Mindfulness, resistance and trauma
We are glad to present this new professional training for trainers and professionals who want to work with mindfulness, resistance and defense mechanisms, either with individuals or in groups. This training is centered on how to use mindfulness and self-awareness to understand, accept, and work with resistance and defense mechanisms whether within our own selves, or the wider populations that we serve.
Resistance should never be ignored, but engaged with kindness, skillfulness, and presence. No matter how it may manifest, resistance always arises for a purpose and with a reason. It is often a protective mechanism intentionally or unintentionally to cover or hide emotional wounding and/or trauma, and must be handled with care.
There will be two frames which we will view resistance trough: personal/individual and systemic/societal.
Frame 1: Personal and individual aspect
As practitioners who aim to be trauma informed, we must first learn and understand our own relationship to resistance and the defense mechanisms that may be within us. Only then can we expand our understanding of resistance towards other populations that we may serve.
Once we have an understanding of our own triggers, we can expand to work with people who may have either histories of trauma and/or are marginalized. Resistance can be used as a doorway for authenticity, deepening, and ultimately transformation. Just as an empathic break in the therapeutic alliance can offer a chance for the clinician to model repair, forgiveness and healing, resistance offers similar opportunities. As the saying goes, “what’s in the way, is the way.”
In addition to this participants can learn from over a decades worth of Micah’s on-the-ground experience working with marginalized communities (incarcerated youth and adults, Muslim communities), with case-studies, storytelling, and plenty of room for real life scenarios. Tools and interventions will be given from a variety of perspectives including psychology (Hakomi, somatic experiencing, evidence-based practices), secular mindfulness, and various wisdom traditions.
We will also have a safe space and cohort to process and discuss real-time struggles with resistance whether professionally or personally. This, perhaps most importantly, will be a space to experientially practice rolling with resistance, together, in this community of practice.
Frame 2: Systemic and Societal aspect
Often, when we resist what is either personal or professional, we can spiral into endless patterns of reactive behavior. If something systemic or societal is in the way, it can equally create reactive patterns with certain groups and society as a whole. Often we may e.g. think “how can we get rid of the environmental issues?”, but they exist so how do we now deal with this, how do we go through it?
On this note, we will incorporate some of the challenges we are facing in the world today (e.g. systemic racism, gender issues, climate change, war in Gaza and Ukrain, pandemic trauma, etc.)
How do we move towards taking action on this collectively, rather than just ‘pushing through’ (at best) or ignoring (at worst). Let us discuss, build, and create a space where topic such as these are welcomed.
Don’t turn your head.
Keep looking at the bandaged place.
That’s where the Light enters you.
About the trainer: Micah Anderson
Micah Anderson is the Clinical Director of the Mind Body Awareness Project, whose mission is to work with at-risk communities—and those who serve them—offering mindfulness-based mental health tools that support equity, healing, and empowerment.
Micah has also taught retreats and led trainings on mindfulness, trauma-informed care, and mental health in five countries, and also runs a private psychotherapy practice, focusing on mindfulness-based interventions with under-served populations. He is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist with the in the State of California, and lives in Oakland, California with his wife and two children.
Supporting book recommendations
Spiritual bypassing. When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters, Robert Augustus Masters
The body Keeps the Score. Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma, Bessel van der Kolk
In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts. Close Encounters with Addiction, Dr. Gabor Mate
Hakomi Mindfulness-Centered Somatic Psychotherapy. A Comprehensive Guide to Theory and Practice, Halko Weiss
Course learning objectives
- Understand why and how resistance occurs in ourselves and those we serve
- Learn how defense mechanisms connect to trauma and how they are an opportunity for deepening
- Exploring are defense mechanisms in ourselves and our clients and how to begin to engage them
- Why our own therapeutic practices are essential for the long haul
- Learn interventions and teachings which will help to “roll” with resistance, be it inter- or intra-personal
- Nervous system regulation and co-regulation techniques
- Learning the framework of the Window of Tolerance and its importance when understanding resistance and defenses
- Trauma informed mindfulness techniques of grounding and resourcing for use with client
- Vicarious trauma and self care in the face of collective trauma. Self-care as an ethical imperative.
- Group and Council Practice techniques and approaches that lessen defenses
- Engage in a safe space and cohort to process and discuss real-time struggles with resistance whether professionally or personally.
- Breakout groups, journal and inquiry prompts, guided meditations and interventions, and conversation.
- Working with youth and with different cultures: Agency, equity, empowerment
- Learn other alternative methods for engaging different demographics, such as storytelling, ritual, movement, art, and music.