Recent decades have witnessed many sociocultural thinkers calling for the recognition of the disruptive effects of trauma on our global culture. In our latest deep dive guest session with Nurturing the Fields of Change, we welcomed Kosha Anja Joubert who serves as CEO of the Pocket Project, dedicated to restoring a fragmented world by addressing and healing personal, ancestral, and collective trauma. While this topic sits at  the heart of so many of the matters concerning us, part of the aim at the Pocket Project is to bring a trauma-informed care to climate consciousness and action, acknowledging that trauma lies at the root of our inaction in the face of climate emergency.

What is trauma?

The word “trauma” is used to describe experiences or situations that are emotionally painful and distressing, and that overwhelm people’s ability to cope, leaving them powerless. At the roots of trauma are a complex system of patterns and emotions, beliefs and behaviours that distort our ability to see the world clearly, to relate to it as it is. The Pocket Project’s contribution to this area of study is multifold, including: attachment, ancestral, transgenerational, historical and collective. Their work rests on the premise, supported by scientific evidence, that unresolved systemic, intergenerational trauma inhibits our evolutionary movement and harms the natural world.

The evidence of our alienation from nature is highlighted by the current threat of the planetary crisis. While trauma comprises of many complex interactions, right at the beginning of her presentation Kosha specifically refered to the imbalance between the masculine and the feminine energy as one of the “main wounds that is hampering the humanity from moving forward”. Interestingly, this was also the most common thread to emerge throughout the process of writing my master thesis which explored how to last through the unfolding effects of climate emergency. All of my co-researchers have made it fiercely clear that our individual ignorance of the feminine principle, especially the emotional and somatic levels of being, was now part of a much larger and blatantly lethal denigration of the feminine in our relationships to each other and the planet.

Centuries of imbalance have left a deep wound in the human psyche which pervades both our inner and outer lives. Inwardly we experience it as a split between heart and mind, feeling and thinking, tenderness and strength; outwardly it manifests in the war between the sexes, weapons of mass destruction and the endless economic growth. Multiple ecological examples are clearly reflected in our society through a severe cultural bias that denigrates nurturing, receptive, accommodating behaviour and idealizes active, assertive, controlling behaviour. While there would have been no industrial revolution nor the many material benefits of contemporary technology without the masculine principle, the systemic destruction of the environment and the abuse of tribal rights has resulted from our distorted understanding of the masculine which values financial gain over nature. The recovery of the feminine principle is therefore associated with seeing nature as a live organism that sustains rather than an exploitable resource. The shift of the concept of action moves from destruction to creation, from domination to empowerment and from life-reducing to life-enhancing.

Our tremendous resistance towards the feminine principle is also evident in our emotional reactions towards the reality of climate breakdown. Contemplating the magnitude of the current threat creates a kind of mental paralysis disabling us from reacting properly in situations where a response is required to prevent further degradation. Switching off our emotional faculties also prevents the information from entering our hearts where we can start to experience the grief and loss inherent in environmental crisis. Although the reality of difficult feelings isn’t easy to deal with, it’s crucial to turn towards it as a way of transmuting that which is the root cause in order to increase self-understanding at a much deeper level and gradually at a much larger eco-systemic context. Holding space for transformation to occur is yet another strength of the feminine principle, much like nature allows for the uninterrupted reflection necessary to foster change.

“When provided with a trauma-informed expertise of heightened attunement and the safety of a well-held, coherent space, trauma will naturally show up for healing” – the Pocket Project

Understanding the many fractals of trauma and its effects on our minds and bodies has become more important than ever. As one of her many commitments Kosha also co-hosts the annual Collective Trauma Online Summit with Thomas Hübl. This is a very important event where leading experts, artists and activists come together to raise awareness and explore trauma in the context of addiction, social justice, climate emergency and many more. Our painful past experiences are rooted in all of our relationships, including our alienation from nature. Moving towards sustainable living means becoming trauma informed which includes re-education of our feeling self. It’s great to see so many social impact projects arising all around the planet contributing to the global restoration movement.
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