Featured in the Ketu chapter, Agents of Evolution
The Evolutionary Path of Ketu + Collective Trauma Healing
I met Laura Calderon de la Barca in a global online class of Thomas Hübl’s. She facilitated a BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color) breakout group looking specifically at racial trauma. I instantly felt a kind of simpatico with Laura, possibly because of the multi-racial heritage we both carried, she a Mexican mestiza, half Indigenous, half Spanish, and I a first-generation American, half German, half South Asian. When Laura spoke, I felt new dimensions open up in my body that normally remained closed, as if more of me could be present. She was embodying both her indigenous and Spanish roots simultaneously, without collapsing into binaries.
Laura is a psychotherapist and scholar addressing individual and collective trauma in Mexico. She hosts and co-hosts large programs aimed at collectives—collectives as small as a family and as large as her home country of Mexico. One of her projects aims to provide services toward “a healthy, creative Mexico, capable of assuming its role in the world.”
Her passion for collective healing began organically when the pain of her own experience led her to pursue individual healing. She shares how she inherited a sense of defeat which, through a deep and powerful healing process, revealed to her its collective nature. It started out as a painful, horrible experience anytime she would speak in public to a group. Though she was academically accomplished and confident about the topics she would speak on, whenever she stood in front of a group of people, she would feel contracted, wanting to hide. The experience was puzzling, because she had already done so much deep personal work in therapy by that time.
Finally, a mentor helped her find that missing puzzle piece in her own healing. Both of Laura’s parents were raised by single mothers, and growing up in Catholic Mexico, this brought shame. Her mentor’s insight into the collective and intergenerational nature of the trauma helped her to see the connection between the horrible feelings of wanting to hide when speaking in front of groups and the shame of her parents. She recognized that the shame was not her own—that she had, in effect, “inherited” it. She went to the depths of her shame, the depths of her rage, the depths of her terror, to undo this artifact of inherited trauma, but every time she resurfaced from those depths she felt revitalized, having recovered more and more of her true self. Back to the drop, wave, ocean metaphor, Laura as the drop needed to understand the nature of the wave she was part of in order to return to her true nature as the ocean.
Once she was able to recognize the mechanism of collective trauma in herself, she began seeing it everywhere, realizing the social epidemic it currently proves to be. She thought to herself, “What would the world be like if everybody who’s hurting from [collective trauma] would be freed? The world would be a completely different place!” This vision of what is possible for our world motivated Laura to devote her life to bringing this insight to as many people as possible.
Group Coherence & The Space Between Us
Laura’s individual work eventually led to training in group work on healing collective trauma with Thomas Hübl. She describes a key discovery from those trainings: "Thomas would say to us, “Feel the space between us.” [Through this instruction] I became aware of the space between us as alive, as responsive, as full of information, that had its own flow, that we are also part of."
Laura describes a memory of her first true experience of feeling “the space between us”: “I was in a course. . . All of a sudden, I started to feel as though I was immersed in some gel that every single person in the room was also immersed in, and every movement everyone made I could feel. Every person raising their eyebrow, every movement of an arm, every turning of a head. . . I could feel the whole thing, from everybody, in one moment. I was blown away.” This vivid experience of Laura’s gave her a somatic experience she could recognize as matching what Thomas Hübl described as “the space between us.”
When many of a group’s participants become conscious of that space between them, the space has been potentiated for healing collective trauma. Thomas Hübl and others call this active participation in a group’s shared space collective “coherence,” which can be practiced and cultivated. Some of us are motivated by the possibility of reducing suffering in others. Some of us feel more fully alive in that field. Whatever our motivation for exploring collective coherence in holding a space for the healing of collective trauma, through spiritual practice and training with other adepts, we can all learn to do this.
Space and Spirit are connected. When the space between us is full of alive presence, you have Spirit, or consciousness. When the space between us holds vacuums, or absence, you have trauma. In the work of Thomas Hübl and his organization, collective coherence is introduced to places where the space between us has been shattered. They bring Presence to absence.
Healing collective trauma is work done in community. Ketu’s evolutionary road leads in this direction.