Healing and Wonderment

Survivors Speak 2018

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“Community issues deserve a community response,” said Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement, during the opening panel of Survivors Speak on April 9. The annual conference, organized by Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, hosts more than 500 survivors of violent crimes to share their stories, heal together and advocate for change.

 

Less than a week after returning from New Mexico, Thuy and I (and my friend Carlos, offering Reiki) were on the road to “pop up” at the Survivors Speak conference in Sacramento as part of the healing team. For many survivors, this conference offers a space to tell their stories for the first time. Storytelling can help us shift from victim to survivor and help us integrate and reclaim the pieces of us that feel stolen, broken and abused.

 

When there is trauma, we splinter. Some part of our consciousness separates and stores the experience in the body to be integrated when safe conditions are available. This is a defense mechanism designed to protect us. The trouble in our policing culture is that safe conditions are rarely provided to victims of violent crimes. Police force is employed with enthusiasm but healers are not; victims are further isolated by a narrative made for headlines not healing. We alienate our neighbors and continue the psychic and emotional trauma when we begin to wonder what they did to put themselves in the situation leading to the violent crime. If healing is done at all, it is done in private away from the scrutiny of the public eye.

 

Community, like touch or acupuncture, reconnects us when we shut down for preservation. When trauma or injury occurs, we might seek shelter for a time but if we stay away for too long, isolation becomes a formidable wall to scale and deepens the wound. Community is the army that has your back when faced with adversity or oppression from society at large. Community spirit recognizes that an offense against one is an offense against all, to which all of us must respond.

 

After going to Navajo country and Survivors Speak, I have experienced the potency of community medicine in a new way. In both settings, the trauma was serious and the pain was deep and the community setting helped hold all of us. At Survivors Speak we set up in one room and everyone was cared for together. We saw 60 survivors in 6.5 hours. Within the first hour of receiving attendees, we were booked until 6 o’clock without pause. What made this possible was the energy that brewed while we treated roughly 10 people per hour.

 

For so long I thought of privacy and one-on-one treatment as necessary conditions for bodywork but my feelings have changed, and I’m excited to see what more is possible when a community heals together.

support from the Stars: slow & steady

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For the past few years I have indulged my curiosity for astrology, diving deeper into the practice of reading the sky. What I've learned is that astrology helps me get a pulse on the atmospheric energies and find my place among the stars. Astrology* is more than the study of applied terms and categorizations. It is a living science that helps provide context for our experiences. We have sayings in English like, "it's in the air today," signifying that we are aware of patterns arising among people we know. Even if we don't have the time or patience or appetite to seek potential explanations, we do notice trends within our community. 

As of late, I have been noticing a trend in myself and those around me of perspectives and events shifting from chaos to clarity as if a dust storm has begun to settle leaving crystals of truth exposed. Meanwhile, the stars seem to be supporting structure, determination, stability and growth with Saturn having entered Capricorn (December 2017) and the Earth Dog year commencing this week.

The shifts I've seen have come as insights, as if years of practice and focus are distilling into clear form. For me, this looks like conviction and confidence in pursuit of my goals, for my brother it is an understanding of his last 10 years and his next 10, while a dear friend of mine has found ease and dexterity for a guitar style he's played for the last 5 years.

As 2018 picks up speed and while beginnings are still ripe, I invite you to tune into what is in the air as if feeling the current of a river. Some questions to help you begin to grab hold of the energy:

  • where do you notice stability in your life? 
  • what back-burner endeavors might be moving to the forefront?
  • how has your focus shifted?
  • is there a theme crystallizing for your year as 2018 moves along?

Beginning to notice trends and how those among us might be echoing our experiences helps us sense larger energies at play and while no planet or transit is going to "cause" fortune or afflictions, it is helpful in assessing where the momentum is. Will that business endeavor be supported? Or is it a better time for brainstorming and collecting resources? What actions and decisions are supported by the atmospheric energies? What is in conflict?

You do not need to be an astrologer to determine where the momentum and support lies. You just need to notice yourself and those around you for a sense of what's at play.

*(If you are curious about astrology, I recommend checking out Dana Gerhardt for western. For Chinese, I have found Susan Levitt accessible and informative.)

 

I have a dream...

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Happy 2018. Though a new year is upon us and many of us are eager to leave behind 2017, throwing ourselves head first into new routines, we are still in the dream space of Winter, ruled by the Water element in Chinese medicine. This is a time to sleep more and envision what you want to create come spring. To be clear: don't start your engines quite yet! Take time to dream now. More momentum and support will arrive come March and April for new projects and workout plans.

Though the New Year inspires resolutions and a feeling of freshness, we are actually in the dead of winter. A season meant for rest and relaxation, for reflection and envisioning what we will attempt when the sun begins to shine again. You might think of this time as a chance to imagine without worrying about the how's and when's that reveal themselves in response to a clear idea of what. The season invites us into these moments and if we heed the wisdom of the Earth, then we get to look forward to welcoming the spring a little smarter, a little fresher, and a little more inspired. 

Quick tips on how to align with the Water element and season of winter:

  • Begin by starting a dream journal, jotting down your dreams each morning before you get out of bed.
  • Write down your ideas for the year ahead, pay special attention to the ones that come when you are most relaxed or not trying .. the ones that come while chopping vegetables or in the shower.
  • Nourish your bones - the part of the body governed by Water - with bone broths and warm soups.
  • Self-care with bodywork, acupuncture, warm baths

A meditation: lay on your back or sit in a supported position with feet on the floor and let your attention settle on your spine. The spine is the center of your body and it is about 2-3 inches front to back starting with the cervical spine (base of skull) and getting wider until it's about 4-5 inches front to back in the lumbar spine (low back). Settle in and feel how your spine supports you. You may sit here for as little or as long as you'd like. As a beginning, a minute or two is great. When you feel complete, gently touch your arms, legs, torso and jot down any words, images or sensations that came to you. 

A writing prompt: begin a sentence with, "I have a dream ..." and write for 7 minutes without picking up your pen. Write anything that comes, even if it's nonsense. Do not allow yourself to read as you go. The purpose here is to welcome freedom of expression, to start a practice of uninhibited creation! Have fun.