I finally have the book Waking the Tiger, in my keep. It’s been on my list to read for a long time. I’ve read other works by Peter Levine and have posted about some of it on this blog, but I’ve not read this classic by him yet. I posted about his new book on Friday.
Quite wonderfully and like a good omen, when Waking the Tiger arrived in the mail a few days ago, I flipped the book open and landed on a page with no thought whatsoever. I read from the first place my eyes fell. It made me cry tears of relief as some of what he speaks of is already happening (see below), the rest of the healing I await, knowing in my heart that this is how it works and that, yes, there will be a gift in all of this pain I’ve been experiencing. The deep validation I got from reading his words was much appreciated. Like a signpost along the dark and unclear jungle path.
I must confess that the miracles of healing I have seen make some higher form of wisdom and order hard to deny. Perhaps a better way of putting it is that there is an innate natural wisdom whose laws provide order in the universe. It is certainly far more powerful than any individual’s personal history. The organism, subject to these laws, tracks its way through even the most horrific experiences imaginable. How can such a thing happen if there is no god, no wisdom, no tiger in the universe?
People who have worked through traumatic reactions frequently tell me that there is both an animalistic and a spiritual dimension to their lives afterwards. They are more spontaneous and less inhibited in the expression of healthy assertion and joy. They more readily identify themselves with the experience of being an animal. At the same time,they perceive themselves as having become more human. When trauma is transformed,one of the gifts of healing is a childlike awe and reverence for life. — Peter Levine, Waking the Tiger: healing trauma
The animialistic and the spiritual aspects of this journey are already very apparent in my life…the final transformation has yet to come. I have hints of it now, but I am not there.
I thought I’d share from the introduction too as this book offers much hope and resonates deeply with what I’ve already come to understand:
Trauma is a fact of life. It does not, however, have to be a life sentence. Not only can trauma be healed, but with appropriate guidance and support, it can be transformative.Trauma has the potential to be one of the most significant forces for psychological, social,and spiritual awakening and evolution. How we handle trauma (as individuals,communities, and societies) greatly influences the quality of our lives. It ultimately affects how or even whether we will survive as a species.
Trauma is traditionally regarded as a psychological and medical disorder of the mind. The practice of modern medicine and psychology, while giving lip service to a connection between mind and body, greatly underestimates the deep relationship that they have in the healing of trauma. The welded unity of body and mind that, throughout time, has formed the philosophical and practical underpinnings of most of the world’s traditional healing systems is sadly lacking in our modern understanding and treatment of trauma.
For thousands of years, oriental and shamanic healers have recognized not only that the mind affects the body, as in psychosomatic medicine, but how every organ system of the body equally has a psychic representation in the fabric of the mind. Recent revolutionary developments in neuroscience and psycho-neuro-immunology have established solid evidence of the intricate two-way communication between mind and body. In identifying complex “neuro-peptide messengers,” researchers like Candice Pert have discovered many pathways by which mind and body mutually communicate. This leading-edge research echoes what ancient wisdom has always known: that each organ of the body,including the brain, speaks its own “thoughts,” “feelings,” and “promptings,” and listens to those of all the others.
Most trauma therapies address the mind through talk and the molecules of the mind with drugs. Both of these approaches can be of use. However, trauma is not, will not, and can never be fully healed until we also address the essential role played by the body. We must understand how the body is affected by trauma and its central position in healing its aftermath. Without this foundation, our attempts at mastering trauma will be limited and one-sided.
Beyond the mechanistic, reductionistic view of life, there exists a sensing, feeling,knowing, living organism. This living body, a condition we share with all sentient beings,informs us of our innate capacity to heal from the effects of trauma. This book is about the gift of wisdom we receive as a result of learning to harness and transform the body’s awesome, primordial, and intelligent energies. In overcoming the destructive force of trauma, our innate potential now lifts us to new heights of mastery and knowledge