Transforming Trauma

By Olivia Peters-Lazaro, L.Ac.

People have many different responses to trauma. Briefly, Laura van Dernoot Lipsky, Founder and Director of The Trauma Stewardship Institute mentions: a sense that one can never do enough, helplessness, hyper-vigilance, diminished creativity, chronic exhaustion, avoidance, guilt, fear, anger, and addictions. “A Trauma Exposure Response may be defined as the transformation that takes place within us as a result of exposure to the suffering of other living beings or the planet” (2017, van Dernoon Lipsky).

It is each of ours individual responsibility to start with transforming our own trauma, so that we can be able to “do no harm” as we navigate our lives (personal relationships, community connections, working environments, day to day activities). Many of us are actively involved in the process of our community overcoming the disaster of the Camp Fire. Even if you are not cleaning up a burnt down property, working in some kind of direct support service…. you are still aware of the “pulse” of the community, and that there has been depression, overwhelm, grief, sadness, hope, hopelessness, great changes, and that we are all affected.

How do we transform our trauma? By practicing Trauma Stewardship:

Trauma Stewardship: A daily practice through which individuals, organizations, and societies tend to the hardship, pain, or trauma experienced by humans, other living beings, or our planet itself. By developing the deep sense of awareness needed to care for ourselves while caring for others and the world around us, we can greatly enhance our potential to work for change, ethically and with integrity, for generations to come

—-2017, van Dernoot Lipsky

My top four favorite of the Laura’s suggestions:

  1. Protect your morning: let your first wakeful breaths be peacful. Don’t turn to your phone, to media, to facebook, don’t start your day with a flood of adrenaline.

  2. Nurture Gratitude: get creative, maybe everything’s not great, but is there ANYTHING you could be grateful for? I have a gratitude practice when I fall asleep and when I wake up, and both of those usually start with being grateful for my pillow. I know so many of you who were displaced by the fire….may have gone many nights not in a bed, not in your own bed…..I don’t take it for granted that I am in a bed with a pillow. I’m grateful for my pillow and my bed every night.

  3. Get your heart rate up and break a sweat 6 days a week. This helps our bodies to reduce the circulating stress hormones that trauma, and the continued exposure to triggers, and stressful events causes. I sat in the audiance on Saturday and thought…ya know…I can probably get my heart rate up and break a sweat with just ten minutes of something. I’m pretty good at exercising regularly….but I really liked reframing it as breaking a sweat….I can do that 6 days a week!

  4. Acupuncture. To paraphrase Laura van Dernoot Lipsky “Find an acupuncturist, tell them what you are currently dealing with, no need to tell all the history, they’ll know where to put the needles.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. She is spot on. We don’t need the whole history (necessarily), we want to know how you are right now. You’re stressed out? We have a point for that. You lost your home? We have a point for that. In many ways, every time we “rehearse” the trauma, it drills that neuro pathway into our brain a little more. One of the powerful things about acupuncture is that you don’t necessarily have to go into all the details. Telling us you are anxious and depressed is enough for us to help you big time.

We are spreading the word, and I hope you’ll help us:

North Valley Community Foundation has given us a grant to give free acupuncture treatments to people impacted by the Camp Fire. We have funding to give 1250 treatments, and we anticipate that this will last through the fall. So please, connect people to the clinic who could use this program. Alls they have to do is make an appointment (well, and show up).

We are excited about what we can do to help our community transform trauma. We are committed, each of us individually here at the clinic, to being mindful of how we have been impacted, and to do our best to steward our own trauma response so that we can be of best service to our community.

We look forward to seeing you resting in a recliner soon! If you have any questions or want to book a treatment, call us at (530) 345-5300 or book online.