Resistance: Cycles Created from Trauma and Shock

Estimated read time... 5 minutes


Last week I mentioned that if we are unable to filter an experience in a way that is healthy for our individual needs and psyche, we get into a state of resistance and set forth a cycle of disruption that creates imbalances elsewhere in our bodies, minds and souls, thus preventing the potential for a state of quaternio, wholeness, totality, individuation, self-realization.  This cycle can repeat itself ad infinitum until something is able to intervene and break the pattern, allowing a new state of wholeness to come to fruition.

We resist and wall off because we don’t have the tools to address what we are given at the time, the support network has to be right, we have to feel safe. Thus, we get caught in a vicious cycle, unable to create a new scenario for ourselves from this material that is foreign to us yet now a part of us thanks to a lack of safety or temenos: that holy or sacred space that has a protected center, much like the Pericardium protects the Heart, serving as a spiritual-emotional sacred space within, we also need that in our outer lives in order to be freed of the resisted experience. Releasing the wall does not feel safe, yet remaining walled off in a state of resistance seems to be the only “safe” option until remaining in that state is no longer an option.

We resist, and continue to resist, not because we are weak or insufficient, but because we don’t know what else to do, there is no other option at the time, and we cannot reconcile or unite what has happened to us with who we were, who we now are.

Something strange happened to me after all these years, I finally found myself in a profound space of temenos. I felt the first chip in my hastily erected wall. At first, I blamed the cause of the wall’s chip for my problems, stating all the while that “no, this walled off part of me is not part of the problem, I am fine.” It started to feel like using my finger to block a hole in a dam, knowing full well that if I let that finger go I wouldn’t know what would emerge from the other side after so long and that there was no way I could keep my finger there forever. This had to be dealt with, yet, most likely, a flood that would wipe me out. I feared letting my finger go, letting the wall begin to crack and crumble around me. I swore that this wall was what held me up after so long.  Resistance was futile. I found myself forcibly, with no other option but to be, digging in to that which I had walled off many years ago.

Part of me knew that I had erected this wall because it was better to put this “thing”, my personal Jabberwocky, behind the wall than to have to deal with that which I had no ability at the time. I thought it was safely behind that wall, but now that it has been released from its confines, I see that it has been ravaging my existence, tearing me into pieces bit by bit.

I was bound to that wall, much like this thing was behind it, and bound to that thing, my Jabberwocky trying to take me on a journey I resisted with all my might. We were locked in a dance together: the Jabberwocky demanding a journey to the underworld of my being, a nekyia, and me fighting the flood that eventually brought me there. This is also what is known as the transcendent function wherein the conscious and unconscious are locked in a conflict, and the conflict is no longer tenable, thereby allowing the self to transcend its current state of stagnation and move into a new state of resolution and awareness.

I kept my finger there as long as I could, but as with all things big and small, holding onto something no matter the size gets exhausting given enough time. After I acknowledged that walling myself off was splitting me in two, I felt the first significant cracks giving way to the flood that enveloped me as I crossed the threshold.

As with any demolition project, it was messy, uncomfortable, painful at times, exhausting, and a relief to have some newfound space.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), this is not a generally discussed topic, and it is a subject that I am still learning about; nevertheless here is my understanding of it: the Kidneys, Heart and Pericardium are all impacted.

What is first impacted is the Kidneys, as they are the seat of the emotion of fear. As we know, when we are scared we enter into fight-flight-freeze mode, this is dictated by our adrenal glands which the Kidneys preside over. When we receive a shock of any kind, the Heart and Pericardium are impacted, after all the Shen is our spark for life, and the Heart is the seat of joy in our body. The Pericardium protects our Heart – just like in the physical body, this also occurs with the spiritual/emotional self as well.

When we sustain an emotional-physical-spiritual shock or trauma, our Kidneys are jolted into action, and our Pericardium works to protect our Heart. If our Heart is impacted because the shock is so severe and strong, we can enter into a cycle where the Heart’s energy is literally blocked by the Pericardium being blocked, stagnant, deficient – frozen.

The Pericardium can build a metaphorical wall around the Heart, in an effort to protect it. This wall can remain long after the protection is needed.

If the Pericardium succeeds in building this wall, the Heart is unable to circulate the energy out of the body, and the Kidneys are unable to send soothing Yin energy (ie cortisol) to the Heart to help ease the shock and movement of energy out of the body.

We essentially wind up locked in a fight-flight-freeze cycle, reliving the shock in our bodies long after the conscious mental energy is extinguished.

This means that our bodies and emotions are still cycling the shock and trauma, while our Mind, our consciousness, believes or has convinced itself it has “moved on”. The fact that this is all still cycling brings our mental energy back to the shock-point again and again, even though we may not realize it – we are “acting out” or “reliving” the body’s experience via our unconscious being, and now we are forming new experiences based on unresolved shock. This cycle state is exhausting on a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level. It drains our Jing (our Essence), and dampens our inner flame, preventing us from reaching our potential in life: within ourselves, as well as in relationship with others.

No doubt about it – I am between worlds, between hearts, and moving into the unknown. Anything can happen, and there is something alternately exciting and scary about it as my whole body-mind-soul reorganizes and morphs into the unknown. My heart is growing into this new space, beyond the confines of my prison, weaving new threads and bringing all the pieces together. I pray I’ll be as beautiful and cherished as kinstugi/ kintsukuroi, transformed after passing through the liminal space into a newly incorporated self and being, allowing all parts of myself to heal and grow: scars and all Transformed, from myself I emerge as myself.



Resources and References:

Click to access hammer-traumashock1.pdf

In An Unspoken Voice, Peter Levine

Waking the Tiger, Peter Levine




1 reply
  1. zabeen
    zabeen says:

    Hi Pam,
    I loved reading this. It made sense to me thought i dont jnow the TCM philosophy at all.
    Its good to be connected. We try and work things out in similar ways to help people through yoga therapy… we use the concepts in ayurveda to assess and understand.
    Thanks for sharing

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