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Johannes Ludwig – Trauma and Inner Transformation

Maybe I will first tell a few words about myself, so that you can get a picture who I am and what my personal background in relation to this topic is. For nearly the last ten years, I have intensively dealt with the topics of consciousness and inner transformation. Starting with yoga and different body oriented techniques, I soon began to understand that a deep transformation is not possible without an understanding of trauma, especially in a more-generational perspective. So after finishing my training in yoga therapy and mindfulness work, I absolved a training in constellation work (constellation of the intention/trauma constellations) in Munich with Prof. Dr. Franz Ruppert. I have been working for the past two years now in my practice in Munich with the mentioned techniques and I would like to share with you my personal experiences in this field, what trauma is from my point of view and what an inner transformation might look like.

What does trauma mean?

The field that deals with trauma, namely “psychotraumatology”, has emerged from the field of psychotherapy. It is a comparably young but constantly growing area of science, which has been especially taken into the focus of attention in the last two decades.

Theories about trauma can in fact be found in other psychological systems as well, yet the distinct and clear elaboration what trauma is and what its effects are, have not been elaborated in such a clear manner as in the described area of research. In yoga there are for example, hints in the Yoga-Sutra of Patanjali about samskaras oder behavior patterns that come into place due to traumatic or incisive experiences, nevertheless their effects are not stated in such a clear manner.

The most crucial insights in dealing with psychotrauma are, in my opinion, the discovery of inner splits and more-generational aspects of trauma in relation to bonding processes. Yet, before describing these phenomena, I would like to give a basic understanding first, what trauma is:

A trauma originates in a punctual or repetitive event in which our survival is threatened and/or which cannot be processed by our the psycho-somatic system at the time it happens. As a consequence parts or even the whole event is split from our conscious awareness (see Franz Ruppert’s book Splits in the Soul) In case the split parts are not re-integrated after the traumatic event, they do not disappear, but can turn into dangerous and destructive behavior patterns in the course of time. Survival mechanisms continue to maintain their task of preventing the traumatic event to appear in the day-to-day consciousness.

I soon began to understand that a deep transformation is not possible without an understanding of trauma, especially in a more-generational perspective.

Therefore they drive us to adopt certain behavior patterns fulfilling this survival function. These may vary from putting our system in constant inner or outer stress, to seek diversion in drugs or to escape in imaginary worlds, just to name a few, or leading us to many other forms of psycho-physical illnesses. Also the unconscious and repetitive re-enactment of the traumatic event in different forms, either as a victim or a perpetrator, is many cases a consequence of (an already existing) trauma. I have found the research about perpetrator identified states especially interesting in this context, leading either to the identification with the mindset of the perpetrator and of most probably becoming a perpetrator oneself or to to feel guilty and worth to be humiliated and therefore direct the perpetrator energy against the own person. Especially Harvey Schwartz and Ralf Vogt describe this very well in their books The Alchemy of Wolves and Sheep and Perpetrator Introjects.

These patterns become additionally interesting in a more-generational context. Through the parent-child bonding the child takes over several of the traumatic behavior patterns of their parents and as well as identifies with or tries to reject some of their traumatic states.

The next question arising is: how can we approach our suffering, especially in such a case of symbiotic entanglement, where the traumatic event has its origin in the life of one of our ancestors?

On the way to an essential inner transformation

The first thing one should not do is to moralize the question of traumatization in the sense “I am good, because you do not have a trauma or you are bad, because you are traumatized”. One the long run we are not only connected to our own and our families suffering, but to the traumatization of society and finally the whole world, as Thich Nhat Hanhs explains in his book The Heart of Understanding.

Yet, the starting point for the inner transformation is always in the here and now and to be more distinct, in our own body. Our body reflects all our psychological states and all our suffering. And it often speaks a clearer language than our mind does. We may see ourselves enlightened or devastated, yet our body may tell a different story. So it is always the first step, to listen to the language of our body. As a second step, we may start to shed light on our core (body) blockages and traumatic entanglements. Doing so we will develop an “inner map” with the time, helping us to understand better, where certain (painful) emotions and black spots come from, where they are located in the body, and finally how to deal with them when they arise in our conscious awareness. The constellation of the intention is in my opinion a very helpful method in this regard, as it allows us to slowly approach these (more-generational) entanglements in a process-oriented manner, according to the client’s inner steps.

On the other hand, we can directly work with our body. In my practice, I use yoga and mindfulness work, which provide a complete system of movement, breathing and meditation exercises that can be adapted to the individual needs of the person. Additionally, both schools serve us with their deep understanding of the human body and bodily energy centers (chakras), as well as with profound insights of the human consciousness. This understanding helps us to holistically transform our suffering, not by simply removing an obnoxious “symptom”, but by deeply penetrating into the nature of suffering and seeing its essence.