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January 14, Kibbutz Nir-Oz

Quiet

The wind is strong today and the sound isn’t travelling. When walking, we can see that the Operation is still ongoing, but we hear only sporadic booms today.

Getting Prepared to Welcome Back Students

I want to comment on yesterday’s Teachers’ Meetings at Ma’ale Habsor.

Over the past weeks, we’ve all been dispersed, though in touch through text messages, our inner school feedback system, through e-mail, our school site and of course, regular e-mail. For the most part, we’ve each been through totally different experiences.

The purpose of the meeting was to offer us a framework of support to offer our students upon their return. First, of course, we had to experience it first-hand.

So, we were welcomed, offered fresh baked burekas and croissants, tea and coffee and then divided into 3 groups to allow for a more personalized sharing session.

First Activity

In the room, we could see various objects and quotes. These included:

  • Quotes, such as:  “We will have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us” – Golda Meir
  • Knee Guards
  • Flash cards
  • balloons
  • Chanukah Menorah
  • toy car
  • and so on.

We were to pick an object and then let it trigger us to write about a meaningful event from the past few weeks and how we overcame it.

As we went around the room in no particular order, people spoke of staying at home until qassams reached their outer walls, leaving for up north as soon as possible, staying put, feeling good about finally responding to the ongoing qassam experiences, feeling sad about what was happening to the people of both areas.

The stories were heartfelt and, for the most part, bursting to come out. As we each shared our experience and how we dealt with our situations, the facilitator, a Counselor at school, encapsulated our way of dealing and categorized it. These categories follow the ‘Basic PH’ method, including:

 Physical: as in doing,

Intellectual: as in fact finding

Emotional: feelings of all sorts

Social: leaning on the community

Familial: turning to the family

Belief: faith or prayer

Humourous: resorting to comic relief

Imaginative: meditation, inner creativity.

For more information about ‘Basic PH’ click here.

The next part of the session was to show us that as we do a similar activity with our students, we were to put the Basic PH categories on the board and chart each student’s ‘type’ of dealing with experience, so that they would see that they were dealing in a perfectly normal manner and that there exist all kinds of equally legitimate methods of dealing with outer trauma.

Also, it is to be remembered that although today I might choose to laugh at the traumatic event (Humour) tomorrow, I might call everyone I know just to hear their voice or to be able to freely vent (Social). Each way is valid.

Small groups reconvene

After our groups reconvened into one large group, we were reminded of various relaxation techniques we could offer. These include breathing exercises, guided meditations (if our students were responsive), games with flash cards (very structured games, offered by our school psychologist Izhar Sha’ar), and standing back massages done in twos – each one getting a turn to give and to get.

We were given written information on trauma and then assured that on the first day of resumed studies, the first two hours would be devoted to allowing students to vent and to digest their experiences. Each homeroom teacher will be assisted by at least one other teacher to ease the process.

My take

As for my personal experience, I’m often struck that knowing how to deal with trauma is part of our basic training as citizens of this country. Often with just a little direction, people can implement techniques that they already do instinctively.

However, there’s nothing quite like an expert when it comes to leading guided meditation. Meditation in order to be effective needs to work from the outer stimulus to the inner space of a person. In order to enter the inner space, a person needs to feel safe, needs to feel that the instructor knows how to lead the process. It’s important to remember that the quality of voice must be relaxed and non-threatening, and the instruction must be consistent and empowering. There are no tricks allowed, no sudden breaks from the rhythm, and then after a few minutes in that inner place, a person must feel that they are being safely led back to the chair, to their regular outer sensation, to their regular sense of awareness.

I’ve experienced brilliant guided meditation and I’ve experienced ridiculous meditation. Poor guided meditation is better left undone.

If you know of a recorded meditation that you trust, could you please comment here and recommend one?

Massage

Some people love to be physically touched and others can’t bear it. In a state of anxiety, the use of touch needs to be assessed carefully. Perhaps touch could be implemented using a rubber exercise strip or through the use of a foam rubber ball. But that takes experimentation.

The counselors were quite clear that we should try such techniques ourselves to see what we feel comfortable with.

Hopefully, the quiet will continue somewhat so that our students can relax a bit before we call on them to study and undergo tests.

 

Judih, Jan 14

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