Tag Archives: triggers

Chuck’s Place: Neutralizing The Terror Of Archetypal Trigger

Our archetypal partner…
-Illustration © 2023 Jan

Ever-present in the background of ego consciousness is the archetypal human, that which, with its accumulated wisdom from having lived the entirety of human history, lives inside us and reacts along with us as we think, imagine, and encounter the phenomenal world.

Imagine standing at the edge of a tall mountain, flying in a plane, or crossing a turbulent river. The immediate instinctual reaction of our inner archetypal human might be anxiety, as it accents its knowing of potential danger. Archetypal triggers are the emotional downloads of ancient wisdom, gleaned from prior human experience, that automatically react to similar stimuli that appear in present-day life.

Our ego reaction to these same imaginary scenes might be to quickly rationalize the overwhelming statistics of the safety of flying and the ability to stay calm and in control in challenging situations. These efforts are attempts to minimize archetypal fears and master the challenges presented.

Ultimately, ego is tasked with becoming the Hero, who finds the means to  surmount the archetypal challenges being presented. Ego does well to begin with humility. Instinctual reactions are automatic; there is no blame in the reaction of terror.

The thought of giving a speech or performing before an audience might provoke immediate terror. It’s a completely valid instinctive response. This is the archetypal mind scanning the power of groups in myriads of human encounters throughout history and delivering its verdict—terror.

The lowered consciousness of group mind in such experiences has resulted in many tragic consequences in the course of human history. The ego does well to acknowledge this truth and to consider how it might best prepare itself for such a challenging event.

Sometimes ego might attempt to puff itself up to feel equal to or greater than the power of the archetypal trigger. Positive self-talk in such circumstances may be helpful but is not likely to maintain the confidence needed for true mastery.

The Hero’s journey is its own archetypal journey of ego development. First and foremost, one must heed the call to action. The call originates from our High Self or Spirit, informing us that it is time to grow: “Yes, you must meet with this person whom you experience as the archetypal bully or harpy.”

The instinctive reaction to freeze or retreat is respected but not chosen for this challenge to be successfully met. One might engage in yoga, breath work, meditation, neurofeedback, or any body-centered technique to increase conscious control over the instinctual reactions of the central nervous system generated by the archetypal mind.

The home of the archetypal human is the subconscious mind, which responds immediately to triggers or suggestions by generating chemical and electrical reactions in the body. The use of conscious positive suggestions to the body present new behavioral options to the subconscious mind. Just as the subconscious mind reacts to instinct, it also reacts to consciously generated suggestions.

Thus, regular self-hypnosis that suggests actions of calm and mastery can give the ego greater control over the habitual, instinctive reactions of the archetypal mind. The calmer we can be in an archetypal encounter the greater will be our ability to remain present and to respond quickly and thoughtfully to rapidly changing conditions.

Practice, practice, practice! This is the guidance given to all music students. Its wisdom can be generalized to prepare all of us for all kinds of archetypal encounters.

For instance, visualizing the scene and the myriad of possible permutations of an event, accompanied by the bilateral recapitulation breath as you live those scenes, allows you to gain greater clarity, fluidity and calm over the actual event.

Ego is also free to ask for help and support from its High Self, who appreciates ego’s efforts to meet its appointed task. In particular, one might ask the High Self for help in gaining access to the appropriate words and ideas that would be helpful as it navigates the challenge before it. Memorization has its place, but a quickness of mind is best suited to be fully present and responsive to an unfolding challenge.

Ultimately, the archetypal human is extremely conservative. Its aim is to keep us safe and alive. In fact, in actual life-threatening circumstances this ancient human can take possession of the ego and the body and perform superhuman feats. Don’t leave home without your archetypal human self!

On the other hand, realize that consciousness was evolved at the behest of the archetypal mind, who saw the wisdom of being able to change course on a dime, rather than suffer the consequences of habitual patterns ill-fitted to changing circumstances.

The ego is the child of the archetypal human who must truly become the adult to the personality, working respectfully with its archetypal partner and cohort.

Archetypal triggers are merely necessary tests meant to be mastered. Also, life always provides many makeup tests!

Choose wisely,

Chuck’s Place: Trigger, Habit or Both?

A sting can cause a trigger; gathering pollen is a habit!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

“That really triggered me!”  Here, a sore spot, a vulnerability has been touched by someone’s comment, setting off this emotionally explosive reaction. Typically, the wounded party expects that others should know and respect this sensitivity and refrain from going near it. One often feels entitled to an apology.

A trigger is anything that can cause one to remember and feel an unprocessed emotionally charged experience. If someone tries to forget being attacked by a dog, the mere mention of its name can arouse anger and terror. Inwardly, the experience of being bitten has been pushed out of consciousness, protecting one from the discomfort of the reactivated memory.

The psyche envelops overwhelming experiences with strong defenses to keep the dreaded event far away from consciousness. Traumatic events may be so far removed from consciousness as to render one amnesic of their existence, even for decades.

Though the need for distance from a disturbing event may be necessary to function, it comes at the price of wholeness. The psyche must employ a good amount of energy to contain the disowned, unwanted or unknown parts of its experience. Furthermore, relaxed functioning may be compromised, as vigilance may be needed to avoid encounters with triggers associated with the split-off experience.

Ultimately, all events of a lifetime must be reconciled. A shamanic recapitulation, in this life, emotionally neutralizes all experience, rendering the psyche fully cohesive and able to be open to life without concern for triggers.

The life review referenced in near-death experiences, or reported by spirits in the afterlife, is required before one can advance into new life. Problems we haven’t resolved will preoccupy our lives, regardless of what subtle plane we may transition to. Recapitulation in this life both frees one for fulfillment in this life but also advances one in preparation for new life in the afterlife.

Habits are automatic beliefs, programs or pre-programmed behaviors that lie dormant in the subconscious mind. Programs are connected to genetic coding, as well as instinctive and archetypal imperatives that are specific to the nuances of the human species.

When a need or suggestion is encountered, the subconscious automatically activates the relevant program to address the situation. Thus, if one is attacked the subconscious will automatically activate fight, flight or freeze in response to the event. These reactions are not reactions to triggers, they are purely instinctive reactions to an existential threat. An instinctive habit is objective, a trigger is subjective.

The subconscious is also filled with habits that are derived from one’s subjective experience in this life. Thus, a person who has been bitten by a dog may consciously choose to always avoid dogs. This intentional behavior becomes a suggestion to the subconscious mind that molds it into an automatic, unconscious habit.

Thus, for instance, our bitten subject may unconsciously find themselves only walking certain routes that are known to be dog free. Now, if, while calmly walking one of these routes, a bark is heard, the subject may be triggered into emotional distress via encounter with the unreconciled memory of the original bite.

While triggers require a successful recapitulation if they are to be neutralized, habits, to change, require new suggestions to the subconscious mind. Thus, if one’s habit is a belief that one is unable to dance, one must first eliminate the conscious restating of this long-held belief. The subconscious will only manifest the suggestions one states.

To change a habit we must routinely state the new instruction to the subconscious mind: “I am able to dance.” This is not a discussion with the conscious mind. No reasoning or processing is required. What is required is the statement of intended fact to the subconscious, without any discussion.

To avoid conflicting suggestions to the subconscious, which virtually nullifies the formation of new habits, it is critical that one have complete faith in one’s suggestion. If one can embrace the belief that anything is possible then one can mobilize the requisite intensity of suggestion most likely to influence the subconscious.

One is often tested by the subconscious by the activation of old programs, despite one’s new intent. Old habits will reassert themselves until the new habit is established. Be calm, patient and persevering until the subconscious automatically prompts the newly established program. Simply repeat the new intent with calm assurance that it will manifest.

Trigger and habit are frequently intertwined. A new habit will be blocked from formation if a defensive habit must be retained to protect one from a potential trigger. Triggers, which represent split off experiences, must be neutralized through recapitulation before a habit, used to keep triggers at bay, can be effectively replaced.

Though both habits and triggers may be permanently altered, their pathways to change are distinctly different. Triggers must be processed at a conscious level to be neutralized; habits require rote repetition of new marching orders to the subconscious to result in a changed habit.

When triggers and habits are intertwined it is necessary to first reconcile  the triggered event to effectively free the subconscious to take in the instructions for the desired change of habit. Change itself is always possible. Remember, anything is possible!



Chuck’s Place: The Secret Life of Habit

Habits unchecked, mushroom…
– Photo by J. E. Ketchel

The human mind is a vehicle in constant motion. When we drive our car we actually turn the driving over to the subconscious mind, the home of established patterns of perceiving and acting, while our conscious mind journeys freely into other realms of thought and imagination. The array of established patterns stored in the subconscious mind are known as habits.

Some habits are archetypal in nature, meaning they are encoded pre-birth in the subconscious, to direct perception and action according to the needs of a species. Animals function almost entirely at a preprogrammed habitual level. A seasoned hunter actually becomes bored at the ‘sport’ of hunting, as animals are easy prey, traveling the same monotonous patterns daily.

The human animal has the advantage of adding new habits to the subconscious pool through the exercise of conscious suggestion and intent. Most suggestions, however, are obtained from the socialization process. Behavior is largely shaped by the reward and punishment responses from one’s social environment. These reinforced patterns become strongly recommended to the subconscious, eventually taking up residence as established habits.

Sometimes habits are established via completely non-conscious processes. If one experiences a serious trauma during an activity at a particular location, the unconscious reptilian part of the brain takes pictures of these circumstances and directly encodes a message to the subconscious to avoid subsequent locations that look similar. These are experienced as triggers, which are managed via the subconscious habit of avoidance.

The conscious mind may prove quite powerless to overcome these habitual reactions due to the potent energy programmed by the reptilian brain. Habit change at this level requires trauma processing to rewrite and override the program of avoidance. During processing we gradually achieve a neutral response to a trigger, allowing a new program of calm to be introduced and accepted by the subconscious mind, overriding the now anachronistic and unnecessary habit of avoidance.

Beliefs are tremendous influencers upon habit formation. The current social dimension of human interaction is largely governed by belief systems that have become encoded in automatic subconscious reactions.  The possibility of calm communication between groups is largely blocked by the automatic perceptions, judgments and behaviors driven by these powerful habits that have been shaped by belief.

Most of our lives are lived via subconscious habits. If we had to instruct ourselves to breathe to obtain every needed breath, we would become exhausted in no time. Habits are not only necessary but quite welcome for good economy of our psychic energy. Nonetheless, habits tend to limit innovation and creativity, as well as keep us frozen in the past.

Intents, suggestions, mantras, and prayers are repetitive techniques to facilitate the formation of new, consciously driven habits. Begin with a definite verb like “will” or “am”. Too often we begin with “I’d like to” or “I  hope” or “I want”.  The subconscious works best with definite, not ambivalent or begging, statements.

Perseverance is critical in new habit formation. The subconscious is used to its default programs, whether inherited or learned. Unless we are quite persistent in the repetition of our suggestions for a new program,  it will move toward the default position. Remain calm and persevering, with no attachment to the goal, to avoid the static of frustrated emotion that then weakens the power of the suggestion.

Suggestions are further strengthened when they are imbued with conscious presence as they are stated. Suggestions are most powerful when not opposed by blocking beliefs or traumatic events still charged in the unconscious. If powerful emotions or triggers litter the mindscape, best to engage in intentional processing to clear the debris, in preparation for establishing new desired habits.

May our habits achieve peak performance through a positive working relationship with our conscious minds. May our conscious minds put themselves at the service of the greater good of the Self, to ensure healthy habits for the betterment of all.

Habitually yours,


Chuck’s Place: Facing Oncoming Time & Recapitulation

In his book The Art of Navigation Felix Wolf shares the following anecdote from Carlos Castaneda.

The Nagual always maintained that the average man traveled through life in the caboose, always looking back, always keenly aware of his personal history, his experiences, and his identity as an accumulation of the past. It was one of his favorite analogies. A warrior who wants to become a man of knowledge, however, has to turn around and face life as it unfolds in front of him. Instead of facing receding time he has to face oncoming time, as he put it. Life in the caboose versus life in the engine.” (From page 60. *)

Isn’t the shamanic practice of recapitulation in fact living in the past, the exact opposite of facing oncoming time? Is there not a contradiction here? Doesn’t recapitulation strap us firmly to a seat in the caboose with a view out the back window, at life that has already passed us by? What about total presence in the NOW, the coveted goal Carlos describes as being seated in the engine, directly perceiving oncoming time, engaging life to the fullest? To answer these questions and resolve this seeming paradox we must first explore what it takes to truly live life in the moment.

Both the seers of ancient Mexico and the Buddhists place a premium on reaching a state of inner silence to become mindful, fully aware and present in the NOW. Toward that end Buddhist masters prescribe the practice of meditation where we learn to quiet our restless hearts and become keen observers of all that presents. The molding of this observing self that allows life to be known directly, without the interference of the thinking, judging mind, prepares us to be innocently present in the moment, freed of the cogitations of the mind that interprets versus lives in the moment. Achieving detachment from the ceaseless internal dialogue of the mind is certainly a major component of mindfulness. Like the Buddhists, the seers of ancient Mexico employ their own active meditation practice of magical passes to achieve this coveted state.

Another major component of mindfulness is access to a fully integrated self. How can we be fully present if parts of who we are remain fragmented, unknown and tucked away in the luggage compartment of the self? Furthermore, the legacy of our hidden baggage is the burden it places on life in the present. For instance, if we carry deep wounds of loss, abandonment, negligence, and violation, we will surely be limited in opening to all that life invites us to in the present moment. Recapitulation is the shamanic practice that frees us from these limitations and fully unites the self to be present in the NOW.

In recapitulation we allow ourselves to be taken on a train ride to all the stations of life already lived. We arrive at each of these old stations with our present self keenly observing, taking the journey with our younger self that has been stranded at the station, frozen in time. Our present self opens to the full experience of our younger self, and thereby faces fully the confusion and struggle that once froze our younger self. Often we discover in recapitulation that our younger self was forced to leave its body under the impact of overwhelming trauma and hence the full truth of that moment was never consolidated and made real. In recapitulation the full truth of the past becomes known, allowing its burdens to be released. The energy and innocence of the younger self is freed and united with the present self, firmly seated in the engine, facing oncoming time.

Part of what we encounter as we face oncoming time are triggers that take us out of the present moment. Meditation can help us to remain present in spite of a trigger, but it can’t help us to fully open to the moment if the trigger signifies a lost, frozen part of the self. Life often places triggers in our path to awaken us to discover our lost selves. We cannot simply transcend our triggers and fully open to life without recapitulating the truth that lies behind the trigger. We must be open to completing all our journeys, especially the train wrecks buried deeply within the self if we are ever to be fully available to life in the NOW.

Recapitulation, then, is actually a major component of being able to face oncoming time. Freed from the past we can allow life to approach us with all that it offers, unfiltered, without limitation. From this vantage point, firmly seated in the engine, we can read clearly the signs and synchronicities life presents us with to guide our evolutionary journeys, in infinity—NOW!

If you wish to correspond, please feel free to post a comment below.

Until we meet again,

* NOTE: The book mentioned in this blog is available through our Store listed under the category of Shamanism.