A few years back, I was learning a bit about “Adverse Childhood Experiences” and the connection to personal and social challenges. My spouse was really researching and contributing to understanding more of that. Particularly in Washington State, there was much research that was being used to help understand trauma-informed practices in many domains of professional life and practice. Trauma-informed education. Trauma-informed medical care. Trauma-informed leadership. It remains important.
The flip side of trauma, the aspect that dances in dynamic with it, is resilience. It’s one of the aha’s for many people with trauma — that there in inherent robustness, or even plasticity. I’m grateful for this. Resilience doesn’t remove the occurrence of trauma. It does however, reset the story to one of learning, choice, hope, practice, and perhaps, as I feel it, grace.
When I’ve been thinking lately of resilience, I’ve been thinking of three sources. There’s the resilience that comes through community and connection. How important it is to have, as the poet Gunilla Norris names, “a community to witness and support the interior journey,” whatever that may be, that welcomes wisdom and integration from the wound or anger of leaving innocence.
There’s the resilience that comes through grace, or the divine. I don’t understand all of this. In fact I’m quite careful with institutional forms of religion. But what I freely give myself to is the idea that there is always more unseen that seen. And that in that, there is constantly a process of self-organizing happening. Self. Organizing. I see it when opinions change amidst tension, that turn conflict to appreciation, fear to openness. I see it in the passing of time that takes away some of the charge that we humans seem to hook with.
There’s the resilience of personal practice. Some of them old — journaling has long been a daily practice for me, with a good part of that being dream-catching. Some of the personal practices being new — perhaps determining to sit for five minutes of quiet each day. Or stretching. Or paying attention with regularity to thinking or feeling. I’m noticing that these days, many teachers are encouraging 40 days for new practices — then you’ve got it enough to have changed chemistry.
Resilience itself is a chemistry. From the community. From the unseen. From the self. This last category matters, doesn’t it. When it seems like there is no choice, what I’ve learned is that there is choice. Not necessarily easy. Pattern interruption rarely is.
Resilience is an important reminder. I’m learning to be grateful for wherever those messages come from. And I’m remembering that often it is beautiful spaces of nature where I remember these qualities — like this open field, against blue sky, amidst Ponderosa Pines that remains with me from hosting last week. There is an inherent and robust quality, just in what is, isn’t there.