I read fantasy novels and play solitaire on my phone. A lot. I didn’t used to. Well, partly because I didn’t have a smart enough phone. But it was more than that. It started in the last year of caretaking my mother.
I don’t know if you have ever cared for someone with severe dementia. It’s stressful. Especially when it is your own family. It’s one of the most stressful things I have ever done, and it went on for years.
Because my mom could not be left alone, when we were at home, I was pretty much next to her. All the time. While she talked. Incessantly. Unless I had music or the TV on (and often, even when I did). And she expected me to listen. But none of it made sense. At all.
To cope, I resorted to the reading and solitaire. I even started playing audio books in the car. Thank god for the library!
This was fine. It helped. I could be there, yet be somewhere else. All good, right?
But it’s been over two years since she went into the nursing home, and I’m still doing it.
Somehow my coping strategy became ingrained. I had become habituated to this constant input. And when I was stressed, it skyrocketed.
I was no longer comfortable just being with myself.
Once I realized this, I began taking steps. I made myself read print materials. Restricted my solitaire time. Still, the compulsion of the screen was kinda scary. And hours went by…
The other day, I mentioned to Eva, my Somatic Experiencing (SE) therapist, that I used to be so content to just hang out with my own thoughts, and now I couldn’t.
(You all know I’m training to be an SE practitioner. In fact, the final leg of my training is next week. I’m very excited about this. SE trauma resolution is one of the best things I have ever done for myself, and the training is splendid. In fact, I just arrived in California for the last leg of my three-year program!)
She asked me to imagine just being present with myself. I felt an immediate clutch of alarm, a constriction in my chest and throat.
She asked what words went along with that. All I had was a fearful gasp.
She had me track these sensations, which means to notice them and observe how they evolve.
Trauma happens when we perceive ourselves to be in danger and unable to defend ourselves. Our defensive impulses become trapped in the body, which can prevent the nervous system from settling itself afterwards. SE helps these trapped impulses to discharge, so the nervous system can reset.
I reported their progress, and soon a wave of pulsing tingling in my hands and feet signaled some resolution. My eyes began orienting (looking around the room). This all happened in the first 15 minutes of the session.
For the next 45 minutes, I continued to experience waves of activation and settling. Eva just let me keep going, occasionally asking a question, or pointing out some shift in my affect.
Whatever I had been holding was very, very big.
By the end I felt relaxed and happy, but almost woozy. Eva had me walk a straight line before she let me go, and I spent another 10 minutes just walking around the block before getting in my car.
I had lunch and didn’t need to read while I did it.
I drove home (2 hours) and didn’t need to listen to an audiobook.
I woke up in the morning and didn’t need to play solitaire.
I’m on a bus to the airport and writing this because I don’t feel like reading.
Did I read some? Sure. Did I play some solitaire? Sure. Did I feel driven to? Nooo. Wild, right?
Will it last? Probably. SE is amazing. When trauma is gone, it’s gone.
I’m also glad I am about to be away for 2 weeks, as the activity will help to soften the habit. And that I’ll be at my training, as those are always uplifting.
I’m particularly looking forward to this one, as we’ll be learning SE Touch, which is very, very interesting. Once I’m certified, I plan to do a whole ‘nother year-long training in SE Touch Skills. Very exciting.
SE is gentle, and it works. Many challenges evaporate in one session. Some take longer. Life is complex. But SE helps. Its helped me, and folks I know who’ve done it. A lot.
Oriental dance, especially in the Sufi-based system from which I teach, incorporates a lot of trauma resolution principles. And SE turbocharges that process.
As we become more skilled at resetting the nervous system, we become calmer and more resilient in general.
So I have been pleased to incorporate SE into my dance coaching. It’s been very effective for dancers, around confidence, fears, procrastination, improvisation, and so forth.
I’m also pleased to be offering coaching at a special rate.
But what is coaching, exactly?
Coaching is largely about process. Unlike, critique, which is an assessment of strengths and weaknesses, coaching helps us uncover our roadblocks–in life as well as dance–and resolve them.
Is video scary? Trouble making practice a habit? Consumed by self-doubt or judgement? Stuck on a creative project? Stuck in general? Just feeling blah and uninspired? Coaching helps resolve all these issues and more besides.
I’m offering both individual and small group coaching this fall.
Small group coaching comes in the Artists’ Creative Expressions (ACE) Mastermind. In these Zoom.us group video sessions, participants identify their goals and we create processes to meet them, with group support and accountability. You will find more information on the ACE page.
Individual coaching offers an intensive focus on your personal process. This includes SE sessions. We start with a free video call to meet and discuss your wishes, then decide a time for our session. Sessions are conducted via Zoom video meetings. More information is here.
I hope that one of these offerings resonates for you. If you’d like to chat about what might be right for you, email me and we will make a time to talk.
I look forward to our conversation!
With all my love,