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 

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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.


Health and Being Real

Here is Gabor Mate, MD, author of When the Body Says No, speaking on "The Need for Authenticity" and its connection to health/ disease.

He lists these risk factors for disease: 

1) automatic concern for the emotional needs of others, ignoring your own

2) compulsive identification with duty and responsibility, rather authentic self

3) suppressing, repressing "negative" emotions

4) belief that you are responsible for how others feel, and fear of disappointing them

We don't do this on purpose! No! He says this results from our adapting unconsciously, to protect ourselves.  

From youtube channel science and nonduality.  Listen in.

 


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.

Rest.  

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.

Re-orient.  

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 irenelyon.com.  

 

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.

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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.

 


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.

 

 


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 onbeing.org, 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: http://www.onbeing.org/program/restoring-the-body-bessel-van-der-kolk-on-treating-trauma-with-yoga-emdr-and-healing#sthash.Vg3oZjaz.dpuf
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: http://www.onbeing.org/program/restoring-the-body-bessel-van-der-kolk-on-treating-trauma-with-yoga-emdr-and-healing#sthash.Vg3oZjaz.dpuf