Let It Rain . . . So It Doesn’t Pour (Part 1 of 3)
/ Author: Quentin Steen
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Let It Rain . . . So It Doesn’t Pour (Part 1 of 3)

Create a safe space to allow trauma to express itself without it taking on a life of its own beyond your control

By Quentin Steen, Representative/BC Member Education Coordinator

Last month, we began to unpack the fact that we feel what we feel. No one makes us react the way we do. We choose our reactions. We are responsible for our behaviours. Full stop.

The connection we need to be mindful of and learn to work with is how we encode the feelings we feel and where those feelings originate. Only then can we create the space necessary to respond differently with our mental well-being intact.

I currently am a facilitator for the Gathering, a 12-week online community of practice that brings together a group of 6 to 8 people with the shared purpose of connection, resilience, and personal growth. Groups are led by trained facilitators who help create a trauma-informed safe space for the group to thrive.

Topics covered include

• breath-work,

• mindfulness,

• self-compassion,

• yoga and movement practices,

• embodiment work, and

• internal family systems.

The following is an excerpt from one of our current Gathering members. I will call him Brian. A successful engineer, his story is filled with childhood trauma that haunted him most of his adult life.

Brian is 75 years old and emerging into a new way of living, informed by his past but not dominated by it. He recently expressed his perspective and impetus for expanding his sense of mental health well-being. I share with you his thoughts and insight with permission:

I just listened to some good words from one of my teachers, Tara Brach. First, we experience trauma. Second, we develop coping strategies to protect ourselves. These can include anger, fear, dissociation, avoiding intimacy, addictive behaviours, etc. Third, we have shame and self-judgment toward our woundedness and coping strategies. Finally, healing comes when we can find self-compassion and realize and feel in our body that “it’s not my fault.”

Some cultures believe that during trauma, the soul leaves our body, and they practice a form of soul retrieval. The community holds the person’s soul in love and safety and is invited to return.

This group of ours is forming a community where we can all hold each other in safety and love and allow deep healing to occur.

Instead of denying trauma, stuffing it, sanitizing it, or editing it, we can allow it. We can acknowledge it. We name it. We can create a safe space to allow it to express itself without it taking on a life of its own beyond our control.

Brian’s reference to the work of Tara Brach utilizes a mindful technique called RAIN—recognize, allow, investigate, nurture. It’s the difference between reacting and interacting with our strong feelings and unhealthy behaviours, but it takes work and the support of safe people.

Being held hostage by your feelings and behaviours wreak havoc with your mental well-being and those you care about.

Join me for next month’s Mental Health Moment to learn how to let it rain next time, so it doesn’t have to pour!

Quentin Steen is a certified mental health first aid instructor for the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

Get your BRAIN right and your MIND will follow!

4 Mental Health Resources to Help You

  1. If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health issue, CLAC has a number of resources and interactive tools available to help you at My Health and Wellness.
  2. Stronger Minds features videos and quick reads from mental health experts, activities to help you gain resilience, and ask-an-expert videos in response to questions.
  3. WellCan offers free well-being resources to help Canadians develop coping strategies and build resilience to help deal with uncertainty, mental health, and substance abuse concerns.
  4. Wellness Together Canada: Mental Health and Substance Use Support provides free online resources, tools, apps, and connections to trained volunteers and qualified mental health professionals.
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