Friday, January 29, 2021

Recognizing, Witnessing & Healing Trauma

One of the ways we can understand how trauma is manifesting in our world today is to look at ways we separate from one another.  Consider the many conversations that are polarized, on topics such as: politics, COVID-19, religion.  We here in the U.S. +hold many different perspectives and beliefs about our current situations.  Even when we can agree on the current situation, we often polarize on ways to create change. In addition, we tend to believe that we have the right perspective, which leads us to lose curiosity and believe that others are wrong. Among us, we seem to hold quite different ideas of what is in integrity, what is true, and what is just.  

My understanding is that aligning with truth, with justice and with care is an ongoing whole-bodied experience.  We can begin by noticing our experience of body sensations, the state of our nervous system, our emotions and heart openness or closure, our thinking, connection with essence, the divine, and what we hold most dear.  We can witness:  Is our awareness holistic and inclusive of these various aspects of ourselves?  The polarizations in the world tend to exist inside us as well in some form, in the ways we include or exclude aspects of ourselves as well as levels of development.  An additional level of complexity is presence with our whole selves even as we relate with others, and with the systems of our culture.

With all the complexity of relating inside and with others, it’s easy to blame someone else or even ourselves for how we participate or don’t participate in life.  Blame may offer a temporary reprieve from the discomfort of whatever is not working, however since blame does not address the source of an issue, blaming tends to keep issues recycling.  Through witnessing ourselves and the world around us, new possibilities and choices gradually emerge.  Witnessing is a whole-body activity of seeing, feeling, and sensing what is happening, growing our capacity to discover an aligned response which is essentially creative.  From our wholeness and grounded presence, we can turn toward whatever is not working inside or around us, and respond, choose, create, and invite collaboration. 

Collective trauma makes itself known to us as symptoms of disconnection, polarization, harm, lack of balance, stuckness, and injustice in our societal systems and social norms.  For example, when a child asks a question about why something that doesn’t make sense is the way it is, and we answer, “that’s just how it’s always been,” we are likely touching on a collective trauma symptom.  

To heal, restore wholeness, and create systems that are grounded in integrity and also responsive will likely take many individuals practicing on their own and together to create a body of coherence that can begin to witness our collective issues.  We will need to learn to see to the root of things with wisdom and not blame, so we can create accountability, healing, and systemic change and restoration for people who have been systemically oppressed or systemically oppressive.  

And so we practice…


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Friday, January 8, 2021

Belonging and Relational Structure

In my studies with Thomas Huebl, I am learning about space, energy and structure.  I've studied these qualities through other lenses such as Yoga in the Himalayan tradition and the work of the Hendricks, and always find it interesting to bring in new perspectives.  

Space correlates with being-ness, the root chakra, and the right and space to be here in life. It also connects us with stillness, consciousness and the capacity to witness.  Energy correlates with becoming, learning and evolving, movement up the spine, and movement generally.  There are many aspects of structure such as things that make up the material world and most intimately, our physical body, which is a complex, evolutionary structure.  Structure correlates with the manifestation of life into form, with the horizontal field of connecting with others, and our belonging in life.    

In this post, I want to focus on the structure of belonging, which is the aspect of our relational networks and the ways we are connected with other people, animals, our environment, our planet, and the systems that are part of our lives today.  Examples of systems include governments, voting processes, medical care, money and banking systems, etc. So often when we think of these larger structures which began long before we were born, we feel disconnected from them and see them as something other than ourselves which we cannot impact.  From an energetic point of view, these structures are actually part of us, and we are part of them.  We are always contributing something to the structures of our lives, and they are contributing something to our lives.  (Part of the study of systemic oppression is how the systems we live in impact different groups of people differently, as well as the history and purpose of such differences.)  When we believe we are disconnected, nonessential or helpless related to our relational structures and systems, what we contribute is our absence.  

Absence is a symptom of trauma, and we all carry some trauma.  In other words, we all carry many or fewer symptoms of separation or absence within and around us.  This is not bad, per se, as absence serves a function.  When we or our ancestors were unable to face and deal with something in an integrated way, separation occurred.  When it was too much to process, the human nervous system wisely numbed what was overwhelming and could put our survival or functioning at risk.  Today we can call this absence (or trauma).  

Turning toward our own absence related to the structures around us is the first step toward healing and restoration. What we can (begin to) witness can begin to move, heal, and gradually be reconnected into wholeness.  

Even when we cannot see the results of our participation with the systems around us, our contribution always matters regardless of how small or insignificant it may seem.  Since we are in effect an individual manifestation of life, nature, and of the divine, it is up to us to discover what is our appropriate relation, participation and contribution to the structures in and around us.   

When we discover and enact our unique participation with our relational structures and systems, we contribute to healing our belonging.  Since each being alive in this moment belongs to life, restoring our belonging through right relationship ripples out and contributes to restoring belonging for all of us.  I believe our individual movements to participate and restore right relation with our structures and systems is fundamentally our purpose, each in our own unique way.  

May this year be a year when we all fine-tune our presence so that our unique participation contributes a healing, restorative flow into the structures in our beautiful world.