Trauma and Resilience in the Time of Coronavirus
Lab Cycle Oct 2020 - July 2021 Report
Nancy Hyatt & Teddy Frank Senior Advisor: Ruby Mendenhall
Simon Courtney, Katherine Menton, Sophia Alexander
The coronavirus pandemic has been evolving since January 2020. It impacts us now and into the foreseeable future as we deal with massive disruptions to our economic, political, medical, educational, and social structures. It has challenged the fundamental ways in which we view ourselves, each other, and our countries.
In this Lab, we started out with a group of 24 participants and completed with 22 participants. We met for 11 group sessions from October 2020 – April 2021.
We explored the following questions:
- What constitutes the historical background to the response to the coronavirus pandemic in your country?
- How has Covid exposed the underlying trauma built into our social and cultural institutions?
- How is collective and intergenerational trauma showing itself in this time of the Covid-19 crisis?
- How can Covid teach us to use the resiliency of our ancestors as a current resource?
- How can Covid teach us to honor our ancestral trauma and consciously choose to “leave it at the altar”?
- Can coherent we-spaces and a process of witnessing collective and intergenerational trauma lead to an integration and eventual healing of collective trauma?
Stages of our process as a group:
1. Synchronising & Resourcing
2. Meeting the Collective Trauma Landscape
3. Exploring Individual & Collective Conditioning
4. Listening to Ancestral Roots & Voices from the Field
5. Integrating & Restoring
6. Transforming & Meta-learning
Moments of Challenge
Various members expressed feelings of frustration or dissatisfaction that we were not going deep enough. Others objected to the survey. As facilitators, allowing these feelings to be expressed and witnessed without judging, correcting, or attempting to “fix” anything, while still noticing and not acting on our own defensive reactions, were powerful learnings. Members expressed gratitude for this form of “holding” and the permission it gave to express divergent views or strong feelings, allowing for a greater sense of safety which led to more authentic and vulnerable sharing and connection.
MOMENTS OF GRACE
Members graciously shared their poetry, artwork and personal stories in the service of connecting, learning and sharing. This alone presented many small and deeply felt moments of grace throughout the sessions. A few moments in particular stand out:
- One member actively presenced her ancestor, Julian of Norwich, a Christian mystic, by bringing a profound energetic healing of “all will be well” in response to the expression of deep grief by members.
- Another member then shared a song which became our “anthem” written specifically about Julian.
- Another member evoked hope and healing with the potent image of a mystical “Jackhammer” for healing collective trauma to get to the “living waters” underneath. This evoked rich reflections and contemplations on the tools and capacities, and on what might be our “Jackhammer” that we use to engage in collective trauma healing?
Two elements created a turning point in accessing the dark waters of trauma. The first was conscious facilitator self-disclosure about how the pandemic exposed the social inequities which deeply affected her. This sharing created greater vulnerability, authenticity and sharing amongst the group of how they are affected and/or participate in these inequities. The second key insight emerged from the two sessions on the Ancestors which were very profound in helping members access and release aspects of deeply held trauma and thereby open up to greater resiliency. This allowed the collective group to hold and presence intense grief and grace, held in equal measure as healing forces.