The goal of this meditation is to help you gradually come to understand the power of your ancestral and emotional foot print, and to transform its traumatic generational transmission and celebrate the ancestral wisdom. As you embrace your emotional history, you will learn to overcome its deeply imbedded limitations and their greatest potentials.
The discoveries you make while exploring your history today have the potential to free you to begin a new, liberated and meaningful life grounded in compassion. Compassion for self, for those we love, for others and for the universe.
Biopsychosocial, & ECO Spiritual Model
By Dr. Ani Kalayjian
Professor of Psychology, Fordham University
The Mental Health Outreach Program of Meaningfulworld.com developed by Dr. Kalayjian uses this model, through which various aspects of traumatic exposure are assessed, identified, explored, processed, worked through, and reintegrated. The following are the seven-steps of the Biopsychosocial & Eco Spiritual Model.
Assess Levels of Stress: Participants are given a written questionnaire, the Harvard Trauma Checklist, Heartland Forgiveness Scale, and other scales needed and used in previous calamities to determine the level of posttraumatic stress symptomatology & other symptoms. Also added are questions pertaining to meaning and purpose in life, based on Viktor Frankl’s logotherapeutic approach.
Encourage Expression of Feelings: One at a time, each member in the group (or individually) is encouraged to express their feelings in the ‘here and now,’ in relationship to the disaster or trauma they have experienced. After natural as well as human-made disasters the predominant emotional and behavioral reactions often include shock, fear, uncertainty of the future, flashbacks, avoidance behaviors, anger at the perpetrators or leaders, sleep disturbances, and nightmares.
Provide Empathy and Validation: Survivors’ feelings are validated by the group leaders using statements such as “I can understand …,” or that “It makes sense to me …” and sharing information about how other survivors from around the world have coped. Also used is intentional therapeutic touch, such as holding a survivor’s hand. Here it will be reinforced that the survivor’s feelings of grief, fear, anger, as well as joy of surviving are all natural responses to the disaster, and need to be expressed. When trauma ruptures the individual’s links with the group, an intolerable sense of isolation and helplessness may occur. Providing validation and empathy in such a group will help correct these effects by reestablishing the mutual exchange between the individual and the group.
Encourage Discovery & Expression of Meaning: Survivors are asked “What lessons, meaning or positive associations did you discover as a result of this disaster?” This question is based on Viktor Frankl’s logotherapeutic principles: That there could be a positive meaning discovered in the worst catastrophe. As well as the Buddhist assertions that it takes darkness to appreciate and reconnect with light. Again, each member of the group is invited to focus on the strengths and meanings that naturally arise out of any disaster situation. Some of the positive lessons learned are: Interpersonal relationships are more important than material goods, importance of releasing resentments, importance of working through anger and achieve forgiveness, importance of taking charge of one’s own life, and the coming together of nations for the purpose of peace and solidarity.
Provide Didactic Information: Practical tools and information are given on how to gradually move back to one’s home or work place using the systematic desensitization process. The importance of preparation is reinforced and how to prepare is elaborated. Handouts are given to teachers and prospective group leaders on how to conduct disaster evacuation drills and create safe and accessible exits. Booklets are given to parents and teachers on how to relate to their children’s nightmares, fears, and disruptive behaviors. Assessment tools are given to psychologists and psychiatrists. Handouts are provided on grief as well as how to take care of oneself as a caregiver.
Eco centered processing: Practical tools are shared to connect with Gaia, Mother Earth. Discussions and exercises are conducted around environmental connections. Ways to care for one’s environment are shared, starting with one’s environment and expanding to the larger globe, being mindful of system’s perspective and how we can impact our environment, and how the environment in tern impacts us. A list of mindful acts is shared to help co-create an emerald green world.
Provide Breathing and Movement Exercises: Breath is used as a natural medicine, and a healing tool. Since no one can control nature, others, and what happens outside of one’s self, survivors are assisted in controlling how they respond to the disaster. This is an experiential section of the model. Participants are provided instructions how to move and release fear, uncertainty, and resentments. In addition, participants are instructed on how to use breath towards self-empowerment as well as to engender gratitude, compassion, faith, strength, and forgiveness in response to disasters.
About the Author
For more than two decades, Dr. Ani Kalayjian has been on a journey of healing through mindfulness, forgiveness, and meaning-making. She has devoted her life to studying the impact of trauma, and to helping others heal so that they can reach a state of wholeness by transforming ancestral trauma. "The terror from the sights and sounds of bombs, the loss of homes, possessions, routines, and stability; the experience of seeing their parents crying, fearful, and in anguish -- all these will likely last a lifetime for the Iraqi children," Kalayjian said of the current war on CNN. "And the effects of this war will continue for many generations."
Kalayjian's parents were survivors of the 1915 Ottoman Turkish Genocide of the Armenians that wiped out two-thirds of the Armenian people. She grew up experiencing the effects of trauma through her parents' suffering, and that trauma became hers.
Kalayjian's parents were always in pain, even after moving to the United States. It was not until after she started her research on the effects of trauma that she discovered what her grandparents endured during the genocide. Although Dr. Kalayjian's parents tried to 'spare' the family by maintaining silence, she still felt their pain.
As a child growing up in Syria she didn't know what was wrong or how to process it. Ultimately, she did so through her work. She became a Board Certified Expert in Traumatic Stress, psychology professor at Fordham University, international researcher, traumatologist, and community organizer, and founded over 5 non-governmental not-for-profit organizations. Her purpose is to helping survivors of natural and human-made disasters, helping their journey of rehabilitation and then empowering them and assisting them to find the lessons learned and discover a new meaning.
Dr. Ani Kalayjian received a Masters degree from Long Island University and Doctor of Education degree from Teachers College, Columbia University. Her 7-step Biopsychosocial and Eco-Spiritual Model has been used in over twenty-five countries to transform trauma into healing, through mindfulness, forgiveness, and meaning-making. She is the author of an internationally acclaimed book on Disaster & Mass Trauma, and the chief Editor of an international book on Forgiveness & Reconciliation: Psychological Pathways to Conflict Ttransformation and Peace Building (Springer Publishing, 2009), and Chief Editor of II Volumes on Emotional Healing Around the World: Rituals and Practices for Resilience and Meaning-Making (ABC-CLIO, 2009).
Dr. Kalayjian founded MeaningfulWorld, which is a consortium of several NGO’s dedicated to fostering a meaningful, peaceful, and just world in which every individual enjoys physical, mental, ecological and spiritual health. A sense of meaning, peace, and justice, although unique to each individual, is achieved through a transformative journey that integrates knowledge and experience with a sense of responsibility and reflection. This transformative process is also attained through healthy relationships that nurture open, honest, and transparent communication, insight into forgiveness, love and spiritual connection, and active collaborations and partnerships. Her mottos are: “When one helps another, BOTH are made stronger,” and “Shared sorrow is half sorrow, while shared joy is double joy.”