I’m a writer, but each time a new story of violence takes over my media stream, I instinctively react, not with words—but with silence.
I get a bit quieter and send out love for the victims and healing for everyone and for the world.
I believe that much of the violence in our world comes from people who don’t have the tools to sit still, to quiet the pain and the confusion of their bodies and minds and to unlearn the violence they have been taught.
If we could all stop, get quiet and tune into our deepest self, I believe that our world would become more peaceful, more compassionate, more appreciative of difference and of the miracle of life.
Silence can be our friend and teacher.
But if we silence ourselves completely, we can feel like a levee about to break. As important as silence is for a more peaceful world, expression is just as vital.
It is only when we express our whole selves, when we recognize our whole humanity, that we can really heal and become fully human.
And it is only when we recognize our whole selves that we can fully recognize and cherish others.
Those who feel silenced live with great pain. Maya Angelou famously said,
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story.”
Speaking out, voicing our stories, is necessary for healing.
Similarly, those who react to the world with violence are often those who have silenced parts of themselves—we need to have silenced part of our humanity not to recognize the humanity of a person we are harming. This silencing takes place in the most economically privileged and in the least, and among people of every faith tradition and race. After all, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said,
“A riot is the language of the unheard.”
So to sit with silence and to quiet our thoughts, and then to express whichever parts of ourselves we have not been able to express can be two of the most powerful and healing things we can do—on an individual level and on a social level.
There are between 200,000 to 300,000 hate crimes in the US per year. In the US, every nine seconds a woman is assaulted or beaten. Every year, roughly 13000 Americans, more than one per hour, die of gun violence. This is not to mention all the violence taking place all across the globe.
So how do we address it?
In writing about these traumatic experiences, we heal ourselves, educate the world, and make others who have similar experiences feel less alone.
I run writing workshops for trauma survivors and want to offer some guidelines now for anyone who might be suffering.
I offer these 5 steps to writing your way through trauma:
First published in Elephant Journal here
Emotional Healing & Mindful Writing Blog | Nadia Colburn
I blog about creativity, writing, yoga, meditation, justice, women, the environment and integrated well being for the individual and society.