Trauma – Part 1 – How can we respond?
By Julie Forsey
Four days after the Earthquake, we gathered for our weekly class, a fundraiser for Chistchurch. With a disaster of such enormity, how can we possibly respond? Isn’t it superficial or facile, to dance in the knowledge of such suffering, like the Emperor Nero who ‘fiddled while Rome burned’?
No, my view is that for those of us not directly involved in the relief operation, then dancing is one of the best things we can do. And for all of us who have suffered or been exposed to trauma in any way, the same is also true. Let me explain.
We arrived at the class with a wide variety of feelings in response to the disaster, shock, fear, tired, numb, spaced out, helpless and also grateful. We danced through two waves – first a high-energy ‘outer wave’ of the response to trauma (see part 2 of this blog) and then the softer ‘inner wave’ (see part 3).
The invitation to the class in the inner wave was: in Flowing to access our feelings, both how are we physically, (tired, achy etc) and our emotional feelings (afraid, numb etc), and to bring them into movement. In Staccato we put this into expression, dancing the dance of fear, expressing our tiredness, or whatever, through movement.
From the standpoint of the teacher, being aware of the whole field, I could sense all of these difficult feelings coming out into the space, into the shared energy field that we create in the class. The energy felt so heavy, so hard to deal with, so difficult to move that I started to feel doubt – have I asked too much? Is this more than we can handle today? But with continued dancing, by the time we got half way through Chaos, it was all gone! The intense, difficult heaviness had transformed, the atmosphere had cleared, and we were dancing in a field of lightness, gratitude, relief, expansion and connection.
And so at the end of the class we take this aliveness out into the world to our friends, family and colleagues. We bring this quality to our every interaction, seen and unseen, and so influence the people in our lives for the better. A Wave creates ripples….
I am amazed by the practice of 5Rhythms™. It is transformative in a practical every-day sense. It has been a huge support for me in my work as a doctor, both in dealing with emergency situations at the time and in processing the traumas of my work.
With big gratitude to my students, and sending our love, support and heartfelt best wishes to the people of Christchurch, and to the many people who are helping.