What if our patients who “feel too much” aren’t just poorly regulated but are sensing something more that needs to be told? What if our patients who have been called “too sensitive” really are resonating with a more collective grief than their own? What if they have capacities and sensitivities that overwhelm them because no one has believed them and trained them how to use them? What if they feel “different” from others, not just because of trauma, or neuropsychological differences, but because they are carriers of old truths, of memories from before their time?
What if we are only seeing through a very narrowed aperture of possibilities? What are we missing? What if the closed-off portions of the psyche-soma don’t just contain trauma’s rubble, but beneath this rubble, deeper still, are miraculously preserved remnants of knowledge from other times, other spaces, other species, other dimensions of knowing? What if something else altogether is arising?
What if, as we find ways out of the imprisoned minds and disconnected/devitalized bodies created through colonization, we also bring ourselves and our patients into another experience of being? A space where we validate and participate and discover something else altogether? A way of being that recognizes not just the haunting of ghosts who carry the closed luggage of transgenerational trauma, but also the guidance of ancestors who exist within us and whose ways of knowing carry wisdom waiting to be unlocked and opened?
I have heard from Cherokee, Tibetan, and Jewish teachers that wisdom teachings have been hidden in undisclosed places and dimensions, melodies and alphabets, boulders and birdsong, by those who came before us. I am certain that this same understanding of hiddenness can be found in all wisdom and healing traditions around the globe, including psychoanalysis and transformational bodywork. These hidden teachings will become available to us when we, as humans, are ready to receive.
This kind of understanding is usually dismissed as “mystical” or “primitive” or “nonsense.” But what if this dismissal is a colonialist lie? What if we do carry remembrances of what it was like to be human before we were colonized? When we still lived in extended families, instead of the lonely isolation of destined-to-fail nuclear families? When we still lived our lives in concentric, radiating circles of support, rather than in fragmented pieces of a hierarchical structure? When we still lived close to the earth, full of awe?
What if this time is one where more revelations/teachings are becoming available? Not only because this is a time of increased global suffering, but also a time when we have learned how to hear and hold? Through decades of protests, anti-oppression critical thinking, activism and pedagogy, and spiritual practices, we now have many more skills and capacities. We know the importance of creating circles of support. We have a much more cohesive understanding of the interlocking pieces of oppression, and so can create better methods to dismantle the lies. We know how to go down into the deep earth, bring back those who have been eviscerated or even murdered, and make a usable space here for their spirits to sing to us, inform us, and find some rest.
What if remembrance can never be completely eradicated from our hearts, minds, and bodies but arises spontaneously in that vulnerable gaze that expands the possible? What if these teachings—and this gaze—catalyze something new as people gather at refugee camps, activist trainings, firepits, kitchen tables, shelters, food banks, and psychotherapy offices? We learn how to link this with that with this, hold each other’s hands, go into reverie, dream fertile dreams, wipe each other’s tears, imagine boldly… until a new constellation lights up the night sky and holds the shared globe of our being.
The urge to connect and see with fresh eyes is older than time. ▪
Marcia Black, PhD, is a psychologist in private practice for over twenty-five years in Massachusetts. She has been active as a volunteer at the intersection of domestic violence, the criminal justice system, and social change for many decades. Currently, she provides pro bono affidavits for asylum-seekers who are fleeing situations of extreme abuse or torture, through Health Right International.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Allione, T. Women of Wisdom (Routledge/Kegan Paul, 1984)
Ywahoo, D. Voices of Our Ancestors, Cherokee Teachings from the Wisdom Fire (Shambhala, 1997)
Matt, D., trans. The Zohar: Pritzker Edition (Stanford University Press, 2003)
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