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I have created a "Viewing Guide" to support your experience of the film (link below).
It includes questions and observations to consider before watching the film.
I highlight what I think are some of the more important themes, give a short reflection, and a related trauma-informed spiritual practice.
Still in development is the "What Comes Next?" section, an important question for our continued growth, health, and restoration.
After the last viewing period, I hosted an online gathering for folk who had watched the film.
The Wisdom of Trauma Video page has a recording of the Film Reflection, the slides from the presentation, and other helpful material.
I've created additional resource pages for podcasts, books, articles, and websites.
There are a lot of podcasts from different shows that feature Dr. Gabor Maté.
I try to update the resource pages regularly, so check back.
Click the link below for the Resources Home Page.
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I am delighted for you to have access to the resources that I have compiled and created; and it would make my heart sing if they were useful to you in some way.
Please do feel free to share materials from my website, but also please be sure to cite me as the source, when appropriate.
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It is likely impossible to watch all the Trauma Talks in the series within the days they are available; it is extremely unlikely to do so and remain self-regulated. So, I hope these summaries are helpful in the choices you may have to make. These summaries and reflections make a large volume of information accessible, including links to speakers’ websites, books, and research.
The Table of Contents is “clickable” such that it will take you directly to that summary (anything in blue underscore on my website is a clickable link); even with brief reports, there is a lot of content here. I’ve listed the length of the talk and a brief notation, namely a “trauma activation warning” (which are really only my guesses for you).
The summaries start with a brief introduction to the speakers. Mostly, I’ve done a little research for you. This is followed by “Notes and Quotes.” Here I do a lot of “summarizing” and rewording. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m very careful about citations; I use “quote marks” for when I am directly quoting, h/t (“hat tip”) means not a quote, but an idea clearly started with someone else, and “alt.” means I changed a quote in some way (often made the language inclusive). Sometimes I use a time stamp to indicate approximately where something occurs in a presentation (e.g. 00:23 means at/about minute 23) .
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Blog Post on the Film: Notes and Quotes from The Wisdom of Trauma
Length: 01:04 | Likely low risk for trauma activation
Length: 01:15 | A forthright conversation about white body supremacy and generational trauma
Length: 01:16 | Likely low risk for trauma activation
Length: 01:08 | Likely low risk for trauma activation; a lot of science, but accessible.
Length: 00:42 | Likely low risk for trauma activation
Length: 01:35 | Trauma activation warning: This session has a LOT of energy and tears; I felt it in my body. It’s also one of my favorite talks.
Length: 00:35 | Likely low risk for trauma activation
Length: 01:22 | A frank conversation about relationships and sex
Length: 00:55 | Likely low risk for trauma activation
Length: 00:44 | Possible risk for trauma activation
MetaMusic Journey: an immersive sound experience for inner voyagers: Laura Inserra
Length: 00:54 | Mostly a music session (no summary)
Length: 01:35 | Possible risk for trauma activation. A very powerful presentation - references many other talks.
Length: 01:07 | Possible trauma activation: a very vulnerable conversation.
Length: 0:39:00 | Likely low risk for trauma activation.
Length: 00:48 | Likely low risk for trauma activation.
Length 00:47 | Trauma activation warning: discussion of rape in the Talk.
Length: 01:04 | Likely low risk for trauma activation.
Again, I want to emphasize caution and mindful attention to your experience as you watch the film and watch and/or read materials from the Trauma Talks Series.
On the inside margins of our Window of Tolerance is our Threshold of Transformation, an uncomfortable space of liberation. But outside our Window of Tolerance is dysregulation that can bring shame and can actually push the possibility of healing further away.
Gently notice irritation, agitation, and anxiety. That probably means "go slower" or "stop for now." Spiritual practices can help us to hold the discomfort while remaining inside our Window of Tolerance.
The film and Trauma Talk Series are available until 1 August, but the resources here will remain for your use.
If I can be helpful, please do reach out.
The film largely focuses on the work of Gabor Maté. Dr. Maté, a medical doctor, is an international expert on addiction, stress, and childhood development; here is a list of his books. One of his most significant contributions is the concept and practice of Compassionate Inquiry.
Notes and Quotes:
The talk ends with a new song by Raffi.
Resmaa Menakem is a “healer, New York Times best-selling author, and trauma specialist” (from his website). The conversation focuses on somatic abolitionism, which he defines as “the living, embodied anti-racist practice and cultural building —a way of being in the world. It is a return to the age-old wisdom of human bodies respecting, honoring, and resonating with other human bodies” (also from his website). His latest book is My Grandmother's Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies (2017). He offers a 5-session e-course on Cultural Somatics. He has several articles on the topic on Psychology Today.
Notes and Quotes:
I intentionally linked to Resmaa’s page for his book because he has other resources listed there. I also highly recommend Restorative Yoga for Ethnic and Race-Based Stress and Trauma (2020) by Gail Parker; a very helpful study for white bodies and powerful practices.
Thomas Hübl “integrates the core insights of the great wisdom traditions and mysticism with the discoveries of science” (from his website). A significant focus for him is the healing of collective trauma. He offers a free series of three videos on the topic and his latest book is titled Healing Collective Trauma: A Process for Integrating Our Intergenerational and Cultural Wounds (2020). In 2016 he founded the Pocket Project with his wife, Israeli artist Yehudit Sasportas, to help foster healing.
Notes and Quotes:
While not mentioned in the talk, I’m very eager to read the forthcoming book Finding Refuge: Heart Work for Healing Collective Grief (2021) by Michelle Cassandra Johnson.
The Polyvagal Theory (PVT) was introduced at a conference in Atlanta in 1994 by Stephen W. Porges. Porges is often quick to note that he is neither a medical doctor nor therapist, but many therapists have integrated his work into their practice; Deb Dana is one of the most impactful. Dana (2018) describes the theory as “the science of safety—the science of feeling safe enough to fall in love with life and take the risks of living.”
I define spirituality as “the felt sense of safe and nurturing connections with one’s Self, others, Spirit, and the planet.” PVT significantly contributes to the science of my model of trauma-informed spiritual direction. Dana (2018) succinctly states: “trauma compromises our ability to engage with others by replacing patterns of connection with patterns of protection.” I would add, and she would likely affirm, trauma also replaces the patterns of connection with Self, Spirit and planet with patterns of protection. Trauma-informed spiritual direction attempts to establish, cultivate, and/or restore those connections.
Towards the end of the Talk, Porges humbly acknowledges that PVT builds upon ancient Wisdom that indigenous and earth-honoring cultures have known for millennia, especially certain lineages of yoga. “This is translation work, not the discovery of new information;” it is frequently an integration of the language of modern neuroscience and what sages, saints, and shamans have already known. This is a perspective shared by my model of trauma-informed spiritual direction.
A few concepts from PVT that might make the Trauma Talk more accessible if you are new to the theory. These are definitions taken from the Glossary of Porges’ 2017 book:
Notes and Quotes:
Polyvagal Exercises for Safety and Connection (Dana, 2020)
Fritzi Horstman took the pain and trauma from her own Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) and alchemized it into the Compassionate Prison Project (CPP). Using “techniques such as mindfulness, meditation and the power of intention,” CPP explores childhood trauma and the impact it has had on the lives of those incarcerated. the goal is a restored sense of self-compassion and connection to community. There is a lot on her website: learn about ACE, two documentaries (clips appear in The Wisdom of Trauma), a podcast (video interviews of Bessel van der Kolk, Bruce Perry, and several others), and a generosity of other resources.
Dr. Nneka Jones Tapia has an impressive bio (click the link) in working for criminal justice reform. Dr. Jones Tapia is the former Warden of the Cook County Jail; “on any given day, Cook County Jail is home to 2000-2500 inmates with mental illness. In an effort to slow the revolving door of mentally ill individuals re-entering the jail, (she) developed the Mental Health Transition Center to build a support system for the successful reentry into the community.” Here is a short YouTube video (2021, <00:03) of her speaking on the importance of trauma-informed systems, a second (2020, 00:05) of her telling her story, and her 40 Under 40 award by Crain’s Chicago Business. She is the Managing Director of Justice Initiatives with Chicago Beyond.
Notes and Quotes:
Woman Stands Shining (Pat McCabe) “is a Diné (Navajo) mother, grandmother, activist, artist, writer, ceremonial leader, and international speaker” (from her website). She writes a blog, here’s a video (2020, 3 minutes) from Spiritual Directors International, and another on The Indigenous Paradigm (2021, 2 minutes) hosted by Science and Nonduality.
Daniel “RYNO” Herrera (RYNO: Rewire Yourself with New Opportunities) has an amazing story. He is a Wisdom Council member of Taos Initiative for Life Together, which is “an incubator for personal & systemic change bubbling up in Taos, NM. Loosely-affiliated individuals across Taos County come together in common cause, seeking a Just Transition to an earth-honoring, people-dignifying, place-based, empire-defying, Spirit-following, despair-erasing Way of life” (from their website). Their podcast is Path To Restoration.
Notes and Quotes:
Diane Poole Heller, Ph.D., “is an expert in the field of child and adult attachment theory as well as trauma resolution…Diane developed her signature series on adult attachment called DARe (Dynamic Attachment Re-patterning experience) which is also internationally recognized as SATe (Somatic Attachment Training experience). Her work with adult attachment has forged a path for adults with childhood attachment injuries to develop Secure Attachment Skills (SAS) that lead to more connected and fulfilling adult relationships” (from her website).
“Attachment” refers to the emotional bonds we have with people. Here is an article on attachment theory, another from Psychology Today, and Diane’s page with with an Attachment Style Quiz. Our attachment style is believed to have significant impact on our adult relationships.
Notes and Quotes:
Several times during this Talk, I thought of Barbara Brown Taylor’s powerful book, Learning to Walk in the Dark. It is not a book about attachment, but it does invite a consideration of what we miss when we are afraid of the shadows.
Esther Perel is a New York Times bestselling author whose books have translated into over 30 languages; her TED Talks have been viewed more than 30 million times. She’s been a psychotherapist in New York City for more than 35 years and currently has two podcasts. She provocatively posits that: “Eroticism is not sex per se, but the qualities of vitality, curiosity, and spontaneity that make us feel alive.”
Notes and Quotes:
There is a lot more content than I included here, but these were some of my favorite points.
While I have not listened to her music for a few years, the offerings of Alanis Morissette have definitely been important nourishment during periods of my pilgrim journey. Her music is authentic and often raw; I appreciate her heart-open vulnerability about her relationship with depression and eating disorders. Her podcast, Conversation with Alanis Morissette, “features conversations with different highly reputable teachers, authors and leaders from different philosophies and of different psychological/neurobiological/developmental models and backgrounds, all with an eye toward healing and wholeness and recovery” (from her website); it’s a good resource.
This Talk frequently references Internal Family Systems (IFS). IFS was developed by Richard C. Schwartz; Alanis wrote the forward to Schwartz’s recent book, No Bad Parts: Healing Trauma and Restoring Wholeness with the Internal Family Systems Model (2021). Key to the theory is that “the mind is naturally multiple and that is a good thing. Our inner parts contain valuable qualities and our core Self knows how to heal, allowing us to become integrated and whole. In IFS all parts are welcome” (from the IFS website). The goal in IFS is to invite the parts to release their burdens. It’s a journey of transformation and integral part of my model of trauma-informed spiritual direction. I often say that all the parts of me must have a “seat on the bus,” but I remain mindful of which part is driving the bus (my life). Susan McConnell recently published a book, Somatic Internal Family Systems Therapy: Awareness, Breath, Resonance, Movement, and Touch in Practice (2020); it brings the body and breath more thoroughly into the conversation.
There is also a reference to the childhood of the Buddha; I think it’s an important part of understanding him and Buddhism. You can find a version of it here.
Finally, there is also a reference to alloparenting. Alloparenting is simply caregiving of the young by someone other than the parents; it also happens in many non-human species. Here’s an interesting article on The Neurobiological Causes and Effects of Alloparenting (2017).
Notes and Quotes:
For a long time, Alanis’ heart-pleading, soul-touching song “That I Would Be Good” was important music therapy for me. Here’s a video of her singing it live (2012, 5 minutes). I used to include it in the curriculum for teens in Confirmation; it still touches with tears something profound in me. It reminds me of Mary Oliver’s poem “Wild Geese.”
Peter Levine is one of the most influential theorists in traumatology, and one of my favorite. I’m an incarnational theologian; I deeply believe in the fleshiness of experience, existence, and Spirit. Peter has brought enfleshment into the treatment and release of trauma.
Peter tells the story that “in 1978 I met Stephen Porges and we shared a passion for bottom-up processing (body first, then brain) and emergent properties. My relationship with Porges and this prescient dream heavily influenced the development of Somatic Experiencing®. Over the past 50 years, I developed SE™ and then taught it to anyone who would listen…” (from his website, alt.; italics are my addition).
Here is the Amazon page of Peter’s books, an excellent interview with him, and his podcast episode (6 March 2020, 0:45:00) from one of my favorite podcasts, Being Well with Rick and Forrest Hanson (father and son).
Notes and Quotes:
This Talk feels like a conversation between two good friends; that brings a tender strength to the presentation, and also keeps it from gaining a strong sense of focus. Here’s a video from another SAND event of Peter and Thomas Hübl on the topic Healing Trauma and Spiritual Growth (2019, 0:56:00); Peter has a lot of great videos on YouTube.
This is one of my favorite Trauma Talks; it’s like a dense master class from people who truly care about each other and have profound insights, wisdom, experience, and knowledge about how to be well, both individually and collectively. There is so much here and my long summary give only a small sampling.
Dr. Sará King “is a UCLA-trained neuroscientist, political and learning scientist, critical theorist, medical anthropologist, social entrepreneur, public speaker, and certified yoga and meditation instructor” (from her website). Her consulting firm, MindHeart, centers “the neuroscience of well-being at the service of social justice” (from her website). She also writes a blog and is a fellow at the Garrison Institute (see below).
Dr. Angel Acosta “works to bridge the fields of leadership, social justice & mindfulness…(he is) a proud first-generation Dominican-American and graduate of SUNY Plattsburgh… He currently is the Director of the Garrison Institute's Fellowship Program” (from his website). “The Garrison Institute was founded on the belief that action in the world is more compassionate and more effective when infused with the wisdom and skill cultivated in contemplative practices” (from their website, which has lots of resources). Angel has a podcast and many other offerings on his website.
Dr. Daniel Siegel “is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine and the founding co-director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center at UCLA (and) the Executive Director of the Mindsight Institute, an educational organization that focuses on how the development of mindsight in individuals, families and communities can be enhanced by examining the interface of human relationships and basic biological processes” (from his website, alt.). He has numerous books, including many on child development and parenting.
Notes and Quotes:
The Talk ends with Gabor quoting Anne Frank (in her diary a few months before her death): “It’s in difficult times like these that ideals, dreams, and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality. It’s a wonder that I have not abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.”
This is an honest and mutually vulnerable conversation between Gabor and the artist Sia. At one tender moment, she acknowledged that ”I always felt I wasn’t made for this planet.” There are frank discussions on addiction, suicidal ideation, and attachment challenges.
Notes and Quotes:
I have a felt sense of Sia’s truth that “twenty minutes of co-regulation” with another person can help you feel sane again, can interrupt self-harm and dysregulation, and can keep us from acting out. It takes what I call contemplative curiosity, a slowing down, noticing what “shows up and is,” and stillness from which Wisdom can speak. It takes safe and nurturing connections with Self, others, Spirit, and the planet. And it takes compassion, an open-hearted courage to turn toward the suffering of others and our own. It’s slow and difficult work, but it is the way “home.”
This brief talk focuses on research being done by Rick Doblin and others at Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). According to their website, they were “founded in 1986 [and are] a 501(c)(3) non-profit research and educational organization that develops medical, legal, and cultural contexts for people to benefit from the careful uses of psychedelics and marijuana.”
There is a reference to a recently published New York Times article (3 May 2021)on their progress toward legalization of MDMA for PTSD.
Marcella made a beautiful and powerful comment on the recovery from trauma, that it is like “coming home to a part of yourself that you have been homesick for.”
Stanislav Grof is a Czechoslovakian born and trained psychiatrist with a particular interest in “non-ordinary states of consciousness.” He coined the term “holotropic,” meaning “moving toward wholeness.” He is the founder of Holotropic Breathwork.
Notes and Quotes:
While I found the Talk interesting, I did not find it the most germane to the topic of trauma.
V (formerly Eve Ensler) “is a Tony Award-winning playwright, activist, performer, and author of the Obie award-winning theatrical phenomenon The Vagina Monologues, published in over 48 languages, performed in over 140 countries, and was recently heralded by The New York Times as one of the most important plays of the past 25 years” (from her website). You can find a list of her plays here. She is a prolific writer, but two books are mentioned in the Talk: The Apology (2019) and In the Body of the World: A Memoir of Cancer and Connection (2014). She has several incredible social justice and activism projects around the world.
In a powerful article “‘It's Time for White Women to Listen’: Writers V and Aja Monet on What will Replace The Vagina Monologues", Arifa Akbar writes in The Guardian, “she is no longer Eve Ensler, not since writing her memoir, The Apology, which excavated the dead father who violently abused her throughout her childhood. She is now V, joyously freed from the last vestige of that prescribed paternal identity.”
Notes and Quotes:
Here’s a post I wrote about it.
This Talk features five women from the film in conversation (Gabor joins at the end). They primarily focus on two questions.
What have you learned, what is the Wisdom of trauma in your lives?
Rae: There was too much attention on me by my parents, I felt responsible for how they felt…”the truth is our friend.”
Tessa: Gabor asked her, “what are you running from?”…”my history of addiction was reaching for the outside to fill up the inside.”
Romie: “…through me finding my authenticity I form more meaningful relationships with not only individuals I work with, but within my life.”
Juthaporn: Tells a powerful story of coming to terms that she has PTSD. She references EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing); it is a type of trauma treatment…”I can make all these excuses, but at the end of the day, I’m still going to feel what I feel.”
Fritzi: see her previous Talk. She talks about nonduality, which essentially dissolves our separateness…“For me, when I learned that I was traumatized, the biggest (awakening) for me was learning I wasn’t my behavior. What I was told, what I told myself that I am, is not true.” She playfully calls Starbucks a trauma center.
Reflections on being a parent
Romie: her baby is 8 months old…she will help to normalize and name feeling states for her daughter…allow her daughter the agency of choice.
Juthaporn: has a 6 year old…being accountable to our children for the pain we have caused….mindful parenting as a remedy.
Fritzi: has a 14 year old son…separating “behavior” from “identity.”…trauma separates, but connection heals.
Rae: mentions an interview that got cut out of the film…”my kids suffered because of my fear of rejection from my husband.”…”I don’t want my children responsible for me in any way, they’re not. And we put that burden on our kids…’Don’t make me feel like a bad mother, I can’t handle that.’”
Tessa: she has step-children…makes the point that as we heal ourselves, we heal our children…”make sure you do your own work.”