Tag Archive for 'somatics'

it is a miracle: reflection on somatics and trauma training

last week i finished the somatics and trauma training 2012, offered by generative somatics. a few years ago i took their somatics and social justice course, and it left an imprint in me, a longing for more capacity in feeling my body, healing myself, and learning to be a generative healing member of community, towards liberation.

here are some reflections upon completing this cycle of learning, which lasted 7 months:

to set out on a path i believed was impossible, i had to develop an opening towards miracles. and it is a miracle now, to be feeling what i am feeling, all i am feeling, all throughout my body, after years of numbness, self-harm, emotional eating and trauma.

i have had many teachers, some immediately recognizable in the moment, others only clear in hindsight; some positive models, some teaching me what not to do. part of what intrigued me about this course was i could see how it was impacting those who stuck with the training process and practices over years – it seemed to literally be reshaping people into their highest, most centered and grounded selves.

i’ve been involved in many leadership development efforts, and seen a few of them work in some ways. too often, however, they are about recreating one teacher’s style, a cookie cutter model of developing a leader.

having come through those processes, and helped shape them for others, i was starting to wonder if there was any process to truly develop leadership that wasn’t just throwing folks into the fire and shouting ‘good job’ as they learn to keep moving while burning.

the somatics and trauma course really touched something in me. now i am in a new relationship with learning, and my body is the teacher.

it/she has held on for me to get to a place, an age, a yearning that would turn me inward for the love and healing i was seeking.

it/she was/is patient as i hurt myself, made myself big to protect myself, disparaged it/her in internal and external dialogue.

it was years i spent internalizing revenge, cultivating the bitterness that curves up around the heart in clear walls that turned love away even, especially, when i could see it wasn’t serving me.

now i am beginning to see the world through a different lens, or more precisely, to feel the world.

i feel my grandparents’ hope in me,
i feel my father’s hard work, and
my mother’s continuous opening and curiosity,
my sisters’ adorations, wisdoms and patience,
i feel the vulnerable spirit in the babies i love

i feel my strength,
my vibrant race, and my dynamic ability,
my beauty, my brilliant body
my privilege and power

when a beloved leaves, i feel the pull of them on my heart, physically, i feel my life without them physically in it, i feel my responsibility to carry their essential gifts forward in my actions. my body is learning to cry, to grieve, to love, to open, to be whole.

i feel that the next generation of my family is depending on me learning more about how to feel, that it is necessary for evolution, for their own life work.

and it feels like such radical work – to be in a community of people feeling, including my family. and sharing those feelings, growing the capacity to feel. in this world where we are socialized towards numbing, fear, powerlessness and greed, leading to depression, militarism, racism and materialism, it is imperative that we get well.

i am beginning to feel what wholeness in community might look like.

i am learning that getting well in community is liberation. we are interdependent. when one of us attains freedom it elicits/rekindles that longing in each of us. when we learn to feel, when we learn to stand with each other in feeling, when we learn to tune into the wisdom of our bodies, to love ourselves, to love each other, we are doing the unthinkable, we are creating new worlds of possibility.

we were socialized to sleep, y’all. sleep and spend. to break out of that cycle and reclaim my humanity, for these magnificent instances i have experienced, makes me feel like i am in integrity with the universe, serving my highest purpose.

what becomes possible is, without destroying anything or anyone, we can claim power. claim it and live it. this matters for every identity, today i feel the depth of it for my blackness, for my womanness, for my queerness, for the child still within me.

recently i was regrounded in this chant from assata via my friend patrisse:

it is our duty to fight for freedom
it is our duty to win
we must love each other and protect each other
we have nothing to lose but our chains

remember, you are reading this in a body full of miracles you could not create. honor yourself, let love flood your body.

how about a beginning of self-determined care?

my friend b loewe wrote this blog an end to self-care, and i was moved to respond.

hi lovely b :)

thank you so much for putting this out there, i feel the energy of it. and as a community-supported self-care queen on day 8 of a juice cleanse, i have to engage.

my negative feelings on self-care kept me in a state of not caring for myself for years, delaying me in getting what i needed, keeping me in unhealthy movement spaces, feeling powerless and tired.

my community had to intervene. they generated the resources to send me off to take care of myself. if they hadn’t done that, i don’t know if i would be here at all.

once they had intervened, i still had to go through an internal process to get to a place where i determined that i needed this healing, that i wanted to be able to give to movement from a healthier place.

so…i love the idea of community care…but what is that, if not community supporting each other in our self-determined efforts to care for ourselves and our families?

there’s that relationship wisdom, “you can’t change someone else.” i feel that – i know it’s true for me, when people try to change me i root my feet down into the soil of what is.

grace boggs speaks it into movement, echoing gandhi, “we must transform ourselves to transform the world.”

for me this includes self-care. or perhaps more precisely, self-determined care. because the messages we receive are that our lives don’t matter, that we don’t deserve love, or even to exist. to choose instead to value ourselves, our health, and the health of our communities – all as one, not at odds with each other, is radical, it’s self-determination.

and i love the idea you put out that “movement work is healing work” – it absolutely should be, and sometimes it is. and when it is, it’s amazing.

but so much of the movement work we do these days is not structured in ways that promote sleep, much less healing. there are some beautiful flows of intense work, but more often than not, in my work as a facilitator, organizational development lover and coach, what i see over and over again are isolated, exhausted and overworking organizers in endless loops of tasks, conflicts and fundraising. i observe work done in a state of urgency that often leads us to not have time to cook for each other, care for each others’ kids, or even to pursue that “political clarity” which maria speaks of.

when movement is full of individuals with scarce energy and health, that scarcity flows in every direction – it leads to us competing with each other for resources. that’s what this capitalist system wants us to do, compete with each other for what we are told is enough. the shift towards grassroots fundraising is a beautiful response to this – that we generate abundance within ourselves, so our movement work can be self-determined.

that is the same thing we need to seek as individuals – abundance that allows our lives and work to be self-determined, community-determined.

i think that burn-out happens when life is not lived with intention. when we are mindful and intentional, we can begin to experience abundance, not in the material sense, but from the joy of living our lives on purpose.

its a privilege for us to even have this conversation, i recognize that. but there are some people, people with less time and resources than either of us have, who are just beginning to get a tiny little bit of encouragement to take care of themselves, and i would hate to see your words take away from that, or make people feel guilty for that.

i think it matters that we value and love ourselves and each other. and to me, that looks like affirming the radical act of love however it comes, without judgment, whether it’s through a movement retreat, or a yoga class, or knitting, or a protest, or a garden.

so yes, let’s get specific about community care – how does it look to do this so that people are able to do for themselves what they need? some people thrive working long hours with very little alone time…others thrive with two hours of meditation every day, or physical activity.

how do we create communities where everyone can self-determine and ask for what they need, offer what they have to give, where the result is abundance?

long blog short, i don’t think this is either/or. i think this is yes: more health, more care, everywhere. getting more people in more communities talking about what a healthy caring life looks like, how they are already living and caring for themselves and each other, and how we all support each other. and not just how generations from now people might live a healthy live, but how we are and can be practicing health, well-being, joy and justice in the here and now.

because from experience, the healthier i am, the more authentic love and contribution i am able to give to movement, to the next generation in my life. the more i prioritize caring for myself, caring for my community and accepting care from my community, the better and brighter spark in the movement flame i can be.

the too smartness

i am, and have always been, too smart for my own good.

i know this now, in a way i don’t think i have ever fully known before, because i am watching the too smartness of my niece and nephew in their growth. i have delighted in their intelligence, from the first brilliant responsive kicks in the womb, even their timing for showing up in our lives.

before they could speak i called them cellular geniuses for the speed, strength and flexibility of their lovely bodies. now they are speaking, setting boundaries, fleshing in their personalities, and my delight just grows and grows.

now, when either of them decides they want to do something, they are not interested in any adult redirection or trickery, nor are they at all concerned with arguing. they are not hemmed up by the potential worst-case-scenario impacts, they don’t care if people older than them insist they are embarking on a path of danger to themselves and others – they just want to do what they want to do.

they want to see for themselves.

and in that impulse, i recognize myself.

my child self, who was loved, and read to, and in talented and gifted programs, the me who thought i could outsmart everything from my military dad to discipline to spelling.

my young woman self who thought i could outsmart racism, sexual assault, rootlessness, or needing hairdressers.

its gotten more serious with my adult self, who has at various points been convinced i could outsmart fat phobia, my body altogether, addiction, depression, fidelity, heartbreak, politics, the federal tax system, hierarchy. even love. that somehow i could avoid and ignore the guidance and wisdom of my grandparents, my parents, other experienced people, loved ones, experts, advice columnists, therapists – errybody.

and by outsmart, i don’t mean that i thought i could skip these experiences. merely that i thought i could somehow do them differently, skip the painful bad parts and just experience the awesome parts that i wanted.

there is a brilliance to this – a vividness, an aliveness outside of any measurable intelligence. i live so thoroughly, learning this way. I fling myself into the world.

the way my nephew wants to jump off of high places, the way my niece throws herself off stairs and into streets, the way he drinks and spouts the dirty bath water, the way she puts everything in her mouth first.

now, older than these two beloveds of mine, i feel such compassion for them, such curiosity about what they are learning, and such a deep comprehensive desire for them to learn without hurting themselves in any way.

and then i am flooded with compassion for my parents, grandparents, aunts, ancestors, friends – everyone who has watched me run through this life, so painfully foolishly wonderfully smart.

i am flooded with gratitude for the care, for the warnings, for the hands that caught me when i fell down hard along my educational journeys, for the unconditionality of the love i got just because i was born to two people who loved each other and wanted to parent.

and for the friends who have loved me as i walked in the opposite direction of their guidance. all of these family and friends have loved me tirelessly, abundantly, tenderly.

and i have learned so very much in this short life, because of the paths i took, because of the crises i missed – not because of my intelligence, but in spite of it.

and i am like the child, even now. happiest when i am living at full speed in the direction of the unknown, the possible, surrounded by those who love me uttering soft warnings, reaching out hands that never let me crash, and looking at me with eyes that never seem to tire.

webs from my palms

today i had good meetings. this isn’t always the case, although i daresay i enjoy most of the meetings i am in, because i surround myself by effective people who don’t like to waste time or be bogged down in repeat convos and the like.

but today i met with someone on ruckus staff who felt blessed to work here, and was just feeling excited that in this moment when we could be panicking, we’re instead being non-conformist, living our dreams, loving our network and doing more and better work than ever.

then i met with a big thinker and mover of resources, talking about the work of the us social forum and international climate movement and where direct action fits into the bigger picture. was reminding said thinker that especially in times of empty pockets, direct action can be the most effective low-budget people powered strategy. if done with a long-term strategic lens, it can shift local, state, federal policy; and more importantly, advance the cultural understanding of a needed change. ie, making green cool.

then i met with this woman who does cool technology organizing and she was talking so tangibly about the work they are doing, and was excited to hear about our recent organizational shifts and the recent victories we’ve experienced.

it was like walking up a feeling of goodness and alignment with my work. also had that flying feeling i experience watching spiderman movies, like all of these conversations are webs from my palms and i am learning to spin my web towards my destination with more and more accuracy.

i stopped by forest books on 16th near valencia and grabbed Basic Teachings of the Great Philosophers, because i want to have more of those ideas within reach of my current brain, and a Le Guin book, and a new-to-me Philip Dick book. the bookstore keeps paper sales ledgers, which just made me feel nostalgia for books, paper, handwriting.

tomorrow i begin the second session of somatics and social justice work. am excited to see the people again, and think more about the big work of healing (the movement, our species, myself).