Move on like nothing happened? We need a better approach.

 


“They are committing the greatest indignity human beings can inflict on one another: telling people who have suffered excruciating pain and loss that their pain and loss were illusions.”

 – Elie Wiesel

Hi everyone,

Yesterday I had a delightful meeting with a woman who works with refugees in Orange County, yet it only affirmed what was already apparent. Local refugees need far more help than is currently available to them. It is undeniable that we have mass traumatized populations in this world, and the number of refugees being re-settled locally can only be expected to increase.

How can large numbers of traumatized, grief-stricken people fleeing conflict zones, mass atrocities and genocide be expected to receive only the most minimal help when they arrive in the U.S., and then just jump in to our society and move on like nothing happened?

Living Ubuntu is mid-way in our plan to establish a different approach to trauma recovery. As an organization, we are tiny, but determined, and we are going to need your ongoing support to accomplish our goals.

As background to our efforts, last year I wrote a 3-part series describing many of the commonplace difficulties refugees face:

In 2012 (Phase 1), we completed a needs assessment survey in City Heights, and found over 80% of the East African refugees that participated had at least mild symptoms of unresolved trauma. In 2013 (Phase 2), local refugee leaders participated in a 6-week series on trauma. In that group they learned and practiced a body-centered method of trauma recovery, Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE). Our success in these two initial phases laid the groundwork for the upcoming September 2014 launch of Phase 3, a 2-month pilot project with 40 female East African Refugees in City Heights (San Diego). Faculty from National University will statistically analyze its effectiveness.

In the coming weeks watch for more detailed information about what we have planned for the immediate, the not-too-far-off future, and the long-term.

For now, here is what you can do to help:

1.)    Want to find out more? Get involved? Come to our next planning meeting, Tuesday, June 17 in Newport Beach. Details are below, including a call-in option.
2.)    Become a one-time or monthly donor. Your financial support can make an enormous difference, having direct impact by increasing the number of refugees we can help.

With gratitude,

Barbara English, LMFT
Founder & Executive Director, Living Ubuntu
livingubuntu.org | facebook | donate »
(949) 891-2005

[Ubuntu] n. Every human being truly becomes a human by means of relationships with other human beings.

 

::: UPCOMING LIVING UBUNTU EVENTS :::

Living Ubuntu Planning Meeting– all are welcome :)
Tuesday June 17 6:30p
1151 Dove Street #210
Newport Beach CA 92660
Conference line: Conference dial-in number: (951) 262-4343 | Participant access code: 377504

Global Warming Collaborative Planning Meeting
Wednesday, June 25 6:30p
1151 Dove Street #210
Newport Beach CA 92660
Conference line: Conference dial-in number: (951) 262-4343 | Participant access code: 377504

TRE Certification Level One Training– more info soon!
Friday August 22 – Sunday August 24
San Diego

::: UPCOMING COMMUNITY EVENTS :::

Slow Money – SoCal, featuring Mark Evans, Founder of The Ecology Center
Wednesday June 18 6p-8:30p
Dana Point

 

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The trans-generational nature of trauma

There are many instances in which we are not the master’s of our fate. Yet our helplessness in these areas is tolerable because all human beings are in the same boat. And we need each other to counter the darkness, to keep out the cold, to provide meaning to existence. Human beings are social creatures. It is with other people that we find the warmth, the excitement, and the challenge of life. And only within the human community do we dare face the frightening unknown.
 – Alexander Lowen

Hi everyone,

Yesterday, I had a conversation with a reporter about the upcoming April events. The conversation headed in the direction that conversations often go when I am involved, toward trans-generational trauma.

  • Women pregnant during 9/11 gave birth to infants with stress hormone levels that correlate with trauma.
  • Attachment researchers identified compelling evidence that mothers with unresolved grief and trauma are frequently unable to provide the secure attachment necessary for babies’ optimal health and emotional / intellectual development. Many of these babies throughout their lifetime have increased risk of physical, emotional and relational difficulties, and increased risk of developing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The myth that children are “resilient” persists. As child trauma expert, Dr. Bruce Perry, put it, children are not resilient; they are malleable. Continue reading

The gargantuan challenge of living this paradoxical, contradictory, incongruous, beautiful, awful life


Until he extends the circle of compassion to all living creatures, man himself will not find peace.
– Albert Schweitzer

If a person cannot see horror, then he can neither see beauty, nor sadness, anger, fear or love.
– Alexander Lowen

Hi everyone,

Life is full of so much, and so much of it seems riddled with contradictions.

This morning I woke up, felt a little bit tired and cranky, and positioned my cup of coffee to be the ideal projective object, dubbed the ultimate magic potion that was going to transform my state of consciousness and cure all of my ills.

If only I could get through my cup of coffee in peace, then I would be a happier, more compassionate person. ; )

As my hands cradled the warm mug of divine sustenance, I saw a very silly post on Facebook that was beyond the usual “oh, that’s cute”.  This was uncontrollable-belly-laugh, tears streaming down my face, and the ultimate release of a stress-induced, overly tight diaphragm that had been limiting my ability to breathe freely and deeply.  Such ridiculous silliness! There is no logic for why something strikes one as being hysterically funny, it just is.

Yet, the very next thing I read was a post about a family killed in South Kordofan.

They died because their home was bombed.  In Sudan, the government continues to indiscriminately bomb civilians.  Antonovs are not precise vehicles of military surgical strikes.  They are rough approximators and work well when the goal is the opposite of what we typically think of in war.

Genocide is unlike war in many attributes.  So-called “collateral damage” is not a secondary, regrettable consequence in genocide, it is the goal.  Civilians are the targets, especially women and children.

I had only barely recovered from my fit of all-encompassing hysterical laughter… and then, Sudan.

It gripped me.  For a moment, I felt guilty.  How can I sit and be caught up in such silliness when people are dying?  And yet, this is the nature of life.

Perhaps the art form of living is to learn how to ride the alternating, ever-changing, seemingly contradictory waves without resistance.

The laughter had actually opened me so that I felt more.  My capacity to feel grateful for all I have, and feel sorrow in the exact same moment for those killed, surrounded by their family members grieving their loss while running, hiding in caves, lacking access to food, water, and medicine, just trying to survive another day, another hour, another moment… my capacity to feel both gratitude and sorrow had increased.

How do we put these things together?  How do we process things that horrify us when the nature of horror is that it is the incomprehensible?

Many are still reeling from the shooting in Connecticut.  We are shocked and saddened to think of so many children, so young, all being slaughtered at the same time by a random gunman.  Many say the result has been that something has shifted in this country.  This time is different and we must have change.  We will not forget in a few days time.  This time we resolve to take action.

We often neglect to think about the fact that young children are slaughtered in other countries every day.  If not by Antonov bomber, by direct gunshot, or landmine.  If not by overt violence, by the indirect violence of famine, and lack of medical care.

How do we put these things together?  How do we process the extreme incongruity of life on this planet?

We are caring, loving, concerned citizens, right?  We are basically good people and compassionate in nature, right?  Yet, we live in a world of such vast contradiction.  In the U.S. even in tough economic times, WE HAVE SO MUCH.  And the trouble with having so much is that it can increase generosity, or it can become numbing, create distance from suffering and decrease compassion.

I have never understood why we aren’t more concerned about and helpful to others who are suffering.  There seems to be a belief that we are to take care of our self here on this earth, and take care of those in our own immediate family.  Too often it stops there.

Time and again I wind up back at the meaning of “Ubuntu”.  

Across this globe, across all of humanity, it is my very strong belief that we need to change the paradigm.  We need to live in pursuit of the common good for all of humanity, for all others who live among us, and to find our way to re-establish our love affair with Mother Earth.

We all affect each other.  We make choices and they have consequences.  We have incredible potential for enacting warm, loving goodness.  We have incredible potential for cold, oppressive destruction.

We will become even more powerful for good by being willing to become more intimately acquainted with our limits, and ability to do harm.

We are largely the problem, and the solution all at the same time.

I believe we have yet to scratch the surface in terms of the potential for good that lies within each and everyone one of us.  We have access to the ability to bring tremendous positive change to this earth.  It will not be an easy path.  Discouragements are plentiful.  Yet we can learn to allow deep feelings to have their way with us.

We must learn how to grieve well, and often.  

We can allow even more genuine goodness into our life by learning to stop insisting on allowing in only feel-good things. When we open, we open to it all, and we must have a strong sense of groundedness to know how to deal with that wisely.  We need the support of one another as we pursue this process as everyone gets off track and runs out of energy at times.

I write this mindful that this is the day, 12/21/12, some have said the world was going to end.  Others said it would be the beginning of a new consciousness.  I don’t honestly know if there is any significance to this date on the calendar or not.  What I know is that I see a different way for us to be together on the planet, recognizing the preciousness of life itself, and holding each other in heartfelt value, within the pursuit of supporting the well-being of us all.

Barbara English
Executive Director, Living Ubuntu
http://livingubuntu.org
(949) 891-2005

[Ubuntu] n.  Every human being truly becomes a human by means of relationships with other human being.

“If only my stomach were flat…”

love-your-body2

“In the midst of a war on Iraq, in a time of torture camps and daily bombings, when civil liberties are disappearing as fast as the ozone layer, when one out of three women in the world will be beaten or raped in her lifetime, why write a play about my stomach?

Maybe because my stomach is one thing I feel I have control over, or maybe because I have hoped that my stomach is something I could get control over….

Maybe… I have bought into the idea that if my stomach were flat, then I would be good, and I would be safe.  I would be protected.  I would be accepted, admired, important, loved.”

— Eve Ensler, The Good Body (read the complete quote)

Hi everyone,

“If only my stomach were flat…”
“If only I made more money…”
“If only I had more time …”
“If only I could just keep going…”
If only…

We are prone to bargaining, a lot.  We fall into wishful thinking, frequently.  It comes in myriad forms, claims a limitless list of topics, and often has very little to do with the real issues that are bothering us.  And if ever there is a time of year when it’s at its peak, it’s the Holidays.

Ideal images of perfectly selected gifts, decorations and dinners all fall flat when stress and unrealistic expectations take a toll on relating… when there is an absence of feeling ‘together with’ those one is together with.

(Sigh…) “If only this year could be different…”

We are doing a retreat in January called “If only…” because accepting painful realities can be really, really hard, and grief, our best friend in need of embrace on the long, long, long road to acceptance, has a tendency to show up incognito.  After the holiday season is over, come join us for this retreat in Julian the last weekend in January (25-27).   All details are on our website.

The deposit deadline is easy to remember if you are up on the end of the Mayan calendar.  Same date, Friday, 12/21/12 :)

From the belly,

Barbara English
Executive Director, Living Ubuntu
http://livingubuntu.org
(949) 891-2005

* * *

“If only . . .”

Grief and the long, long, long road to acceptance

What:
2013 Living Ubuntu Winter Retreat

When:
Friday to Sunday, January 25-27 2013

Where:
Julian, CA

Click here to find out more »

* * *

“If only…”

“I followed all of the rules, man’s and God’s. And you, you followed none of them. And they all loved you more. Samuel, Father, and my… even my own wife.”

– Alfred to his brother Tristan in the film, Legends of the Fall (1994)

Hi everyone,

I have always loved the scene from the film, Legends of the Fall quoted above. It’s agonizing to hear Alfred as he finally puts his heartbreak into words after a lifetime of trying to be good by following all the rules. Despite all his efforts, it didn’t bring him what he longed for. Love never came, not from his father, his brothers, or even his wife. In anger and disbelief, he tells his rule-breaking, rebellious brother Tristan (Brad Pitt), “…they all loved you more.”

There are many times and in many ways that no matter what we do, we don’t get the result we hoped for.

  • How do we know when to stop trying to change a situation?
  • How do we ‘let go’ when it means facing agonizing disappointment and heartbreak?
  • How do we accept the many situations in life where we are ultimately helpless or powerless?

Learning to grieve well is an essential part of living, yet, it isn’t easy when we live in a culture that tries so hard to avoid it.

The Living Ubuntu Winter Retreat, will be Friday January 25 – Sunday January 27, 2013 in Julian, California. Our theme for this next one is — “If Only… Grief and The Long, Long, Long Road to Acceptance”.

Yes, actually, we did chose this topic on purpose to come right after the Holiday season.  All details are below and on our websiteTo create an emotionally safe, secure space, we are limiting attendance to 10 people.  Please let us know if you would like to join us.

Warmly,

Barbara English
Executive Director, Living Ubuntu
http://livingubuntu.org
(949) 891-2005

* * *

“If only . . .”

Grief and the long, long, long road to acceptance

What:
2013 Living Ubuntu Winter Retreat

When:
Friday to Sunday, January 25-27 2013

Where:
Julian, CA

Click here to find out more »

* * *

Living Ubuntu Winter Retreat (January 2013)

“If only . . .”

Grief and the long, long, long road to acceptance…

“If only I was prettier, then he’d want me.”
“If only I could find the ‘right’ way to say it, then she’d understand.”
“If only I can be there for her enough, I could save her.”
“If only I keep quiet, it’ll all work out in the end.”
“If only I just keep going, I know it’ll be ok.”
“If only I could get a better _______, my family would be proud of me.”

Some aspects of life are hard to accept ‘as is’, yet, there are limits on what we can influence or control.  In this society, we frequently go to great lengths to avoid painful realities, and we avoid the very thing that would help us reach acceptance, being at peace with ‘what is’.  Far too often, we don’t grieve. 

We see it in:

  • the chronic seeking to win acceptance of those who have rejected us by pleasing, performing and doing everything possible to try to finally be deemed worthy, loveable and good-enough.
  • the downcast eyes and low energy of collapse when resignation has set in.
  • the oppressive wielding of power as a weapon, heels dug in, tightened fists and jaw defiantly refusing to give up, insisting they are going to “make it happen”.
  • those who perceive ‘justice’ as ‘revenge’.
  • the refusal to be vulnerable.
  • the denial of normal human limitations.
  • the defense against recognizing the helplessness of life and accepting the fragility inherent in living an ‘alive’ human life.

We give up when we ought to hang in there, and we refuse to let go when surrender would be best.  Either way, we lose.

If we don’t grieve well, we stay stuck in our illusions. We fight the wrong demons. We’re chronically unfulfilled because we reach for the thing that isn’t what we really want.

Underneath, we have angst. We have quiet desperation. We stay busy because we don’t know what else to do.  We have lost access to the natural rhythm of life.  We can’t even hear our own wise inner-knowing.

We don’t really live.  We don’t really love.  At least, not in the ways we could…

We need to grieve… and… we can’t do it alone.

This is what we’ll be addressing in our Winter Retreat in January.  All details are below.  To create an emotionally safe, secure space, we are limiting attendance to 10 people.  Hope you will join us.

If only we could think of the right thing to say, people would come to our retreat…

:) Barbara & Anshul
Founders, Living Ubuntu
http://livingubuntu.org
(949) 891-2005

“Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.”
– Hermann Hesse

* * *

2013 Living Ubuntu Winter Retreat

The retreat will be in Julian, CA. Click to see more pictures of the cabin.

When:
Friday to Sunday, January 25–27 2013

Where:
Julian, CA.  Here are the cabin details.

Cost:
$195 per person. This includes food and lodging for the weekend.
If there is any financial hardship, please get in touch with us. We will do our best to accommodate your situation.

Presenter:

Barbara English is a licensed Marriage Family Therapist with over 20 years of experience in the field. As a Certified Bioenergetic Therapist, she works from a mind-body perspective, and utilizes relational somatic methods as part of the process toward healing and a sense of well-being. Much of her training has focused on Early Development, Infant Mental Health, and healing after abuse or trauma. She is the co-founder and Executive Director of Living Ubuntu.

Like at our past retreats, we will:

  • Arrive at the cabin by mid-day on Friday and leave for home on Sunday afternoon. We will arrange a carpool to drive up together (leaving Friday morning).
  • Lunch and dinner will be provided, as well as supplies for breakfast (on your own).  Meals will be vegetarian, and organic as much as possible.
  • The daily schedule will include multiple sessions of body work (e.g. Bioenergetic grounding exercises, and TRE).
  • Most bedrooms will be shared (i.e. with roommate).
  • To create a safe, secure space, we are limiting attendance to no more than 10 people.

To register, please contact us at info@livingubuntu.org or call (949) 891-2005.

Space is limited and 50% deposit is due by December 21, payable to Living Ubuntu, 1151 Dove Street #210, Newport Beach CA 92660.

* * *

Ubuntu Group in Orange County, September 2012

Wisdom means seeing into the heart of things,
beneath the surface of our contradictions, where there is no good nor bad, neither right nor wrong.
It means seeing the human being as the animal he is, struggling to gain security yet be free, to be productive but also joyful, to seek pleasure but also to know pain, to hope for transcendence and yet be content that one is contained within a finite body.
It is to know that love does not exist without the possibility of hatred.
It is to know that there is a time for living and a time for dying.
It is to know that the individual exists to celebrate life.

– Alexander Lowen

Hi everyone,

I have been grieving a lot lately, for a wide variety of reasons.  Life brings change, and loss is perpetually a part of that.  If you know me at all you will know I am a devoted believer in grieving as the very thing that restores living.

There is indeed “a time for living and a time for dying,” reinforced for me this week by hearing of a colleague’s death.  It was a death one could say was before her time, and that is the irony.  We never get to know in advance how much time we have.

Within the struggle and contradictions, while we are here, in whatever form we choose to express it in, we exist to celebrate life.

The next Ubuntu group is back to the traditional schedule of third Friday of the month.  I hope to see you there.  RSVPs are always appreciated.

If you would like more information on how to join the Ubuntu group, please get in touch with us. : )

In the ebb and flow of life,

Barbara English
http://livingubuntu.org
(949) 891-2005

Ubuntu Group in Orange County, CA

Friday, September 21 2012
6:30p – 9:30p
TRE starts promptly at 6:30p

Optional:  bring veggie foods to share

We have been doing the Ubuntu group since the very beginning (2004).  Held on the 3rd Friday of every month, it is a time to connect with one another in an authentic way about whatever is happening in life, to share from the deeper self, from our most known truth.  For more information, visit http://livingubuntu.org/events or call (949) 891-2005.

[Ubuntu] n.
Every human being truly becomes a human by means of relationships with other human beings.