I first came across the concept of Soul Wounds when I saw this conference posted on Facebook. I was at the beginning stages of my healing journey, triggered by all the happenings in my life, mostly difficult circumstances. I was teaching at a juvenile detention center, going to therapy and practicing personal spiritual healing, and unearthing my ancestral information awaiting my DNA results. Seeing the two words, 'soul' and 'wounds' created a deep visceral response in my mind. I identified with it.
The stories of struggle and pain I held throughout my life now had a name AND I was able to see that the stories of trauma experienced by my ancestors helped shape who I am today
The fascinating information I listened to on this website gave me insights to things such as
- Epigenetic research showing that the traumas my ancestors experienced are passed down as memories in our DNA molecules
- How collective trauma recovery can be done with community support
- And trauma, in essence, is when our sense of our identity is compromised by a tragic event,
- And so much more
What was missing for me in some of the research was the aspect of the healing I will always believe in, which is incorporating nature as a tool for healing trauma. I did, however come across this article highlighting the author and psychologist, Eduardo Duran as he wrote about soul wounds from a Native American perspective. This online article in Counseling Today, Trauma and the soul wound: a multicultural and social justice perspective reveals a non-traditional approach to understanding trauma. From the article,
"Duran encourages mental health practitioners to address three levels of interventions when working with people who are suffering from trauma:
- Working with individual clients who are experiencing problems due to trauma
- Providing outreach, advocacy and healing services to the larger community of which the client is a part
- Engaging in efforts that are aimed at what he calls “healing the land”
...Duran discusses the importance of counselors working to “heal the land.” He emphasizes the American Indian belief in the vital interconnections that exist among all animate beings and inanimate entities, as well as the spiritual energetic connections that exist between all people and Mother Earth. He further notes that the current trauma being inflicted on the Earth by our collective polluting and poisoning of the global environment has a significantly negative and traumatizing impact on our own mental health and sense of psychological well-being. "
Our steps towards healing trauma heal our soul wounds when we hike. You can also say we are healing the land by being there, drawing upon a heightened awareness of the surrounding environment, giving gratitude, and asking for permission are ways we are healing our relationship with the land. Walking in meditation reclaims the same ancestral practices of communicating with the elements and all the life around us. Sure, it may be more evident on our vicarious trauma healing hikes, but in every gathering, in every circle and dialog we are practicing the steps that allow us to heal as we endure our everyday suffering. The simple act of acknowledging the four directions is one initial step in our ceremony.
Finally, as we exist in a world in which traumatic news and events are now somewhat normalized, we must remember that our collective healing is an important part of our continued effort to keep fighting for justice through this transitioning time. As some researchers discussed in the conference, we must recognize the different types of dissonance that comes from our trauma and find ways to reintegrate into our societal structures stronger than before our trauma entered our lives. This is the goal; to be more equip in navigating our lives and live in our true and full identities as whole, complex, and beautiful beings.
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