The Turbulence of Healing

Healing from trauma - which I am defining here as chronically suppressed emotion - can sometimes feel like going through severe turbulence on a night flight. When your squished-down grief, terror, shame and rage decide to break through the ego’s defences and surge into conscious awareness, when you start to un-freeze and contact the raw and inconvenient truth of what’s inside you, it can feel really disorienting, uncomfortable, can feel unsafe and unnatural, can feel like you’ve lost control, can feel like it will never end and you’ll be stuck in darkness forever. But the turbulence is perfectly safe, and normal, and healthy! And it will pass, and your flight WILL arrive at its destination, and you WILL heal.


In the midst of the turbulence of emotion, it’s easy to get lost in thinking and fantasy, in fast-forwarding the movie, leaving the present and imagining the future. “This is too much”. “It’s going to get worse”. “I’m going to die”. “Something is going horribly wrong”. “I am broken”. “I need to get off this damn flight...”


But emotional turbulence is not a sign of your failure or brokenness, just as actual turbulence on a flight is not a sign that you have gone off course, or the pilot has lost control, or the airplane is broken, or the destination is now impossible to reach.


Emotion is always safe, even if it sometimes feels unsafe in its intensity. The body can be trusted absolutely. Intensity is not inherently dangerous. Planes are built to withstand even the most extreme turbulence. And so you learn to breathe through the discomfort, and lean in to the rawness of the moment, and this is how even the deepest trauma is ultimately healed. Through love. Through deep acceptance. Through faith. Through penetrating even our most profound discomfort with a loving awareness. Through coming out of our minds, out of our futures, and into our present bodies...


Trust the turbulence, friend; it means you’re already soaring. 


~ Jeff Foster (at 37,000 feet 😀)


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