It has been studied and published that Tibetian refugees who have experienced torture, displacement, and forced conversions do not internalize their trauma. In fact, when interviewed by anthropologists Tibetian refugees do not actually have a concept of what trauma is since their mental protocol when confronted with distress is to lojong (mental training) which is yields immediate resilence.
Research studies go to say that their Buddhism helps them to see everything in the perspective of karma and so they tend to strive to keep a clean slate so to say with their mentality and emotions. When raped, abused, crucified, or tortured they pray for their fellow man’s suffering – being projected onto them – and all suffering. Actual brain scans have been performed on Tibetian refugees in China and the anthropology community has acknowledged them as unusually resilient.
The beauty of practicing lojong in this form is that your default is not interpreting the experience as traumatic and so it never gets encoded in your DNA this way either. If it did, it would make it harder and more strained because now you have to convert trauma to non-trauma and this requires energy and sometimes a lot of time to accomplish. Instead, reframing distressful moments as opportunities to be resilient is how the Tibetian refugees excel in mental flexibility. I believe, such as with the Tibetian refugees that this form of protocol is what is best when facing real-life trauma.
I remember once when I was 23 and robbed at gunpoint on South Charles Street in Baltimore, MD that I could definitely die at any moment. And so when this young boy, about 19 years of age grabbed me even after I gave him $500 in cash he proceeded to walk around with me as if he did not know what to do next with me, let me go, or hold her hostage? Roaming the streets of Baltimore while he kept his gun under his hoodie allowed me to surrender into a higher state of consciousness that allowed me to love him for the unfortunate product of society he had become.
I felt compassion as we walked for nearly 40 minutes and he held me close and I could feel his temperature. I was in such a state of peace, ready to be shot to death in an alley. I did not know where he was taking me. But as we came to a stop I put my hand on his heart and looked at him in the eye and said, “I love you, and you will never do this again to anyone”. It was as if I recited a magic spell as I stared into his huge pupils and reached his soul. He actually gave me my money back in full in which my higher self said, “no, if you are willing to put a fellow human in such a vulnerable position it must be for a good reason – keep the money”. He was ashamed yet understood I was actually acknowledging his sovereignty and he seemed to be even more ashamed and respected my words more. He became a soft boy with me in a moment and I decided to walk away right then and there.
After this exchange plummeting back into the density of my body lead me to a major cathartic public cry. It was a magical death and even the birds auspiciously followed me from there. I will never forget his eyes and his receptivity to the karmic balance that occurred. I wouldn’t call it trauma, but an awakening that was able to be translated as love and forgiveness. Perhaps not internalizing the event as trauma, is what saved my life.