WARNING I have not worked in therapy or in meditation with anyone who has this PTSD fragment. Normally I only write from experience but that is not the case here. This is theory unproven by practise. However I would not be writing it if I didnt think it was a contribution to help. Please heed this warning seriously as there is much pain in PTSD.
Zandtaomed Note - Work on this will be ongoing as the more case studies I include the more the proposal concerning the PTSD fragment has validity. It is interesting to listen to the paths of these people but it is time-consuming.
With this advice and proposal below it is worth looking at how it arose. I have an acquaintance who suffers from war trauma. He thought I had something, nice of him , so I told him about my life written as the Pathtivist Trilogy and he went away to read about it. The only feedback I have is "interesting". He copes with his trauma through drinking and wants to engage with me when he is drunk, something that is a complete waste of time as he has forgotten by the morning he accepts this. Heres the rub. Pathtivism talks about the inner journey and integrating fragments, but how can pathtivism ask someone to go inside to relive the pain of war trauma? The pain of the trauma was buried for a very legitimate reason.
So I investigated, and I start with what I know my experience. The process of fragmentation has been a huge benefit in my life, it has made difficult times tolerable. I want to examine three times in which fragmentation has occurred during my life, and see the benefits.
The first was during my childhood, so I am not going to discuss too many details. According to my inner child I chose my parents because of fragmenting, my inner child told me that he wanted the fragmentation that would occur during childhood. I had a repressed middle-class childhood, my childhood was not happy but I just grew up in a conditioned way without major trauma (all childhood has some trauma), and became a young adult with a career path and qualifications the middle-class objective; no wife though 2 out of the middle-class 3? Even though I was not authentic as a child, I had some tools to begin life as an adult. The fragmentation that occurred during my childhood was of benefit, it helped me cope but it was just coping not path.
The second stage I wish to consider my fragmenting is upheaval discussed in detail in the Treatise. I consider this the time at which my childhood fragmentation partially integrated itself, it is when I consider I started to follow my path. It was a fundamentally unconscious process of defragmentation. After uni 18 months into the world of work my career path held no meaning for me, I was increasingly drinking, not sleeping, and heading down to bottom. At one point I did something totally stupid at work, and was quite rightly sacked my work was incompetent anyway. I ran home to my parents, and over a period of a month I remember only one thing. I was walking past a pub thinking how much I enjoyed the sound of happiness but I knew that way was not for me. My parents unquestioningly offered me the haven I sought but this did not help my fragmentation, and I returned to London (from Manchester) with a vague plan. For me this vague plan was intrepid go back to London, go to an agency and get a non-career job and stay in a BandB after I got it, all in the same day. That was wild for me. I ended up in a cobol programming cubicle working on a pay suite in Hounslow. The next night I rented a loft space in Chiswick where began the bells and banjoes that I now associate with the 2nd tetrad of MwB.
I consider this second stage of fragmentation an unconscious defragmentation of the childhood fragmenting. Without making a single conscious decision I blew away all the fragmentation that had got me through childhood, and started on the path. I was immature, and began a long period in my life that I call my second childhood where I grew up on the path. At the time of upheaval I created a new fragment. This fragment was the MAWP, I fragmented that part of me that came from my middle-class upbringing. This fragment only became integrated long into my retirement when I finally began integrating 100% of me.
The third example of fragmentation occurred mid-life. I fell in love that was unrequited and experienced a great deal of pain in the relationship. Eventually the pain drove me to leave the relationship but I then fragmented that pain as I began to find my path again. The fragment was there but I did not notice it and as far as I was concerned I was living my life authentically. Some time later, maybe 7 or 8 years, I was in Nyanga, went deep inside, relived the pain that had been fragmented and as a result re-integrated the fragment. This Nyanga has been discussed throughout the Pathtivist Trilogy, and is included in the integrating fragments chapter of the Companion.
Fragmentation has been a process that has been of huge benefit in my life. Whilst I fully support the notion where appropriate that we must integrate all fragments so that we can be 100% dedicated to the path, the actual process of fragmentation is a helpful process that nature has provided for us. But that fragmentation has to be integrated. In the pathtivist trilogy that integration has been done by going inwards, reliving the experience and thus reintegrating the fragment. With regards to the PTSD fragment I now question this, and in such questioning ask how do we still become 100% dedicated to the path?
I suggest that the PTSD fragment has too much pain, and the integrating process needs to be considered differently. With the pain of the PTSD fragment being too much, reliving is not appropriate but if the fragment is not managed then it will continue to disturb as is the nature of fragments, the nature of needing to be integrated. So how does it reintegrate if it is not relived and released? I am suggesting motivation for action, I am suggesting that the PTSD fragment is naturally and sensibly created to handle the pain but in the case of the PTSD fragment it is not reintegrated by reliving and releasing; it is reintegrated by providing motivation for action. Without the action the pain is there needing to be integrated yet it cannot be because of too much pain, but if it is a motivation for action then it has been reintegrated, not released through reliving but reintegrated through motivation and the ensuing action.
I now intend to examine this contention by looking at examples case studies for jargon. However these case studies are not from experience but from observation, I have not worked with, or conversed with, any of these people so my assessment of the effects of the PTSD fragment can only be theoretical.
Vets within the anti-war movement have so much power, there is such a strength in who they are. It would not be difficult to see that their pain could be their motivation.
Case Study - Clare Dubois is a powerful warrior in the movement to save Gaia treesisters.org. In her Batgap interview she discussed a transition in her late 30s from, my words, PTSD victim to activist. I am suggesting that the pain from her abuse motivates her Gaia activism. As the interview went on I think I observed (I cannot know) that she had not released the PTSD fragment, that she was still attached to it but that she used the PTSD fragment as motivation for her activism. I dont recall Clare talking of meditation as a means of dealing with her trauma but as treesisters they promote meditations from nature.
Case Study - In her TED talk Shauna Quigley talks of her relationship with a black pain she calls her wound I describe it as her PTSD-fragment. She has conversations between her wound and her witness mind, and so heals herself. At the time of the TED talk there was no intention to relive and release, although she calls it her wound she did not see it as pain to be relived but a wound to inform her for healing. Having a conversation between her witness mind and her wound was an inner journey but she did not speak of meditation, her first awareness of the wound and witness mind just happened when she was a teenager but she did not engage with it until she was a young mother the birth of her son being an imperative to deal with her trauma by reconnecting her witness mind and her wound.
Case Study Through Inner Child work I came to understand my family dynamics far more than I personally understood. Although I am unwilling to discuss details, fragmentation was a very important coping strategy. Through fragmentation my mother was able to cope with many issues not particularly her own. As she grew older her life became more spiritual and fulfilling in a sense of personal achievement as opposed to maternal success. But throughout her life to some extent she was fragmented. I did discuss this kind of thing one time, something she was rarely willing to do, and it was clear to me that there was an unconscious aspect to her life that I now associate with fragmentation. The point about discussing my mother a little is to point out that in her case it was a positive coping mechanism. At no stage in her life was she interested in integrating fragments despite becoming more spiritual later in life.
Review Suffering has always been considered a motivator for following the path so there is no reason for not seeing suffering of PTSD in this way. I began this by asking myself about meditation and integration work, is it appropriate to go into the PTSD-fragment to relive and release it? Typical of that type of integrating of fragments I described above as Nyanga.
Looking into this has led me to (what I consider) a very important conclusion concerning fragmenting. For this I want to examine my own experience and then explain its relevance with PTSD fragmenting. I have already described fragmentation as beneficial, but I can give a better understanding. Consider the Nyanga example above. During the relationship there was much pain and suffering. After the break-up I slowly started to live life again finding purpose through politics that I had started during the relationship. At one stage I wrote a book, Kirramura, and as with any genuine writing it included inner work creating with the muse. At those earlier stages in my life writing was accompanied by bells and banjoes (the guys) what I would now describe as jhanas or piti and sukha. At no time during that writing, nor during the time I was politically active did I feel the needs of the emerging relationship trauma. I was following my path, my trauma had become a fragment, and I was able to follow my path as much as I was aware of then.
Now I have learnt there is only path and ego. Clearly the fragment is an ego so what become clear to me is that the path created the fragment. As the path created the fragment, that means you can follow your path at the time and not be disturbed by the fragment. As with my time between the break-up and Nyanga I was following my path but was not disturbed by the fragment
. until I was. With my childhood my path had fragmented my trauma so although I was repressed and middle-class I coped with my upbringing; at 23 I was able to mostly integrate and start to follow my path.
Now an important spiritual lesson is to learn to trust your path so if your path has created a fragment then trust its purpose and follow your path. On reflection my path protected me in childhood by fragmenting, and after my break-up I could follow my path protected from my pain until I was able to integrate it at Nyanga.
Now the PTSD-fragment might provide motivation for following the path or it might not, but what is important is to follow your path and not be concerned about the fragment, the path created the fragment, let the path handle the fragment.
Now the fragment is an ego and the process for forming egos is attachment. So there is the ongoing conditioning process of attaching to ego. In this case it might be addiction, attaching to trauma through alcohol addiction. So rather than burying the trauma the addiction attaches to it, tries to make it conscious through the association of drink and trauma. Following your path even if there is trauma, PTSD-fragment or whatever, is the answer as always.
That is a bit of a glib conclusion however valid. The pain that is PTSD-fragment cannot be treated in any way glibly. We have so far that following the path is the answer, the path created the fragment and we must trust the path, but then we have to look at the inner work that following the path with a PTSD-fragment requires. For example the bull-at-the-gate relive and release of Nyanga is not appropriate because of the level of pain, but Shaunas conversation with the fragment is inner work that worked for her.
Question to investigate Given that the path can harmonise the PTSD-fragment, and given that the path can use the PTSD-fragment as motivation, how do we use meditation to maintain that harmony? Trust the path but look at inner work.
More Study ..................................
Fragmentation is nature's way of helping us cope, it is a process that can be hugely beneficial if managed. Whilst paths require integration, in the situation of PTSD nature has quite sensibly drawn a curtain over the trauma causing the PTSD-fragment. Accept nature's way of handling the trauma; the path has created the fragment, trust your path.
But as with all fragments their nature is to seek reintegration. In the case of PTSD fragments that force needs to be channeled to help you follow your path - as motivation for spiritually or socially worthwhile action. Without some form of activity the desire for re-integration will need to be repressed leading to addictive behaviours such as alcohol addiction.
The path including PTSD fragments does not require reintegration through reliving and releasing but it does require 100% dedication as do all paths. Using such PTSD fragments as motivation for action can make up the 100%.
To come to terms with the balance required to cope with the PTSD fragment requires a modified inner journey. In that journey it becomes necessary to become acquainted with the PTSD fragment without demanding that it be relived and released.