Developing a Safe Container for Trauma Integration

On June 28, 2016, Thomas Hübl met with the Pocket Project working group in Israel. Below is a partial transcript of their conversation, in which Thomas discusses the resources that we can develop and draw upon when working with collective trauma.

QUESTION: Why “The Pocket”?

THOMAS: Because it’s about how a We Space can take care of a collective traumatization. Why is it called collective traumatization? Because most people are in it – most of the people in the room are part of it.

How to create a We space that’s actually getting clearer and clearer in order to expand another possibility within the collective field? What are the abilities that I need to have in order to be part of the We that fulfills this criterion?

I need to be crystallized in myself; otherwise I create dependent We Spaces – We Spaces where we try to either please everyone, or try to get each other’s acknowledgement. But then I come from an early place, a young place in myself. We need to be a mature person to be part of a transpersonal We Space.

Maturity comes with containment of tensions or contradictions.

So let’s say there is a contradiction here in the room. How much capacity does the We have to contain it and not reject it? And to contain also the discomfort of the contradiction or the paradox or the disagreement, in a live relational space, so that we keep our relatedness even when there is a disagreement in the room?

This is only possible if I am mature enough to perform this function. If I become regressive, I won’t be able to perform this function. I will say either you are right or you are right. If I am in this place then I am already lost – I cannot be part of a higher We space.

Can I sit here and have a healthy awareness of myself, but also be inclusive of all the people that sit here, not just cognitively, because cognitively we all know we are sitting in the same space and we have similar interests? But am I able to sit here in my inner conscious awareness and include everybody else in the space?

QUESTION: If I want to work in traumatization, what resources can I stand on?

THOMAS: Trauma comes with frozenness/shut-downness, and also over-agitation. So when I meet the symptoms of a traumatized area, I need a ground that I can stand on.

We basically have different resources to stand on:

1) One of the resources is the existing structure in myself that is still functional in myself and in the group – the structure that can hold strong emotions, strong conflicts, contradictions, fear, basic threatening of my survival. How much healthy structure is in the room to contain very strong emotions that come up in very existential life situations?

2) Relational capacity – how much can I stay related in the disturbance?

Now it’s easy to stay related, but if a lot of stuff cooks here in the room, it will be much harder. And if we bring even more contradiction into the room it will be even harder.

I need to use all the structure that is in place and also the relational capacities that we have. If we want to facilitate collective trauma resolution – if I want to really stand in the fire of what this means… because if I go deeper into a very existential conflict, so I will need all the resources in the room in order not to be blown away by it. So the relation and the structure is actually the container that I can hold. Without holding a container, the emotional release work is not really valuable.

To do this work, we need to first build an appropriate container that can hold the energy that is being released so that the energy evolves or transforms into something new. If we do this too early, the energy just explodes but nothing really happens.

A lot of catharsis is not really a lot of healing – it can just be the same thing again and again and again.

My interest is how to build this container that we actually build the competency that can hold these strong dynamics in a very safe container. Then the trauma can really be opened and the energy that is bound in it can find a new evolution.

3) A deeper fundamental transpersonal presence.

If I am grounded in myself in a deeper transpersonal presence, that’s an amazing resource. It can be an amazing bypassing, or it can be an amazing resource. If I am able to relate to your core instead of your periphery, that’s also an amazing resource. Because in the core there is something healthy, open and essential; in the periphery we meet already old patterns of life. So my ability to be tuned into your essence, or to the essence of a group… to that which is really moving, that which we become together, the evolutionary drive of life.

There is essential energy and then there is the energy of the periphery that’s already crystallized; but there is something more essential in every one of us right now. And then there is Presence.

These are not only resources, they are also competencies.