Spiritual Perspective of PTSD


The terror that people with difficult histories experience can be seen as a spiritual break that completely disorganizes us from what should be.

What gets broken with trauma is the primordial awareness that we are safe, loved, that all is okay.  Attachment theory helps us understand how  that happens at a level way before beliefs are formed.

It’s in the body and the heart breaks.  They’re two different experiences.  The body holds the nervous system response, the heart bears the cataclysmic break with how life should be.

Spiritual psychology gives us a lens to understand this as well.  The felt experience of the heart being torn from connection to Unity, to Oneness is where the extraordinary grief and despair arises.

From a spiritual orientation trauma severs us from our own knowing of unity/consciousness/love/god – whatever word we use for that central fundamental ingredient binding every atom, molecule, and heart together.

When that gets ruptured, body based, non-narrative explosions of disbelief, terror, disorientation happen.  The more we encounter those states and the less repair there is, the more the beliefs form.  But first, there is the body, non-narrative experience.

Cultivating the positive qualities – remembering in our bodies and hearts the felt experience of goodness, kindness, inexhaustible forgiveness and mercy – create a holding for the heart and the body (the experiences can be different with those two!) so that we can witness and heal.    We need this so we can even enter the body in a full-hearted way.

When people have a felt experience of something larger, more “true” than the trauma their hearts can begin the journey into their bodies.   This helps hold them, or perhaps more accurately, allows them to remember their true nature, allows self energy to enter.

Without this existential holding people whose bodies contain a lot of traumatic activation tend to be able to “get it” with their minds but their bodies find it harder to shift.  They’re left with a feeling of even more helplessness, feeling doomed to be stuck in this horrible place with shame imprinted in their everyday life.

Does this speak to your experience?  Is it helpful?

What needs more clarification?

Comment below to help me sort out this important subject.

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42 Responses to “Spiritual Perspective of PTSD”

  1. Patricia Pott June 2, 2012 at 10:53 pm //


    I reviewed your book for our website. I enjoyed reading this. I must confess that I struggle with my faith sometimes, in light of the many years I begged for help and while I know God was helping me, sometimes it seemed I was on my own.

    Have you written a book about the spiritual aspsect of PTSD? If so I’d be happy to review it for our web site.


    • Deirdre Fay June 3, 2012 at 2:41 pm //

      Hello Patricia! I am sure many people can relate to this feeling/experience of begging for help and feeling abandoned or lost or forgotten. You’re lucky that you still “knew” that God was helping you. How important that that thread wasn’t broken in you.

      The book about the spiritual aspect of PTSD is in the works. When I get it together I will let you know. Thanks for your generous offer to review it for your site.



    • Phyllis Lorenz June 3, 2012 at 3:38 pm //

      One book that has really helped me to reconcile my Christian faith with psychological growth is “The Spirit Led Life: a Christian Encounter with Internal Family Systems” by Mary Steege. While it does not deal specifically with PTSD, it deals with “parts” which are a natural result of trauma.


      • Deirdre Fay June 4, 2012 at 8:22 am //

        I hadn’t heard about Mary Steege’s book — I’ll look forward to reading it. Thanks,


  2. Bunchy June 3, 2012 at 5:27 am //

    This article about the spiritual perspective of PTSD has come at a time when I am personally looking into this very subject.
    I am discovering over and over again that, for myself, the spiritual is an essential aspect of the healing of my heart.
    I have been reading a most beautiful book. It was given to me recently by a friend who went on a training course in London where she learned a way to use energy work in helping clients to heal from trauma. The course trainer shared a book his dear friend had written and it is this book my friend gave to me. It is called Anam Cara which in Irish Gaelic means ‘soul friend’. Written by John O’Donohue
    I would like to share some short extracts from the chapter I am reading at the moment.
    “Though the human body is born complete in one moment, the human heart is never completely born. It is being birthed in every experience of your life. Everything that happens has the potential to deepen you. It brings to birth within you new territories of the heart.”
    “Against the infinity of the cosmos and the silent depths of nature, the human face shines out as the icon of intimacy. It is here, in this icon of human presence, that divinity in creation comes nearest to itself. The human face is the icon of creation. Each person also has an inner face which is always sensed but never seen. The heart is the inner face of your life. The human journey strives to make this inner face beautiful. It is here that love gathers within you. Love is absolutely vital for a human life. For love alone can awaken what is divine within you. In love, you grow and come home to yourself. When you learn to love and let yourself be loved, you come home to the hearth of your own spirit. You are warm and sheltered. You are completely at one in the house of your own longing …..”
    I found that, for myself, the article linked with the quotes I have shared. Love from the Spiritual that exists outside of our bodies can enter our heart and unlock that which lays longiing within. When trauma has cut this connection, often at an early age, I believe that our attachment difficulties begin. The reason I mention this is that we look in training and therapy at our attachment difficulties, and the effect that this has in our lives. For myself this has been a huge part of my own healing journey. The article you have posted Deidre also leads me to consider the broken attachment of our spirituality. I have experienced this as a direct result of the trauma. Many experience broken spiritual attachment through other reasons, upbringing, societies collective conciousness, (I would probably say collective unconciousness).
    These meandering thoughts are a sharing of my own exploration of this subject and the ripploe of excitement that runs through me every time I discover more of my golden heart love as I practise becoming safely embodied by going inside the very essence of ‘me’ that exists in the cellular structure of my body.

    Still seeking,



    • Deirdre Fay June 3, 2012 at 2:36 pm //

      I am so glad you discovered John O’Donohue’s books, Bunchy. He was really tapped into a special current of knowledge. Both he and David Whyte influenced me a great deal in my awareness of belongingness.

      You write,

      Love from the Spiritual that exists outside of our bodies can enter our heart and unlock that which lays longing within.

      That clearly mirrors my thoughts and experience. And yes, I do believe that the most profound attachment break is when we are severed by our connection with love/Divinity through the painful unconscious behaviors of people, or as you say, the collective unconscious.



  3. phyllis June 4, 2012 at 1:00 am //

    Hi Deirdre,
    Interesting to read your post today, as the scripture I have been meditating on today is “don’t you know your body is the temple of the holy spirit?” I’ve working also with the verse in romans 12, “… but be transformed by the renewing of your minds …” and Philipians 4:8 “… whatever is true, honorable, just, excellent … think on these things … and the God of peace will be with you.” I see this as directing our thoughts where we wish them to go (a la Henry David Thoreau, ” as a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.”)

    I know it is all connected and deeply spiritual. I have worked my entire life as a therapist to reconcile the healing work of psychology with my faith and have come to appreciate the wisdom found in the Bible to be increasingly compatible. I have really appreciated the work of Father Richard Rohr to be especially enlightening for me (specifically “Falling Upward”) even though I am not Catholic.

    I am especially sensitive to how “church” has wounded so many (it has surely wounded me in certain ways) and how religious “language” can be confining. However, I am more and more convinced of the power of the “holy”, whatever we choose to call it (I call it “God, Jesus and Holy Spirit” and believe that the “big story” of the bible is able to hold all of our brokenness.)

    I have more thoughts, but it is late and I must go watch Mad Men. =:-0 ! You had asked for thoughts and these are some of mine. You don’t need to post them for the wider audience. Thanks for your work.


    • Deirdre Fay June 4, 2012 at 8:20 am //

      Thank you, Phyllis, for reminding me of this wonderful Thoreau writing,

      “to make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.”

      I have heard from many people that they have been moved by Father Richard Rohr. It’s especially wonderful given, as you say, how much formal relgions have wounded so many.

      You and I are in complete agreement about how “holy” can help heal. Thanks for taking the time to write and I sure how it was a good episode of “Mad Men”!


  4. catherine June 4, 2012 at 10:40 am //

    I was touched by your original blog, dierdre, and now that I’ve returned t it and see the other posts, I am more deeply touched.I am a life-long believer in the higher power- God if you will-, and have worked as a musician in churches my whole life, being very touched by the power that music has in our life/faith-journey. The problem for me has come recently, when I am remembering trauma long forgotten from very early childhood. Like a puzzle suddenly fitting together, so much of my life’s expereince begins to make sense now, EXCEPT my spirituality.I am not niave enough to believe that God “lets” bad things happen to us- certainly evil is in the world and people make those choices which hurt and damage us.but I am now in a dessert- expeience when I can’t find God, or see his work in me or my life anywhere. I continue to work in music, teaching others, and still using the same language to help them interpret music so others faith journey may be enriched, but I don’t see it or feel it at all. I feel abandoned and bereft, as a little child, and the once- soothing music is now excruciatingly painful for me, causing me to have to leave worships sometimes, having flashbacks, or loosing control of my “parts” I have read that even Mother Theresa had vast times of not finding God- I have heard that for 10 years of her work she was just on “auto pilot” trusting that God was still there even though she couldn’t feel his presence. Like her, I still trust in a being…my mind gets it- but my body betrays me with the pain felt now, but long forgotten, and the shame that goes with it. I have to wonder if it is this undeserved shame which seems so intrinsic to the experience that, in part at least, blocks us from God, and feeling his loving presence. I am , in effect, so damaged that I am unworthy? Not believed thoughts in my heart, but felt so strongly against better judgement.


    • Deirdre Fay June 4, 2012 at 12:11 pm //

      Bless you, bless you, bless you, Catherine.

      This is such a powerful and rich conversation. So much in it. This level of feeling severed from the source is one of the hardest – and most compelling – parts of healing. It has certainly been my experience that I have gone through long periods of not “feeling” the connection with any kind of source energy, or divinity. The last number of years have been teaching me how important it is to have practices that keep that experience alive – while at the same time repairing and purifying the severed bond. It’s this level of clearing the wound that allows the deeper truth of existence to emerge. That truth is that love is there ALL the time, turning toward it, turning back to it, moving through the anger, the betrayal, the loss, the dismay that life/God/source energy/fundamental consciousness seemed to abandon us is what the spiritual healing of trauma entails.

      I hope these few words help you walk in your journey toward healing. I am appreciating the service you bring to people even as you struggle inside yourself.
      May your heart deepen in love.


  5. phyllis lorenz June 4, 2012 at 11:12 am //

    I love the Thoreau quote; I call him “the first neuroscientist.”


  6. Pepa Falero June 5, 2012 at 4:39 pm //

    hello Deirdre
    I´m going to answer your questions, hoping the answers can be inspiring for others.
    How do I walk through places inside me? With the help i obtain from reading what you and other authors write, and with the help of my therapist.
    How do I move towards love? With the help of my adult.
    How do I shift those patterns of resentment, judgement, blame?
    That is the hardest part for me. I must say that your help has been crucial at this time. P.e. The other day i was very angry and upset with someone, and I managed to create a distance from what I was feeling, disidentifying, (you call it) and being there at the same time. Discover that I could choose how I wanted to react, that help me too.
    I also focuded on what I wanted to do next, stop being nasty towards that person.
    it was very difficult, because until now, though i knew that i was being unfair but I couldn´t control my emotions,they were frozen. I wanted to act as a victim to get rid of my pain. I realized that at the bottom, there was a little girl with their arms streched forward waiting for her mother to hug her.
    I cannot experince loving meditation, It´s imposible for me to feel my heart. My body is stiff.


    • Deirdre Fay June 5, 2012 at 9:32 pm //

      Dear Pepa,

      Ah… It’s such a big question: how to walk through these places inside us. Let me see if I can answer as succinctly as I can. How do we turn toward love? Notice all the times when you are upset, judge, criticize, make wrong, blame either yourself or another. Then ask yourself how can you move behind this protective stance of judgment, criticism or blame? How can you move like water over and around these ways of being?

      Good for you for already practicing! How did you do that? How did you create some distance and disidentify from what was there? How did you choose how to react? It sounds like you have taken a few kernels I have put out there and you have found unique and wonderful ways to do this! I’d love to hear from you what you already know, what you’ve already learned.

      You write that “I also focused on what I wanted to do next, stop being nasty toward that person.” Exactly! How did you do that!
      Yes, then you will come face to face with the difficulties, in this case, you found your emotions frozen. How, then can you turn your heart toward love to help defrost the frozen state that is there?

      How true! We do want to become victims to get rid of our pain!! I am sure everyone will resonate with that. Then you notice that there is a little girl with her arms stretched out. Practicing metta in this case would be how can you offer her loving kindness? How can you offer your stiff body loving kindness? Do this over and over and over again, thousands of times a day, allowing your heart to soften, learning to begin to receive. It’s hard — most of us have been frightened of receiving but it is possible to change that thought/life pattern.

      Keep practicing…..


    • Bunchy June 7, 2012 at 5:49 pm //

      Hello Pepa

      I always thought I knew what ‘love’ meant. 
      I have been working with the meditations and BSE skills for about a year and half now. During this time my understanding of ‘love’ has changed and evolved.
      I knew it would be a good thing to love myself, and to be able to meditate with love. Why was it so so difficult?
      Trauma, for me, took away any early infant concept of love. The word held so many meanings that did not ‘feel’ safe or comforting. Love after the trauma meant fear, uncertainty, longing for something I couldn’t understand.
      Slowly I am re-learning what love is. To do this I have needed to ‘discover’ my heart.
      You write of being frozen, that sounds cold, untouched, rigid. Perhaps looking at what you perceive love to be will help universal love to touch you. 
      I have had some encounters with love as I am beginning to understand it. One thing I have discovered in those elusive moments is that love is warm. For me when it comes I feel warmth in my heart and feel a light.
      Slowly, slowly the inside ice melts away and the awareness of love in my heart grows stronger.
      I hope your journey towards love continues.


  7. Candy "Lynn" June 7, 2012 at 8:23 am //

    aw….healing trama….as long time victims…i think often…we fight unconciously against the very things processes knowlwedge and patterns that will help us heal n that would allow us to connected the paths in our brian that often feel that betray the process of healing n breakin free of the old maps that we keep using….i am finding that hearing from n using the tools that i find in therapy n here on this web site….helps a great deal i believe as much as the old habits n maps are habit….habit is now what we must create with our new tools…..i or we meaning all who suffer incredible neglect n abuse trama..our brians helped us find a way to live even though it doesnt always feel like that…..so i believe there is real chance n hope to create a different way of thinking acting n living….as long as we face ourselves n the world with as much of a radical open heart as we can muster each moment……not easy but so doable…..i am living proof….thank you all for your work n openness to share


  8. Candy "Lynn" June 7, 2012 at 9:12 am //

    let me re phrase a couple of things healing results of trama….not healing trama…n i meant to say changing our old habits i believe can help create different road maps or grooves in our brains which can n will help permanently change how we will process think act in the world we create each day rather than…staying stuck in the old paths or thinking processes. From the past….again not easy…butpossible n doable…. Ive heard n readso much about this….but see evidence in my life…without people n sites like this though…not as many people would see all these different tools n possiblities so thank you again…it sometimes hurts to be so open…but in the search of healing it is better than not…..thank you


    • Deirdre Fay June 7, 2012 at 10:34 pm //

      Thank you for your courage in writing and speaking so openly. When you do you help create an environment where others feel safer — and feel known. Your voice helps provide healing for all.



  9. Katie June 8, 2012 at 11:28 pm //

    Hi Deirdre, I am dealing with complex ptsd, depression, panic disorder, and ocd. I find that there is enough information out there to validate my problems. There is very little that helps me with how to overcome the problems. I see a therapist who is spiritual and deals with people of trauma. How is a therapist, no matter how good they are, help a client when they are only seen the hour one day a week? I feel strongly the mental health system needs to allow a client more time – initially 3 to 4 days a week to start and then slowly work back to less days. This I feel, would prevent many hospitalizations and allow for more intense work in therapy. A client might even understand the ideas you speak of. What are your thoughts on this? I am just so frustrated not getting the support I need to heal.


    • Deirdre Fay June 12, 2012 at 5:16 pm //

      Bless your heart, Katie. It is a hard journey, isn’t it. I’m glad you have a good therapist with whom you feel in sync. That’s important.

      The mental health system does curtail access — but that doesn’t mean you can’t heal. If you build your determination and commitment to your healing you can do it no matter what the health system “allows.” Part of the reason I started the Becoming Safely Embodied Skills groups and online course is to provide people with more processes so they can help themselves between therapy.

      May your journey be full of unexpected support and kindness.


  10. Candy "Lynn" June 10, 2012 at 4:56 pm //

    Deirdre…ive been reading this web sites articles…i am quite interested in mediation n how it will help bring unity n peace. I am practicing about ten minutes before work n about a half hour after…i figure it is helping so time to get more serious but honesty it is a bit frighteninh when emotions start to surface that have laid dorment.i am working with your book becoming safely embodied.i can see how tramua can continue to affect someone even when it is over. am choozing to search out ways that will allow the separation of mind body n heart to function as a whole..all the time.. with out the triggers and emotionally felt terror… that can tend to stop someone from getting to where they are getting too..i liked that you can explain the actual process of what happens to us during n after trauma in terms that the average person can understand..i have been using your becoming safely embodied book..the older version. confusion still sets in when i get terror triggers.i seem to lose wht i know. Practice??


    • Deirdre Fay June 12, 2012 at 2:56 pm //

      Congratulations on having the practice that you do have. Being steady in any practice takes dedication and effort.

      It can be frightening when emotions start to come up. In some ways that is part of the practice softening and allowing the “stuff” to come up to get clear. If it’s too big, though, it can be too much.

      Since you’re working with the BSE skills I would probably keep the meditation practice to short periods while you learn to be with the emotions and work with any kind of overwhelm that comes up. In meditation you want to be able to allow the material to come up and out instead of hijacking you and overwhelming you.

      Take it slow. Practice makes it possible but it sounds like right now you are building a steady foundation.


  11. Patricia June 14, 2012 at 10:44 am //

    Instinctively I’m as near certain as I can be that what you are saying about the way the body and the heart each break with how life should be is the truth of the trauma experience. I then have to ask where does the ‘knowing’ come from that life can be better or different? A traumatised person may have little or no direct experience of feeling safe or loved and these concepts seem only to apply to others. The awareness that life can be better, that warmth and love exist, can be conceived through observing other lives. When it is learnt through reading about the lives of fictional characters it can lighten and bring hope too but not so easily while experiencing being left out in the cold. Holding onto such hope however, I wouldn’t go so far as to call it belief, when encountering states that sever us from such knowing can be just about impossible.

    When all that is left though for us is to “cultivate” positive experiences or qualities, as though we needed further reminders that we are lacking in some way, then creating imagined illusions can in my view seem little more than attempts to fool oneself, though admittedly a great deal more pleasant than dwelling on negative states. Are you saying that even putting ourselves through imaginary good experiences is a way to shift body/heart experience in a meaningful authentic way? If so how is this any different from the self help books that advocate creative visualisations and so on as the answer?


    • Deirdre Fay June 16, 2012 at 5:05 pm //

      A question after my own heart! You ask,

      I then have to ask where does the ‘knowing’ come from that life can be better or different?


      And you may be more precise. Holding onto such hope may not be a belief. The attachment theorists are doing research for example about our “native” instincts to move toward people for safety. When we get hurt we shut down that impulse but it’s instinctively there for humans and animals.

      I don’t think there is any difference between cultivating positive experiences/qualities or creative visualizations. They are intending to develop, or help us remember what is authentic to our nature and feel safe being in it.

      Thanks for your thoughts. It helped me sort things out myself.


      • Leslie July 9, 2012 at 10:05 pm //

        I’d like to speak to this. For myself, just starting work on all this and learning about my different ways, or parts, of dealing with life; I too am fearful that I won’t get it.
        I am typified as highly functional Nd intelligent, with a strong medical background. This is both helpful And a hindrance.
        I can understand the concepts but may intellectualize rather than integrate, so how do I know I am on the right path?
        Well, I firmly believe the human body wants to return to health as the normal state.
        A good sign is when Im talking too much!
        I can talk a good game, that is a defense mechanism that tells me I am avoiding something.
        I have been actively working on an assignment given by my therapist. I am identifying the different parts of me and creating a chart to indicate the function and the needs of each persona.
        This kind of work is part intellectual, part feeling, which equals wisdom.
        Be well


        • Deirdre Fay July 10, 2012 at 9:11 am //

          Sounds like a really good, practical practice you’re doing with the guidance of your therapist. Weaving together the intellect and exploring the felt experience of life in your body. Keep us posted,


  12. Pepa Falero June 16, 2012 at 3:46 pm //

    Hello Deidre
    I was really surprised when I saw my name, and your answer and also from bunchy and Candy . thanks so much for your words. I appreciate them, they help to nourish myself. With respect to your question of how I create some distance: first I concentrate in my disturbing sensations by using the help of my adult. Then, i imagine my adult(myself) talking to that part of me that suffers, i explain to that part of me that what I am experiencing belongs to the past. I stay there watching that part of me and I tell her what you would tell a child that is distressed, that I won´t abandom her and I sooth me with kind words, until i feel the comfort in my body, and I know it because first I feel (I don´t know how) comforted and then the body sensations start to vanish.
    i choose how to react telling myself that we think we are trapped, because we still feel that we are a little child that depends on an adult to survive, then I bring my other part to reality, and tell her that we are adults now, and that we can choose what we want to do next.
    Depending on my distress, i have to invest more or less time, but never less than an hour.Lately I am experiencing the vacuum, so I have to dedicate myself more time, because my first pulse is to escape. But I am commited to myself in the sense that i don´t want to be disappointed again. I want to convey to myself that i will stay there in joy or in sorrow. It´s so hard, because I have always considered myself as to be imprissoned, and I was an expert in escaping.
    would you call what I do “meditation”


    • Deirdre Fay June 16, 2012 at 4:57 pm //

      Thank you for taking the time to write what you do. It’s a beautiful example. Having that kind of concrete, intimate example will help so many people, Pepa. I love how each person contributing to another person helps nourish and sustain people on the journey.

      The word “meditation” is a really broad word with multiple meanings and definitions; there doesn’t seem to be a “real” definition. The common denominator between all forms of meditation seems to be attending to our internal state which you most certainly are doing.

      There are ways we use meditation psychologically with the kind of guided imagery you are describing and there are also different forms of meditation that are inviting people to dissolve a psychological frame/orientation. Seems to me all are stepping stones in the journey to come home to ourselves and then to let go of any conceptualization we have about whatever gets encountered.

      Keep in touch,


  13. candy "Lynn" June 17, 2012 at 8:50 am //

    HI Pepa…I cant thank you enough for responding again with your honest n open description of how you are beginning to put distance between you and the triggers or disturbing sensations .It is quite helpful to see others working with some of the new tools and resources .I have just begun to find useful.The process you describe is not always easy is it ?I thought i was all that.(small smile) my ego got alittle blown up like a balloon.after using the process a few times and i thought oh i got this.everything will be great now.so off i went not staying aware and focused.(ok, Well just as fast as i blew up the balloon, i popped it too..) ouch (wink) I started to feel real down and disappointed with myself because as some would say including myself at one point.. I had took steps backwards instead of forward.. well…i stopped and regrouped..remembering sensations thoughts and feelings…that to is so helpful .being aware of how the three work in our bodies. I found that to be a negative reaction instead of the truth .. When we begin to use new things anywhere in life …like a baby learning to walk..they stumble and fall.. and get back up… no one looks at that like a step backwards… they are learning and growing and developing…So that will be my new view.. im learning…i will stumble and falll doing anything at any age or stage in life is like that…pepa.. i hope that you can still share so opening..it helps me on my journey.. its wonderful to have a site that is so full of real people with real resourse n support isnt it ?
    oh n you know what you asked about mediation. I am using small brief periods of mediation.. i cant do more.. im not even sure it is true mediation. i just call it my quiet time where im focusing on me and being aware of how im feeling at that moment and trying to bring that peaceful safe calm feeling to myself. i figure its a step forward rather than feeding the negative feelings that my mind can so easily run too..it feels good for me presently .


  14. Leslie June 21, 2012 at 10:19 pm //

    I’m excited to recognize the practice of using one’s different selves to help heal. This is a practice I’ve used successfully.
    I am starting another journey on the path to Healing. One way I can reassure myself today is by knowing my future self is taking good care of me and I will be alright. I know this because here I am! This is not splitting, that’s different entirely. It’s more of a spiritual faith in my self; past, present, and future. AKA God, Old Woman, Higher Power, etc. it just so happens this is what works for me in a concrete manner.


  15. Deirdre Fay July 10, 2012 at 7:47 am //

    Love hearing this, Leslie. We have a good sync with this. For years I have had people in the Becoming Safely Embodied Skills Groups work with their “Older, Wiser Self” who has gone through the turmoil, walked the path and knows the way to get there. From that vantage point, the guidance can be very helpful.


  16. gil December 26, 2012 at 3:48 pm //

    What you write here makes sense if you believe in God. But what about those of us who aren’t religious or feel it isn’t possible to have a personal relationship with God? I like what you write, not only this blog but other stuff too, yet I feel you are primarily talking to those who believe the divine interacts with them, nevertheless, I like how you challenge the reader and practical advice for day to day living. Thank you.

    You say ” When people have a felt experience of something larger, more “true” than the trauma their hearts can begin the journey into their bodies” – how can something be more “true” than the subject trauma?


    • Deirdre Fay December 27, 2012 at 11:18 am //

      Thanks for the challenging comment, Gil. I sit here with your comment of how can something be more “true” than trauma? In my experience with thousands of people I keep encouraging people to explore what might be deeper, more fundamental. Trauma is painful, it exposes the body/mind/heart to excrutiating suffering. Yet, with simple practices people can learn that they are not just the suffering. Perhaps there is a better word for it, but the best frame I have for it is to explore an existential or spiritual path.


  17. gil December 27, 2012 at 2:23 pm //

    Is it possible to explore this “existential or spiritual path” without believing that there is some supernatural divine force watching over us?

    I understand that a trauma does not define who one is just as a university degree does not define us, it is just an influence that is part of our history…. so is the seeking of a spiritual path done in order to make sense of what happens to one, to forget the past, or to find some meaning to existence that makes any trauma insignificant or something else?


    • Leslie July 20, 2013 at 3:23 am //

      Trauma can be who you are. My personality, my career choice, my inability to form meaningful relationships, my failure at things that I try so hard to do, it is all trauma-based. I respectfully disagree with your analogy of the university degree. Trauma has infiltrated all parts of me and the more I learned that the more I realized the true person I am. And it takes all I have, using the resources I’ve sought out to return to myself. Am I worth it? Some days, indeed some months I have wanted to give up, but that is where that inner something keeps me putting one foot in front of the other. And when it comes together? Oh yeah, I’m worth it. As you are and everyone in this blog or we wouldn’t be here.
      So if you haven’t done so yet, learn all you can about the effects of trauma on the mind, see where you fit in. This is an education in itself. I sincerely hope you have a therapist who is knowledgable about this.
      I hope I have not offended, but trauma is so much more than an influence and if you can recognize that it is a good start

      Most respectfully,



  18. siren May 25, 2013 at 10:28 pm //

    this description is exactly my problem – “Without this existential holding people whose bodies contain a lot of traumatic activation tend to be able to “get it” with their minds but their bodies find it harder to shift. They’re left with a feeling of even more helplessness, feeling doomed to be stuck in this horrible place with shame imprinted in their everyday life.”…
    and skimming through some of these comments, I can say this has also been my problem with meditation – I physically cannot move through an emotion (I know – one is a body, one is a feeling, but…) because I get totally hijacked by terror and meditating doesn’t ever get to a place where I feel safe.
    So… now what?
    (that wasn’t meant to be nasty, it was an actual question!)


  19. Leslie July 20, 2013 at 3:10 am //

    In a belief that I am not too late with this I want to say that spirit does not mean another or other entity. Therefore what may be referred to as spirituality or God or whatever is what makes each one of us the individuals we are. Spirit is what is inside us. Some name it with what makes them the most comfortable. It is so not one size fits all. So Gil, if you look at it as your inner self or personal strength, that is all good. Call it Sam or Bob (tongue in cheek) but we humans find it easier to identify it as something in order to facilitate communication, how we speak of it to one another. It is a way of drawing strength from one another rather than setting us apart. Trauma has already done a great job of isolation. Whatever reserves we have that helps us through that, that insists we are not our trauma, we are so much more than that; that is what we speak of when we say a Higher Power. It is whatever makes us more than our parts, it is the whole thing, it is the essence in each one of us. Hope this was helpful.
    Avoid those who want you to fit yourself somewhere that does not feel true. I can say for myself I am ready to talk to anyone about whatever gets us through it. Language is our commonality, not to exclude but to include.


  20. Kjerstin March 30, 2014 at 2:04 am //

    Your website and safely embodied program have been a lifeline to me. I heard about you through my therapist, who is amazing. After two years of not being able to establish any healing routine (preceded by years of not understanding that I suffer from ptsd), I have found an evening relaxation ritual that includes 15-20 minutes listening to your guided mindfulness. Today I feel so much pain and grief from all I have lost, from losing myself. I was surprised when I learned that ptsd and spiritual crises often happen together; that was the case with me. I experienced the world acting in ways that did not align with what I believed to be true. I cannot imagine a time “When people have a felt experience of something larger, more “true” than the trauma..” I keep taking a step at a time, but it is so hard to believe that it will get better.


    • Deirdre Fay April 21, 2014 at 4:47 pm //

      I am so glad to hear that you have found your way to a good therapist. Sometimes that is what helps more than anything. What an honor to know that I am also participating in your healing. I know it’s hard to believe, especially when we’re in the thick of things, that “it will get better.” But it can, and does. Course, the hard part is it takes longer than any of us would want it to.

      I’m sending you tons of compassion for all the pain you are in.


  21. karen beaumont April 5, 2014 at 8:13 pm //

    Thank you, again. Something to contemplate, to soak in.


  22. Flo May 16, 2017 at 1:28 pm //

    Wow, you really DO understand the impact of attachment trauma. I am so grateful you articulate its scope.


    • Deirdre Fay May 20, 2017 at 4:21 am //

      Means a lot to me, Flo, that the material connects with you.



  1. God is With Me | Claim this Day! - January 1, 2016

    […] * For another perspective on spirituality and PTSD, you might want to check out Deirdre Fay’s article “Spiritual Perspective of PTSD” (https://dfay.com/archives/2400) […]

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