Times are increasingly frightening in the volatile Middle East. Israel has unfortunately learned creative and innovative ways of dealing with daily trauma.
The next few posts on this blog will include some descriptions of what daily life is like there, with some practices that can help with trauma and promote resiliency.
From Eleanor Pardess, an Israeli psychologist based in Tel-Aviv who tell of everyday life living with rocket attacks:
People in Shderot have a ten to fifteen second window of opportunity to find shelter before the missile impacts. In Tel Aviv it is a ninty second ..After a few about two minutes (hearing the fall of the bomb +learning how/where it fell and if there were any casualties through TV/internet ) life can go back to "normal". These rapid shifts are quite different from the long periods of sitting in shelters while being bombarded by planes etc (which I remember as a 13 year old from Yom Kipppur war or even from the kind of sitting in shelters in the gulf war. The getting back to what one was doing before the alert (checking students papers , giving a lecture, shopping, having a shower etc) after the alert is often incredible- a few seconds and things seem apparently back to normal
However the body keeps the score ....
The important part here is how to work with the body to help people make the sudden shifts that living with volatility demands. These resiliency practices can help people re-organize and re-ground themselves during these transitional times.
The instruction is quite simple:
Pay attention moment to moment how you move out of "survival mode" and back into "balanced mode.
Being able to put a handle on the body signs/felt sense makes such a difference.
People feel better prepared for future adversity after being able to identify their individual bodily stress responses ( hyperarousal etc) and back to relaxed mode process of restoring balance, getting back to proportions, being able to see clearly etc. They also identify their ways of help seeking and help giving.
They learn about themselves and their ability to deal with the strain and adversity on a moment to moment basis , a perspective that somehow seems to be missing in the literature.
For more information on how to cope and visits to trauma centers, please visit: http://www.union-street-health-associates.com