This month we are continuing to share our reflections from the Collective Trauma Healing Summit. If you missed the initial /part one reflections in last month’s post, check it out here!
The Collective Trauma Summit is an online gathering to share ideas and inspire action for healing individual, ancestral and collective trauma. The practitioners at Kaafi Counseling are committed to participating in global efforts to understand and address trauma. At Kaafi Counseling we offer services that are designed to be both therapeutic and psycho-educational, fostering and supporting change and growth by healing the wounds of trauma and assisting in the building of resilience to manage stress and cope with life’s many surprises.
Some of our practitioners attended the Summit – where more than 50 speakers shared their experiences and knowledge. As the Summit website details – the speakers shared impactful stories of healing and hope. There were deep-dives into conversations on some of the most pressing issues of our time including war and conflict, the refugee crisis, climate change, racism, and intergenerational trauma. The Summit shone light on the root causes of collective trauma and shared strategies for addressing unhealed wounds from the past. We at Kaafi Counseling found the discussions around moving from individualistic trauma work to including ancestral and collective trauma in therapeutic settings and focusing on the need for healthy and connected communities to be inspiring.
One talk that really stayed with us was with Nkem Ndufo. Nkem Ndefo, MSN, CNM, RN, is the founder of Lumos Transforms and the creator of The Resilience Toolkit. She is a skilled practitioner, dynamic speaker, and valued strategist. She is known for her unique ability to connect with people of all types by holding powerful healing spaces, weaving complex concepts into accessible narratives, and creating synergistic and collaborative learning communities that nourish people’s innate capacity for healing, wellness, and connection.
Nkem spoke on how for those of marginalized identities trauma is an ongoing process and not something that just exists in the past. This ongoing trauma can often be mislabeled as stress. Sometimes naming the trauma as what it is is itself a challenge because it requires admitting to oneself and one’s community how bad the situation really is. Nkem asks us to consider, how do we heal from something that is ongoing?
In our current social reality, people of marginalized identities, as Nkem states, “need a level of vigilance when we are in the outside world – this is life giving. This is what our defense mechanisms are for. The problem is, we don’t know how to turn them off.” She shares the truth that we can’t pretend that breathing and meditation are gonna cure the ills of things like racism, cissexism, and anti nativism. But because we often carry a hypervigilance into our relationships these mindful and body based practices can help us to rest and dream and vision when we are in our safer spaces. Telling someone to just breathe is insulting when they are facing material threat, but when we are in a space that is safer, a space where we can relax, can we practice these things that help us better process and protect ourselves. By developing subtlety around our awareness of our body we can develop discernment about whether our state and reactions are useful for this situation – if they are not, we can choose which tools we can use to help us to change our state. Through practice we can learn how it feels in our unique body to settle, to relax, or to be on defense. We can practice skills to downregulate stress response and develop a sense of internal authority.
Nkem talks about creating the safety to dream equitable systems into being. She highlights how changing our collective material reality is crucial trauma prevention – living wages are trauma prevention, accessible healthcare is trauma prevention. We couldn’t agree more! We take with us, and invite you to as well, Nkem’s bold statement “I want to be resilient and I want the world to be soft and gentle”