Stopping the Trauma Train

Stopping the Trauma Train V

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If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all the generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people.

—Thich Nhat Hanh

I had a friend who—even while in our orthodox high school—began to gamble. He would sneak out at odd times, as if under some mysterious spell, to go bet on horses, blackjack, anything at all. Later he found out that he had an uncle (whom he had never met) who was an incorrigible gambler. He had died young and apparently never finished his game. My friend seemed to have picked up his hand!

All of us carry the imprint of our ancestors, their wisdom as well as their pain. It’s part of being in the human family. For years I ran from this truth. I felt the willies when I thought of the weirdness in my lineage and didn’t want anything to do with it. Now I am learning to face my ancestors—and by this I mean all who have gone before me, like my brother and sister who died young. I am learning to call them by name, honor them, and even ask them to be my allies.

Throughout our lives we store thoughts, emotions and past memories below the floorboards of our conscious minds. And not only our own, but also the stored material of our parents and grandparents live beneath the surface of our awareness in what I call the ancestral realm.

Even though they are dead and gone from this world, our ancestors’ strong feelings and experiences—whatever they were—still have a vibration and a gravitational pull. This pull affects us. Sometimes we don’t realize that the strong impulses we feel are really reiterations of patterns set in motion long before we came around.

Sometimes these impulses are high-minded—like the pull I have to study and teach. These activities seem to satisfy a deep need in me. Maybe this has to do with the fact that I came from a long line of rabbis. Study is what they did, alone and in groups.

But other impulses take me and those around me downhill. Like bouts of anger, gloominess, or ennui. Are they mine alone, I wonder? Or am I continuing some unresolved pattern of those who came before me?

I have discovered that we can work to alleviate our negative family patterns and dissolve their disruptive influences by turning to face and honor our ancestors. Join me for a deep day of ritual and meditation as we connect and restore our fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters to their rightful roles as loving allies and guides from the world beyond.


Join Tirzah and friends on March 26 for her Ancestral Healing Workshop just outside of Boulder, CO. For more information: Call 303. 819. 1339

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1 Comment

  • Reply Oli March 23, 2016 at 7:31 pm

    Tirzah wrote: “I have discovered that we can work to alleviate our negative family patterns and dissolve their disruptive influences by turning to face and honor our ancestors.”

    I can relate to this statement, and I call this skill and its effects “the power of gratitude.” It can be much harder for some of us depending on what happened and how it happened, but one way to contribute to our own well-being towards becoming whole is to do whatever it takes to learn to feel gratitude for our parents, and our ancestors.

    Whatever wonderful gift our parents gave us, being born at all, being able to think and speak, able to hold a fork, spoon and knife, going to school, being human, all of these are easy to appreciate. What about everything they did “wrong?” We can learn to view these as lessons regarding “what not to do.” What about the hurts and traumas? It can be very hard sometimes, almost impossible, and there are often extreme cases of abuse and violence. However, many of us can learn the skills necessary to discover wonderful lessons emerging once the traumas are owned and transformed. When we can be grateful for everything, we know we’ve been able to extract maximum value from what happened.

    Following Tirzah’s lead, it must be possible then to apply the same skills and turn all poison into medicine when it comes to what all our deceased relatives and ancestors have left us, wether we know of their existence or not.

    I think there is great potential in Tirzah’s proposal regarding one effective way to alleviate our negative family patterns, and even to use them to our advantage: “turning to face and honor our ancestors,” in other words, to learn how to feel gratitude for them. It’s part of the powerful trio of pre-emptive forgiveness, boundless gratitude and unconditional love.

    Much needed today as we try to slow down and eventually stop the ever-accelerating spiral of violence, revenge, and more violence that seems to engulf our world today.

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