Written by: Brandi Godbee, VSC Victim Advocate
On a warm summer morning, Rollins College’s Edyth Bush Institute for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership hosted “Healing for the Nonprofit Community – A Conversation with Barry Kerzin, MD”. Barry (as he prefers to be called) provides medical services to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and also travels the world speaking to a variety of trauma responders and professionals. During that August morning, I was one of the Central Florida community members listening to and learning about the very important topic of empathy burnout, compassion, and healing. As with any well-crafted presentation, I left with richer learnings on a wider spread of topics.
“Thus we must take care of each other as we are all interconnected.” This is the first message I felt compelled to capture on my phone’s camera. I think many of us experienced this in the wake of the Pulse tragedy here in Orlando. Watching the surge of community connectivity was truly amazing – we saw that very much in action here at Victim Service Center as well. In fact, it is a fundamental part of our foundation of work: we do take care of our community members through counseling, emotional support, and much more – all at no cost to our clients. This is something I’m very proud to be part of, as I believe mental health should not be a privilege, especially once compiled with layers of targeted violence and malintent.
Many of the messages Barry brought to his talk were applicable to each one of us as human beings. He talked about the importance of reaching out when we are in trouble, the vitality brought forth when we realize we are not alone. You are not alone. He talked about the ways we can better take care of ourselves simply by paying attention to our internal processes. What are you feeling right now? No really – I’m asking. Is your inner critic barking orders at you? Are you feeling a pit in your stomach and sensation of fear? Once we know what we are truly experiencing, we can work to transform our feelings rather than stuff and bury them – which we all know is not a sustainable way to thrive.
Bringing about inner peace in the present is a skill that can be learned – a way of being we can all attain. I felt inspired by Barry’s message that morning and personally committed to a three-week daily meditation challenge. I write this on day five, and I’m happy to report my initial five-minute practice has already naturally evolved to 10 minutes. His passion for bringing meditation to the community is only part of my takeaway from his talk. My hope is to bring a series of workshops to VSC in 2017 focusing on happiness, forgiveness, meaning, and feeling gratitude. This is all part of his idea of human flourishing, something that each of us can achieve, something that each of us deserves to experience. To me, that is real healing in any community.