3 Signs You Are Transcending Your Trauma (and How to Cultivate Them)

3 Signs You Are Transcending Your Trauma (and How to Cultivate Them)

Getty/Jorm Sangsorn

Vedanta spiritual philosophy offers powerful wisdom for the process of healing trauma. Discover the three signs you’re healing.

More people today are interested in spiritual growth than ever before. According to a 2022 Barna survey of 2,000 adults in the United States, three out of four people say they want to grow spiritually, and nearly half (44 percent) say they are more open to God today than they were prior to the pandemic.

And while many people may consider spiritual growth and trauma healing as two separate pursuits, the ancient Vedic spiritual tradition brings them together to present a comprehensive and holistic path of healing for your body, mind, and spirit.

The Bhagavad Gita, a sacred text that outlines Vedanta philosophy, provides three key signs that can reveal the extent of your spiritual growth. These signs also reflect if you are effectively transcending your trauma. Once you know these three signs, you can consciously cultivate them in the face of any triggering situation you face. (Modern life gives us plenty of ripe opportunities to deepen our practice!)

These three signs indicate the development of what is called stitha pragya—steady wisdom—in the face of triggering situations that remind you of previous traumas. These three signs center around the mental agitations you feel when you experience anger, fear, or strong desire:

  • The frequency of your mental agitation when facing triggering situations decreases.

  • The intensity of your pain when you get triggered is less than what you previously experienced.

  • The speed with which you are able to recover from a triggering situation is quicker than before.

How to Cultivate Steady Wisdom in the Face of Triggering Situations

1. Determine what underlying emotional desire(s) factor into your experiences with trauma as an adult and see through them by understanding the illusions inherent in them.

    We as human beings are creatures of habit, and we tend to play into patterns that are deeply embedded within our consciousness. Therefore, it is imperative that we boldly own and take responsibility for the part we play in recreating situations and dynamics in our lives that resemble any traumas we may have experienced in our childhood.

    To create pattern-breaking changes in our lives, we have to find the courage to examine the underlying desires that serve as the root cause for why we tend to give away our power, consciously or unconsciously.

    Swami Parthasarathy, a leading expert of Vedanta spiritual philosophy I’m grateful to study with, reveals mathematically just how a Human Being – Desires = God.

    The more we can practice examining and detaching from our desires one by one, the closer we will naturally come to our own true divinity. This is because desires themselves carry an inherent illusion within them. To believe that you are lacking something (which you need to gain from the external world) means that you have subscribed to an illusion.

    Vedanta philosophy teaches us that everything we need in life exists within us as our own true Self. Your true Self is the ultimate source of peace, power, courage, bliss, abundance, and lasting joy. It is when we forget our true Self that we suffer and develop desires, from a false sense of lacking that which we actually already are.

    2. Study spiritual wisdom in a systematic way to continuously remember and attach yourself more deeply to the power of your own eternal soul—and question everything along the way as you do so.

    Because desires themselves are the root cause of our suffering, the only way we can detach from or let go of them is by attaching ourselves to something higher in life. In the beginning, we can start by simply creating a higher ideal to follow in our lives and focus on fulfilling desires of a higher quality.

    The best way to get inspired to define and follow a higher ideal or purpose in life is by continuing to learn as much as you can about the nature of your own soul. The only thing that can fill the emotional void within ourselves is an abiding armor of connection with our true Self. This kind of emotional sovereignty is the purpose of the spiritual journey and can only be developed when we first know who we are as spiritual beings.

    As you study spirituality, it helps a lot to question everything you learn and not take anything for granted. You should not accept things blindly but test them out in the laboratory of your own life. If you benefit from practicing what you learn, then you can begin to develop your own spiritual practice with what you’ve learned. Having a spiritual practice like this will empower you to remember who you are more often than you forget your true nature.

    Systematically learning who you really are, contemplating upon what you learn, and then acting in a way that reflects the knowledge you have received from others is an ancient formula for lasting spiritual growth. Questioning everything along the way also empowers you to change your behaviors toward others you are in positions of leadership over so that you don’t cause trauma for others who look up to you, such as children, students, or employees. This karmically resolves your trauma in a way that prevents your current actions from coming back in the form of future traumas.

    3. Develop physical strength to fully embody the power of a spiritual warrior who can effectively transcend trauma.

    Once you develop deeper insight into your unconscious emotional desires and develop systematic spiritual knowledge to transcend your desires, it is liberating to then embody this power physically. We store our traumas in our bodies, so it is crucial to move the body to move our emotions and allow them to flow instead of staying stuck.

    Any kind of movement will be beneficial for this purpose, whether that be martial arts, dance, yoga, tai chi, boxing, running, Pilates, aerobics, weightlifting, or something else entirely.

    If you’re unable to perform intense exercises or physical strength training, then doing assertiveness training exercises (to learn how to fully express yourself) will empower you to connect with the power of transcendence within you.

    The essence of the spiritual practice of transcending trauma is learning to set aside the worries of the past and your anxieties for the future so that you can live fully in the present moment.

    The more present and joyful you feel on a day-to-day, moment-by-moment basis, the more you will be able to transcend the pain and trauma of the past and meet the future feeling prepared and empowered from within.

    Learn how to use active dreamwork to heal from trauma.

    3 Signs You Are Transcending Your Trauma and How to Cultivate Them

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