Spiritual Processing: 3 Steps to Working Through Traumatic Events

I've written a few other posts about living in truth which can be found here. I encourage you to read them if you'd like to gain more in-depth knowledge about the steps to Spiritual Processing I share in this post. Before we begin, I also wish to send gratitude to my client for allowing me to share some of the details of our coaching session in this post.


Recently I was working with a coaching client and we were discussing getting triggered, responding to that trigger, and then processing the event fully in order to avoid getting pulled into reacting from the ego and/or storing the event as a trauma to be dealt with down the road. There are different intensities here; we made a distinction between the everyday annoyances we deal with all the time and the larger, more upsetting events that occur less often but that are more likely to be stored in the body and energetic field as trauma. As we talked, I realized that we could boil down this method of what I call Spiritual Processing into three main steps.


Step One If you've read much of my writing or watched my Wind Down Wednesdays show this first step will probably not be surprising to you: awareness. The first step in any spiritual practice usually involves awareness. Noticing how we feel, that we're having a strong response, is how we recognize that we're being triggered by an event. This is uncomfortable, and my client wanted to know if we can eventually eliminate the physical response we have when we are emotionally triggered. It's a great question, and I wanted to be able to say yes, but the reality is that as long as we are living in these physical bodies, even with the admirable goal of living in Spiritual Integration, we will get triggered.


In fact, we might notice that as we become more open to our intuition we may also become more sensitive to stimuli, which can include a more prominent trigger response. This is a natural part of the process and is actually a sign that we're on the right track! It's important to recognize our physical reactions so that we can step into awareness to process a triggering event. These strong reactions are the body's way of inviting us into awareness. The body doesn't want us to store trauma any more than we want to unearth it weeks, months or years later, so having a strong trigger response is actually a gift. When we can no longer ignore our triggered responses, we are invited to begin processing them immediately, which is how we avoid shoving them down or behind us where they fester and cause discomfort and dis-ease until we finally unearth and deal with the trauma.


As we do this work we may also find that we are less triggered by the everyday things that used to set us off, and the reward for learning to process events more quickly and more fully is that in ten years we're not having to deal with something we couldn't face in the present. Eventually we do get triggered less and we're nimbler about stepping back into integration when we lose that neutrality. And we will, for after all, we are human and perfectly imperfect.


Step Two

Once we become aware that we have been triggered, we can move to step two, which is mental processing. This involves stepping outside the triggered reaction in order to access response. We accomplish this by inviting our observer self to step in to evaluate the triggered reaction without (or with less) emotional attachment. The goal here is to come as close as possible to accessing a state of neutrality. This step may take a while. In the heat of an argument, we may have to walk away or ask to resume the discussion at a later time when we have been able to step further into neutrality. If you are ever uncertain of your physical safety, that is always your first priority. Get to a safe place and begin the work of Spiritual Processing when you are physically safe and emotionally ready.


Breathing is always important in spiritual work, but it is especially helpful in this step. There is truth to the adage about taking five to ten deep breaths when we get upset. Deep breathing is how we access a meditative state, and the more we practice meditation outside of pressured situations, the faster we can access that state during a triggering event. It's also important to note that stepping into this neutral state does not mean we are processing the event emotionally and physically. Mental processing is not about working through the triggered response; especially if it's deeply triggering, that work comes later when we're in a safe space, physically and emotionally. Mental processing is about stepping out of the triggered reaction into a neutral observer space so that we can respond to the triggering event from a spiritual place rather than reacting to it blindly.

What I have found is that often the work of mental processing begins during the event and allows us to safely respond (or to choose not to respond in some cases) rather than reacting. Mental processing may continue for a few days (or even weeks or months in the case of a deeply triggering event) while we work through this event on the level of thought. Why did this happen? Could I have done something differently to change the outcome? Working through the situation in the mental space gives us time to ready ourselves for the deeper work of emotional and physical processing that comes next.


Step Three Emotional and physical processing is the third step in this proce