Voyage through Chaos to Equanimity
A life lived in heaven or hell on earth can boil down to a matter of nervous system regulation and chemistry. Our survival skills and ways of coping start to form before birth, and much of who we are and what we can become is greatly dependent on the first few years of our lives….
Now that I have experienced being both a child and a mother, I realize more than ever that, if we were blessed with a mother / caregiver who herself had resolved her old traumas, and who had a somewhat balanced system and an ability to connect with us in an attuned, loving, and supportive way, we have a shot at a life in heaven on earth.
On the other hand, if we were raised by a mother / caregiver who herself had unresolved trauma, a broken nervous system, and a greatly un-balanced chemistry, we run the risk of spending our lives in hell on earth. My children have had their experience of this type of hell, and so have I. And, now that I think about it, my mother is often still living there – that is, in that state of mind and body that Deepak Chopra calls the “Prison of the Intellect.”
The science of psychology often describes life (healthy or otherwise) as controlled by implicit memories formed before we are born. The old question of nature versus nurture is still a source of controversy in the academic community. According to some researchers, the blueprints for our lives are made in utero, a genetic inheritance, DNA that cannot be changed. The child is at the mercy of the mother’s nervous system and chemical makeup.
Other researchers, for example, Dr. Robert Scaer (as detailed in his book, Trauma Spectrum), give our genes some power to create the self even as they stress the importance of the relationships between mother and infant and the environment into which the child is born.
Depending on the mother’s state of body and mind, she produces and delivers a mixture of chemicals to the fetus via the umbilical cord. The blueprint for success or failure is initiated in the uterus, where the fetus receives the foundational building blocks to her or his personal heaven or hell.
In addition, at birth, several factors can affect the baby’s launch into the world: drugs, stress, and complications, including the mother’s condition and participation in the birth, and her interactions with the baby immediately afterwards, among other influences. And then, a window of opportunity that is the time of conception to around two years of age contributes to a secure blueprint for the child.
After that, we mothers can spend the rest of our lives in guilt trying to “correct” our initial mistakes. So, what about life’s “little traumas” created by mothers with a less than stable mental state and / or emotional response to the world around them? How do we help our children break the negative cycle as they parent their children? Maybe more importantly: How do we forgive ourselves for the negative influence of our parenting?
That is the subject I will be studying in this series of four blog articles. Each article in this series will be devoted to a different aspect of how we can change our interactions with ourselves and the others in our lives, especially our children, so that these interactions put forward our best selves and theirs.
These four blog articles have interwoven among them the following three themes:
- Nurturing your child through pregnancy and birth and into the early years of life
- Forgiving yourself for past mistakes and parenting older children
- Parenting yourself
But, first, a little background on my “credentials” to talk about this subject.
After many years in an alcohol- and drug-induced rut initiated by my own “little traumas,” I have researched enough material for a “Ph.D.” in the subject. As a result of 30+ years of recovery, healing, and self-development, I can claim more than a little expertise in the area. My experiences with healing in myself and my clients have led me to agree with many spiritual leaders who say that any personal growth is an upward path, like climbing up a mountain…not in a straight line, though, but on an ascending circular climb.
On our personal journey, we pass by the same, often hurtful memories that can, if we let them, offer us opportunities to release layers of pain and recognize even the smallest trace of improvement.
As some of us move up the mountain with prayer and meditation, we create healing in the space between us and our memories. We reach a higher place on the path; we evolve, move on, and become stronger. Our view becomes clearer, and we have more access to the sounder part of our mind. We become more aware of ourselves and our surroundings than we had been before our evolution began. We see that we have (and can take advantage of) resources available to create a healthy life.
References for This Four-Part Blog Series
Erksine, R. G. “Attunement and involvement: therapeutic responses to relational needs”. International Journal of Psychotherapy, Vol. 3, No. 3. (1998). Available online at: https://counselling-vancouver.com/attunement/Kornfield, Jack. A Path with Heart: A Guide through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life. New York: Bantam Books. 1993. Print.
Lipton, Bruce H. The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter & Miracles. Santa Rosa: Mountain of Love, 2005. Print.
Oakley, Doug. An article published in the Daily Review, February 22, 2010. Hayward, CA. First page. (Note: Daily Review is no longer published, as of November 1, 2011.)
Scaer, Robert. Trauma Spectrum: Hidden Wounds and Human Resiliency. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2005. Print.
Siegel, Daniel. Mindsight. New York: Bantam Books, 2010. Print.
Siegel, Daniel. The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are. New York: The Guilford Press, 1999. Print.
Siegel, Daniel. The Neurobiology of “WE”. Sounds True, 2008. Audio Series.