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“The horizon leans forward, offering you space to place new steps of change.”

Maya Angelou

This week has brought a plethora of wonderful blessings and magical gifts my way!  Let me list the three prominent highlights:

  1. New Partnership with Lisa Kelly & THE RED TENT : A Healing Arts Center for Women in Delray Beach, Florida.
  2. PASSED my Yoga Teacher Training Final Exam last night–85% thank you very much.  And I thought NYU Graduate School was hard.
  3. Article on “COMPLEMENTARY THERAPIES FOR TRAUMA” was posted at Michele’s HEAL MY PTSD “Professional Perspectives” section of her website today.

Every time I wonder how I am going to take the next step forward into the wild blue yonder of my life and then something beautiful and wonderful happens.  I would say, without hesitation, this was the case in meeting with Lisa Kelly, owner of The Red Tent, trained Doula, massage therapist, and passionate advocate of the ability to heal oneself by accessing the body to get to the emotional content inside.  In our discussion of our mutual passions for healing and wellness and vision for a community of holistic healthcare I realized I had stumbled upon–in one short email, a Facebook connection, and 48 hours–one of those kindred spirits that I thought were so rare.  What I have realized is that the more you shout into the abyss your passion, the more kindred souls you find echoing back.

I have begun the embryonic phases of a partnership with Lisa and her wonderful center THE RED TENT whose name is meant to symbolize (as the book by the same name does) a community of women joining together for healing.  I will begin practicing at her oasis of a location (complete with outdoor foot bath/ jacuzzi!) providing services such as: individual, couples & mother/baby therapy, individual, couples & group yoga for mental health/wellness, and a mosaic of creative workshops.  My practice in this soothing environment will be given the freedom to apply the tools I find so healing including: breathing exercises, guided visualization, yoga techniques, mind/body and somatic attunement, creative arts, and imagination.  I believe this new venture is going to be the beginning of a wonderful journey towards cultivating a healing community and bringing the intention of “embodying mental health” to life in full 3 dimensional form.

I titled this post “New Horizons: Watching Life Unfold From the Driver’s Seat” because that is how it feels as I begin this process of rebirth, as it were.  The horizon shifts and the sun peaks out from the landscape without any help from us, we only direct the path of where we drive, towards it, away from it, or meandering slowly in it’s direction.  There are times in my life were I definitely went in the opposite direction of light and other times where I took the winding hard way to get to the sun on the horizon.  But today, in this moment, in this breath, it feels like I am full of intention and on a steady path towards the sun rising ahead.

The sun rises and sets in our life and we either go with it or steer away–I am ready to gaze into the sun and drive right into the warmth and brightness of its glow.

One exhausting and wonderful adventure, yoga school, is coming to a close.  And so it seems an apt time for the newly donned subtitle of the “MY EMBODIMENT” blog: “…exploring mind, body, and spirit wellness.” That is where I think I am headed, on an exploration and continued journey into self, wellness, and continued healing paths of myself and others.  I am leaving yoga school having learned much and knowing that I have much to learn–the best educational experiences provide more questions than answers, more quests into the unknown and momentum forward.  I have stretched in every meaning of the word: mind, body, and spirit.  I have met wonderful people and found some kindred spirits along the way.  And I am grateful for every moment spent struggling towards balance and head stands along the way!  I am proud to say I can finally balance on my head, even if momentarily, and I think this progress is literal and metaphoric as my life propels forward into the upside downs and unknowns.

Whatever tomorrow brings I want to stare into the sun and drive straight towards the horizon of my life!  Sometimes life reminds you that you are on the right path.  I imagine a road sign on my metaphoric highway towards the sun with a sign reading “Next Destination Just Ahead: Beware of Speed Bumps”.  Reminding me that I have the potential to enact all the things I want to, I just need to make sure I keep myself in check in the process.  In yoga and in life, our human flaws and egos are the enemy of all good works.  I want to be on the side of Karmic Service & try to leave as much of my human flaws at the last rest stop before I reach my next destination.  I hope yoga gave me some of those tools.  I hope my passion for this work has given me the energy and stamina for the trek.  And I hope my car’s tires have warranties–because there are always bumps along the way.

**ALSO my “Yoga for Trauma Survivors” at Yoga & Inner Peace in Lake Worth, FL continues tomorrow 1:00-2:30pm: visit http://www.yogapeace.com for more information!**

CHECK OUT…

The Red Tent: A Healing Arts Center for Women at www.redtentwellness.com

Heal My PTSD: Conquer the Past. Create the Future at www.healmyptsd.com

The old glass half empty versus glass half full is an overused phrase but most overused phrases become so because they are both succinct and apt–as is this particular tome of truth.  So often we look at life, emotional distress, and healing from a glass half empty vantage point and in doing so we short change ourselves and our own capacity to find healing and wellness in our minds, hearts, and spirits.

I spoke in my 10 Words of Inspiration for 2010 post about the word “neuroplasticity” which is defined as the brain’s ability to CHANGE.  What a fascinating and optimistic truism of neurobiology that we, as humans, have been privileged to discover.  And what wonderful hope this truth can bring in life and healing if we choose to see it.

I was made privy on Sunday, via a facebook link, about a post from May 2009 by Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s “Paging Dr. Gupta” blog, medical correspondent for CNN.  He was asked whether there is healing from PTSD and his opinion, I believe more personal than medical, dictated that there was no full healing from PTSD and that it was a constant, lifelong struggle just to manage.  I felt provoked, by the certitude of his assertion to leave the following comment on this post  that I think describes in full my vantage point on the matter (as old as the post was it was just too in my core to say something):

Hello,

It is always a difficult thing as a survivor of trauma and sufferer from PTSD to tell your story. Thank you Dr. Gupta for doing that–it takes much bravery and internal strength. I think, also, that it is hard when you are in the immediate throes of traumatic experience and the aftermath of PTSD to see outside of it–very understandably so. I remember sitting on the side of traumatic experience where I thought there could be no relief or release and unable to find anyone that would insinuate otherwise. It is, again, so understandable to be so deep inside the pain of trauma and not yet in on a path of reprieve and healing that it is hard to imagine real healing or reprieve is possible.

I am a trauma therapist who has worked extensively with combat veterans, survivors of sexual trauma, sufferers of domestic violence, war torture and a variety of other traumatic issues to include chronic illness, eating disorders, and addictions. I have also integrated an extensive amount of mindfulness practices, mind/body techniques, yoga methods, animal-bond therapies and creative arts to facilitate healing in my own recovery as a trauma survivor over the years and in present-day in the lives of my clients. I have found that a multitude of approaches can facilitate a great amount of healing even to the point of being curative in most respects.

Can things be triggering to a person with traumatic history? Yes. But that does not PTSD make. PTSD is misunderstood so often and in that there are a lot of professionals and survivors alike giving themselves or their clients these, as I call them, “terminal PTSD diagnosis”. Telling people with PTSD that they have it forever, there is no way out, is beyond demoralizing it is minimizing a human’s ability to heal or (as we have learned from the study of neuroplasticity in the brain) the brain’s capacity, neurologically, to CHANGE ITSELF.

We learn survival response in overload during traumatic experience and when it gets “stuck” PTSD ensues. PTSD is a cluster of sever symptoms that equal up to a disorder by definition. We are all effected by the things that happen in our lives and painful experience leaves a mark. We cannot erase the existence of traumatic experience from our memories but there is possibility to heal the traumatic response and that stuckness of the survival mechanism so that one is not diagnostically, by definition, a sufferer of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.

Are there moments we are reminded of painful experience? Yes. Are there moments that might trigger that memory? Yes. But we also have a way to pull ourselves out–body, mind, and spirit–of the PTSD of trauma and live a healthful life. I have done this and I work to help others do the same daily as a trauma therapist. I believe in neuroplasticity, the brain’s capacity to change and essentially heal itself back to repair. I believe in all of our abilities to find our own resilience and wellness. These things are not easy and there is a process but I will not tell my clients that their PTSD is terminal–this was not true for me and I don’t believe it has to be true for others.

All my best wishes, prayers, and hopes for healing to all those suffering from PTSD and to yourself Dr. Gupta–I believe in your potential to heal and find wellness!

Teresa Bennett Pasquale, LCSW
http://www.embodymentalhealth.com

I figured that my comment would go into the blogosphere oblivion and then today I received the following email from Emily Van Horn, a somatic and energy bodywork professional from Santa Monica, California:

SUBJECT: thank you!

FROM: Emily Van Horn

Hello Teresa,
I just wanted to say thank you so much for your comment to Dr. Gupta.  As a trauma healing practitioner myself, I was appalled when reading that post that someone in such a position of “authority” would promote the mis conception that people can only manage their symptoms but can’t ever heal from PTSD.  I see the opposite of that on a daily basis in my own healing practice.

I wrote a comment that was never posted so it’s a relief to see that your was.  Again, thank you for taking the time to share your truth and help dispel the misinformation that is being promoted about the human capacity to heal from traumatic experiences.

many blessings,
Emily

I had been discussing earlier that day with my friend and co-professional Michele Rosenthal over at Heal My PTSD.com the impact a survivor and trauma professional’s voice can have when leant to the prospects and hopes for a healing journey.  That is why I started all the work I have, am trying (slowly) to write the memoir of my trauma experience and healing journey and created my website to expand people’s vantage points of potential angles and paths to healing.  Then there are the days I wonder if I am shouting into an abyss with only my own echo.  I know we all have those days.  Yesterday, on all fronts was not one of those days.  From the wonderful comments I got from people on my Karma-Infuse Your Life post to the wonderful surprise of an email from Emily  (LOOK FOR UPCOMING INTERVIEW WITH EMILY) I really felt as though my dreams, hopes, and personal journey of healing had some purpose and place as I shout into the void with my voice and my story.

My hope for everyone is HOPE.  A hope for healing.  A hope for peace.  A hope for a CHANGE OF MIND–as neuroplasticity tells us is possible for all of us with the right amount of effort.  See what we can do when we just try.  I tell my clients that all the time and they surprise themselves with proving that truism for themselves.  I hope for the hope of healing for Dr. Sanjay Gupta and all of the readers of his writing about trauma and all those who have not found the own healing properties and resources in their own minds, hearts, and spirits.  IT is there.  I believe in that.

Ive got a brand new pair of roller skates by Indy Charlie on flickr

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all. Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature. 
 

Helen Keller

 

 

Having just returned from my viewing of “Whip It” with the amazingly endearing and engrossing Ellen Page as well as “riot grrl” inspiring portrayals of chicks that rock by powerhouse women in Hollywood like Drew Barrymore, Juliette Lewis, Eve and Kristin Wiig  I am feeling appropriately riotous.  I left wanting to do something bold and don some skates.  While the latter is unwise given bad ankles, bad balance, and all around equalibrium issues with as of yet undetermined origin the former feels like a healthy ambition.

 

I think we all should be inspired, on occassion, to do something bold, to be someone bold, and really shout to the world some truth of ourselves.  “Whip It” was an elbows out, skates on, face-your-fears-till-you’re-fearless depiction of someone forging their own path, finding their own truth, and doing it all to a rockin’ soundtrack.  How often I have thought how much easier it would be to be bold or empowered with a really amazing soundtrack blaring in the background.

 

It was the greatest infusion of filmic empowerment I had felt in a while.  I love that feeling of leaving a theatre feeling imbued with a sense of something palpable and translatable from the screen into my rapidly thumping heart and contemplating mind.  Perhaps it was a tinge of nostalgia for my alterna-punkish youth but I think it was also a sprinkling of something much more present tense.  The film was an all out, bruising to the bone reminder that you can be pushed down, punched out, and dropped on our face by life but our strengths are in bouncing back up, maybe throwing in an elbow of our own, and pushing forward to be the best of ourselves–courage despite fear.   And there is nothing like watching a woman literally throwing an elbow on screen, at least for me, to pump up the empowerment adrenaline. 

 

I was not quite sure what to do with this visceral motivation–somewhat torn between wanting to become a roller derby maven and create my own nonprofit I think I will settle somewhere in the middle for the moment, transcribing my internal invigoration via post as my own personal translation of empowerment.  As my method of “throwing elbows” (given aforementioned issues of balance and lack of phsyical skill) has always been literary in nature. 

 

And since I missed out on my Weekly List due to some technical difficulties by way of a busted computer adapter I think I will list about it with a bit of “Whip It” enthusiasm and some of my viewpoints on empowerment:

 

1) Be Bold.  Be Honest.  Be You.  These may seem like simple premises but I think, day-to-day, they can be the hardest to follow through on.  Being true to ourselves and honest about who we are both externally and internally is a life long journey but in that journey we should be able to find ways to be bold about who we are in any given moment.  Whether it be seeing “Whip It” by yourself on a Sunday just because you want to, writing into cyber oblivion because it feels necessary, or just saying how we really feel when our urge is to keep silent.  Being you in any given moment can be the boldest and most courageous thing anyone can do.

 

2)  Face Your Fears.  Whatever gives you chills or makes your stomach drop– stare it down.  Don’t let what frightens you rule you.  Now while I have not managed to do that in the arena of, say, cocroaches (yet) I actively try to push the limits of what I feel comfortable with and stretch for what might be possible right beyond my reach.  Stretch your reach.  Stop stagnation by grasping at something a little further than you think you can achieve–you might be surprised at just how far you are capable of going.  I have been, maybe more recently than ever before.  I hope I don’t stop living on the edge of the next seemingly unattainable dream–grasping at the air just a little bit further than I can see.

 

3)  Pull Yourself Up When You Fall.  So much of life is dealing with the unexpected and often unexpected blows.  Like Hellen Keller said above “Security is superstition.”  We can count on change and low points and failures but those things can be the foundation for something unexpectedly good.  The falls may change who we are and where we are headed but to be able to find the good, get back up, and throw elbows to make something out of what we have been given is real courage.  Being able to not just survive life but thrive and create something new and good. 

 

4)  (Once You’ve done #4) Help Someone Else Pull Themselves Up.  A crutial part of healing from our falls, recovering our souls and healing our aches from pain and trauma in our lives, is being able to hand some of that courage, skill, and the honesty of our own powerful story, to someone else who is struggling in their own ache.  I was discussing this very thing with the lovely and passionate Michele Rosenthal over at “Heal My PTSD” this weekend when (after finding out we live in close proximity to one another) we were able to meet up at a local Domestic Violence event.  Being able to give somebody hope and strength to pull themselves back up is just as important as being able to attain it for yourself–in my opinion–not just for the other person but for yourself. 

 

5)  Speak Out.  Speak Loud.  Be The Voice For SomeOne Who Can’t Speak For Themselves.  In an expanded follow through of #4 I think this step can be powerful for each of us and be a metamorphasis of all the prior steps into a holistic conclusion.  To be able not just to be our own journey to our own end, but to be able to move beyond ourselves to work for a greater good and a larger whole is something that is both personally fullfilling and an important contribution.  Not everyone can be their own voice, they may just not have the strength.  This could be advocating for a cause or population that brings passion to your heart or speaking against injustices in your midst or taking your own painful traumatic experiences and giving it up as representation for others that even pain can have a voice and falling is not the end of the story–teaching people that they can stand again, by example. 

 

 

In this last step I am only, thus far, a partial representative.  I am a huge advocate for PTSD treatment and am constantly trying to be a voice for those who are struggling in their own pain, but I have never yet used my story as the tool.

 

I believe in the importance (another issue I was discussing with Michele this weekend) of those who have survived and thrived in pain and trauma to come forth and stand strong for those who cannot yet do so, but at the same time I have never publically shared my story. 

 

Perhaps this is the next step of my journey and maybe in some strange confluence of events my wonderful discussion with a fellow survivor followed by a raucious “riot grrl” type movie helped to remind me that while the trauma therapist professional in me has important things to say about healing–the trauma survivor in me also has a voice that must be heard.

 

Female Boxing Champion 1926 on flickr

I do not believe in using women in combat, because females are too fierce.


Margaret Mead (a famous anthropologists and one of my first heroines as a child)

January 2020
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