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Healing Trauma
by Graeme Kapono Urlich

People usually talk about trauma as though it is a thing and have various views on how to heal it, many of which seem to involve isolating from possible triggers while it heals itself. It can happen that way but it is likely to take a very long time and be quite a lonely process. This approach could also have some undesired consequences.

In Huna and Kalakupua tradition trauma is seen as behaviour, as is all illness and disease. The behaviour often derives from our reactions to an event, or series of events, as protection, and has been held onto long after the event is over out of fear or anger, or both. This can be anger that it happened, fear that it will happen again, fear of becoming the thing that caused the event or an expression of grief. It can be many things, even a reaction to something that happened to someone else.

Trauma can also derive from a perception that something may have happened or behaviour learned from someone to whom something has happened or believes something happened to them. I think what is called generational or cultural trauma may derive from learned behaviour but trauma is always the present moment behaviour of an individual, regardless of its origin, and it is always within the power of the individual to change that behaviour. It may take some time and effort as well as guidance but it is always achievable.

Whatever the source of the trauma, it always carries with it a huge amount of tension that often leads to compounding behaviours that reinforce the trauma behaviour, creating experiences that we react to with greater and greater intensity. Self-destructive behaviours, physical pain and illness are common.

It has been observed though, that several people could experience the same things and some will develop varying degrees of trauma while others won’t at all. What is different is the reaction to it. If we have developed some of these behaviours then, here is an approach that may well accelerate the healing.

The first principle of Huna is Ike, the world is what you think it is. Trauma is more easily healed when thought of as behaviour. This changes it from a vague and obscure thing to something that can be observed and helps to focus on things we can change on a practical level. I define healing as “manifesting a beneficial change” rather than “fixing something wrong”. This way of thinking helps to alleviate tension from self-judgement or a perception of being judged.

The second principle of Huna is Kala, there are no limits. In this instance it means it is always possible to heal trauma.

The third principle of Huna is Makia, energy flows where attention goes. In the healing process, it is important to focus on the present and observe behaviour, especially feelings, with a focus on how we want to be, which direction we want to be moving, and the wonderful possibilities that open up when we release the tension of trauma.

The fourth principle of Huna is Manawa, now is the moment of power. Now is when we can make changes in our lives. Persistence with the process is important. Even when we start to make positive changes in life tension increases temporarily and this can be very uncomfortable at first but patient persistence eventually carries us through with the focus on a better future.

The fifth principle of Huna is Aloha, to love is to be happy with. Often when someone is suffering trauma there is a self-judgement that maybe they deserved what happened and the way they feel is punishment for what they did to deserve it. This is perhaps an extreme but it is important to pay attention to things we do well, constructive things that help us feel better even a little so we begin to build a trend towards feeling better and better.

The sixth principle of Huna is Mana, all power comes from within. It is important to build confidence and self-esteem in the healing process. Often people lash out at others and/or themselves, using anger to feel powerful for a time. This is always temporary, often followed by guilt, and can lead to more and more tension building up. In Kupua healing we teach techniques to build up the real inner power we all have. This power is always calm and gentle while being assertive and effective in constructive ways.

The seventh principle of Huna is Pono, effectiveness is the measure of truth. This means that there are many, many ways to release tension and heal trauma. Some ways will suit some people and be more effective for them than for other people. Some therapists and therapies will appeal to some people more than others while some people may prefer to work on their issues on their own. While there are often common traits, the complexes are unique to each individual. There is always more than on way to do anything.

Because there are no limits there will be a way that works for us if we keep looking and working towards a better future. Ku (subconscious) works on the basis of WIFM, “What’s in it for me?” Many people hold onto trauma because there is an emotional payback, sympathy from others for example. Ku is always motivated by joy and only holds onto painful behaviour because of a perceived benefit and if we give it a more joyful benefit for a new behaviour there is an automatic motivation to make the change.

This is such a huge topic, too big to cover fully here, so I have included links to some useful videos and articles. Please contact the author for more information, links, articles and books. May your healing journey be blessed with "me ke aloha me ke mana me ke pono", with love, with power and with effectiveness.

Graeme Kapono Urlich (May 2022)

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Aloha New Zealand - School of Huna and Hawaiian Shamanism

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