Step One: Validate the effects the trauma has had on your life. Trauma affects lives in so many different ways. It is important to honor how it has affected yours. It may have had an impact on your relationships, self-esteem, feelings of safety, and the list could go on ad nauseam. These are scars that only you know about and it's time to share them with others and lessen the shame associated with them.
Step Two: Write a list of characteristics you want in a Higher Power or Spiritual practice. There are no boundaries here. You have the right and permission to create a Higher Power of your understanding who you always wanted and needed. One suggestion is to think of characteristics you want in a best friend or a parent.
- Write a list of characteristics of a friend or someone you know whom you admire or feel safe with.
- Write out a list of characteristics of your new Higher Power.
Step Three: Surround yourself with a loving and understanding person with whom you can share your spiritual journey. This is a delicate matter, you want to choose someone you see practicing spirituality themselves. You want someone you can be honest with about your experience and how you are feeling.
- Tell someone you trust that you need his or her help.
- Share some of your journaling exercises with this individual.
- Initiate a conversation on how they found spirituality.
Step Four: Recognize your Spirituality or Higher Power. Try and envision your Higher Power. Next, recognize where you see your Higher Power or witness Spirituality in the world. Make a list of characteristics that you see in daily life that is evidence of a spiritual presence. An example of this is seeing the concept of "peace" within the ocean or witnessing "strength" in the eyes of a child. Make your Spirituality or Higher Power something you can see in your daily life.
- Write out what your Higher Power looks like, feels like and smells like.
- Write down some things that your Higher Power would say to you.
- Recognize in the world where you see evidence of the characteristics of your Higher Power. There are an infinite number of answers to this question.
Step Five: Communicate with your Higher Power. Have a dialogue with this new Higher Power on a regular basis. Write letters if it best suits you. Remember, there is not wrong way to have a dialogueJournal Exercise:
- Write out a few things you say on a daily basis. These can be "prayers" or take the form of affirmations. Type them up and put them in places where you will see them daily. Be specific. If there is something that you are struggling with, write a prayer or affirmation about it.
- Note where you see your Higher Power work in your life. If you are able to get through something that was difficult and feel as if a Presence got you through it or may have contributed to your strength then write it down. Perhaps you felt an instance of peace where you used to have none. Put it on paper. Feel the presence in your life.
A brilliant philosopher who stopped believing in God when she was fourteen, Edith Stein was so captivated by reading the autobiography of Teresa of Avila that she began a spiritual journey that led to her Baptism in 1922. Twelve years later she imitated Teresa by becoming a Carmelite, taking the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. Born into a prominent Jewish family in Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland), Edith abandoned Judaism in her teens. As a student at the University of Gottingen, she became fascinated by phenomenology, an approach to philosophy. Excelling as a protege of Edmund Husserl, one of the leading phenomenologists, Edith earned a doctorate in philosophy in 1916. She continued as a university teacher until 1922 when she moved to a Dominican school in Speyer; her appointment as lecturer at the Educational Institute of Munich ended under pressure from the Nazis. After living in the Cologne Carmel (1934-1938), she moved to the Carmelite monastery in Echt, Netherlands. The Nazis occupied that country in 1940. In retaliation for being denounced by the Dutch bishops, the Nazis arrested all Dutch Jews who had become Christians. Teresa Benedicta and her sister Rosa, also a Catholic, died in a gas chamber in Auschwitz on August 9, 1942.
Things to Do: In the month of August we celebrate two martyrs of Auschwitz, St. Maximilian Kolbe and St. Teresa Benedicta. We need to pray, hard and often that our world does not return to the inhumanity to man. The acceptance of euthanasia and abortion, embryonic stem cell research, IVF, are the first steps to deciding who can live or who can die. Offer a Mass, say a rosary, offer sacrifices, etc. to end abortion and other sins against mankind. Read about Auschwitz and ponder the modern gas chambers in every state of our Union and resolve to do all that you can to end the killing.