Self Work, Trauma and the Gift of Equanimity

“Our thoughts are mainly controlled by our subconscious, which is largely formed before the age of 6, and you cannot change the subconscious mind by just thinking about it” ~ Bruce Lipton

Most of human actions (some estimate about 95%) are driven by the subconscious, which is the recording of our first 7 years and an ongoing replay and reaction from other people’s beliefs, principles and words. Only few of us manage to live from their conscious mind as the majority is constantly hijacked by the thinking of the subconscious and its automated responses. 

Don’t get me wrong we need our subconscious, it is exceedingly helpful in its speed and ability to take care of things while freeing our conscious mind from having to deal with complexities like regulating our body. Problems arise wherever the subconscious lures the conscious mind into being busy with the flow of thoughts arising from the subconscious while the subconscious takes care of our every action and engagement with life, rendering us unconscious and disconnect from reality while steeping us in the past.

To be present and conscious therefore means to know the way the subconscious operates and takes over and to cultivate a practice of keeping our conscious mind trained on the moment, creating and engaging instead of being focused on the internal flow of thoughts. 

Meditation is a wonderful tool in developing the awareness and distinction between the conscious and the subconscious mind. But to gain true freedom we need to take it off the mat or our meditation time into everyday life and make it an ongoing practice of awareness or mindfulness otherwise our progress will be slow and the ego will have no problems playing us.

From my personal experience and observation consciousness remains lacking if people do not invest their time into learning about psychology and neuroscientific research on the mechanics, biology and dynamics of our body mind system. Equally knowledge of those without the knowing of the teachings on the nature of consciousness, energy and the dimensional realities we live in and are surrounded by will limit one’s progress and possibilities of expansion and transcendence.

“The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.” ~ C. JoyBell C.

My self work journey began with the first psychology book I bought when I was 13 years old. Ever since then I have been increasingly committed to knowing myself and transcending behavioral and thought patterns which limit or hurt my wellbeing or that of others.

The first part was defined by my explorations of psychology, neurobiology, communication and relationship sciences, a slow progression of changes along with therapies to help me grow past my blind spots. Years which informed my mind to understand behavioral patterns of the ego, dynamics in relationships, things that feed dysregulation and dysfunction and those that help us step into healthier, more peaceful and joyful experiences.

The most exciting part of the journey began with my exposure to eclectic spiritual teachings and technologies like yoga, meditation, mindfulness and the different consciousness models various schools work with. In the practice of meditation and yoga I managed to transcend more patterns and behaviors I had been aware of thanks to my forays into all about our psyche. 

The spiritual cosmologies and perceptions of life helped me to rebuild the foundations of my perceptions and beliefs to be better than the ones my childhood and cult upbringing had given me.

“Traumatized people chronically feel unsafe inside their bodies: The past is alive in the form of gnawing interior discomfort. Their bodies are constantly bombarded by visceral warning signs, and, in an attempt to control these processes, they often become expert at ignoring their gut feelings and in numbing awareness of what is played out inside. They learn to hide from their selves.”~ Bessel A. van der Kolk

In the past 2 years I have revisited the childhood trauma I experienced and focused on healing my nervous system. Reading on current research on the manifestation of trauma in the body mind system and understanding the negative effects of a nervous system constantly set to hyper-vigilance made me commit to use all available tools in calming and resetting my polyvagal system. And what is fascinating is that the work of these years has created more changes than anything I did in the decades before. But alas then knowledge of childhood trauma and its treatment wasn’t as evolved then as it is now.

Being close to one of my primary caretakers and confronted with our trauma colored relationship allows me to measure my progress and failures with accuracy.

Another way to look the past two years is to see them as a massive purge and cleansing of the emotional and physical body of the stuck energy and memories of trauma while concurrently strengthening and nourishing my whole being to expand in resilience. 

This healing process necessitated a hermit life, limiting and avoiding social interactions as much as possible. Being closer and feeling the core wounds and vulnerabilities, I had tried avoiding for too long, was exhausting. In the exhaustion I realized a heightened sensitivity to certain energies, energies that had a similar vibe as the predators of my early days — people who give off a manipulative, dishonest, domineering, codependent, victim mindset, fundamentalistic, ignorant but self-righteous, etc. vibe would set off my defensive reactivities and repelled me. Isn’t it amazing how energy works to support our healing?

While working on calming my nervous system I needed to keep my mind engaged and delved deeper into mystery studies and happened on the 7 hermetic principles.

And the principle of polarity helped me get equanimity viscerally.

Principle of Polarity:  Everything is dual; everything has poles; like & unlike are the same; opposites are identical in nature, but different in degree, extremes meet, all truths are but half-truths; all paradoxes may be reconciled.

In reflecting on the sameness of all dualities — identical in nature — and understanding they are different states of the same — just like water, ice and gas are the same just different in degrees – I realized the absurdity of attachments, preferences or opinions on any subject from a higher vantage point.

In my trauma research I understood that the true issue was the stuck emotional charge not the experience itself and in my self work I experienced the peace and power surge whenever I released the emotional charge. And so I chose to let go of the belief that I had to have a preference, opinion or attachment to one aspect of the duality and to be in the zero point instead. This sounds like a little thing but it proved to be a fundamental shift for my internal experience of life.

Living in equanimity without lasting emotional charge on any subject is still an ongoing practice but even the few areas that I have been able to clear from the burden of the charged responses have created an inner peace and wellbeing that my body had to live without for many decades. Choice is a powerful aspect of freedom, to have the choice if and how we want to engage with life in a way that serves our wellbeing and growth is a precious gift and achievement.

I do not allow myself to be baited into heated, emotionally triggering debates, and should I have slipped and find myself in one I thank the other and the experience for alerting me to a subject I need to disarm to expand my freedom. 

I had grown up feeling that being emotionally engaged equals being passionate and caring about something and that people who responded from cold detached logic were heartless, now I see that both approaches are lacking and not serving life and our personal growth. 

Equanimity (Latin: æquanimitas, having an even mind; aequus even; animus mind/soul) is a state of psychological stability and composure which is undisturbed by experience of or exposure to emotions, pain, or other phenomena that may cause others to lose the balance of their mind. The virtue and value of equanimity is extolled and advocated by a number of major religions and ancient philosophies. ~ Wikipedia

There is another way of being in the world. 

Observing and experiencing things from equanimity as your default allows you to preserve more of your life energy, which now can be fully invested in the service of your dreams, life and loved ones instead of being wasted on useless repetitions of old dramas. Equanimity doesn’t mean a negation of joy, pleasure, sadness, anger or any other emotions but it creates a calm set point where these can be welcomed as passing visitors without creating unhelpful intensity or stickiness which holds the visitors until they become burdensome and potentially toxic.

Equanimity is a gift I give to my body in the knowing how much it is taxed by hyper-vigilance, reactivity and the scripts of old narratives and their emotional charge. 

For now it works like this: feeling the emotional charge, acknowledging it ideally without acting on it, reflecting on the situation and responding from my values and visions instead of the pain of the past and creating inner harmony as the emotion is gently released from my body mind system. Eventually it turns into: the acknowledgement of an old story without any emotional charge and being free to respond adequately to the experience from knowing and wisdom.

All of my self work serves the goal of freedom, the freedom to think, be, act and create from my ideals and visions without the impediments of the past and the distortions conditioned into my sub-conscious.

And the more I delve into esoteric and occult teachings — now that I have finally shaken off prejudices and vague fears — the veils of programming are falling and I remember and know with an unprecedented clarity how to be and what to do in the moment. 

I can live life from a conscious trust and knowing that I am in benevolent Universe, loved and supported immensely with nothing to fear.

Art: Equanimity by Jalai Lama

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