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Excerpt from "Recovery 2.0: Move Beyond Addiction and Upgrade Your Life"

The Inheritance of Trauma

by Tommy Rosen


The following is an excerpt from Recovery 2.0: Move Beyond Addiction and Upgrade Your Life by Tommy Rosen. It is published by Hay House (October 2015) and is available in bookstores and online at www.Hayhouse.com

The Inheritance of Trauma

There is a reason addicts behave the way they do. Addiction comes from somewhere; it is not random. Addiction has its origins in trauma, often from early childhood or even from prenatal experiences in the womb. Dr. Gabor Maté, the renowned physician and author, tells us that addiction is “rooted in childhood loss and trauma” and is “nothing more than an attempt to self-medicate emotional pain.”3 It doesn’t have to be a huge trauma, just something painful, threatening, or confusing that you look away from or are unable to process when it happens, leaving its energy stuck in the body.

What I’ve come to realize is that all dis-ease, including addiction, is caused by constipation in one form or another. This could mean constipated bowels, blood flow, or some kind of stuck energy. Whatever the case may be, when there is blockage there is dis-ease. Healing begins by removing those blockages.

The concept of energetic blockages and how they affect us is beautifully illustrated in Peter Levine’s amazing work on trauma. Levine offers the possum’s behavior as an example of a healthy way to manage traumatic experiences. One of this creature’s survival mechanisms is to play dead in order to avoid being killed when predators approach. After it has successfully deterred an aggressor, a powerful biochemical reaction related to fear, instinct, and survival takes place within its body. The possum has built up an enormous amount of emotional energy inside, and to release this, it shakes vigorously. The shaking lasts maybe a minute and when it ends the chemistry of fear and trauma exits its body and permits the possum to return to a state of balance. Levine writes, “Animals in the wild instinctively discharge all their compressed energy and seldom develop adverse symptoms. We humans are not as adept in this arena. When we are unable to liberate these powerful forces, we become victims of trauma. The result, sadly, is that many of us become riddled with fear and anxiety and are never fully able to feel at home with ourselves or our world.”4

As the insightful saying goes, your biography becomes your biology. Both of my parents, as you now know, carried a lot emotionally. These emotions in the form of trapped energy were in the tissues of their bodies—in their muscles, joints, and organ systems. They remained unprocessed from the moment they got stuck there as the result of some experience. And they produced the most awful emotional and physical symptoms. They breathed poorly. They moved poorly. They ate poorly. And they felt poorly. You would not necessarily have noticed this level of dis-ease. Certainly, later on, when my dad got very heavy and sick, it was noticeable. Yet even they didn’t realize what was going on; they had a low level of awareness and sensitivity to their plight. By the time they took notice it was too late. They had missed many signs along the way, and this is how most people live: disconnected from their bodies and their intuitive selves.

I’ve come to understand that the roots of my addiction are the stuck emotional energies that were lodged in my parents’ bodies and never got worked out. Instead, these were passed down to the next generation. They were as much my inheritance as my ability to run fast or my brown eyes. I would develop my own version of those stuck emotional energies, and I would have to find a way to work them out (as we all must) in my life.

I cannot say it any more plainly than this: feelings left unprocessed are buried alive! They will act as an energetic blockage to your happiness and health. Later, these energetic blockages will cause a variety of emotional and physical symptoms, which will get more and more serious unless you shift onto a path of healing. This is one piece of the puzzle of healing addiction and dis-ease in general. The challenge is that, as addicts, we have developed a strong reflex to avoid pain, insecurity, discomfort, and sadness. We look away by any means necessary. In the final analysis, addicts of any kind are primarily addicted to looking away.

TOMMY ROSEN is the founder and host of the Recovery 2.0: Beyond Addiction Online Conference and presents workshops annually at Esalen, Omega, and Kripalu. One of the pioneers in the burgeoning field of Yoga and Recovery, he holds advanced certifications in both Hatha and Kundalini Yoga and has 20 years of recovery from acute drug addiction. Tommy and his wife, noted yoga instructor, Kia Miller, live in Venice, California, where they teach yoga and grow organic vegetables in their backyard. Website: http://www.recovery2point0.com

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