Trauma and Resilience in the Time of Coronavirus

Lab Cycle Oct 2020 - July 2021 Report

Facilitators

Nancy Hyatt & Teddy Frank           Senior Advisor: Ruby Mendenhall

Trainees

Simon Courtney, Katherine Menton, Sophia Alexander

LANGUAGE

English

Description

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
We began with the “3-Sync” meditation as a ritual that started each of our Lab sessions. We created safety through clearly explaining the Lab purpose (research into collective trauma, not a support or process group). We then reviewed the process or “Arc of the Lab Journey” to help people understand our structure and process. We created space for personal sharing and commitment by asking people to share - in breakout triads - their intentions for joining the Lab. We then had a brief group “harvesting” to share intentions and build greater group coherence.


2. Meeting the Collective Trauma Landscape
We spent two sessions exploring the Historical Timeline of Pandemics. Members submitted brief accounts of one historical pandemic that spoke to them and presented it in the Lab. Members reflected on how past themes of “othering”, blaming, isolation and fear seemed to be recurrent themes throughout history and were especially relevant to our current context of the coronavirus pandemic.


3. Exploring Individual & Collective Conditioning
We deepened our exploration of how Covid has exposed the underlying trauma built into our social and cultural institutions. We reflected on how our cultural and social institutions have a profound influence on how Covid impacts our daily lives. Members deeply shared the impact of Covid on their lives, their families, their wellbeing and their awareness of how it is being handled in their country. Great compassion was expressed for the inequity with which Covid affects the most vulnerable of our population based on this “cultural architecture”.


4. Listening to Ancestral Roots & Voices from the Field
We spent a full session exploring the resiliency of our ancestors and how this informs and resources us as we deal with Covid. We then spent a full session exploring ancestral trauma and how this has impacted us in dealing with Covid. Members expressed sadness, guilt, rage, loss, and grief along with hope, gratitude, joy and connection. These sessions culminated in a touching ritual where each person stated one ancestral resource they take with them and one element of their ancestral trauma which they are now prepared to honor and leave behind at the altar. They were invited to create a talisman of their Ancestral Resource which many people later shared with the group.


5. Integrating & Restoring
Participants spoke of feeling supported and connected to the group members and to “Thomas’ [Hübl’s] Field” and how this deep sense of “being held” allowed them to experience deeper awareness and healing of their personal trauma and of the collective trauma. Members also referenced the skills and practices that they learned, the sharing within the group, the 3-sync meditation, the poetry and creative arts expressions, and the quality of holding from the Facilitation Team as resources enabling their healing and awareness.


6. Transforming & Meta-learning
Deep sharing from members spoke to their increased understanding and awareness of collective trauma and the subtle ways in which participation in the Lab enhanced their own capacity for connection and self-healing. This was expressed through their reflections of how instead of collapsing into grief, rage and sadness, or numbing themselves, they felt an enhanced sense of compassion for themselves and others. Many spoke of small actions they now wished to take to contribute to the greater collective healing of the Covid trauma.
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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?

 

INSIGHTS

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.

Our Lab Team

Teddy Frank (1)

Teddy Frank

weaves the three strands of her passions for human and organizational behavior, social justice, and wisdom teachings into a coherent approach with her clients. She brings her integrated experience of 30 years as a psychotherapist, executive coach, group facilitator, corporate executive, and yoga teacher to facilitate the unfolding of individuals, teams and organizations innate potential. Teddy has served as a corporate executive, most notably in her role as the Global Head of Cultural Transformation at Royal Philips, recently rated by Harvard Business Review as one of the Top 10 Business Transformations of the past decade. She serves as an Executive Coach for Mobius Executive Leadership and is Co-Founder of her consulting company, Humanenergetics, Inc. Teddy holds an MSW from Hunter School of Social Work, is a Reichian/Bioenergetic psychotherapist, a Barrett Values Culture Tools practitioner, accredited in Transformational Facilitation by Gita Bellin Associates and a Registered Yoga teacher since 1988.

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Nancy Hyatt (1)

Nancy Hyatt

has been working as psychotherapist specializing in intensive individual and relational transformation for over 20 years. She is trained in EMDR, Imago Relationship Therapy and integrates mindfulness, somatic coaching and HeartMath into her psychotherapeutic approach. Nancy has been a student of Thomas Hübl for over five years and participated in the Pocket Project training. Nancy also serves as an executive coach on Mobius Executive Leadership’s Transformational Faculty.

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Ruby Mendenhall (2)

Dr. Ruby Mendenhall
Expert Advisor

is a Professor in Sociology and African American Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is the Assistant Dean for Diversity and Democratization of Health Innovation at the Carle Illinois College of Medicine. Her research looks at how gun violence affects Black mothers’ mental and physical health. She also employs big data to recover Black women’s lost history using topic modeling and data visualization to examine over 800,000 documents from 1740 to 2014. She is working on a project that examines millions of tweets related to Black racial trauma (e.g., police killings) to understand social media as place of resiliency and to make demands for social justice. She is currently directing the STEM IL Nobel Project that provides students of color and other marginalized groups with unprecedented access to computer science experiences and mentors.

 

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