ACEs and the Connection to Trauma

The NYT published two articles this week on adverse childhood events (ACEs) and the effect on health. In summary, the more ACEs, the more risk of poor health. From the research and writing of Dr Nadine Burke-Harris, "Recognizing childhood adversity as a risk factor for how we’re going to deal with stress in the present is really important."  Her new book, The Deepest Well, Healing the Effects of Childhood Adversity, raises awareness about this public health crisis.

This article is an interview with Burke-Harris.


Meaningful Interaction

By now you probably have heard that Facebook has just changed some things around, so that we can now have “more meaningful interaction”! They say this is so we can get closer to our friends by sharing with them.

What kind of meaningful interaction is most important?

It’s playful.

Dogs and babies. This past Thanksgiving I was in a roomful of adults, and there was a dog and a baby. You know it: we were all cooing, cuddling, throwing a ball, or playing peek-a-boo! Adults truly connecting, at last.

It’s contingent.

When we throw the ball, the dog fetches it, and waits. We make funny faces with the baby, she makes faces back. And when “boo” scares her, we quickly act to make her feel better with a coo and a cuddle.

It’s resonant.

Even more than voice, facial expression and gesture, our bodies communicate by synching up nervous systems. We actually resonate — like a violin or cello — with other people on that nervous system level — well below the conscious awareness for most of us. Good vibes? Bad vibes? Pay attention to what your gut is telling you. And yes, it’s mostly the gut that’s sending sensory info to the brain.

It changes us.

Dan Siegel, psychiatrist, speaker, and author (most recently, The Yes Brain), teaches about the different jobs of different parts of the brain, making a whole. But the mind? It’s a process created by the interaction of me and you, and the environment. It’s a process, continually changing. And our interaction changes both of us.

Playful. Contingent. Resonant. All these kinds of interaction are essential to infant development. Growth and repair of the infant brain -- and in fact, any age of brain! -- requires support that nurtures a sense of safety, or neuroception of safety (Stephen Porges' term). 

Recent research indicates that, for people whose care as children (age 0 - 5) was inadequately supported, repair is possible

With reliable, meaningful interaction over time, the brain can restore lost function.

That always inspires me!

P.S. I didn't change my Facebook status, but I'm "in a new relationship"!! 

Yes, we became grandparents in November!  When we saw our granddaughter at Thanksgiving, she was mostly sleeping -- but with the rapid development of her brain, we look forward to playing a lot when we next see her!

Gotta go practice playing so we're in good shape when she comes to visit! 


Getting Like, Totally, Unstuck

So about this Sunday: are you still on the fence?

That is, stuck?  Well, that fence looks uncomfortable!  Sign up to join us, with caveat below!

In case you are just tuning in, this workshop is called, Getting Unstuck, and it's 9:45 till 1, 5th of November.  You'll have 3 of us presenting in turn, each providing content and experiential so you are learning from different perspectives.

A few people have asked, "So am I going to be Unstuck, like, Forever?  Hahaha," they say, hopefully, "Maybe?"

Umm, no.

No quick fixes.  But the insights we'll be sharing have made a difference for our clients. 

Here's how you'll benefit from attending:

  • what stuckness is, and why it's a default for many of us
  • where to find balance among polarities
  • science of sensing; gain insights into your own behavior
  • risk trying something new -- safely!
  • anchoring new practices for flexibility and flow

And that's just my piece:  Cynthia and Rachel have their own bullet points!

Getting Unstuck: A Whole-Person Way Forward 


Sunday morning, November 5, 2017

9:45 am - 1:00 pm

Sign up here 

$60 payable online or at the door 

Location: event address provided when you sign up.

Learn ways of moving from feelings of stuckness into flow. Perspectives from Chinese medicine, somatic practice, and integral coaching.

We invite all of you here. 


Warm regards,

Cynthia Luna, integral coaching

Rachel Mefferd, L.Ac, acupuncturist

Suzanne Snijder van Wissenkerke, SEP



Healing Developmental Trauma

You are not broken.

This feeling many of us share --  I'm broken, unloved and unloveable -- boy, is it miserable.  This is not just, "I broke something," (I'm guilty) or, "A part of me has broken," (I'm injured). It's at the core of who we are -- unchangeable, or so we believe. In fact, there are probably no words that can convince you or me otherwise.  Here instead is a story from long ago, a story we all have in common. It's from the time around your birth. 

When you were just born, you were incredibly vulnerable and totally dependent on care from other humans to survive. Like all of us, your brain was not developed fully yet, so imagine trying to make sense of what you were experiencing in those early weeks and months. Sensing and feeling is all that’s available. No reasoning, no language. Any disruption that comes along threatens your well-being, your very survival, as far as you know. Your systems respond with urgency, asking for help. If your needs are not met, you adapt. One part of adapting is creating stories about why your needs were not met.  At this point you still don’t have language, so those stories are held in sensing and feeling.  Just a few years later, when you can talk and reason, those underlying sensing-and-feeling stories are still there. You don’t realize it because they are not there in words. It feels like “truth” or just what IS.

But it is an adaptation.

Many of us have gotten stuck in these sensing-and-feeling stories. They shape our adult lives. They limit us. And we can’t talk about it, because, well —- there’s no actual story in words.  Sometimes we make up stories that might explain our confusing sensations. More often, a story comes to us that seems to make sense so we accept and defend that story. A baby whose caregivers left her alone comes to believe she is incapable of intimate relationships.   A young child undergoing surgery later comes to believe that what they experienced was sexual assault when that did not actually happen.  

We use the language of the body.

What does this have to do with me?  This is where the type of touchwork that I practice is invaluable.  When your needs were not met in infancy, or later in childhood, your “story” was held in sensing and feeling.  By using the language of the body (sensation and movement), we can contact deeper layers of being, beyond words.  This is not massage, but static touch, of witness, of being with. Wounds of disconnect, trauma in our early developmental years, can be healed through compassionate contact with other humans, with animals, with nature.

The kind of trauma I'm talking about is not just big-earthquake variety. It can be as simple as mis-attunement.  Unmet needs for care, for connection.  Now, this isn't meant to place blame on caregivers, but to acknowledge this is how we learn.  We require intensive care in our early years, and it can't all be exactly perfect every moment.

Through my years of studying somatic therapy and bodywork, I've learned to respect the sneaky-powerful value of exploring trauma.  To learn more, I recently attended Kathy Kain and Steve Terrell's class, "Somatic Regulation and Resilience." Leaders in our field, you'll hear more soon about IMG_2823these brilliant teachers. 

In my practice, I’ve had the pleasure to work with many people who have begun to own their sense of feeling broken, to explore a range of embodied experience, enjoy more creativity, more connection.  As many of my clients concurrently receive psychotherapy, I enjoy working as part of a health care team.

I have the same message for anybody I work with:  You are not broken.  You may be hurting, you may be sad, angry, horrified, a mix — and I’ll support you to feel what you feel. You may be in pain, and I’ll use all my tools to help manage patterns that foment pain.  But I am never going to try to fix you. 

Because you’re not broken.

If this message speaks to how you're feeling right now, I’d love to hear from you. And if you're interested in my integrative approach, contact me to schedule a free consult, or sign up for a session online right here.

Toward and Away

"I don't want to lose you.  But I need my space!" IMG_1362
Setting limits in relationships, valuing our own feelings while staying in connection with others, wow, to me it sometimes feels rocky and uphill all the way.  Are you also getting stuck on that step?
As part of my somatic training, I've learned that to get close, we first need to be able to say "no."
Let's approach the need for healthy aggression from the bottom up: 
 Step down first.  
 Stand on your two feet, your two legs.
 You can't step up
     till you step down.
Getting grounded connects you to your lower body as a foundation for everything above it. Your feet, legs, pelvis are right there under you, so when you're feeling, then expressing, there's a there there.
For me, and for many of my clients, it's not enough to just understand in my head. My bodywork and somatic practice supports people struggling with relationships, find agency, strength, and resilience. Finding the there in their bodies that stabilizes the response to stress. Giving voice to the "no" that hasn't always been heard.  
In a typical session, we'll explore movement toward -- and away from -- whatever is coming up in the moment.  Yes, we'll do that by actually moving in space in whichever direction the body leads.  We'll use what's already happening rather than making it up. Memories, thoughts, images that emerge, we'll use what gets us from motion into e-motion -- or the other way around.  So you can imagine that a client might be standing or seated, as well as having a chance to be horizontal on the table.  
This month, I'm taking the third module of "Somatic Regulation and Resilience" with Kathy Kain and Steve Terrell, to deepen my touchwork with early developmental trauma.
Please keep your questions coming.  I'm glad to be here for you -- and for me too!
I Love You -- Go Away artist Jeanne-Marie Lovell

3 Building Blocks to Resilience

IMG_2770Regain balance in your body's capacity for healthy adaptive response -- resilience -- starting with these three practices. 

Respect your body's wisdom.

Support what's working well in your body already -- by noticing what you can about how that is happening now.

Luckily, we don't have to tell our hearts to keep pumping, our lungs to inflate and deflate, to duck when a softball is headed our way, to yell "ow" when the knife slips.  These automatic, reflexive responses, just like the Fight - Flight - Freeze responses, kick in when the body senses protection is needed.

Just by noticing these under-the-radar rhythms, small changes begin.  Really!  That is, in fact, how our nervous systems adapt: by changing in small ways based on input.  Small input, easier for the system to digest.

Start by noticing how breath comes in and out, all by itself. Want to play with a small input? Breathe OUT - 2 - 3 - 4.  The rest will follow.


Nearly all of us need more rest! How does your body let you know?  Plan a little down time in every day. Five minutes is a start: Stop to smell pleasant aromas, exhale, and move on. 

Honor the wish to sleep longer by scheduling it.  

Busy at work or school, non-stop?

Seeing multiple health care providers, fitness trainers, coaches?  

Allow ample time between engagements.  This allows your system to integrate smaller chunks of input. 

Yeah, I know.  Sounds good when you read about it, but carving out rest time is the most difficult thing for me, too.  Come back to this one later.


The children's series, Where's Waldo? challenges us to locate and identify Waldo in a crowded environment.  Imagine that is you, wearing the red striped shirt in the crowd.  How do you know where you are?  We look, listen, and find ourselves in space by sensing, inside and outside. Orienting is recognized as a discrete stage in the body's organizing process to protect itself from threat.  Over milliseconds, the body takes in lots of information before mobilizing the energy needed to act, moving away or toward.  Info-gathering at this level happens well below cognitive decision control!  Eyes, ears, nose, throat are involved big-time, of course, along with sensors for space, movement, gravity, pressure.

A re-orienting practice you might try could start by checking the calendar.  Do you have ten minutes or so right now? If you'd like, set a timer to end your practice. Then, like the example of Waldo, above, check out what's around you now.  Let your gaze wander to what's familiar or interesting as you look around.  Take your time as you explore finding "you" in the midst of "here".  Feel where the edge of you stops and the ground or other surfaces begin.  Remember that you set your timer, and you can come back anytime.

Nervous System Reboot

It's time to ReFresh!  And maybe Reboot...

Today I'm sharing contact info for my professional colleague, Irene Lyon, who lives in Canada, and -- like me -- has trained in Peter Levine's Somatic Experiencing model.

She's developing ways for more people to learn the importance of our nervous systems in healing trauma, online.  From her website, you can access a bunch of educational resources, some free and some requiring payment.

A few months ago, I included links here to a few of her videos because a) they educate about a topic I feel is important and b) they were free.  

But soon after, I removed the link!  (And a few of you noticed -- sorry if you missed it!)

Irene was going to soon remove the free videos from her site, anyway!  When she announced that, I saw her "free video" offer as another example of being into yet another marketing scheme. I apologize if that's how you feel, too!  Remember, if you're concerned about receiving too many emails, you may always unsubscribe.

Bottom line, though, the educational resources she provides are proving worthwhile.  Already, a handful of my clients have reported that it's helped them understand more about their own somatic experience. 

All this is to say, if you're interested in online learning programs, I recommend checking out  


Wait-- What?! New Guidelines for Lower Back Ache

NYTimes: Lower Back Ache? Be Active and Wait It Out, New Guidelines Say 

This change is sure to get people talking. Opinions run strong when it comes to pain relief (just see the article's comments section!) Carried by the mainstream press, this topic will now make its way into all kinds of conversations about pain and addiction, pleasure and punishment.

I am optimistic about systemic change, toward a holistic view of care. But here's my big "however": Back pain is not just one thing. Pain anywhere is a message for us to attend to, and ask the body, "Hey, what's going on?" Sometimes pain corresponds directly with the area, sometimes the relationship to its source is mysterious. It can be devilishly difficult to figure out just what that message is. We have to keep listening, using all the tools available.

I've learned to not assume back pain is muscular. (Could be organic!) This idea doesn't always fly, when a client is convinced otherwise. So I leaven my approach with humor. Offer something that helps in the moment. Educate a bit, inviting opening to curiosity. Orient to what moves us along in time, together.

And I listen some more.

Abmp back
image from

Nature Walks Heal

NYT article describes how a walk in the park may soothe the mind and, in the process, change the workings of our brains in ways that improve our mental health.

And I would add, hiking in our nearby mountains!  Starting early in the day works best for me -- beat the heat and let the day unfold from there.  Call if you'd like to join me on a hike sometime!  

This is along the trail at Icehouse Canyon, about a month ago.


Scientific Journal Article on SE

This pioneering article differentiates Peter Levine's Somatic Experiencing (SE) from other therapeutic approaches that use focused internal awareness.  To illustrate how SE works in the brain and physiology, the authors present a composite case study.  

Preceding this, however, and oh-so-relevant to understanding theory and practice in this field of study, they define terms -- stresstrauma, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

Stress is defined as the inability of the [biological] system to recover functionality.  Trauma, when the stress dysregulation occurs over the long-term, resides in the nervous system, not in the event, according to Levine.

Rather than the pathologizing diagnosis of PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, from the DSM [the authority for diagnosing psychiatric disorders], the term preferred by Levine is PTSS, post-traumatic stress syndrome -- viewed as a collection of symptoms occurring on a spectrum.

Imagining these terms on a continuum might be eye-opening enough.  But reading the article to the end, you might also find answers to, "What is a Somatic Experiencing session like?" as well as new insight on theory of SE and other bodymind systems.

I've been a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner since 2002, and it's changed -- well, my life.  So if you're interested in finding out more on this for yourself, about SE or otherwise, please give me a call and let's begin a conversation.


Find the Support You Need

Hi, I'm Suzanne! My Integrative Bodywork practice is here to support you.

With over 25 years experience, I'm helping clients move from overwhelm toward health.

Building on what's already working well in your own physiology, I use manual therapy and Somatic Experiencing to nudge your system back into balance.  I'm licensed in massage therapy since 1991, and now describe my work as "integrative" -- bringing all these tools together to help you heal.

My work can help relieve pain, as well as symptoms of anxiety/depression patterns, so you feel more comfortable. You'll learn how to sense inside safely, to get in touch with what's most important to you. You'll get to practice playing more!

Yes! Less work for the body, more fun. More pleasure even, what about that?

 When your body feels better, your mind benefits too.

So you can begin feeling more like yourself again, connecting with people, and enjoying more of what you love!

You'll find the encouragement you need right here.  

We're in the Claremont Village, by appointment Monday through Friday.

Schedule right here online or by phone.  

Learn about my practice (see at right).

Or if you'd like, set up a free 25-min phone consult: 909.239.8313.  

I look forward to hearing from you!

Less Talk, More Therapy

"I read this New York Times article and decided to see whether there was anybody in Claremont who could help me."  

This, from a new client today who found me online, as "you seem to offer more than a normal massage therapist."  She says she has put up with the pain long enough and is ready to explore change from the body perspective.  

Yay!   First step in seeking well-being is saying, "Enough!" and feeling open to ask questions about what could be different.  Then, who to trust along the way.  Many of my clients are right there at that edge of discovery.  It's a time ripe for experimenting.

Q:  So does this article come close to describing what you do?

A:  Well, sometimes. Often. Depends on what client is open to explore, their stated goals, and how the body calls. Some sessions more like "normal" massage, even deep tissue. Sometimes a whole session is a story-led sensory exploration, all while sitting in chairs, moving a bit, bringing awareness outside on purpose, not even using the table. My goal is always integration... a topic that warrants its own article!



Moving Anger Out from a Holding Pattern

Here's an interesting blog post about anger from a therapist named Robert Firestone.  Number one in his list of effects of denying or suppressing anger is somaticizing -- creating physical symptoms. 

"Holding back angry feelings creates tension, and this stress reaction plays a part in a wide range of psychosomatic ailments, such as headaches, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and cancer."

Many of us have learned to pooh-pooh what may come along with anger that's held:  the constriction, the pain, the frustrating lack of momentum.   Ignoring it doesn't make it go away!    Among my bodywork clients are some whose hunched neck/shoulders are actually compromising their heart/lung functional capacity --- which compounds with anxiety as the heart races or "I can't breathe!"   For some, a holding pattern like this snowballs into a syndrome, a complex tangle of symptoms.  

To successfully address physical symptoms, my therapeutic approach will often integrate multiple elements of human experience: emotion, meaning, behavior, sensation, image.  Combining Somatic Experiencing with gentle bodywork is what I find most effective.

A few more thoughts about allowing anger to be part of the mix of feelings we experience:

1)    Feeling a feeling -- any feeling -- It's not right or wrong, it just is!   This is part of the job of our physical bodies.  When we sense a feeling, the body gets a message to move.  Toward something attractive, away if not attractive.  Checking in with where in your body might want to move right now is a great place to start.  For example, a nice breath out!  -- Aahhh! 

2)    Feeling an impulse to move is not the same as following through with aggressive actions!   To develop more impulse control, experiment with letting go of some control!   Sound counter-intuitive?  In a Somatic Experiencing session, we might explore feeling that edge between extreme-absolute-control and a-little-bit-of-movement.   

3)    What's the opposite of anger?  Again, not a right or wrong answer here, just an invitation to explore that for a moment, sitting away from your screen to feel whatever it is for you.     Give yourself enough time so that when you come back to a feeling of anger, there's this other feeling your body remembers as well.  Something to gently swing back to.



College Students, Welcome Back!

With the return of fall semester comes the rhythm of practicums, performances, and exams.  Here's an exercise to invite your body to settle.  Try this in someplace quiet enough for you.  

Grounding & Resourcing (about 10 min)        

Sit in a supported position, both feet on the floor.  Take time to notice your natural breath, particularly your exhale.  Slowly push the sole of one foot into the floor as you exhale, releasing on the inhale.  Alternate left and right.  Slow your movements even more, to explore the sensations.  Look for what feels good!  If your eyes are closed, try opening them a little and check out your environment. 

As you look around, what attracts you?  Let your eyes rest there awhile before moving on.  Allow your attention to move your head as your eyes gently take in something new of interest. Notice how the breath changes as you do this.  Take all the time you need.


Restoring the Body: Bessel vd Kolk

Listen to Krista Tippett's recent interview with Bessel van der Kolk, foremost trauma researcher!   As I am only one of many who return often for inspiration to, I feel excited that a huge audience is getting the message here about restoring the body and healing trauma.  And, it makes me want to add a whole lot to what he said about healing therapies! 

The body awareness approach Somatic Experiencing is another of the therapies that help with trauma, and there are so many more ways we can help our bodies in moving through overwhelm toward health.

As you listen to the podcast, keep in mind questions that come up for you.  What strikes you as interesting?  What's not so clear?  What would you like to know more about?

Let's make a date for a talk!






Human memory is a sensory experience says psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk. Through his longtime research and innovation in trauma treatment, he shares what he's learning how bodywork like yoga or eye movement therapy can restore a sense of goodness and safety. And what he’s learning speaks to a resilience we can all cultivate in the face of the overwhelming events that after all make up the drama of culture, of news, of life. - See more at:
Human memory is a sensory experience says psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk. Through his longtime research and innovation in trauma treatment, he shares what he's learning how bodywork like yoga or eye movement therapy can restore a sense of goodness and safety. And what he’s learning speaks to a resilience we can all cultivate in the face of the overwhelming events that after all make up the drama of culture, of news, of life. - See more at:

See You, In Person!

Yes, it's First Friday again, April 5th ----- time to celebrate art and local artists with Claremont's monthly Artwalk evening.   I'll be co-hosting at our studio reception with artist Gina Nelson, and we'll be serving wine and goodies while you browse. Be sure to ask Gina about her new painting classes, and check out her portfolio of murals and other work!

IMG_1571With studio fun, a kicked-back evening in the Claremont Village -- and of course, refreshments! --   First Fridays are a great chance to get together in person, share stories and ask questions.   

Let's talk, in Real Life.

See you soon!


Beyond Sandy Hook, How SE Can Help

Many of us feel helpless in the face of tragedy.  But there's hope for healing, as described in this blog post from the Somatic Experiencing (R) Trauma Institute.  Especially for parents and child educators, I'll also recommend the book written by Peter Levine and Maggie Kline.

Somatic Experiencing is the approach Iuse in my private practice with people seeking greater ease in moving and connecting.  SE has helped many of my clients in completing unresolved defensive responses, which no longer hold them in a freeze pattern.

Although we can't all physically travel to be with people who have suffered great loss, we can educate our communities, ourselves.   Powerful stories about human resiliency build hope.


A Little at a Time

I'm just back from another visceral training.  And -- surprise!  I'm not overwhelmed! 

Four days of new material.  Four days of intensive practice. Four days in an unfamiliar environment, working closely with an instructor and practicing hands-on with fellow students, most of whom are physical therapists. 

Why am I not overwhelmed?

It was my second time through.  The curriculum included review of another class.  These classes build on what I know --- from studying reference books and notes --- and on what I know more deeply, from practice.

Wow, at that first time 12 years ago, I sure was toast by the end.  Couldn't really tell you what happened on the fourth day of it. 

But this time, I could not only take it in, but expand with it.  Over the years inbetween, with study and practice, my body has had time to incorporate this information a little at a time, in context. 

You know what they say --- about how to get to Carnegie Hall? 

Practice, practice, practice.  

I can't wait to share visceral work --- with you!  And so I'm bringing it toward the front of the room, providing a context.

We all want to enjoy moving; it's how we live our lives to the fullest.  When moving happens with greater ease, we feel better.  Feeling good, we're better able to connect with people.  Part of feeling good is enjoying strength and support, and part of it is proprioception ----- body-to-brain, brain-body, and body-body ("...stable here, how about you?") messages inside.

Visceral work is all about relationships!  We're "waking up" proprioceptive connections on the inside, the messaging system that tells our body where we are and how we're doing, relative to other parts, and relative to the whole. Awareness of self, and self in the environment. 

Visceral work is also encouraging natural movement.

To function, our organs must be moving all the time, or we die.  (Ideally, joints and muscles can also move freely, but if not, mostly that won't kill you.) Where movement is hindered or stuck, that's where  therapeutic attention will focus, gently encouraging movement in the direction of ease.  That's it!  

So, I am not a healer but a person who listens to the tissues, and connects with encouraging movement.  Listening. Connecting. Encouraging.

When it's not too much input into the system as to overwhelm, the body can adapt, incorporating what's new, moving toward hope a little at a time.


Thriving in Your Container

 Elastic and energized, a healthy body container defines your outside boundary, keeps your insides safe and nourished.  And it’s unique to you!  IMG_8300 - Copy

Join me for a fun 2-hour workshop, Sunday 10 July, 1 pm at Claremont Yoga.

Third in a series exploring bottom-up wellness, we’ll be using hands-on contact, restful play, and movement to invite learning.  Download Flyer


Come to get inside your own skin, dwell deeper in your personal space, explore your edges.....  


Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes

Second in a series exploring "bottom-up wellness", this class embraces Shoulders, in context of the whole body.  We’ll be using hands-on contact and movement, so learning – expanding perception – can happen from inside.

Download Flyer  IMG_8152 - Copy

Experience a bodyworker's twist on shaping your yoga practice, and unfolding into life. 

Sunday 22 May, 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm

at  Claremont Yoga

-- in the Village at 204 N. Yale Ave. (at Second)  on 2nd floor, stairs access only

 SPACE IS LIMITED!  Reserve your spot at

or contact Suzanne at 909.239.8313.  Class is $25.


Here's some of what to expect:

Free-Range Shoulders:  Go Where They Wish. 

Should:  Might We Invite “Can” and “May” into Alignment?

No Shoulder Is An Island:  Amiable Conversation with Neighbors.

Lean on Me:  Comfort, Defend; Contain, Connect.

Shoulder Rest:  Enjoy Support from Below.

Mind Your Head

This new class explores the kind of wellness from inside you --- "bottom-up wellness".  First class will focus on the head:  resolving stress that leads to tension, hands-on help for headaches, and the role your body plays. 

New class:  Mind Your Head IMG_8086

When:        Sunday 3 April, 12 pm - 2 pm

Where:      Claremont Yoga

in the Village at Second and Yale, on 2nd floor.  (Stairs access only.)

Sign up at

                  or phone Suzanne at 909.239.8313.  Class is $25.

Experience a bodyworker's twist on shaping your yoga poses, and unfolding into life. 

Here's some of what to expect:

  • Taking the Ache Out of Headache.  Lie back and relax!  Learn 7 self-help techniques to relieve head/neck tension. 
  • Finding Space Inside.  Get inside your head -- where space is needed for optimal physical and mental function. 
  • Finding Your Head In Space.  Up in the clouds?  In Outer Space?  Discover how your body locates itself through sensing and moving.
  • Not All in Your Head.  Why feeling good requires the whole body. 



Body Sense magazine

Here is a link to the latest issue of Body Sense magazine, compliments of ABMP.  (I've been a member of this national professional organization since 1991).

Body Sense provides valuable information about how to make massage and bodywork a part of your healthy lifestyle. Inside you'll find helpful articles on the value of downtime, the body's intricate fascia network, and diet recommendations for low-back health.

I am excited to discuss any of the information you find inside, and happy to schedule your next appointment.

Best in Health,


Highlighting Healing Stories

I am grateful to Kristen for writing her account of healing (excerpted on my site as well), and to Maggie Phillips, who created this blog and shares healing stories from readers.  Maggie is an international educator, psychologist, and author of Reversing Chronic Pain.  I often refer clients to her as she offers an array of resources.  Check out her other resources online:

Maggie Phillips, Ph.D.
2768 Darnby Dr.
Oakland, CA 94611

As I read these stories, I'm reminded that there is no "one way"; that experiences leading to healing will be unique to each of us, further illustrating the creativity of the healing response. 

Do you have a story to share?

Hammocks and Cathedrals

How Do You Experience Support?

The ground supports us.  Other people support us.  And very literally, our bodies support us in ways we're not even aware.  Learn firsthand how awareness of our internal structural support can give wing to our spirits.  We'll provide materials for you to express what you discover in your own creative way.

Suzanne Snijder van Wissenkerke, a seasoned bodyworker, and Cynthia Luna, an executive coach, lead this introductory workshop, sharing with the community our joy as we collaborate. 

Come to Explore, Connect, and Create with us!  Wear comfortable clothing, and bring your body along for fun!  We'll provide a nourishing snack mid-morning. 

Saturday, March 13th             

8:45 am – 12:30 pm

$50 per person --- advance registration required --- fee is 100% donation to CCF


Payment by mail, phone, or online to Claremont Community Foundation

205 Yale Avenue, Claremont 91711      909.398.1060


Questions for Suzanne & Cynthia?  909.239.8313

Hammocks and Cathedrals: How Do You Experience Support?

It's a new workshop! 

I want to share the fun of my practice in a group setting.  Co-leading is my friend Cynthia, an executive coach and mentor! 

We'll be exploring together through our senses :  the physical support available in your body, how it feels when you're supported. Throw in some creative art-making, playful movement, and you have the picture.

On a Saturday morning in March, at a lovely home in Claremont......... 

        ..........I'd love to tell you more, but Cynthia and I are still working out the details. 

Want to receive the latest?  Just "subscribe" above, or email me.

Headache Relief: Let Gravity Help

IMG_0831 At the base of your skull, lots of muscles connect and overlap with each other.  As these muscles constrict, this can reduce flow of blood, oxygen into and out of the head.   Paradoxically, pressing firmly here can re-set the body's message to constrict, therefore restoring flow.

Here are some self-care tips to try at home:

1                     Begin by lying down, face up, and putting your hands behind your head.  Apply pressure with your thumbs and fingertips along the ridge of base-of-skull bone (occiput), and just underneath, toward the neck.   Direct your pressure toward the front of the head, moving from spot to spot along the ridge of bone.   Allow the weight of your head to fall onto your fingertips, varying the pressure.  Try rotating or tilting your head to locate areas where pressure brings relief.  These areas might change day to day.

2                     A more passive version of this utilizes a “still point inducer”.  You can purchase one, or you can make one yourself.  Put 2 racquetballs inside an athletic sock; tie a knot.  Lie face up, positioning the 2 balls side-by-side in the sock under your head, supporting the base-of-skull bone (occiput) comfortably.  You may want to slightly tuck your chin as you begin.  Allow the weight of your head to sink with gravity over several minutes, adjusting your position as needed for comfort.   

Earthquake Relief Project, Sichuan Province

In March 2009, I spent two weeks as part of a USA-based team of six, training helping professionals in a brief trauma-stabilization model.    Trauma Resource Institute's educational model is physiology-based, modeled on Peter Levine's Somatic Experiencing -- an approach I have studied and incorporated into my own practice since 2000. 

In the TRI model, stabilization skills are presented in a condensed format, accessible across cultures.  Throughout the 1-, 2-, and 3-day trainings, I witnessed training participants practicing skills they could use immediately --- for themselves as well as in their work as physicians, nurses, psych counselors, hotline volunteers, teachers.   The six of us from the USA team relied on our translators -- brilliant young psych students from Beijing --  but the enthusiasm we felt from many of the participants transcended language.Cherp V paramonkey

This multi-phase project to help Sichuan province was initiated at the request of Rob Blinn, a psychologist in Beijing who had met Peter Levine  just months prior to the earthquake.    World Health Organization has funded much of the project, which concludes with phase 6 in May 2009, when TRI returns with another team, to consult, train, and make new contacts in Sichuan province.

Our travel to different training locations over the two weeks brought us past many damaged structures: Next door to the empty psych hospital, residents make do in blue-roofed temporary housing erected by the government.  Along a dirt road, makeshift shelters of branches and plastic are abandoned for newly built concrete houses.   With piles of new bricks and bags of cement, some families are still in the process of re-building their homes by hand.  As our bus passed through the misty landscape of terraced fields bursting with vibrant yellow flowers, we acknowledged in silence the pain amid the beauty, the scenes of loss, the hard life that, for so many, pre-dates this earthquake. 

The community-based re-building we witnessed in the countryside also reminded us that resilience is fostered through cooperation.  Though this training project draws to a close, it has planted seeds that may germinate and grow.   As phase 6 of the project coincides with the quake anniversary, this group will be seeking ways to continue its outreach for people in need.

Balance Rocks

Balance:  an active process of moving toward equilibrium, or alignment .  It's a process (not a static state) ever changing and moving, sometimes even taking us OUT OF balance.   And then, inside our human bodies, built-in systems can rock us back into balance.....naturally.  Like when we use both feet to stand, but shift from side to side. 

When we're feeling stressed, this can really help.

Rocking, back and forth, up and down, or from one foot to the other.  If I put a crying baby in your arms right now, you would start rocking.  Sure helps to bring comfort.  And you didn't even really think, just responded to what might work to quiet that child.

Even without the baby, you could try rocking right now in your chair.  Just allow the movement to come forth on its own,  letting the body go with it a little.  Stand if you want to try using your legs for balance, or continue sitting with feet on the floor.  Is it side to side, or front to back?  See what it feels like for you.

Feel OK?  If not, rest awhile.  Notice what IS still feeling OK, even the slightest bit, before going bac.