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Trauma Healing

Global Grassroots operates in post-conflict countries where our participants have often been the victims of genocide or gender-based violence, or simply endure lives of chronic stress. Our program incorporates a particular evidence-based, mind-body trauma healing method called Breath~Body~Mind (BBM) to ensure our change agents are able to take care of their own rehabilitation needs before striving courageously to change their community, and so that they may share these same practices with the vulnerable communities they serve.

This year we have also begun to share this unique and highly effective practice with communities outside our exclusive Academy participants. In 2018, in partnership with the Ituze Mindfulness Center in Kigali, we initiated the only trainer's training program in Rwanda. We are now collaborating with local partners and the founders of BBM, Dr. Richard P. Brown and Dr. Patricia Gerbarg, in exploring how to make the practice accessible to people throughout East Africa.

The impact of chronic stress and trauma

The impact of chronic stress and trauma on a person can include a range of symptoms from repeated, disturbing dreams; flashbacks; extreme emotional or physical response (heart pounding, trouble breathing, sweating); avoidance behavior; feeling emotionally numb; depression; hyper-vigilance; insomnia; digestive issues; difficulty concentrating and being easily startled. Because the experience of terror during a traumatic event is closely linked to one's sense of helplessness, additional efforts to support empowerment and connection can augment the treatment of psychological trauma. Further, endeavors that not only give a voice to the disempowered but allow for the survivor to identify her value to community and, even further, realize her capacity to change the aspects of community that failed her, provides a deeply powerful path for both individual and community healing.

Breath~Body~Mind (BBM)

Breath~Body~Mind (BBM) is a mind-body trauma-healing practice that includes simple movement and Coherent Breathing practices that help restore balance to the nervous system resulting in greater calmness, energy, and resilience. BBM combines scientifically proven techniques to relieve stress and/or trauma, and dramatically improves one's physical and mental well-being, rapidly relieving stress, anxiety, sleep problems, as well as other symptoms of post-traumatic stress. Most simply, this unique breath practice results in our body telling our mind that we are safe and that we can relax. This message reaches all levels of the brain including the autonomic regulatory circuits, the emotional regulatory centers and the higher thinking centers of the frontal lobes. As a result, BBM has immediate positive effects including reduced anxiety and tension, mental calmness and improved mood and energy. BBM also has more long-term effects which include increased stress resilience, improved cardiovascular and respiratory function, resolution of trauma, improved relationships, reduced anger, and improved emotion regulation.

BBM represents over 40 years of medical research carried out by Dr. Richard Brown and Dr. Patricia Gerbarg. Dr. Brown is a Professor of Clinical Psychiatry from Columbia University in New York, with a Medical Degree from Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons in 1977. Dr. Gerbarg is a Clinical Professor in Psychiatry at New York Medical College. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Brown University and Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Psychiatry Residency and the Boston Psychoanalytic Institute. Dr. Brown and Dr. Gerbarg have extensively studied the effects of Coherent Breathing along with several ancient practices from Indian yogic traditions, Zen Buddhist practice, Japanese and Chinese martial arts and a form of breathing done by Russian Orthodox Hesychast monks. After several years of scientific study and practice, Dr. Brown and Gerbarg distilled the practice into a three-part program they called Breath~Body~Mind. In addition to Dr. Brown's more than 90 scientific articles and books, and Dr. Gerbarg's clinical practice for over 30 years, they have continued to teach BBM. They have worked with veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan wars, survivors of mass disasters (such as the Asia Tsunami), and the 9/11 World Trade Center Attacks and former slaves in South Sudan. More information on their work can be found at breath-body-mind.com.

Program Steps

Global Grassroots' Academy for Conscious Change explicitly incorporates an avenue for personal as well as societal repair. First, Global Grassroots' program introduces and provides training in Breath~Body~Mind which has had a scientifically demonstrated impact in addressing holistically the broad range of symptoms of post-traumatic stress and to help restore balance to the nervous system. Since 2010, Global Grassroots has utilized the practice with Haiti earthquake survivors and survivors of war and gender-based violence in Rwanda, Northern Uganda, South Sudan, and Kenya. Such methods allow for a direct physiological benefit that can be felt immediately when practiced by the survivor. When utilized overtime, they have the ability to support autonomic nervous system self- regulation, which is one of the core physiological functions that are disrupted through trauma. Mind- body techniques are also easy to learn and teach to laypeople across religious, cultural and language barriers, do not require a long-term therapeutic relationship as does conventional talk-based psychotherapy, are accessible to communities with little cost, can be made available immediately post disaster where the existing mental health infrastructure has been destroyed, and can be continued to be practiced individually and in families and other grassroots community groups.

Second, in addition to our specific mind-body trauma healing skills, Global Grassroots provides opportunities for women to form teams, which can also serve as support groups of survivors with similar experiences who have not previously had the opportunity to connect and discuss their circumstances. Since the context in which participants are gathering is on the basis of creating their own non-profit, teams can avoid the stigma associated with survivor support groups that stand alone in that purpose. Third, Global Grassroots incorporates in its training a process of identifying one's inner power and the assets and gifts that one has that can be leveraged to create social change. This supports a reclaiming of one's sense of agency for self-care and self-improvement and sense of value to others.

Finally, Global Grassroots provides a pathway for understanding suffering and designing a civil society organization that will advance one's own solution from a place of deeper consciousness. This process provides a self-led opportunity to combat the failures of society, advocate change within and by existing institutions and create new programs to serve others in need and advance transformation. We believe this multi-pronged approach which integrates personal and social transformation offers an optimal, holistic solution to trauma healing and post-conflict or post-disaster reconstruction.

Healing Programs

Trauma Healing

Please contact us to access further information and articles about our trauma-healing program or if you are interested in engaging us to lead a demonstration of the practice, develop a healing program for your community or to inquire about our practitioner training program.

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Global Grassroots
1950 Lafayette Road
Suite 200, Box 1
Portsmouth, NH 03801 USA
Tel (+1) 603.643.0400
info@globalgrassroots.org

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