you interested in trauma-informed meditation? If yes, please share more about your interest.

Yes. It [trauma] is at the root, perhaps the root of all suffering. It is what needs to be worked through, dug over I am thinking of earth metaphors springtime planting metaphors waking up the slumbering winter soil/soul metaphors. Yes trauma-informed meditation is what the world needs and you are moving in the right direction. The energies are aligning 100% for this kind of offering. I respect and support your work and wish you every ounce of energy you need to continue with it and to continue sharing your work with the world.

I’ve never heard anyone, either in the Western or the Eastern traditions, propose that trauma is the root of all suffering. I know in Buddhism, they propose ignorance is the root of all suffering. In my experience, Western Buddhist practitioners skip over their trauma, perhaps as a way of avoiding it. To use psycho-lingo, they “dissociate” – or disconnect from their lived experience, because it is too painful and/or overwhelming.

This courageous community member proposing trauma as the root of suffering is interesting to me. If we could develop the strength and ability to stay present with our experience of traumatic events – whether in the past or happening right now – then we would have developed a level of mind mastery. Mastery of the mind is the full purpose of meditation.

I have written before about my support for the view of psychiatrist Dr. Sandra L Bloom in her book, “Creating Sanctuary: Toward the Evolution of Sane Societies”. Dr. Bloom learned through her clinical work that all people are trauma survivors, either through trauma they experienced themselves or through someone close to them, as vicarious trauma. No one has escaped experiencing trauma.

Since trauma deeply impacts our perception of the world, and even our perception of our self, it seems foundational to address the effect of trauma when working with our mind. Our traumatic experiences must be addressed in any approach to meditation practice, because otherwise we are practicing dissociated meditation practices (see articles by Matthew Remski revealing how dissociation has been woven into Buddhist teachings by Judith Simmer-Brown and Pema Chödren).

I believe this proposal that trauma is the root of suffering merits consideration and personal reflection. I would love to hear your ideas about trauma and meditation Please share below, or respond further through my community needs survey.

If you are interested in checking out Heal Your Heart Through Meditation, you can try a free 2-week trial, PLUS it is on sale in the month of May – you can get it for 50%.

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