the one thing there is plenty of

After nine months, I’d had enough. Every level of life felt like a challenge—for what seemed an eternity. I needed a distraction. The image of tying a knot at the end of a rope, as the expression goes, and just hanging on came to mind. What I saw from that vantage was plenty of trauma: Sexual assault or abuse; accidents, or injuries to self or other; natural disasters; or being in a life-threatening situation.  I have been traumatized. I have sat with others experiencing trauma. I’m quite sure there is some trauma stuck within me.  Doesn’t everyone know trauma?

Racial injustice had escalated throughout 2020, as other circumstances—the pandemic, global warming, and political manipulation and unrest—became more widespread. As it turned out, a December book study featured My Grandmother’s Hands – Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies. Was this the diversion I craved?

Before signing up, I watched a few YouTube interviews with the author, Resmaa Menakem, whose calm and sincerity simply ooze through the screen. A trauma healer and psychotherapist, he is also a Minnesotan. Plus, I felt like he was someone I could trust. Hooked! Reviews praise this book of mending soul wounds (trauma) as the essential change needed to bring all bodies together—something this country desperately needs. As a healer, I wanted to know more about the author’s new approach to healing suffering. My mind was filled with possibilities for healing all kinds of trauma. Imagine the exposed space after the release of all that negative energy.

In his book, Menakem specifically addresses the history of racial trauma and steps in the individual and collective healing journeys surrounding white body supremacy, black and brown bodies, and blue bodies (law enforcement). His main idea is that trauma is not of the thinking brain but lives in the DNA of body cells and is passed down from generation to generation. Trauma happens to someone. “When something happens to the body that is too much, too fast, or too soon, it overwhelms the body and can create trauma…Trauma is the body’s protective response to an event—or series of events—that it perceives as potentially dangerous. This perception may be accurate, inaccurate, or entirely imaginary.” My Grandmother’s Hands, pages 6-7. The author shares examples, questions, and exercises that offer healing of individual racial trauma, creating more room within the nervous system and confirming that trauma can be healed.

My lifetime experiences with black or brown bodies have been relatively few, but positive and accepting; however, my family of origin casts some shadows. This book has increased my awareness of white supremacy and the stark effects of it on all bodies. I am shocked at how much more I need to broaden my understandings and actions. Committed to investing time and energy in healing my personal racial trauma, I begin.

Up until the time of reading Resmaa’s book, I thought any ancestral trauma I might have had was linked to my 100% German heritage. Scientifically, I now know some of the persecution and murder of European Jews and other minorities as well as Hitler’s strategy of an Aryan master race during the WWII era was passed down through the DNA of my generations. For example, whenever I watch a movie like Kate Hamer’s “The Girl in the Red Coat,” I have strong empathy, am moved to tears, and have difficulty emerging from scenes. Not proud to witness those actions, I condemn this senseless price that humanity was forced to pay. I wish there had been less tyranny and greater inclusion.

Menakem offers five tools to counteract familiar, reactive behavior patterns to life situations: fight, flight, or freeze. Paraphrased, these translate to 1) A struggle is coming, 2) That struggle is picking up traction, or 3) I sense a growing uneasiness in my body. For me, a growing uneasiness in my stomach signals trauma over a part of my heritage that I was not responsible for, yet somehow, still lives in me. The five anchors’ tool suggests ways to stay with the discomfort of my inherited trauma and move through it. Besides the trigger of movies, my senses have a way of creating scenes from historical readings and my travel experiences.

As I close my eyes, it’s as if I can feel, hear, see, touch, and taste the despair and fear of the Jewish prisoners and the arrogance and cold-bloodedness of Hitler. Sadly, it is part of who I am, how I act and react, and how I interact with life. I always wondered why I had such intense emotions relating to the Holocaust or to Hitler. Now, however, I know that I can set an intention to heal from my ancestral trauma.

Anchors 1-5 are paraphrased to show my experience of self-healing from trauma. See My Grandmother’s Hands, pages 167-175, for complete explanation.


A billboard about a Holocaust exhibit at the Minnesota Institute for the Arts (MIA) triggers uneasy feelings in my body. I sense a tightening of my stomach muscles. I set an intention to work with my ancestral trauma, to heal from it.

Anchor 1

The discomfort of guilt, shame, and fear loom over me. I stop thinking. I begin to soothe myself by humming, rocking, or rubbing the area just above my navel. After about ten minutes, my mind and heart are quiet and calm.

Anchor 2

Then I notice sensations in my body. My stomach is clenched, a headache targets my temples, and pain attacks my left neck area. Guilt, shame, and fear accompany the pain. I try not to react to what I am feeling, so I repeat the names of the areas of my body that house the discomfort: stomach, temples, left neck area. Over and over.

Anchor 3

I accept the guilt, shame, and fear (discomfort) of my inherited trauma and stay with it as long as I can feel it. I do not fight, flee, or freeze. Reacting does not help me work through the trauma. Instead, I allow the discomfort to enter my body. I feel it and remain with it, no matter how unpleasant. I do not analyze it or think of strategies to overcome it. I don’t think! It is a natural inclination for the body to want to maintain stability. I focus on my body to accept, experience, and move through the discomfort—until it changes. It will change. It always does. However, it may take some time. I commit to waiting.

Anchor 4

I continue to stay with the guilt, shame, and fear (discomfort) and feel my way, moment-by-moment, as things unfold. I also allow uncertainty and doubt, knowing they are just passing feelings. I respond to discomfort (guilt, shame, and fear) from my highest Self and deepest truth. I don’t judge or expect others to help. Healing is instinctive. I continue to trust the process. For me, it takes about forty-five minutes before the discomfort lifts.

Anchor 5

I clear any remaining energy surrounding the discomfort by doing one of the following activities: shaking my body or yelling for three minutes; dancing or brisk walking for twenty minutes.

I am so excited to experience the lifting of some of my ancestral trauma. I feel more resilient and empowered, with a more expansive (and relaxed!) nervous system. If guilt, shame, or fear start to rear their ugly heads when my life connects with people who are Jewish, with documentaries about that era, or with readings on a similar topic, I will not fight, flee, or freeze. I’ll calmly repeat the five anchors’ exercise. Having this tool gives me a choice to privately identify my own trauma, to reduce trauma at my own pace through tools and exercises, and to become a more empathetic and loving family and community member because I have done the work of change. Now it’s time to heal white supremacy.

From a higher vantage: Reduce trauma overload—it’s holding you back! Take plenty of opportunities in the new year to send trauma on its way. Seize Resmaa Menakem’s book, My Grandmother’s Hands. Listen to your body. Learn from its wisdom. Experience healing and ease.

@ 2020 in the thick of things

facing the “vir”us

It challenges my core being:

All that is meaningful to me,

            All that I love,

            All that I am.

It strips me to basics and less, while insisting on more.

            Reminding me of my vulnerability.

            Revealing my dependence on the external.

            Reframing my thoughts about community.

It is at once primitive, yet sophisticated.

            Carrying with it ruthless lessons,

            Defying medical knowledge,

            Creating opportunities (when taken) for being and sensing differently.

Virus, you depend on me to thrive. And I am designed to thrive also!

I consider its layered impact, the sound of it. I feel expulsion on my breath. Virus. 

Based on the Sanskrit word “vir,” the meaning is to overpower.

“Vir”us: overpower us.


            I use common sense and follow health mandates, overpowering statistics.

            I turn toward uncertainty and release panic, overpowering trends.

            I embody love, I love, and I am loved, overpowering fear.

Each day I set an intention to flourish as I…

            Align with an energy greater than I am.

Know that I am safe, no matter what life brings to the moment.

Love myself as I am, including the parts I don’t like, transcending illusions.

Soften without insistence of “my way.”

Notice when and where I tighten, so I know relaxation.

Observe my ingrained habits with patience and kindness.

Realize that the virus is not discerning: it wants what it wants.

I always have choices that help me feel comfortable and connect in community.

Do I live realizing that life consists of both pleasure and pain? Then my heart is big enough to comfort others.

Do I own and work with my unresolved issues? Then I can help others with resolution.

Do I accept that life is unpredictable, and that resistance makes things worse? Then I am ready to encourage others to flow.

I face the “vir”us, a transformation of life.

From a higher vantage: Five months have challenged me to ponder what really matters in life, to weigh if my values and beliefs on all levels are true or out-of-date, to cherish all connections, and to seek shared aspirations in social and community issues. And that’s a good thing. 

© 2020 in the thick of things

a flash of awe

Long ago and far away. Freedom from allegiance to Britain. Freedom of common defense. Freedom of friendship among states to include assistance to each other in times of disagreement based on unlawful authority, religion, or trade. These freedoms—taken from specific Articles of Confederation—are part of the Declaration of Independence, officially signed on August 2, 1776. This is our nation’s 243rd birthday celebration.

Amid fireworks that symbolize these outward freedoms, guaranteed in writing, let us acknowledge that, individually, we can take the initiative to pursue an inner freedom from personal distress and pain. Yes, it is possible to experience less stress, pain, and heartache.

Ancient wisdom suggests we create this downward spiral for ourselves. How? By expecting more: more experiences, more options, more knowledge or more “stuff.” The choice of “more” often derails us from dealing with the truth of our challenges. We believe we are effectively becoming more aware yet, we are simply chasing illusions.

When we meet with what we do not expect or want, (terminal health prognosis; a lesser job, no job, or forced retirement; unrequited love; or the struggles of raising a differently abled child), we dig in and oppose. Then, going beyond the initial resistance, we end up fighting what comes to us, “what is.”

It is this internal battle that increases our distress and deepens our unhappiness. Resistance may show up as doubt, insistence of preferences, negative thoughts, a constricted or tight heart, or the belief that we know all the answers.

Spiritual teachings share: “There are four unavoidable physical sufferings: birth, old age, sickness, and death. There are also three forms of mental suffering: separation from the people we love; contact with the people we dislike, and frustration of desires.”

There will always be life challenges—that is the nature of impermanence and humanness. They will never go away. We never will completely solve all problems—not that we should stop trying—yet a more expansive viewpoint could be helpful. Turning to acceptance, the absence of negativity, we begin to be aware of the things we need to release. We will be fine without them—quite possibly, we will live even better. Coming to terms with this revelation is not always easy.

Seeking the little things that bring beauty, pleasure, and connection with a cause greater than ourselves, encourages us to breathe and be in harmony with life. Observing nature, feeling exhilarated from an invigorating walk or run, reconnecting with friends, hearing the story behind a stunning piece of artwork, writing, recreating a family heirloom recipe, or experiencing heartfelt music transcend the mundane.

We experience awe in the moment, no longer overthinking a situation. We accept just this moment, even though it may seem like a limitation. Up close and personal. Within all the freedoms we currently enjoy, we seek some freedom from our situation. Some form of beauty, some small thing that resonates with our heart. We focus and are grateful, stretching out this feeling of beauty and gratitude until we begin to feel calmer and more aligned within. A greater energy moves in, around, and through us.

This is not about “the situation”; rather, it is about each moment that comes to us, as it is, in the thick of things. How do we handle those moments? We practice glimpsing one, small instant and finding awe in it. Gratitude will naturally follow. Then, it’s choosing to find beauty in each moment, over and over, until answers are made known to us.

From a higher vantage: The more we accept the moment, the more stable we are emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. We feel freedom from much of life’s drama and welcome less personal suffering. We are safe and deeply loved.

© 2019 in the thick of things

Change Things Up!

I need to “fix” me.  In the past the gift of a new year meant thinking about resolutions, or writing ego-approved statements. Let’s change things up. Yes, we’re human and, by definition, are imperfect. Yet Source has created each of us with a built-in spark of divinity. This is Source within us, our authentic Self. With this spark, we are enough, as is. Let’s focus on that. No need to “fix.” It’s a matter of recognizing and then overriding the voice of Ego. Although its main function is to guide us during life-threatening situations, it sometimes tries to control too much of life. Ego can dominate our thinking regarding appearances, comparisons, statistics, opinions, stories that appear to define us, and emotional baggage. To supersede this kind of egoic thinking, we engage the thinking and feeling of our heart. We allow our spark of divinity to guide us.

When the path to heart thinking and feeling widens, we become more of who we truly are. For that to happen, some people believe it takes a special miracle—others already see the miracles of Source in the everyday thick of things—regardless, heart thinking and feeling increase when perspective shifts. This story comes to mind.

One of my friends in our monthly Story Circle Potluck gatherings had been trained as a dive bomber (SB2C-Helldiver plane) in the Naval Air Corps in preparation to be called into military service. He and other trainees were indoctrinated with hate and the instinct to annihilate the enemy. Later the attack on Pearl Harbor set the stage for the U.S. to enter WW II. As my friend returned to civilian life, deep-seated feelings associated with his training were repressed.

He became an inquisitive, kind-hearted college professor and independent sculptor with a long, creative career. In retirement, sixty-five years post military, health challenges led him to become a patient of a young, gentle and competent doctor who used steroid injections to correct back issues. At the end of an injection appointment, my friend was told he could sit up. He looked at the doctor as the expert lowered his mask to his chin, revealing large, Japanese eyes. There was a brief moment when their eyes met, and my friend’s Ego surfaced in thought: “You know, doctor, it seems only a short time ago that I was physically, emotionally, and technically prepared to drop a bomb on your grandfather.” (my friend’s memoir, p. 49) My friend’s authentic self vibrantly shone forth and the dark thought faded. We can always count on our inner spark of divinity for the appropriate perspective.

Instead of resolutions today, let’s send out vibrations of heart thinking and feeling to the planet and all entities in oneness. Let’s demonstrate who we truly are. Deep in our hearts springs acceptance for self and others, love to overcome all challenges, light as it defines shadow and offers possibilities, openheartedness that bridges all separation, and wisdom to be authentic.

Allow Acceptance.





In the quiet moments: What would it take to move to the thinking and feeling of our hearts? To access our inner spark of divinity? To be more authentic?

© 2015 Barbara L. Krause

conscious decisions

A statement from Dr. Wayne Dyer recently spoke to me: “Heaven is a state of mind, not a location since Spirit is everywhere and in everything. You can begin making a conscious decision to look for the unfolding of Spirit in everything and everyone that you encounter.” ~“Natural Awakenings,” ‘Heaven Within,’ September 2015

Personal challenge appeals to me. Actually my husband, Paul, and I both wanted to look for the spiritual energy in our days’ experiences and encounters. I am progressing toward minimizing daily schedules, judging, and drama anyway. New space gives me room to process perspectives. Finding Spirit, God, Buddha (or my preferred name, Source) in the mundane requires me to set an intention, focus my attention on the unfolding of each moment, and honor my discoveries without expectation or judgment. A rather tall order.

I believe in miracles and regard the birth of a baby as a profound example—a gift from Source. I have read about miracle operations in medical journals. The media is also a witness: “One-hundred-pound woman lifts car chassis to save son’s life.” Her adrenaline kicked in, and she became, for a moment, superhuman. That’s the point—I know that Source shows up at superhuman levels. What I want to witness is Source at work at ordinary levels, in life as it unfolds. An opportunity soon presented itself.

Chatting with a friend whom I had known through our spiritual center, I learned the story of his father’s death. The words that stood out for me were He flew away on a gentle breeze. To the casual listener, these words may have seemed like a fantasy, a figment of my friend’s imagination, yet, in hindsight, the words represented much more.

My friend told me that his dad had been a gardener and had loved the outdoors with its changing seasons. However, illness in the later part of his life brought numerous hospital stays, great struggles, and suffering. His condition was better served by a care facility where he experienced some peace.

One particular day, not long after his move to the care facility, my friend and his sister decided to take their dad outside, pushing his wheelchair along a beautiful garden pathway to a grove of trees. Brother and sister talked about memories of their dad’s tree plantings and vegetable gardens. Both remarked about an exquisite breeze just before my friend’s sister left.

As the story unfolded, I felt Source in the thick of things. My friend had asked his dad if he wanted to remain outside. He nodded yes, and the two of them made their way to a nearby bench. My friend said thoughtfully, Sometimes I think God is just like the wind—you can’t see it, yet you know it’s there. Dad, you could just let go and fly away. Within one to two minutes of speaking those words, my friend noticed that his dad had stopped breathing. In the interim, there was no struggle. He peacefully inhaled and exhaled again, followed by another breath and final exhale. My friend’s words may have offered the permission that his dad had been waiting to hear.

A gentle being, my friend’s Dad appreciated nature. Anecdotal research confirms that loved ones do know when they are ready to die. Often character traits that are not prominent during life become strong at the edge of life. His dad had typically struggled with decision making, often with making very simple ones. However, the decision to leave this plane of existence—one of the most important decisions of a lifetime—was made quickly and easily. Source provided the vehicle. Hearing this story was a gift, and I felt the presence of Source.

My friend concluded, for the most part, that he had regarded death as a painful process. Yet witnessing his father’s death drew his attention beyond the physical, to the mystical beauty and inexplicable role of an “exquisite breeze.” He went on to speak at his dad’s funeral, something he had previously determined he would not do. Death had become a time of transformation and growth for both men and, ultimately, for the entire family. My friend has continued to feel strategically occurring “exquisite breezes” that remind him of Source’s presence.

I am grateful for my friend, his story, and the openings to Source that are provided by the moments I’m experiencing. Join me. Set an intention to observe Source at work in daily life. Allow your attention to rest on present moments without expectations. Over time, this small, sacred act will shift your perspective. No judgments, just acceptance. Again, again, and again. You will find openings. You will experience Source.

Taking five or ten minutes to observe current moments without judgment replaces some of the busyness of life. While focusing your attention on what the moment has to offer—a gift from Source—you make space for greater understandings to occur. Through the moments, you get a glimpse of your true self and realize that there is more to you than you thought. Your inner understanding points to a new direction.


In the quiet moments:  Remember a superhuman miracle from the past—something you’ve read about or have been told. Now recall a recent experience from everyday circumstances that, because of a change in your perspective, you now view as a miracle. What changed? Was a conscious decision involved?


© 2015 in the thick of things