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The Role of Self-Care in Trauma Healing: Practical Tips and Techniques from Shamanic Healing

Updated: Feb 12

Trauma, when unaddressed and unhealed, can cause profound disruption in your ability to function. You may live without a sense of joy and goodness. Or you may be going about your daily life and find yourself experiencing unexplained emotions or bodily symptoms. Your relationships with others may be chronically difficult and you may find it hard to really thrive in family, work, and finances. leaving a significant impact on the soul and body.


You can feel helpless in the face of repeated triggers and what appears to be experiences that are similar to the traumatic event of condition from the far or recent past. It can be a roller coaster in which you feel depressed, anxious, and sometimes even disconnected from others and yourself. In short, trauma can have a significant impact on the body, mind and emotions. Seeking professional help can be very important if this is the case. In addition, it can be very important to prioritize self-care in healing from trauma. 


We hear a lot about self-care today as it is globally advocated for overall well-being, but for trauma survivors, it can be even more important. From the onset, self-care might sound like a buzzword relating to spa days and bubble baths. And though such ordinary self-care routines can be beneficial in the process of healing trauma, there are many others that you can incorporate into your daily routine. Shamanic healing can be a powerful tool to add to your trauma recovery journey. It can–and sometimes should–be done in conjunction with working with a licensed, clinical, therapeutic professional.  Shamanic energy medicine is but one of many alternative approaches to healing trauma that sought out by people from all walks of life 


Shamanic energy healing also offers practical ways to build self-care as a path towards greater resilience, happiness, and peace. And, as you read this, keep in mind that sometimes unhealed trauma can make it difficult for you to undertake one or more of these practices. Trauma can cause such deep wounds, that self-care may seem unsafe.  If that is the case, it is very important that you seek out professional support in healing from trauma. (Further, shamanic energy medicine is not recognized as a scientifically tested treatment for trauma and, in some cases, is not the best course to follow. Or it can be used in conjunction with talk therapy and other clinically and medically tested interventions.)


Yet if you feel you are able to take even baby steps towards self-care, it is important to do so. Here we explore the role of self-care and its role in healing from trauma from a shamanic and psychological perspective. 


Significance of Self-Care 


Self-care can improve your sense of control over your life and your  capacity to connect with yourself in positive and nurturing ways. You can set up daily, weekly or randomly practiced routines and habits that are soothing, calming, centering, and grounding. This is important because when you suffer from mental and emotional anguish, have a painful resurgence of painful memories, difficult physical symptoms, challenges in relationships and/or work that seem to be a result of the original trauma,  you may feel unsafe even in your own body and personal home. A step towards reclaiming control over your life is to slowly, as you are able, tend to yourself. 


Anyone can develop greater self-esteem and a renewed sense of purpose by creating constructive, meaningful, and supportive self-care activities. It can help in trauma healing, by rebuilding resilience, developing a greater detachment from and ability to understand, and even bring about the resolution of trauma symptoms.  


The practice of self-care usually depends on your lifestyle and personality. While some tools are low-effort and require minimal planning and follow-through, others may offer significant changes in your mindset and daily life. It is important to choose, test, and develop what works for you.


Develop a Meditation or Body-Based Practice


There are many practices that have been developed from spiritual disciplines such as yoga, meditation, and breathwork. Shamanic practice includes the development of mindfulness–an ability to observe with gentleness and curiosity arising thoughts, feelings, and sensations in the body. Mindfulness can be very powerful in identifying, understanding and unwinding symptoms of trauma. You can do this by sitting in a quiet place in your home for as little as 15 minutes a day or practice it at moments in your day, such as when you are stopped at a stoplight. Or when you find yourself caught in a feedback loop, whether mental or physical, you can pause for a moment to observe what is coming up. 


Mindfulness can be used in conjunction with deep breathing–taking a few deep, long breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth, in one example–can help you slow down, soothe your overactive mind and nervous system, and bring you back into the present moment. This can be used, as well, with an important aspect of shamanic practice–to connect with the Earth. You can do this by bringing your awareness fully into your body and then feel yourself supported fully by the Earth as if gravity is pulling you to greater grounding. 


There are also various forms of meditation in shamanic practice, from mindfulness to visualizations. One visualization could be of a place that feels peaceful, safe and soothing to you, such as sitting on a beautiful beach or on the top of a mountain. Imagine powerful helpers, such as animal allies and the spirits of mountains or of a tree or forest, or the spirit of the ocean coming to you to soothe and heal you.  Make it your own. 


In shamanic practice, there are a variety of meditative practices that focus on each of the 7 chakras. A simple one is to visualize a color at each of them–red at the root chakra, orange at the second (just beneath the belly button), yellow at the third (solar plexus), green at the heart, indigo blue at the throat, white at the third eye in the middle of the forehead, and violet at the crown. Not only can such practices cause an immediate shift in your symptoms, but over time can be a very important part of healing your symptoms. 


Such meditations and visualizations can help you understand your body, mind and emotions better, and help you become less caught up emotionally and mentally in what is arising in your experience. They can immediately or gradually over time lessen stress and lower anxiety. Their benefits when done regularly also build a personal experience of wholeness and power, potentially lessening symptoms of trauma and contributing to trauma healing.   


Build Social Connections  


While healing from trauma,  making social connections can support your healing journey. Shamanic practice recognizes, as does the field of psychology, that positive relationships and supportive community are very important to our well being and to trauma healing. Reach out to trusted family members and friends. Share with them what you are experiencing. Ask for help when you are in trouble. And just spend time with them doing lighthearted, fun things. Since traumatic events and experiences often break trust in others, developing old and new connections can help in recovery and repair.


Treat Your Body with Respect


One of the best ways for trauma healing is to finding positive and life-affirming way to enjoy your body. Shamanism overall is very focused on the centrality of our physical experience because we are recognized as children of the Earth. Move around spontaneously and joyfully. Dance to your favorite song. Sing to it! And make sure you rest and sleep when you need to. Further, it is important to set up regular eating routines. Pamper yourself with  aromatherapy, a weighted blanket, a warm bath, or lovely  skin care products. Unlike some spiritual and religious traditions that say the body is something to be overcome, in shamanic practice and energy healing, we seek to have a healthy and positive relationship to our physical being. And since trauma can take away this sense of safety and goodness of our body, part of trauma healing is to rebuild it.


Be Kind to Yourself 


Let go of guilt and blame by engaging in self-compassion exercises. Compassion, kindness and love are central to shamanic practice. Send loving kindness to yourself with these words adapted from Buddhism: “May I be filled with loving kindness, may I be happy, healthy, peaceful and free.” Say it when you drive, when you lie down at night to sleep, or just when you feel distressed. As you work towards trauma recovery, remember that healing is a process. Do your best to not measure your progress with anyone else. Cultivate a mind state of kindness towards yourself and your pain. And celebrate even the tiniest signs that you are getting better. 


Establish Healthy Interpersonal Boundaries


Trauma can both be caused by and cause unhealthy interpersonal boundaries. When you have grown up in or find yourself in a social, family or work situation in which you are being manipulated, guilt-tripped, and/or otherwise verbally, mentally, physically, and/or sexually abused, you may actually not even know what having healthy boundaries means.  It is easy to say that you need to put your own needs first, but it can also take trial and error, as well as time to heal wounds of attachment and relationship.  


All therapeutic and healing traditions, including shamanism, emphasize the central importance of creating positive, caring, supportive bonds with others from infancy to death. The common wisdom is to put your own needs and wants first and to establish limits with individuals or circumstances that are challenging or triggering you. You may even need to take more time and space from socializing with family and friends so you can focus on healing from trauma.  While this may at first seem “selfish”, actually, it is natural–in much the same way as on an airplane, we are told that if pressure drops in the cabin, we should put the mask on our face first, before our child. You cannot give to others what you don’t have and you certainly should disengage from people who are treating you poorly, whether subtly or overtly. Saying no to things that you feel are not in your best interest and taking pauses when necessary is absolutely right. Moreover, to heal emotional trauma, you must surround yourself with people who are kind, helpful, and able to support you when you need them. 


Find Professional Support


Lastly, even as you develop good self-care routines and habits outlined here, it can be critically important to trauma healing to work with a therapist and/or trauma-informed practitioner. Finding support from a trauma-informed therapist and/or alternative practitioner, such as a shamanic healer can help you tell, unpack, and unwind the original trauma in Virginia. Furthermore, there are also trauma support groups for individuals who have gone through trauma and are experiencing distress. You do not have to deal with this alone.


Use Shamanic Energy Healing


As the well-known psychiatrist, Bessel van der Kolk puts it, “the body keeps the score,” so shamanic practice recognizes that the energy body–the luminous aura surrounding and interpenetrating the physical body–does so, as well. Indeed, in shamanic healing, we recognize that the imprints of personal and ancestral trauma symptoms appear in the energy body before they manifest in physical or even mental-emotional symptoms. 


In a shamanic energy healing session, we clear the energy body and chakras and then extract the constellated imprint of the trauma, whether personal and/or ancestral, from the subconscious. As Sigmund Freud noted, when a traumatic experience or memory is suppressed, it lurks in the subconscious and can eventually appear as symptoms in the body, mind and emotions. Shamanic healing also recognizes that symptoms can be felt energetically. To undertake trauma healing, a shaman can actually journey into a person’s deep psyche and find and extract the “wound”--much like a physical wound–in the body-mind-soul complex. This frees up the rest of the energetic matrix to begin to come back into greater harmony and balance, whether quickly or over time. 


In Conclusion


These are some ways to practice self-care for trauma recovery. Additionally, remember that recovering from trauma is a journey and that each person's path is unique. A self-care method or therapeutic and healing approach works for one person may not work for another.  And, self-care is an essential component of your healing process, including  seeking out help and support from professionals. .


I, Rachel Mann PhD, I am a trauma-informed, professional shamanic energy healer and mentor with over 15 years of experience working with clients on developing positive self-care and trauma healing. I have helped 2000+ people globally to heal from trauma and overcome the distress and sorrows it can create. You can connect with me for a free Discovery Call. We can explore how old traumas are negatively affecting you in every area of life–in relationships, work, creativity, self-concept, and more. If I feel that shamanic healing is a good pathway for you, we can book a session. Sometimes, though, I will recommend that you seek out a licensed, clinical psychotherapist or other similar professional.


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