We’re living in a really tricky time. All times have been tricky in the story of human beings but here are a few of the tricky things about this particular time:
At the same time as we’re trying to move more toward an awareness of gender fluidity we’re also trying to work out what it means to be a woman and what it means to be a man: trying to find those divine feminine qualities, those divine masculine qualities; trying to find out how women can become more outward-focussed and empowered, and how men can become more inward-focussed and nurturing. And also trying to be nondual and non-binary as we do it. All of this is super tricky.
We’ve been like fish in water for a long time, unaware that we’re in water. I’m referring here to patriarchal structure, a system of hierarchy, of privilege, of the dominance of the strong and insensitive qualities of the masculine. We have all – men, women, all genders – been swimming in this water, many of us unaware that we’ve been swimming in this water of patriarchy. Some of us, for our whole lives, have been aware of what the view of the water looks like, and many of us are just starting to poke our heads out of the water, to look back at the water, and to notice how dirty it is. We have hardly been able to see past our noses in a colonial overculture. The water is full of sharks, many that we can’t see because the water is so dirty.
We’re learning about colonization and that it’s not just something that happened to someone else hundreds of years ago – it’s happening today…
There are many of us swimming around, very close to each other, having very similar experiences, and yet we’ve been unaware that we’re sharing experiences. Just lately those of us who have been unaware are starting to become more aware about what is happening to our brothers and our sisters and our gender-neutral siblings right next to us (understanding diversity more, the effects of campaigns like #MeToo and the Body Image Movement, and educating ourselves about implicit bias, social privilege and institutional racism). We’re becoming more aware of the hidden pains many of us bear, and, sometimes, that we are not alone in a challenging part of our experience we might have even not known we could question.
We’re learning about colonization and that it’s not just something that happened to someone else hundreds of years ago – it’s happening today and the wounds from those hundreds of years ago are deep in many of us. Our mind and our body is colonized, once again without us being aware. We’ve been in the matrix, but now some of us are daring to take the red pill.
We’re moving towards an awareness of endemic trauma in our culture for many of us. Trauma used to be a word that had stigma attached to it but now we’re finding that the majority of us have trauma in our story. We’re redefining trauma. We’re learning that trauma is not knowing where to find a reliable source of love as a child. We’re learning that trauma is being witness to really disturbing events. Trauma can be as simple as not be sure about our next meal. As we redefine trauma we’re opening up conversations about trauma, we’re learning that we are not alone, that many of us had and have similar experiences.
And we’re also in this time when social media, mass media, the availability of so many things is meaning that some really tragic parts of our culture are able to proliferate – pornography, public shaming, cyber-bullying, viewing violence, playing violence: these things are much more available than they used to be. And we’re availing ourselves of these things at a younger, more tender age than we ever used to. Our children are playing violence, watching violence, being entertained by violence, and at the same time they are the victims of this violence as they learn to dissociate themselves from the effects violence and, as a result, dissociate from themselves.
Things that were meant to make our lives easier, to give us more free time – automation, mechanization, efficient processes, new tools, new gadgets – are simply leading us to achieve more.
At the same time as violence is more available, we’re also better able to expose acts of violence. Smartphones capture acts we never would have been able to witness before. Social media is allowing us to see things we never would have seen. And there are two sides to this story – while heinous acts are being outed, we’re also witnessing way more violent acts than our brain has evolved to be able to handle. We’re traumatized on a daily basis by what we see on the news. Our system can’t handle so much trauma in social media and on mass media. We hold – and the next generation holds – the privilege of information, of news, of accessibility, and also the responsibility to hold so much more than we’ve ever had to hold before.
Things are moving so fast. So fast. Things that were meant to make our lives easier, to give us more free time – automation, mechanization, efficient processes, new tools, new gadgets – are simply leading us to achieve more. We’re working harder than we ever have. We’re achieving more than we ever have, and we are less still. We are less quiet. We are less mindful. We are disconnected from ourselves and from each other.
And at the same time as we are disconnected we are reconnected through the availability of social media, video conferencing, instant messaging. Modern life is a paradox – so many incongruent components juxtaposing with each other. It’s confusing, but maybe the next generation will not be so confused because they are growing up with this. Just as my parents grew up in the shadow of the depression and the cold war, and I grew up in the confusing terror of AIDs and the stock market crash, children today are growing up in their own challenging times. We all live in tricky – yet different- times.
What I do know is that we need to remember the human capacity for connection, for kindness. We need to stick together. We need to learn about what’s happening, what has happened, and we need to be careful. We need to turn the tap of the news, of social media, of trauma, of email, off regularly. We need to take care of ourselves or we’ll drown.
This is a time that requires a massive amount of courage, a massive amount of learning. We can do it, but we need to do it together. What can you do today to reach out, to draw your resources to you, to be kind to yourself, to nurture yourself? How can you take care of yourself so that you can be a part of the solution? I don’t many answers, but I look forward to us finding our way there together.
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- Somatic Self-Compassion Online (SSCON) content, structure and community explained - March 14, 2019
- Trauma Adaptations, Power, and Acceptance - March 10, 2019
- Why We’re Not Self-Compassionate and … There’s a Course for That - March 5, 2019
- Trauma-Informed Contemplative Teaching - February 19, 2019