Contraction and Expansion: Post-Traumatic Growth

Kintsugi Bust

Kintsugi is a centuries-old Japanese art of fixing cracked pottery. Rather than hide the cracks, the technique involves rejoining the broken pieces with lacquer mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. When put back together, the whole piece of pottery looks beautiful as ever, even while owning its broken history.

Who Understands Me but Me

By Jimmy Santiago Baca

They turn the water off, so I live without water,

they build walls higher, so I live without treetops,

they paint the windows black, so I live without sunshine,

they lock my cage, so I live without going anywhere,

they take each last tear I have, I live without tears,

they take my heart and rip it open, I live without heart,

they take my life and crush it, so I live without a future,

they say I am beastly and fiendish, so I have no friends,

they stop up each hope, so I have no passage out of hell,

they give me pain, so I live with pain,

they give me hate, so I live with my hate,

they have changed me, and I am not the same man,

they give me no shower, so I live with my smell,

they separate me from my brothers, so I live without brothers,

who understands me when I say this is beautiful?

who understands me when I say I have found other freedoms?

I cannot fly or make something appear in my hand,

I cannot make the heavens open or the earth tremble,

I can live with myself, and I am amazed at myself, my love,

my beauty,

I am taken by my failures, astounded by my fears,

I am stubborn and childish,

in the midst of this wreckage of life they incurred,

I practice being myself,

and I have found parts of myself never dreamed of by me,

they were goaded out from under rocks in my heart

when the walls were built higher,

when the water was turned off and the windows painted black.

I followed these signs

like an old tracker and followed the tracks deep into myself,

followed the blood-spotted path,

deeper into dangerous regions, and found so many parts of myself,

who taught me water is not everything,

and gave me new eyes to see through walls,

and when they spoke, sunlight came out of their mouths,

and I was laughing at me with them,

we laughed like children and made pacts to always be loyal,

who understands me when I say this is beautiful?

Mind + Body. Our conventional understanding of the mind and body is that they represent two separate entities and processes. Some folks study and work with the mind while others focus on the body, or even smaller systems and organs within the body.

In the field of Post-Traumatic Stress, concentration of study has been on how the mind processes psychological trauma, as if PTSD is located in the brain. Two of my heroes in the field, Bessel van der Kolk, MD and Peter Levine, PhD, separately studied and mapped the process of psychological trauma within the integrated MindBody.