Both groups are meant to help me to heal, but they are pretty different.
The first is a women’s open trauma group, which runs for five weeks. I’m not sure I fit into this one or that it will be that helpful, but I’m going to persist one more week. There were about 25 women and one facilitator with two assistants. I guess our commonality was that we are all suffering from the effects of trauma, though there was a really wide spectrum of women present. The facilitator did try to keep the discussion general, in order to minimize triggering upsetting feelings in others. So for instance, a topic was what might constitute abuse. However, of course bits of these women’s stories did come out in the discussion.
Most of the discussion did seem to revolve around spousal abuse, and I couldn’t really relate, as although I had an unhappy marriage with perhaps abusive elements, personal violence was not involved. The abuse I need to recover from happened when I was a very young child.
So this one was upsetting and I’m not sure how it’s going to help to be honest. It is not an appropriate place to start processing deep feelings, as there are too many women and the duration of the group is short. I addition, because of my social anxiety, I have anxiety about talking in any group to begin with. But, no huge need to talk myself. And I did speak a few times just so they knew I was there…
The other thing is, there are so many different stages of recovery and healing, from ‘My God, I just escaped after being beaten for years by this lunatic with a gun and I don’t speak English and need to apply for welfare’ to having had your life under control for years, been in successful therapy, with friends, supports, a job and a decent life. I fall somewhere in between. There were a few women there who seem to be in the first category, and my heart goes out to them. But the needs for each stage of healing are different, so I’m thinking it’s a bit of a hodge-podge.
I spoke with the facilitator afterwards about this and she said there will be more discussion of self care and coping next time, so we’ll see. Perhaps it will be useful. In the meantime, I feel a little ‘shell-shocked’ from hearing just the bits of the stories that came out yesterday.
So, the other group is my meditation group. I finally got there before the doors were locked. Doors are locked as soon as the group begins, so I must make a desperate effort to be on time or early. Not so easy for me, but a good lesson I suppose.
This group is difficult in a different way – there is over an hour of meditation! Yikes! Facing yourself for that long is not easy. There were a few different kinds of meditation, including standing meditation half way through to give a bit of a break. The last kind of meditation we did was Vipissanna, or insight meditation.
In insight meditation you still pay attention to the breath, but you also pay some attention to what is arising in the mind. You pay enough attention to label the thought, either as ‘thought’ ‘feeling’ or more specifically as ‘planning’, ‘remembering’… This is intended to make you aware that you are having thoughts, without actually following them or allowing them to multiply. So you really grow that ‘observer self’ who is not thinking, feeling, planning, or daydreaming, but who is watching.
The group is run by three men, all white, middle aged with shaved heads. They seem fine though. One of them has written a book which I believe I may have read, about his experience overcoming severe illness using Zen mediation.
At the end was a dharma talk, and I have to admit I cannot remember what it was about! Something about accepting all of ourselves perhaps? I was quite stunned by so much meditation I guess…
I walked home from the group, and I did feel extremely calm, as if I’d just taken a nice tranquillizer. It felt almost like a medical calm. Didn’t last into the next day though, unfortunately.
Those are my two new groups. I’m betting they’ll both be good for me in some way.
Art from: Dreamstime Children Holding Hands