Desert Bloom Cooperation Circle participated in a retreat on Secondary Traumatic Stress and Building Resilience The project, which was led by Feminenza International, was designed to support workers dealing with Secondary Trauma and co-funded by the Erasmaus+ Programme of the European Union.
After a heartwarming welcome, we dove into the first segment of Managing Mental Trauma. Collaborative sessions of small group passion plays and life stories illustrated the reality of "stop situations" and internal cages, our habitual pitfalls, and the connection to human values and qualities that cause the turning point of change. The second part of the day moved on to a process called the "Field of Fears" – a safe space for people to discover and consciously identify their fears – while not identifying with them. A very contemplative, intimate time for each one. We ended the day with a few participants sharing their experiences in the Field of Fears. Becoming much more aware of the depth and number of fears we all face in ourselves, and yet grateful for the fears that are no longer present. A hopeful journey of self-discovery, which will reveal more in the coming days of the retreat.
In the 2nd segment of Managing Mental Trauma, we enter the “Domain Of Courage”. We had the space and time to go through a quiet introspective process to connect with the higher functioning parts of our brain, through what we cherish, value, and have actively developed as inner qualities. As we reflected upon these inner values and qualities, we were able to register the natural, inner fortification, the strength of our higher functioning nature, our domain of courage. We can walk that internal path whenever we feel low, down, weak, or out of sorts.
The first steps into the domain of Forgiveness began with reading the individual unique stories of forgiveness posters hanging on the walls. We were reminded of the complexity of Forgiveness in our lives, the struggle between fear as a stopper versus our higher functioning humanity. What moves it from the personal to the universal and what place it has as an effective influence on the community we live in – these questions and more were raised by the participants and will be opened up over the coming few days. We went on a day trip to see some ancient Greek history! On the 3rd day of the STS retreat, we visited the Acrocorinth, an ancient Greek castle with an amazing view if you do the 25-minute steep climb up. We ended the morning trip with coffee on the sunny beach in Loutraki.
We touched on the first and second pillars of Forgiveness – Understanding, and Freedom. With the poignant takeaway from the pillar of Understanding – It is impossible to resolve any conflict without each side fully understanding the other from the human aspect. What influences affect their thinking, behavior, and actions instead of being locked on the “labels and stigma” that were stuck on others by us or history? In Freedom – a very simple “ribbon exercise” demonstrated the steps of walking the path to freedom from that which holds us imprisoned in our past, unable to walk into our future. Forgiveness is an essential quality that causes us to raise ourselves to higher functioning, where we can connect to our priorities and values and find our true selves again.
We covered Pillars 3 and 4 of Forgiveness Remedy and Warmth. The remedial effects of forgiveness were illustrated with very lively, fun small theatre plays and stories. Demonstrating that carrying unwanted baggage of the past, grudges, resentments, hurts, self-blame, and so on always weigh us down into low functioning and keep us stuck in the circle of fear, anger, violence, and revenge. But we always have the option to put the bag down and let go of it, which is very remedial and freeing. The Remedial circle of forgiveness warms and opens the door to future possibility and hope. Warmth is at the pivotal turning point as we decide to let go and see ourselves as worthy and deserving of a life free and unburdened of the past.