The “Other”: Social Undercurrents in Mutuality

It is often said in Trillium Awakening circles that our individual shadow work serves both personal and collective healing. This is because the conditioning (and trauma) that caused us to protect and hide our authenticity came through our primary caregivers who, in turn, were deeply conditioned by their families and culture. This conditioning goes back countless generations, and now we finally have the understanding, tools, and capacity to consciously integrate what our ancestors were unable to. Lucky us, right?!

Renowned spiritual teacher, Thomas Hübl, talks about cultural trauma – patterns of psychological disruption that characterize an entire group of people. He points out that one of the key features of trauma is what he calls the absence of sensing and seeing,” and this happens not only individually, but with collectives.

Our Western industrialized culture harbors patches of collective trauma – massive blind spots – which make it difficult to sense and see things clearly, and to access empathy. These absences of sensing and seeing deeply affect our capacity for mutuality. In embodied, spiritual awakening we recognize that our wholeness depends on deep reciprocity with others and with all of life.

In this the below video inquiry, we’ll explore what it means and how it feels to have socially-related “absences of seeing and sensing.” I draw from the powerful trauma-informed somatic abolitionist work by Resmaa Menakem to illuminate how collective trauma impacts our capacity for compassionate mutuality.

Some of the questions we contemplate include:

  • What are some of our cultural “blind spots?”
  • What is it we do not want to see, feel, or bear when we are with an “other?”
  • How do they affect our ability to be in mutuality with others who are significantly different than us?
  • How can we become conscious of an “absence” in the current moment of encounter?
  • What are some ways we might begin healing these closed-off parts of our individual and collective psyche?

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