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“Trauma is not what happens to you, it's what happens inside you as a result of what happened to you. Trauma is that scarring that makes you less flexible, more rigid, less feeling and more defended.”

Gabor Mate

“Trauma can be defined as any unresolved autonomic nervous system response. It's about the nervous system's response to an event, not necessarily the event itself. Events can affect each of us very differently.”

Peter Levine



What is trauma? When our nervous system is overwhelmed and our coping strategies don’t work, we get traumatized. When our normal ways of coping—fight-flight-freeze—don’t work, we get traumatized. If the trauma is not processed, if we can’t fight it off, get away from it, or manage what is attacking us, then we freeze and the fear gets locked into our body—into our tissues. Brings up symptoms such as anxiety, depression, dissociation—because we are trying to get away from our body. This also includes intrusive thoughts that come in and really torment us. Includes sleeplessness, avoidant behaviors that turn into addictive behaviors. We disconnect and then we add on shame. We blame ourselves for the ways that we are not communicating well and for the ways that we are self-soothing and behaving in addictive, avoidant ways. We blame ourselves over and over again. This suffering, it rooted in false beliefs and emotional reactivity. A key tool in meditation is investigation – actively inquiring into what is happening inside us. When we investigate with care, the light of our attention untangles difficult emotional patterns. Greatest block to self discovery is believing something is wrong with you, that you are somehow deficient or flawed. We think of trauma as emotional, sexual abuse or physical abuse, or war, or major natural disasters, but there is a whole range of life-experiences that are traumatizing. Many people can feel the nervous system of society and sense that there is a lot of trauma there, and it’s from all sides of the political spectrum. Much of the trauma is generational. Generational Trauma Generational trauma is a term used to describe a “passing down” of traumatic impact and emotional fallout. Some people also refer to it as “intergenerational trauma”. This trauma can create ripples of behaviour and beliefs affecting generations of the same family for much longer than members realize. Moreover, generational trauma typically results from both a lack of awareness and/or the stigma of the trauma. In addition to families simply not recognizing how much they are shaped by horrific events in the past, they may be reluctant to call it out. Unfortunately, the stigma of seeking mental health treatment is enough to keep difficult and disturbing things undiscussed and unaddressed. What are examples of Intergenerational Trauma? Some common examples of intergenerational trauma amongst patients include:

  • Domestic violence

  • Sexual abuse or molestation

  • Suicide or tragic death

  • Alcohol and drug addiction

  • Child abuse and neglect

  • Refugees

  • Survivors war related trauma

  • Poverty or survival trauma

  • Political trauma

Generational Trauma Signs & Symptoms The aforementioned denial is just one of the red flags to look for. Here are other manifestations of generational trauma:

  • Emotional numbing and depersonalization

  • Unresolved and complicated grief

  • Isolation and withdrawal

  • Hyper-vigilance

  • Fearfulness

  • Memory loss

  • Anger and irritability

  • Nightmares

  • Inability to connect with others

  • Lack of trust of others

  • Substance abuse

  • Recurring thoughts of death, dying, and suicide

Trauma is a disconnection within our own body, it is a disconnection with others.


Recommended books on trauma healing:


When the Body Say No - Dr Gabor Mate

The Body Keeps Score - Bessel van der Kolk

Waking the Tiger, Healing Trauma - Peter A Levine

In an Unspoken Voice - Peter Levine




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