Trauma Culture, Dreams and Community
A New Understanding of Ourselves and the World Around Us…
Professor Anita Hill
From the front page
“We look for simple solutions because we don’t want to deal with the hard questions. When those simple solutions fail, too often we retreat.”
Professor Anita Hill – Salt Lake City Utah, September 27, 2018
It has been 27 years since Anita Hill came forward and shared her experiences of sexual harassment by Clarence Thomas. It is stating the far too obvious – to say that we have still not learned what we have needed to learn from her courage about the sexual harassment, abuse and trauma that exists within our world.
Thanks to Professor Anita Hill, Dr Christine Blasey Ford and the broader #metoo movement, there are the beginnings of more consciousness of abuse and trauma these days.
One part of that, is that when something like the Kavanaugh hearings happen, you will see stories about the trauma and memories of abuse that these hearings bring up. There is at least an understanding that trauma is out there and a part of this world.
What is still lacking for the most part though, is an understanding of how deeply that trauma and abuse is embedded in our culture.
It is understandably hard to let in the depth of this problem.
If it were not for, what my own clients have taught me over and over in my work with them and their dreams, I am not sure I would have an understanding of this either. Despite all the social justice and consciousness work, that I have done around these issues, I don’t think I would have gotten it in the same way.
It is one thing to understand that there are a lot of problems in our society, in this regard. It is a whole other thing when you begin to realize that our culture itself is traumatized.
But when you work with the unconscious, something happens.
If you are open to people’s feeling experience, in this case in relationship to their dreams, you will find that in some way trauma lives embedded within almost all of our psyches.
It is not just the specific instances of abuse that people endure but also how grossly inadequate, at best, this society is in regard to being with these incidents. There is so little space for healing that as a culture we have instead accepted the denial of a huge range of human emotional experience.
That denial creates a world where lack of met emotional need becomes the norm – which in turn perpetuates a whole other level of dissociation from self and any form of deeper consciousness.
When you let this in, you begin to see that there is trauma all around us.
You begin to view the world with an understanding that in some way changes everything.
On the one hand this can be overwhelming to consider but on the other hand, it brings a whole new level of tenderness to oneself and to the struggles of those around us.
It makes space for something that I still struggle to put words to.
You begin to realize that the very way most of us view the world is through a lens that is itself distorted. And this distortion has gone on for so many generations, that we accept a reality that is in many ways far, far away from the reality of our deeper selves.
We are beautiful and brilliant beings that have settled for survival.
It is time to change that equation.
It is time for a personal, cultural and spiritual revolution of sorts, where we reclaim the depths of who we are and also make damn sure that the kinds of abuses that came up in the Thomas and Kavanaugh hearings are not still here with us in another 27 years.
I would argue that in order to do that – we need to face how deeply trauma and abuse is embedded within our culture.
We need to look at the ways that this is affecting each of us personally.
And we need to go beyond our usual ways of thinking about personal growth, social change and spiritual practice. There is a literal dynamic of trauma reaction and trauma survival that is underneath much of the personal, spiritual and socio-political dynamics that are driving us and this society.
Without a consciousness of those dynamics, we are destined to repeat the past in our endeavors.
It is not enough to try harder.
Whether we are speaking in terms of personal growth, social justice or spiritual practice, we need to learn to get under the unconscious patterns that undermine the work that we are doing.
We have on some level known for a long time what needs to happen.
But over and over we are undermined by unconscious patterns in ourselves, in our organizations and in our spiritual communities.
We need to face the possibility that there are deep trauma and abuse patterns embedded in not just mainstream culture but also our alternative worlds. Patterns that undermine the inner and outer work that we are doing. Patterns that no amount of consciousness raising of any kind will break, without an understanding of how the trauma cycle/healing cycle works and how that affects how we function as individuals, organizers and seekers.
I don’t totally know how we do this.
I do know that we need to begin the conversation and begin asking questions that break us out of the spin that comes up in so much of our personal growth, social justice and spiritual practice work.
We need to apply the amazing research that is being down around trauma in order to understand how to be more resilient and also how to be more brilliant – about what is driving the inner and outer world around us. We need to understand how the world around us functions, in order to understand ourselves and in order to bring healing and change to ourselves and our communities.
We also need a way to access our own deeper consciousness.
I love working with dreams because I believe they are brilliant in this regard. But they are only one way to access unconscious memories and consciousness that we dearly need right now.
Whether through dreams or prayer or art or breathing or meditating or moving or forest bathing or yoga or whatever – we need a way to touch into consciousness that exists outside the world of the mind that is just trying to survive. We need a way to touch into experience in ourselves and in community that help us to remember the heart and soul of who we are beneath and beyond the limited parameters of trauma survival thinking.
We need to get beyond that way of thinking.
We need a counterweight within ourselves to give us the courage and strength to reclaim our own beauty and brilliance and to bring that beauty and brilliance to bear on the changing of the world around us.
We need access to the creative energy that lives side by side with the destruction that is happening at terrifying speed on this planet. We need a way to dig deep enough within, that those of us of European descent stop appropriating our practices from indigenous cultures and instead all of us touch into our own lineages and resource ourselves from that well.
And we will need each other as we do this.
One of the core aspects of healing trauma is rebuilding secure attachment. Which is a psychologized way of saying we will need to rebuild trust in ourselves by having people we know, love and trust beside us in the process.
We do need each other.
The communities and the relationships that we truly need, have in large part been broken or in all too many cases, have been perpetrators of the abuse and denial themselves. We will need to rebuild our relationships and communities even as we simultaneously need relationship and community to do that.
There is of course a dilemma in that equation.
And it is a dilemma we need to face. We will need to accept on one level the impossibility of what we are trying to do and at the same time access the creative energy of the self that remembers, what exactly the one thing that needs to be done today, to make this all happen, is.
With love and respect,
If you would like to explore this further, please know that you are welcome to be part of a three month exploration of “The Trauma Cycle, Dreams and Community” that is just beginning (Pricing variable dependant on ability to pay). Either way, thanks for reading and I hope this in some way helps you in your own journey…
FREE WEBINAR: THE TRAUMA CYCLE, DREAMS AND COMMUNITY
Tuesday Oct 30th 11am eastern
(8am Pacific, 5pm Jerusalem)
How to get past our "confusion" about dreams and instead be with them in a way that opens us
to our own connection to deeper consciousness.
NEW PROGRAM: THE TRAUMA CYCLE, DREAMS AND COMMUNITY
A 3 Month Exploration of Consciousness and Community
[Pricing Variable Dependent on Ability to Pay]