Johanna Navarro

Conversations on Trauma and Awakening: Johanna Navarro

"Something very important that suffering has taught me is that I am strong and I have what it takes to go through whatever comes my way. Suffering has caused me to tap into the strength that naturally resides within me and has allowed me to remember that I am made out of light.”

Meet Johanna: Hola! I’m Johanna Navarro - a Latino woman from Colombia. I have been living in Canada since 2006. All the hardships in my life have led me to a greater purpose and now I am a Professional Counsellor and Life Coach who supports beautiful introverted souls who feel stuck, brokenhearted and overwhelmed by their emotions and thoughts. I also have a Bachelor in Financial Business and an Early Childhood Education diploma. I am passionate about nutrition, health and holistic wellness. I practice spirituality everyday as it keeps me grounded and hopeful. It inspires me and empowers me to live my best life.

Describe yourself in three words? 

Daughter of God, curious (it’s one of my superpowers), and resilient.

Why do you say being curious is one of your superpowers?

My curiosity brings out a natural desire to know and seek more. Curiosity is like fuel; it does not allow me to remain stagnant. Curiosity has led me to understand how the world works. It is very exciting for me to continuously learn and discover new things.

My sense of curiosity has also driven me to exceed my limited perspectives and beliefs in life. It has inspired me to live in different countries, meet different people, and understand several cultures. From those experiences I have enriched my thinking, and life has become more meaningful.

I am very grateful for my sense of curiosity and the self-growth that has occurred from it. It led me to enrol in school several times; it has helped me tremendously to remain open during the process of becoming a counselor;  and as a counsellor today it is a blessing to genuinely feel curious about my clients stories and to want to hear them.

How would those you love and respect you describe you? 

As a bubbly, kind, soft spoken, and joyful person. Others might say I am a woman of faith with a good heart, and a caring person. I have also heard that I am intelligent, strong, and determined. 

What helps you feel safe and grounded? 

This is an interesting question because I remember - before going on my journey of inner growth and healing - what I believed made me feel safe was when other people accepted me, showed care, love, and attention. My sense of self and security relied only on this. 

But over time I have learned the importance of seeking that safety within myself. You see, people change. People withhold love, care, and attention. People come and go. Situations can be unpredictable.  I have learned to rely on my inner life. Through my journey of healing, silence, prayer, and meditation, I have discovered a safe home within me. I don’t share this with many people, but I am happy to share it here in case it can help someone now or in the future. I have an image that comes from the very center of me. The image is of a waterfall, surrounded by the most beautiful gardens and animals. Whenever I have moments of anxiety, fear, confusion or depression, I disconnect from everything on the outside and I go into this place. I submerge myself in the waterfall, which is the perfect temperature, where the fullness of God’s love is waiting for me with open arms. It is like having a paradise within me. When I spend time there, the water cleans me and brings healing to my soul. I once again feel that I belong, that I am enough, and that I am whole . I call this imaginative contemplation.

How would you define trauma? 

For me, trauma is any event that has a strong effect emotionally, mentally, or physically on us. Trauma creates a fragmentation within. Trauma contains so much pain, hurt, and sorrow to the point of separating us from our true identity. Trauma fragments identity and damages self-esteem and confidence. It tries to rob something away from our souls.

How has trauma contributed to your suffering? 

If it weren’t for the trauma I’ve been through then I would have never been triggered, and if I had never been triggered then I would never have noticed what needs healing within me. It is because of the trauma experienced - the pains, the heart aches, the sleepless nights, and the confusion - that I could eventually come back into my life. Post-trauma, my body started guiding me to look for answers and to be able to understand myself. For instance, by slowing down and noticing the sensations I felt associated with a particular situation I was able to gain clarity. For example, I would ask myself, “Why is my heart racing?” or “Why am I getting cold?” By taking time to notice what was happening within me I gained insight into myself and my truth. By understanding myself, I learned to love myself and - little by little - I recovered my true identity. Trauma can create a lot of suffering if we allow ourselves to be victims of the wrongdoings of others or the events that happened. 

How has suffering contributed to your personal awakening or evolution? 

I used to think suffering was karma, or punishment. But now I understand that suffering is a gift. Yes, it is a very painful gift, but it helps us to know the truth about ourselves and life in general. It awakens our minds to understanding reality. Suffering has shown me many things I didn’t know about myself, and one of those things is how strong I am. Knowing this gives me a lot of confidence. The more I go through various sufferings and overcome them, the more my confidence grows.

Once I go through the healing process and the hardships of walking through a specific suffering, and also acknowledging I have been traumatized by different events and I have arrived on the other side, I feel hopeful. When I look back I am able to see it was actually something positive that I needed to experience in my life to become wise. I am clear now that  I am going to be growing until the day I die and I know many more obstacles will come to help me mature and evolve. Something very important that suffering has taught me is that it has come to me and has found me because it knows how strong I am and I have what it takes to go through the test. Suffering has caused me to tap into the strength that already resides within me and has allowed me to remember that I am made out of light. Suffering challenges all of my perceived limitations. Suffering says, “Let me show you through this experience that you can break those limitations.” 

What words of wisdom would you offer to those who are stuck in suffering that is similar to what you have been through in the past? 

Never give up on yourself even if everybody else does. Never give up on believing that at the end of the path of suffering is an exit door to something beautiful that is waiting for you, and you will become a better version of yourself having gone through the suffering and the connected doorway. Keep moving forward and keep being curious about life. Hold the belief that suffering is leading to something better. If you always remain in your comfort zone, you will never evolve. It is often nice to be comfortable, but your heart desires depth and growth. 

Don’t take the suffering personally. When I say personally I mean thinking, “It only happens to me” or “Poor me.” When I have this mindset, I end up isolating myself in the suffering and becoming a victim of it (disempowering myself). This leads to the suffering becoming more traumatic and can bring me to a place of hopelessness. If, on the other hand, I know I am not alone in the suffering and I join myself with the whole world, it makes me realize we are all largely walking a path of suffering, pain, change, and growth. We all have our moments - struggles with relationships, financial difficulties, or catastrophes like this pandemic we all went through. When I make the suffering a global reality rather than taking it personally then it becomes smaller and easier to move through. It loses its power and I win.