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



Workshop 5 November

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




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.

Self Care: Getting Ready for the Holidays

We’re getting ready.


Over the river and through the woods

is our holiday landscape of self care:

Soon we'll be sharing music, food, drink with those dear

while those we deem safe enough 

we'll greet with arms outstretched,

our palms flexed;

we'll listen to their stories and tell our own next.

Before all this, though, an imperative: 

Rest! -- bathe, find comfort in touch, in breath, in sleep.

Honoring spirit, dance, meditate, sing, or sit still.

Spend time out of doors, alone or together

reflecting on what is most precious in darkest winter

moving gently toward the warmth of fellow humans

the light in our eyes

the fire in our hearts,

the us that we are.


Some are resistant to this, they say

we should keep working harder jump higher now now now

and I say



what is so pressing?

to feed a revolution we must be fueled, fortified, refreshed

and with care, we can indeed thrive

as thousand-fold ourselves


So to those

who question

what you will get

and how does this "self-care" benefit everybody

just turn to them and ask

How do you plan on celebrating?




So many ways of getting ready for the holidays!

Here's one: hiking up high with family, where we discovered this snow-cocooned cone, a few hours shy of melting away.  This was on the trail last Tuesday after that first snow, Timber Mountain.   

Warmest wishes to you this holiday season!

On Purpose

All the healing communities that I’m involved with*, each in their own way, acknowledged this week the pain of the most recent national tragedy and how its impact feels, even at a distance.

For each, the message was not primarily of outrage or disgust, though that was expressed first. Through each ran the deeper current of shared awareness of our human need for connection and spiritual meaning. Clear in each too is their resolution.  

We have a job to do.  

It is healing our world. 

Let’s pause.  

We honor those who died, and those most affected.  


We then turn to taking care of ourselves so we can care for others. 

The world needs what we have to offer.  People feel broken, stuck, like there’s no way out.

We’re not THE answer, but we can provide hope.  Hope for moving, perhaps slowly and sideways at first, then gradually, resolutely onward.

So let’s get back to work. 

*Somatic Experiencing groups, Visceral Manipulation study group, Claremont yoga community, my church, my coach,  my professional association, and Feldenkrais in Houston

Photo credit: Ian Cook, SE Australia training, Melbourne. 

Twenty-five Years

Celebrating! Yes, it's worth a quick look back, to appreciate the view ahead.

From my start as a part-time massage therapist 25 years ago, I discovered that here in the body is where it feels safe enough to explore being myself.

I am grateful to the many teachers who have nurtured me along the way.  Sensory awareness skill-building with Raja Selvam taught me to trust my body's messages, and to listen differently to others. Marshall Amini Peller taught craniosacral therapy, and graceful allowing.  Embodiment, modeled best by Kathy Kain. From Dan Siegel, I learned about how our minds change in relationship, shaped by early developmental patterns.  From Gail Wetzler, Ron Mariotti, "listen and follow."  

As a body-oriented therapist, I invite you to explore what it might be like to be yourself.  

If you'd like, let's have a conversation sometime. Take advantage of my free consult, and see where you want to go from there. 





How the Light Shines In

It's only from shadow that we can 'see the light'

only from winter's dark days welcome spring

It's where we're broken and vulnerable 

that the light can shine in


teeth bared breath held bracing against fear time stops but --- aahh!

Bringing into my now the walking-in-this-forest-together feeling

Remembering in my legs the right-left rhythm, my breath slows

Fear and forest mix

Till what shines through is neither and both

Emerging: warmth, compassion for self

for living



With gratitude to my daughter for this photo and for taking us hiking at Mount Si, Washington.  

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!



sense of myself as a resilient container

I am an artist in my mid-forties.  I spent many years of my life in psychotherapy and self help, but could not seem to shake the perpetual emotional pain and anxiety which crippled my daily functioning.  A friend shared books about Somatic Experiencing, and I realized I could not heal myself alone.  I found Suzanne via the "Find a Practitioner" at  Her gentle style immediately put me at ease and established a relationship of trust.  

I really appreciate how Suzanne is available for me when I am triggered.  A phone call or visit to her office resets my attitude and empowers me to proceed with my day calmly.  She reads me so well, picking up on subtle signs how my system is doing.  Her supportive touch is tremendously healing as it enables me to discharge pent-up anxiety and stress.  As our series of sessions continues, I am putting experiences in her office together with the lingo I learned while reading about S.E.;  gaining a tangible sense of myself as a resilient container.  

Receiving her gentle visceral bodywork [an osteopathic approach that complements S.E.] is making me aware of my own internal anatomy, and awakening my inner health advocate.  This year I got serious about attending regular [every 2 weeks] sessions.  Rather than just soothing me and helping me to put out emotional fires, I have made significant progress in both my personal and professional life.  I feel that Suzanne's help has empowered me with the confidence to meet with clients and to achieve artwork I never had the stamina for before.   I feel very fortunate to have discovered her practice.  -- Jeanne-Marie Lovell

Clients Write: letting the creative work flow

Suzanne is a genius at healing. I don't say that lightly. For nearly as long as I can remember, I've had issues with doing solo work - especially writing. I've always had tons of ideas and I could get other people excited about them, but the moment I'd get near paper or a keyboard to make things real - poof! All gone. Instead, confusion and dissociation, paralysis, indecision, self-loathing. Sometimes I could do what needed to be done, but only with huge amounts of effort and pain, and never in a "professional" manner. And it was really holding up my career. I had tried everything -  coaching, cognitive-behavioral therapy, goal setting, visualization, ADD meds, spiritual healing, you name it. Things would work a little, but nothing really transformative.
Until working with Suzanne. In our sessions feel like I'm working through stuff I never had access to any other way. Sometimes I walk in feeling heavy and out of it. Suzanne goes right to the spot, and a few minutes later I feel myself reacting differently from the inside out - feeling light and calm, yet responsive and fully connected. Between visits I also feel things moving differently. It feels like I have more influence on my consciousness and can be more responsive in my day to day environment. I don't have to suffer and delay until I can find the superhuman strength to produce - for the first time I'm working ahead instead of procrastinating! Without it being a big deal.
I highly recommend the somatic approach. Suzanne seems to use a few different modalities - I don't particularly understand the mechanics of what she does (and I don't need to!). But I do know what talent, deep intuition and years of practice look like, and I can tell you that Suzanne has really got it going on.  -- Kim

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:

Here, Now

Playing piano since age five gave me a great head start in bodywork.  Listening with hands and ears, moving to match dynamics and tempo with the big picture, are skills developed in my musician's toolkit. 

Grounded in nature and spirit ---  we canoed every summer in the Boundary Waters --- I was inspired by my chemist father to study sciences.  A biology degree, and a dozen unrelated jobs later, led to "why not try something for fun?" A massage course.  Yes, this was it. Working manually with the human body ignited joy in me, especially when emphasizing structural problem-solving.  Analyzing biomechanical patterns was a head game I could master.

But there is so much more!  After eight years of working mechanically, I gave up trying to absorb more analytic protocols.  While I value the foundation in structural work, it's through Somatic Experiencing(R) , that I finally grew to embrace the freedom of “not knowing.”   

Playing only what's written?  Not anymore.  My current practice is full of improvisation, rewarding me with daily discovery, inspiration and challenge --- and yes, benefiting my clients!  My steps from keyboard, to science and nature, to integrative bodywork, connect me in a theme of moving notes.  Now, sitting with a client, I continue to listen for the notes between:  the ones that, in relationship with the others, create harmony or dissonance, and can lead on to the next notes."


feeling like Eeyore no more

I started seeing Suzanne for fibromyalgia relief.  Her experience and techniques have been very helpful in reducing the muscle aches.  I was surprised at one session where something in my hip released.  From that time several months ago, to the present, my low level depression, what I called my “Eeyore -ness,” has vanished.   --  Kathryn BR

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.


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?

Walking the Walk

Yesterday afternoon at the temple, we gathered in seats.  The rabbi spoke, the cantor led us in a few songs --- (my favorite, their ningun, is without words) --- punctuated by clapping "to get us revved up for the walk."  Then, we were on our way --- all 500 of us!  A mile north, we stopped in at the  Lutheran church, refreshed with a drink of water and a brief talk from the pastor.  From energetic gray-haired Pilgrims to rambunctious teens, the group spread out as we walked west to the Islamic  school. There, we were welcomed by students, by administrators, and an inspiring speech by a leading academic.  Then, just up the road at the mosque, a delicious meal was served!   

We walked.

We walked together.

We shared a meal.

We met each other in peace and friendship.

Thanks to all who committed to making this happen, right here in Claremont/ Pomona.  Despite the simplicity of the event, much planning is required. (Especially if you are cooking amazing food for 500 plus!)

I am grateful for being able to participate, as just one in many.  I got to see friends, and meet new people.  It wasn't difficult, as we were all doing the same thing. 

And yes, that's really what it's all about.

Springing Ahead

It's that time of year when I notice the sun is rising earlier.   If we're out  before 6, my dog and I sometimes catch a glimpse of the deer feeding on newly greened-up hillsides.   Or coyotes--- like yesterday, when we listened to a pair trilling at us from just a few yards away. 

It's the light.   Earlier in the season, I'm not out at this time.  But, drawn to rise even before it's light, my  morning walk is rewarded with wildlife sightings.

Because we've done this for years --- the early morning walk with the dog --- I know that seasonal change affects my behavior pattern.  Even without a walking routine, every year about this time brings a spring:  not only the name of the season, but a jump-y kind of spring.

A spring ahead.

Our brains lay down tracks that we call memory.  This invariant representation ("this is how it is") is then used when we later run into something similar -- a pattern like seasons changing.  The memory that goes with, "Spring brings with it earlier sunrises," follows a parallel track to "Summer comes after spring."

I like summer.  Summer is coming soon.  Spring is on the way to summer, so spring is positively associated.

I'm therefore more motivated, mobile, movement-oriented --- in spring.

Springing ahead.

Not necessarily springing forward; that would indicate too much structure.  Ahead could mean, to the side, or Up, Along, On, Over, and so many possibilities. 

And possibilities infers that I must look ahead in time. 

Hope for the future.