Growing through Triggers with Reiki
Growing Through Triggers with Reiki
What is a trigger? An unhealed wound.
It starts with discomfort. A feeling of unease or upset that could be quite subtle.
Sometimes it’s not subtle at all, depending on the strength of the trigger and the rawness of the wound. It might make a person freeze up, or engage their fight or flight response. I find that the more severe reactions are almost always preceded by a much more subtle feeling of not-quite-rightness, something we can’t quite put our finger on.
That is the warning sign, the initial red flag that we have been triggered emotionally, and, if we so choose, we are being gifted an opportunity for transformation and personal growth.
After the initial wave of discomfort, we have a choice to make.
We can either run from the emotional experience – numb ourselves, put up our walls, or try to force a false state of being just fine – or we can make what seems to be the much more difficult choice: seeing things clearly.
It can be tricky because our mind and past experiences want to convince us that our old ways, the numbing and pretending, are the right choice. It’s what we’ve always done, it’s how we survived, and it’s the path of least resistance.
The problem is, if we never look at the wound then we have no opportunity to tend to it and heal it.
It remains covered up, just beneath the surface of our awareness, festering. As time goes by it only becomes more of a problem.
In our desperation to avoid looking at it, what was once a small wound can become a septic mass that poisons our life from the inside out, damaging our relationships, our sense of self, and our ability to function.
Looking at the parts that hurt takes courage.
There is often a fear associated with looking at our pain, especially if we have experienced being overwhelmed and unable to cope with what we have seen in the past.
That unwillingness to see can become a coping mechanism, but ultimately it is keeping us stuck.
This process can be very difficult. Reiki provides us with incredible tools to do this work, as the energy itself facilitates the healing process by bringing these stuck emotional energies to our awareness in a way that is gentle and supportive.
When we practice inquiry and allow ourselves to look at the wound being triggered, it is best to maintain a curious approach. Look gently, simply observe your reaction and ask yourself what this situation is teaching you about yourself and what you need. Don’t judge, don’t try to fix it, simply allow yourself to be where you are at without engaging the thoughts that may try to fill your mind.
The key is to remain curious and non-judgmental. To simply hold space for your self.
Reiki tip: If you struggle with maintaining a state of curiosity during this part of the process, you can ask Reiki to help you, or place your Reiki hands on your abdomen or thighs to help yourself ground. Students with Level II and beyond may choose to use the Mental/Emotional and/or the Distance symbols at this point to help them think clearly and to send healing to the situation.
Once you have observed what is happening in your mind and emotions, something incredible happens. Emotions that may have felt like an overwhelming wave just moments ago may begin to calm and settle.
When you allow yourself to be heard, the wounded parts of yourself no longer have to scream for your attention.
Accepting and honoring all the parts of yourself, all of your emotional needs and even the parts you wish were different is a powerful healing balm for your spirit.
By simply observing and listening to the parts of yourself that are wounded and giving them a voice, you will find that they are only pieces of your spirit that need love.
When I reach this part of my mental and emotional process, it is important for me to put it into words, even if I don’t speak them out loud.
Here is an example of what this process can look like up to this point. Let’s say I’ve had an interaction with a friend where I did something for them. I expected praise or gratitude, but maybe the experience wasn’t what they had expected, or not quite what they wanted in that moment.
That evening and the next day, I’m struck by a feeling of unease, of not quite rightness that I can’t put my finger on. I recognize that this is an opportunity for inquiry.
I settle in to myself, and ask Reiki to help me understand what this situation is showing me about my self and what I need to grow.
I observe my feelings: frustration, confusion, disappointment… Then, vulnerability. Comparison. Inadequacy. Hunger for validation and approval. Feeling not good enough.
Ah, there it is. The feelings have shown me the wound, a need for external validation and a fear that I need to be perfect in order to be worthy.
As I look upon this tender, vulnerable part of my being, I resist the urge to judge it or change my thinking immediately.
I allow it to be heard and to communicate what it needs, which is reassurance. A reminder that I am worthy, that I am enough.
But first, I accept it and I honor what it has to say.
Reiki tip: Verbalize or say mentally, “I hear you. I know you are feeling vulnerable and unworthy. It’s okay for you to feel this way.” How does it feel to honor and listen to the parts of yourself that are hurting or wounded? Do you notice any shifts taking place in your body, heart and mind?
When we can sit with the most tender parts of ourselves and look upon our pieces that are maybe not so shiny, perfect and presentable, we are showing ourselves an act of great compassion.
It takes compassion and courage to acknowledge that we are still growing, that we are not perfect and that it’s okay to have difficult emotions because this is how we learn and grow. It requires compassion to accept ourselves, and if we can accept ourselves, then we become more capable of accepting others, too.
Once we have gotten clarity on the nature of the wound, once we have held space for the part of our self that is hurting and honored and accepted it’s lesson, the next step is releasing the painful emotional energy and connection to the wound.
We must be willing to let go of the feeling.
If we cling to our hurt and our pain tightly, we rob ourselves of the opportunity for growth and remain locked in a cycle of repetition. Our energy will continuously attract similar situations to our experience, over and over again, as life tries to bring us to the point of growth.
Each painful experience contains the seed of transformation, if we will take the opportunity. If we do not, the cycle repeats, the imprint of the emotional trigger continues to manifest in different ways, and each time the pain becomes greater until we reach our threshold, the point where we decide to try a new way, to let go and allow ourselves to heal and grow.
Reiki tip: Mentally say, “Thank you for the lesson. I release you with love.” Place your reiki hands on your body, and breathe reiki into your hara to help yourself ground. Allow your hands to move to the positions that feel intuitive and natural. One hand on the chest between the throat and heart center and one hand on the belly is often very soothing. Observe the feelings in your body and continue to share healing with yourself until you feel a release of tension and your muscles relax. If an emotional clearing happens at this point, allow your feelings to flow. That might happen through crying or emoting, through creating, writing or journalling or through your mental thought processes. Trust the process.
This process requires trust. It takes faith to be willing to look at the areas that we would rather avoid. Faith that we are strong enough to look without breaking down entirely. Faith that we can handle the pain. Faith that we will be able to love and trust and grow through the experience. Perhaps that is why it can take so much pain before we become willing to even try.
The discomfort caused by continuing to avoid, by not looking, must become greater than the discomfort of being willing to peel back the bandage and finally tend to the wound.
Just how do we grow from these experiences? What makes it worth the discomfort, and how does this practice ultimately begin to set us free from our triggers?
It’s a gradual process that gains momentum with time.
The next time you experience a trigger that hearkens back to the same wound, you will be equipped with more knowledge. Instead of reacting in anger, freezing and locking up or slipping into avoidance mode, or even going into a state of fight or flight – you will have an opportunity. A small, still voice inside of you will remember that the last time this happened, it was because you really needed to feel loved, or worthy, or to be reassured of your value.
You might choose, at this point to repeat an affirmation mentally, something like “I am Enough.” on repeat, like a mantra, wearing a new groove in your subconscious mind. You might choose to ask yourself, “What do I need right now?” and then honor that knowing. You might choose to simply observe, with curiosity, what is happening in your mind.
As the wound heals, you will discover that you have choices where before you felt like you had none.
Every time you allow yourself to practice inquiry and use your triggers as a tool for personal growth, the healing goes deeper and your faith in your ability to process difficult emotions and challenging situations will become a little stronger.
Over time, you may even find yourself no longer fearing the sensation of being triggered because you recognize it as a seed, glowing with the potential for transformation.
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