In writing this piece, I can hear my grandmamas whispering to me, You can do it, baby. You can heal. You can thrive. I can feel their gratitude, their love, their care radiating through every cell in my being.
I am perpetually moved and inspired by the interconnected and intergenerational nature of healing. Every thing we do to support healing within ourselves truly benefits all beings.
What are commonly expressed traits in multiple generations of your family? What qualities or ways of being have been passed down to you?
What characteristics of yourself are you identifying as a fault of yours that is actually something passed down to support your survival?
As you reflect on this inquiry, notice the initial impressions, sensations, feelings, and overall vibe that arise in the body as you investigate what comes to mind. Notice where the qualities that you identify land in terms of being expressions of trauma or resilience.
Notice how it feels to connect with the idea that all of your characteristics did not start with you. Certain qualities like perfectionism, hypervigilance, hyper-productivity, or dominance are trauma responses passed down to support our survival. It is up to us to discern what are skillful qualities to support present states of well-being and thriving and to allow space for processing and healing those qualities that are no longer needed and can be released.
In the book My Grandmother’s Hands, Resmaa Menakem writes:
“Resilience is built into the very cells of our bodies. It is as much a part of us as our ability to heal. Like trauma, resilience can ripple outward, changing the lives of people, families, neighborhoods, and communities in positive ways.” ~ Resmaa Menakem
Notice how it lands to take in the idea that resilience is in the very fiber of our beings. Love, strength, wisdom, and so many healing qualities have been passed down to us alongside any forms of trauma.
These forms of resilience are both inherently a part of us and can be learned and cultivated over time. Resilience has forms that are grown in our individual experiences as well as in our collective experiences. We can be resilient individuals as well as resilient communities.
Can you connect with forms of individual and collective resilience you were born with as well as circumstances over your life that helped form resilience?
Menakem doesn’t describe resilience as simply overcoming challenging experiences. He relates it to a sense of presence that moves through a body or through multiple bodies in harmony.
“This aspect of resilience helps us stay grounded and settled, no matter what happens to us. It enables us to sustain and protect ourselves and each other over time. It’s a way for our body to access possibility and coherence, regardless of the circumstances.” ~ Resmaa Menakem
What qualities of resilience do you want passed down to future generations? What do you want healed on behalf of past generations?
In the book Love and Rage, Lama Rod Owens explores what has been passed down intergenerationally for him and describes a level of resilience that allows us to thrive. He writes:
“When I experience rage, I understand that I am experiencing the rage of all of my ancestors. When I experience love, I am also experiencing the love of all of my ancestors. It is the transhistorical love that is often felt as resilience that keeps me and many of us alive; and when we fall deeply into the love that we are being gifted, then we begin to thrive, and it is that thriving that begins to disrupt systems of violence that were only created to annihilate us. We disrupt these systems because we survive the system, summon our joy, and dance into our thriving. A system of violence that does not kill us has failed. I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams because I thrive.” ~ Lama Rod Owens
What qualities or experiences of resilience, love, joy, etc. can you reclaim? What will allow space for you and your peoples to thrive?
Remember the responses that arise from these inquiries. Let them guide the activities and experiences that you give emphasis and meaning to in your life. You are your ancestors’ wildest dreams, their beacons of hope and possibility. Not only can you connect with resilience by reclaiming the joy and strength of your peoples, you (and they as an extension of you) can thrive.
For more information on intergenerational trauma and resilience, consider checking out this post I wrote in March 2020.
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