By Jul Bystrova
A year ago, we were tending to the battered, the maced, the frozen the wounded and the traumatized at Standing Rock. I will never forget the night where the wounded were streaming in nonstop. I will never forget standing around the fire in the freezing cold at 3am and hearing everybody's stories. It was very surreal, and so very real.
At this time, I join those tending to the battered, the traumatized and those that have fallen through the cracks of our system after a fire disaster that is still hard to comprehend. By offering help, I took the lid off of the underbelly of the disaster world. There are so many deeply suffering, too wounded to even be able to seek help.
And there are so many still suffering from the effects of what happened at Standing Rock. This anniversary time is triggering for many.
Sleeplessness is the norm.
I move about these worlds, one among many, like a an anti-body for earth, listening for what's needed.
But really, sometimes I find myself impatient with humanity, with what we are doing, trying to keep going like there is some kind of "normal". Like we can ignore those among us, that someone else will come along to save them...or us.
We are all traumatized, really. The planet is traumatized. There are many frontlines, resistances, disasters, or places of quiet crisis.
There is only service for a new way at this point.
I vote with action that it be a way of caring.
Together we are stronger
By MK Resident Media @WiconiUnTipi
There is news to be happy about in regards to the decision of the KXL pipeline in Lincoln, NE a week ago Monday. Unity and action are happening, people are continuing to come together over this collective effort to hold this ground for the sake of survival, and find strength coming from the common ground under all our feet.
Mitkuye Oyasin - We are ALL related
On Monday November 20th the Public Utilities Commission of Nebraska voted 3 for and 2 against the Keystone pipeline extension. The alternative route chosen proves to be more expensive for TransCanada, requiring them to seek new easements to run the pipeline through landowners’ property—according to some reports they are ready for them. Tribes, farmers, ranchers and a growing number of grass roots organizations are ready to fight for every point of social and environmental justice, including:
• A full EIS, Environmental Impact Statement
• Respect for cultural artifacts
• Deeper review of infrastructural plans
• The divestment campaigning is continuing and effective
A gathering of Tribes, landowners, and supporting organizations and individuals convened in Lower Brule, South Dakota that weekend to sign the International Treaty to Protect the Sacred Against Tarsands and the KXL Pipeline, for the second time. The first signing happened in 2013, by over 150 Tribes in the US and Canada, including Nations all along the KXL route in Alberta, Montana, North & South Dakota and Nebraska.
Mother Earth threw a sucker punch at the TransCanada on the eve of this decision, November 16th, when the Keystone Line 1 spilled a reported 220,000 gallons of oil in a field just 20 miles west of the Lake Traverse Reservation—home of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate.
The outcome of the decision on KXL by the commission continues to reveal the failure of turning the US government and regulatory authorities into extensions of corporate America, or disempowering them. This is all an exercise of focused power, and fiscal influence. For many Americans there is a stubborn resolution to stick to what they have been conditioned to be familiar with.
In the middle of this sleepy insanity that passes as “common sense,” a greater reality is emerging—a real desire to survive that transcends the short-term solutions that continue to lead us further into exploitative destruction as a species. More and more communities are paying attention, and making the decision to be humane, to be good neighbors to one another. People are standing up and standing together.
How does we consciously hold space for someone, even if we have no training?
Everyone following a few simple guidelines can be of valuable, and much needed, support.
The recent fires in Sonoma County, and those that raged across the mid-west to the Pacific Coast, and the hurricanes that swept through the south to the south-eastern part of the United States this year have affected thousands of families. The chances are slim that you don’t have a person in your life currently experiencing Post Traumatic Stress, or currently in the midst of a trauma-situation.
It is difficult to know how to reach out and help loved ones when they’re struggling. The range of emotions that they are going through can be overwhelming for them and for those around them. One of the most important things you can do for them is to consciously hold space for the process they are experiencing, and hold love in that space, patiently.
You will want to know why they are hurting, so that you can help them address the pain.
Pause. This will require you to draw on personal strength. Putting pressure on a person to talk through their feelings before they are ready can actually make it worse.
Think for a moment about what is driving you to ask. To relieve your own discomfort or theirs?
Often times we will individually search for a solution, so that the moment can pass and everyone can “get back to normal.” After this much national trauma, we’re going to need to consciously work on ourselves and support our loved ones and our communities, as “returning to normal” is no longer possible. Our new state of ‘normal’ must include the awareness that everyone is experiencing, or affected by some level of trauma.
Holding space for a loved one to process means that you stay present with them and listen when they are ready to talk. If they aren’t, just hang out and hold love in your heart for them, for the family they’re connected to, and the community that is also affected.
Draw on strength from within.
- If you are inclined to pray, do so silently while sitting in proximity to your loved one.
- You can imagine drawing on strength from the earth, up through your feet and into your heart, and mind.
- Or simply focus on your breath, while they speak or sit in silence, and imagine the comfort you wish for them. Imagine the good feelings you’ve shared together before this happened, and just FEEL that.
Be a good listener.
If your loved one chooses to share with you, clear your mind of expectations or any judgement. If advice comes to mind, pause… sit with it and continue listening. Consciously ask yourself if your advice is for them, or to ease your own discomfort. If it is sincerely for them, and they are receptive, offer it. If you offer a suggested action, be prepared to act on it. This might involve giving them a ride someplace, or helping them locate some contact information for a resource.
Be patient and open.
The experience can come back to them repeatedly, and they may need to talk through it many times. This is an important part of the healing process, and it is vital to avoid the temptation to tell them to move on.
Written with integrated experience by MK, an independent creative, currently in the Dakotas for a second winter, still Standing.
Initial idea forwarded from:
by jul bystrova
Standing Rock has been a compelling symbol for our times, partly because I believe it is a microcosm of what is going on nationally.
What I see in the camps is a heightened social mix of love, fear, confusion and amazing courage and prayer while people are trying to hold true to the overall intention. Many have and are falling into distress because of their own trauma, and are not able to clearly be a support. This is part of the package when resistance is called upon and change is imperative for the survival of a community.
Those who are able to help the most are those who have been able to stay calm and focused and not give their attention away to drama and conflict. They will need to have done and are doing a lot of healing on themselves in order to be this way. The land, the ceremonies and the prayers invite a supportive healing opportunity for those who can receive.
The lessons learned there are the lessons that can be applied now to all of us as a whole.
These words are from my heart to yours, so here goes:
The most important thing we can do today and everyday to help the world and all it's insanity: Meditate.
Meditate in whatever way or mode that works for you whether its a simple walk in nature or a full on sitting practice; even just 5 minutes out of your day will do wonders.
Meditation is the prescription for living in a fear based culture. Decisions and reactions made from panic and anxiety are not helpful at the least or lethal at the worst.
Meditation helps unwind your nervous system and changes your biochemisty in a way that supports your overall health and well being. A balanced and relaxed state is a much better place to make decisions from as you are more likely to be responding to events instead of reacting. Most people today (and you can certainly see this in so much social media) are running at a high level of anxiety. This is understandable. Our animal body is triggered and switches into survival mode. Look at your life and those around you. Are you in actual immediate threat? If not, then it is imperative that you find a way to calm your nervous system if you want to find balance.
Taking a break from the news can really help.
Survival mode is not a good place to be making long term decisions for the safety of our families and our communities. What happens, and we see this all the time, is we get swept into fearmongering which can lead into mass hysteria if it isn't stopped.
I understand that the opposite fear is that if we ignore the threats and become complacent, it could be much worse---and it is from that place we sound the alarms. Many of us come from the intention to be informed and not complacent or in denial and we should applaud and support this. I am in no way suggesting to meditate in order to promote denial. On the contrary, it is to be able to be constructive about the challenge before us.
What will work best for us as a collective is to:
I think whatever your politics may be, we can all agree that it was a tough election, and a very tough couple of weeks following the election. If you read the news, you may have noticed the upsurge in hate crimes related to race and religion, which is horrifying and disheartening. And while it can be easy for some people to say "look on the bright side," "don't let the negativity affect you," "let's talk about more pleasant things," I tend to notice that those very people are least likely to be affected by any sweeping changes that may occur under a new presidency. Maybe we could try a different kind of Monday Mindfulness, where rather than (or in addition to) engaging in our own awareness and our own bodies, we extend that very mindfulness to others. And let that mindfulness extend to action. Let's talk to each other. Let's support each other. Whoever you voted for, there were reasons you did so. Let's try to understand each other's reasons. And let's try to remember we are all human, and we crave understanding and sympathy from other humans. This is not the time to "move on" or "talk about something else," but neither is it the time for negativity. Rather, let's reflect on what we can do to make what's happening in our country better. And don't forget to breathe deeply and engage with where you are right this very minute. You'll never be in this moment again.
Remember the TV Show Mash? Think Mash for inner battles and challenged bodies, in severe cold, and add to the group of Doctors an eclectic assortment of amazing holistic, herbal and hands-on healers... and you start to picture our medic camp. There are many seriously bad-ass activists here with beautiful hearts. Intense, healing on all levels. Spiritual war zone. Healing anchor for our cause.
I’m sure you’re familiar with that nerve-wracking period of time leading up to a big change. If it’s a sad or otherwise negative change, you may be dreading the change but also sick of waiting for it to occur; you’d rather just get it over with. And a positive change can also cause a strange mix of emotions. There is the anxiety over any kind of change, coupled with the anticipation of new and wonderful circumstances, and the promise of improvement. But there is also uncertainty and fear, and in the absence of those there may still be a degree of stomach turning nervousness.
I know that for myself, leading up to a challenging task of landmark event in my life--positive or negative--I am a bundle of nerves and can hardly sit still. Then afterwards, I am usually in a mildly euphoric state of relaxation coming down from the high of nervousness. I would prefer to have a bit more stability when it comes to these changes, or at least some of them. Highs and lows and the extremes of those are valuable and inspiring, but a bit much to deal with on the regular. The source of those nerves can be a lack of experience or familiarity, say if the upcoming event is a new challenge for me and one I haven’t undertaken previously (such as a big presentation or planning an event), and hopefully as the challenge repeats itself, those nerves start to quiet down. However, what to do in the meantime? How to live your life with these ups and downs, while also being mindful?
For me, I try to remind myself to be in the moment. Two weeks leading up to the event/change/challenge/etc., I may start to get really nervous whenever I think about it. So I try to remind myself: “You have plenty of time to be nervous about this next week. Wait until then.”
Then when “next week” rolls around, I remind myself, “You’re going to be nervous about this the day before. But you’re going to be prepared. You have time to prepare yourself and get ready for the day this change comes.” And the night before, naturally, I’m practically a basket case. So I try to do things that tire out my body and distract my mind: yoga, the gym, a movie I love, a book, a home improvement project, a night out with a friend. So for me, the process seems to be: try not to worry and just live your life→ prepare→ PREPARE→ try to relax and keep your mind and worries at bay and also sleep! → THE DAY → whew, that was totally fine. Maybe next time I won’t worry so much…
What are your processes for dealing with change? Do you try to shape them or do you let them shape you?
Era of Care has hosted a number of events locally, but we are now getting ready to do our first outreach outside our local area! to go help with trauma support for the Dakota Pipeline Activists. The people standing at this historical event need our support, they are under a huge amount of stress right now!
We are joining a wonderful team of medics and healers who are building a wellness center there where we will be able to set up support. We are compiling best natural practices for trauma, anxiety, panic and general stress. Additionally we will have hands-on and holistic treatments.
Please come to the benefit on Nov 6th in Sebastopol with wellness and health related donations, see the flyer below or go to the facebook page.
We also greatly appreciate financial donations, all money will go directly to support our trauma team and supplies for wellness. Donations are tax deductible and we offer financial transparency upon inquiry. Check back for updates on our needs as we go. Thank you!
DO Sweat the Small Things!
A huge component of “mindfulness” is being aware. Taking things in and letting them touch you, feeling them genuinely. Your body is constantly sending messages your way, but a lot of times we get caught up and distracted by other things, so we manage to ignore signs or symptoms that our body may need us to pay attention to. I learned recently an astounding fact: people who are in end-stage renal failure often don’t seek medical attention until their kidney function may be as low as 10%. How can this be? Well, one thought is that we get used to pain and we get used to any circumstances that change slowly over time. Then one day, you realize: I didn’t used to be this tired. I have a family member with late-stage Lyme’s disease, who sensed something was wrong, but for years wasn’t sure what it was. And part of the disease itself caused her to doubt her own feeling that she wasn’t well. She just got used to feeling out of sorts, exhausted, forgetful, and myriad other symptoms.
I’m not suggesting mindfulness alone is preventive care, but it can certainly augment it. Don’t let symptoms fester. Don’t just accept pain without knowing its source. Don’t assume that ache will “go away.” A lot of times it will, certainly, but what if it just slowly gets worse, until you can hardly remember what it was like to have a pain-free day, or even hour?
Take time to listen to your body. You can do this anytime: just check in. Maybe in the shower, or just after you turn out the light to go to sleep, or while you’re waiting in line at the supermarket. There are plenty of moments throughout our day where we can’t do much except wait. So use that time! Instead of checking email or social media, take two minutes to run down how your body is feeling: head, eyes, neck shoulders, heart, lungs, stomach, legs, feet, etc. Top to bottom, see where any aches or pains are and try to think when they began to bother you. If you can’t remember how long you’ve had that ache or pain, it’s time to address it. At the very least, continue to monitor it and be aware of how you’re feeling, physically. At the very least, this kind of mindfulness practice has zero negative side effects!
I will use the excuse for my tardiness that it's important to be flexible in life. And sometimes, it can be difficult to put myself in the mood to think more "mindfully." Which is probably when it is most important to do so. When I'm looking for inspiration, I look to what other people are doing and what they've thought about in regards to mindfulness and similar issues. I found a great interview in the Harvard Business Review from 2014 about mindfulness and how it can be utilized in the working world (more specifically, the world of "business," vague as the term is).
You can find the article here if you would like to read it: hbr.org/2014/03/mindfulness-in-the-age-of-complexity
I will be on time next week! Thank you for your patience in the meantime.