For the last month, you’ve probably been off-schedule, regardless of how or if you’ve celebrated the holidays. Truth is, like infants, it’s surprisingly easy to get us humans off-schedule. In somatic terms, we become more disregulated. For many of us who have healthy-enough nervous systems, we can get back in gear with a few practices and some time. Many of us don’t even realize we’re doing it, when we cut out sugar, return to a regular bed-time, return to baseline on the amount of human contact we allow in a particular day. Come January 2nd, you step back into ordinary life. And while the season’s stressors are a relief to see in the rear-view mirror, most of us, even those who really hate this time of year, may feel a bit of a let-down. Somehow, the banal suggestion that one find a way to carry some wisdom, or some element of beauty, into mundane life feels lame.
In a healthy family, each member seeks to empower both the self and other, wanting to tell, and to hear, the authentic concerns that threaten the bond of care and concern. Even when the voices get a little loud, there is the sense of people fighting for each other as well as for themselves. Continue Reading The Sauna: Managing Conflict Well
When I started writing this series, I explored “safety.” What it means, particularly to those of us who were not nourished by it often enough as our young spirits grew. Many of the essentials I’ve since explored with you, grounding, resourcing, meditation, all help reduce the constant undercurrent of distress in our lives. However, none… Continue Reading Trauma 101: Discovering Your Inner Protector
Meditation is a discipline. Sometimes, it gets to me. In this video, in which I am upstaged by my dogs, I give a little taste both of the effort I put towards sitting, and how easy it is for me to get distracted from focusing on the present. What is important for all of us to wrap our minds around is that, if you’re expecting your brain to cooperate and stop thinking, you will not succeed. You will get frustrated, and you will give up on an intervention that is free and requires no travel, taking 15-20 minutes out of your day. Continue Reading Trauma 101: Meditation
At times, people struggle with what bodywork looks like. While I speak of other interventions as well, here I’m shown working with a friend and colleague in providing the safe, supportive touch that helps my clients tap into their yet-elusive sensations, and the emotions with which those sensations are linked.
Boundaries. I love how the therapeutic community throws words like “boundaries” around, without a clear explanation. Before you read on, in fact, go ahead and test this (and for those of you who’ve had therapy, or at least read a multitude of self-help books, this should be especially fun). How would you describe boundaries? Are… Continue Reading Trauma 101: Boundaries, Part 1
It was an awful day. I was young, barely employed as a door-to-door salesperson for cable (and really, who can’t sell cable! me!!!), and had just gotten my umpteenth rejection. The world reeked of malaise and despair… then I looked up, at the most wonderful evening sky. The skies in New Mexico are special, of… Continue Reading Trauma 101: Resourcing…Finding the Lip of the Pool Before You Dive Deep
So the complaint of too much stress is a familiar one. You’ve read several times in my writings that a common definition of trauma is overwhelming stress. Before you nod your head in recognition, though, let’s stop for a few minutes and challenge that notion. What constitutes “too much stress?” This is what I’ve learned: the experience of stress is greatest when our stamina is low.
Sitting on a couch does not help. Trying to run the marathon at the start does not help. Workouts that build in intensity and build our stamina do, emotionally as well as physically. Continue Reading Trauma 101: Redeeming Stress
You can’t think grounding, you’ve got to feel it. Imagine that your body is a live wire, downed by some horrible Nor’easter. Sparks flying all over the place! Trauma has that effect, so much overwhelming and unpleasant energy coursing sharply and erratically through our bodies that we can practically smell the sizzle, or on the other hand, past the sizzle and well into burn-out. Grounding works like the third prong on a plug, or the post at the end of the wire…it absorbs some of the excess energy that would otherwise lead to shorting out. Continue Reading Trauma 101 Essentials: Grounding
There is an old story: a heartless general, at the head of a ruthless army, devastates village after village. He arrives at a temple and, to his surprise, finds the gate unlocked. In the middle of the courtyard within kneels a monk. The general dismounts, unsheathes his sword, and approaches the monk. The monk fails to prostrate himself before the general, which offends him. “Do you not know who I am? I am not afraid to kill you,” to which the monk replies, “Do you not know who I am? I am not afraid to die.”….Matilda and I worked together for quite a while, and she taught me more about courage than any colleague, friend or family member ever did. And one of the most important lessons we learned together was to embrace the truth of her mortality, while understanding that now, she was alive. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross hoped that, as people normalized the grief process around death, that they would paradoxically become freer to embrace the vitality that was yet in them. The monk doesn’t want to die, but he has embraced the eventuality of it, and it no longer frightens him. He cannot be threatened…and when we talk of safety, isn’t that what we’re really talking about? Continue Reading The Illusion of Safety, and How to Get Past It