Trauma on the Train

A week ago today, a beautiful sunny Friday afternoon in Portland, Oregon, the atmosphere inside the Max commuter train turned to a violent storm. A 35-year-old man began shouting racial slurs at two teenage girls. They had drawn his wrath because one was black and the other wearing a hijab.

As three principled people, all of whom were men, stood to defend the girls, two died and one was gravely wounded. Portland is still mourning the deaths of heroes Ricky Best, 53, a veteran and father of four and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, 23, consultant and graduate of Reed college and celebrating Micha David-Cole Fletcher, 21. Micha survived because a gifted by-stander applied pressure to the stab wound he incurred fighting hate.



Having felt the paralyzing trauma of hateful words in the bodies of my clients, the truth is words wound.  Everyone on that train is at risk of the intense constriction, freezing and numbness in their body. Rachel Macy covered Taliesin with her shirt and held his hand, witness to his dying words” Tell everyone on the train I love them”. I can only image how her life has been forever scarred.

Thankfully, this city has a 24/7 crisis line that works! Calling 503-988-4888 I was greeted by Miranda’s kind, calming voice. People are at the other end of this number waiting to help.

“It looks like it could stir up a lot of bad feelings that people have,” Mike Pullen with Multnomah County said. “Whether you were on the train or you heard about it on the news, these kind of events, maybe you’re a veteran, maybe you’re somebody whose experience domestic violence, this can trigger some very deep sadness and trauma for people.”

Yes, being a bystander, a survivor, someone in the midst of emotional abuse on that train was traumatic.  Have you been bullied? Were you ever attacked? Has something scared you so much that your body froze? The body tenses to fight, flee or freeze when it senses danger.

It was still dark as the old gold Audi began it’s ascent up the Markham Bridge here in Portland. My son, Vincent and I had traded cars the night before. Suddenly the car stalled. I felt the jolt under my right foot. I inhaled sharply. The car lurched forward. Whew! I would not be the cause for a stall in the early morning commuter traffic!

The next day in yoga class as I stood on my left leg, bringing my bent right knee up to my waist , grabbing my right foot and kicking my right leg out straight, I was shocked. My right leg began to shake. Over and over the waves of fear held in my right foot and leg were released. Fear had frozen in my right leg as it pushed the gas pedal down and felt not response just the day before.

Tomorrow, at the Afterlife Conference participants in the Mindful Grieving Gathering will be invited to simply pause. I will say:

“What are you feeling right now?

Where is that feeling in your body? Is it an ache, pain, numbness or sensation?

Now float your dominant hand there without judgment. Rest your hand there.

Breathe, begin to move gently. Let your body move as it wishes.

Begin to make a sound. First a whisper and let the sound grow”.

At first the movement in previous groups is small. Then people begin to allow their body to release through big movements and finally the whispered sounds become moans and then wails releasing embodied feelings as E-Motions.

What past traumas do you have stuck in your body?

In honor of Ricky, Taliesin and Micha, please email me (, call or text me at 503-309-3966 to receive a 10% discount on packages of three or more sessions of Rubenfeld Synergy.  Sessions may be done in person or via Zoom or Facetime on the phone.

In this lifetime, pain is a given. Suffering, struggling is optional. The choice is yours.

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