Healing Collective Trauma by Thomas Hübl

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Review by Karina Lutz

 

 

Healing Collective Trauma: A Process for Integrating our Intergenerational and Cultural Wounds by Thomas Hübl 

Emerging systems of healing seem to be converging; or, to see with ancient eyes, old systems are reconverging. And they are meeting us at the Work That Reconnect’s evolving edge. (That’s how it goes in the Great Turning!) That’s one takeaway from reading Healing Collective Trauma, by self-described modern mystic, Thomas Hübl, out this year from Sounds True.

At very least, if a purpose of the Work that Reconnects is to help people find their place in the healing of the world, we have allies in the emerging field of healing collective trauma. Hübl has been convening conferences on the topic and developing and facilitating group work internationally to address issues of societal level trauma, calling his method the Collective Trauma Integration Process. WTR facilitators will recognize many of its elements, in particular the taboo-breaking deep dive into so-called negative emotional realms. He uses the term “collective shadow,” defining it not simply in Jungian terms but including ancestral legacies.  The emerging field of historical trauma is revealing that the descendants of Holocaust and slavery survivors may carry into the present unhealed wounds of their ancestors, both epigenetically and culturally.  At the same time, Hübl describes,  trauma affects us horizontally, in the present, as social wounding (like racism, sexual violence, or war).

Even simply hearing about and seeing videos of the horrors humans perpetrate upon each other transmits trauma to all of us. The many distant losses that emerge voiced by a group doing the Elm Dance or the Cairn of Mourning, for example, surface that horizontal thread of collective shadow. Hübl mentions the destruction of species and ecosystems, etc., but his groups often work with the legacies of the Holocaust and war.

The evolving edge is not just teaching facilitators to be more inclusive, i.e. less racist, but to understand the dynamics of trauma: historic, horizontal, and for all of us in terms of the losses of/to our home and our larger self, Earth.

Facilitators will not only resonate but learn—and here’s where another evolving edge becomes clear—from Hübl’s expectations of the emotional/spiritual development of Collective Trauma Integration Process facilitators. He lists skills and qualities he calls essential to effectively leading this profoundly transformative work. The evolving edge is not just teaching facilitators to be more inclusive, i.e. less racist, but to understand the dynamics of trauma: historic, horizontal, and for all of us in terms of the losses of/to our home and our larger self, Earth.

Hübl’s process also includes a systemic, holistic, relational paradigm of reality (which Hübl, as a mystic, extends to the spiritual realm more explicitly than Macy does). And Hübl describes his deep time work in a way WTR facilitators will find fascinating.  His groups work with ancestors with a focus on the trauma they lived, either as victims or perpetrators, and they work with the future, using a technique developed by Otto Scharmer called “presencing.” It sounds very much like Macy’s “fourth time”—accessing past and future through the present moment. While Macy and other WTR facilitators often pose our work with ancestors and descendants as a function of imagination (at least at first), Hübl and Scharmer unabashedly assert the reality of this connection with ancestors and future beings.

With presencing…we are able to access a future that wants to become, via full presence in the present moment.

With presencing, Scharmer writes in a sidebar in the book, we are able to access a future that wants to become, via full presence in the present moment.

Much as our deep time work does in the Going Forth portion of the Spiral, touching such a life-affirming future informs a path forward to the realization of it. The great work of the Great Turning, and the quickness with which it must occur is seen as possible not just by seeing with a systems lens and using systems levers, but as emergent, and calling to us from the/a future.

Certainly becoming more trauma-informed as facilitators is a key piece of WTR’s evolving edge. Our core environmental and social issues are laden with trauma. Our work to decolonize the Work requires the ability to acknowledge and midwife the transformation of the trauma that affects all parties to oppression, racism, sexism, militarism, poverty, and Earth abuse: the oppressed and the oppressor. (Often the oppressor is acting out of trauma, as “hurt people hurt people,” but even in absence of causal trauma, oppressors cause themselves trauma, if less severe, as they sever connection and lose the resilence and beauty of diversity. Mutual causality is at work, as always.)

Our shift in consciousness away from power-over towards the shared power of interbeing requires the healing of trauma, and helps in the healing.

Our shift in consciousness away from power-over towards the shared power of interbeing requires the healing of trauma, and helps in the healing. So much of trauma is due to an exercise of power-over, either systemically or personally (and often both). The trauma lens Hübl offers in his book, and all the emerging healing techniques for it, including his group process, offer great hope.

Hübl’s description of the Collective Trauma Integration Process is a mystic’s view of the psycho-spiritual energies of group process. Psychically aware Work That Reconnects facilitators may feel relief to recognize and hear spiritual energy acknowledged to such a degree, and others may learn much about how much deeper we can go with our groups using Hübl’s skills and processes. Regardless, I recommend we all read the book and become part of the movement to heal collective trauma.


Haiku translator Harry Behn told Karina Lutz as a child to “write from experience.” Since, her life has been a net thrown wide to collect experience: as a sustainable energy and stable climate advocate; as an editor, reporter, and magazine publisher; as a professor, yoga teacher, and workshop facilitator; as a farmer, carpenter, and seamstress; and as a serial social entrepreneur. Poems and links at http://karinalutz.wordpress.com and sustainable living blog at http://berryberrydayhomestead.wordpress.com. Books Post-Catholic Midrashim (Finishing Line) and Preliminary Visions (Homebound). 

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