I’d like to share a story with you about an adolescent and a horse. It was about seven years ago at my sons doctor appointment.
“Do you work with the horses too?” the doctor asked.
“I had my own horse once, when I was 10. I got up early to go out and ride him all by myself. I was so excited! But when I got to the pasture, he was down, and didn’t move. He was already gone. Lucky wasn’t very lucky.” Rylan solemnly replied.
“That must have been very hard for you,” His doctor responded with care, “did you ever ride again?”
“Oh yeah, I rode Saphira, but it wasn’t the same.”
Hearing their conversation I felt stunned in the moment, and a tingling buzzed momentarily in my head. That was the first time I had heard of my son’s experience with his horse. He had never told me that he’d gone out earlier than I had, that fall...
As I pause and reflect upon the fruit I see growing in my own work, and in the world around me, I feel such profound gratitude for the clarity Marshall Rosenberg had when he gifted so many with the process of Nonviolent Communication.
17 years ago my life felt like it was turned upside down and inside out. I blamed myself for my son’s difficulties; I did not have tools developed to maneuver new territory that was totally unpredictable and unstable; and my window of tolerance was raw and quite narrow. I perceived no choice but to reduce my private practice in order to sort out how to move forward and even function. With a heavy sense of desperation, I began to search for information and processes that would help me to parent and nurture my then 5-year old son so he could regain developmental territory and begin to thrive in his environment, not just survive.
A friend mentioned Marshall Rosenberg’s book, A Language of Life,...
I invite you to hear or read this word, "math." If you are willing, pause and observe what is happening in your body. Is there a sensation of opening and softening? Are you acknowledging how fun and easy it is to focus on math? Or does your body contract and withdraw? Does a frown of concern or worry move across your face? Do you need a little understanding about how little you want to interact with any math concepts? Would you rather anything else? Do you love choice, and freedom, and autonomy?
As I say this, I noticed my own body (which had contracted and withdrawn into avoidance) loosened and relaxed as I named the sensations of my own inner experience. This observational practice, when mindfully experienced repeatedly, can take just a matter of moments.
I remember when I attempted to help my son with his math, I automatically moved into the strategies I was taught as a youth. "I'll be right back!" I told him as I raced down the stairs to...
I worked with a young man one time, and it was tough. I remember hearing him cry out in despair, "I just want to kill myself!"
When you hear those words, spoken in pain by someone you care for, how do you feel inside? Does your stomach clench and spasm? Or does a semi-paralysis claim your whole body and your breathing nearly stop? How do you hold space with love and support for someone when they are experiencing a primal response from the ever-present-past of trauma?
We may not be aware of a past trauma holding us back in the moment when we are triggered, yet in attempting to protect us, our hypothalamus and triple warmer can lock us into outdated defensive strategies that rigidify our habit field.
It is not possible for a person to think clearly when the blood has left the forebrain and moved into the limbs for fight or flight. Even though many people know the kinds of changes they want to make, they find themselves unable to make...
How do you stay present in the face of perceiving an unexpected attack? What happens in your body as you take in the heightened expression of your child or loved one? As children move through adolescence, it can feel emotionally rocky, not only for the child, it can feel rocky for the parents. We can find ourselves reacting when we’ve promised ourselves we will stay present. Today let me share an experience I had with my youngest son, Rylan.
I remember feeling momentarily stunned as I heard him cry out, “You’re not my mom, you’re a hologram!” His eyes were wide, and the corners of his lips were turned downward.
I automatically slowed down my inner experience and took a deep breath in through my nostrils. I noticed my stomach was tight and my breathing was shallow. As I monitored my inner world, I further noticed my back was rigid, and the whole of my experience felt surreal, as if I was looking out of my eyes from a great distance.
There have been times in my life when life seemed to have a particular pattern, that I’d forget it’s possible for something different to occur. Let me share an example.
I remember one morning several years ago I heard the movement of our son coming from the other room, at the time, I felt it was incredulous when I turned and saw him. There he stood; with a slight grin on his face, holding his dog in his arms, and... his sound therapy headset on his head!
Throughout the day he was energetic; he literally bounced around the house, sang to himself as he cleaned and organized his room, smiled often, attended to his chores, and engaged in conversations which quickly changed from topic to topic. (Identifying my child’s natural movement and tendencies is an important step in understanding and honoring his true nature.)
“Wow! Look at you this morning!” I exclaimed, with surprise and delight registering in my tone of voice and...
Have you taken in a blue sky with puffy white clouds on a warm summer’s day lately - or in the past? Can you bring to your mind and body what that felt like to experience? As you remember can you slow down your inner experience to notice any sensations in your heart space, your face, your belly, or any images in your mind’s eye? I, personally, have found this can seem very stretching to pull off, especially in the face of stress or anxiety when I had been anticipating pleasure instead.
Several years ago after spending the morning connecting and working with my horses, I was looking forward to going with my son to visit one of the local Horse Rescue centers together. As I went into the house, I heard my son express with intensity, “It hurts! It hurts! Get off of me!”
I felt my belly clench and face tighten, as I quickly moved to his side to offer my support only to be met with, “Don’t touch me!” as he began...
Have you ever noticed how awful it feels inside when you experience disappointment? Maybe your stomach clenches tight or it could even feel like you just took a punch in the gut. It’s just not fun. But what about when you receive a delightful surprise, now that can get the joy juice going. Maybe you feel lighter and brighter inside or perhaps you experience a thrill like a tickle in your tummy.
I had the opportunity to play with noticing how different emotions feel in my body in a very focused and new way one weekend, with my grandchildren when they were little.
I remember that morning after breakfast I heard them all cry in unison, “Aw – we wanted to play outside today!”
I glanced out the window and saw dark clouds and a high wind blowing. As I took in their mournful faces, I empathized. “Do you guys really like it when you get to play in the playhouse, ride the horse, and dig dirt with your shovels, and you especially like to do all those...
I remember when I saw my 14 year-old son, curled up on his bed, holding his head and crying.
“Just because I’m older and bigger doesn’t mean I can calm myself! Everyone expects too much from me! I can’t take the pressure – I need to you to be like you used to be!”
I felt complete bewilderment as my heart broke open anew. As I reached out and held him in my arms, I rocked him gently to sooth and comfort him, I mentally scanned over the previous several weeks and attempted to pin-point when the fear reaction had begun to re-surface. He had been doing so well! He showed up with confidence at appointments, engaged in conversations, and had fun with learning – what could be driving this fear? Then I remembered his initial reaction upon being scheduled for the year-end testing had been one of startle and intense fear.
“You are reading so fast I can’t keep up with you to mark your score!” the educational...
After walking up the stairs early one morning, I heard my lungs begin to wheeze, and as a rattling stirred deep in my chest, my mind screamed, "I'm not getting enough air - I can't breathe!" instantaneously my whole body tightened into resistance with such an intensity that blind panic coursed through me.
My eyes desperately scanned my outer environment for some means of help, and in that moment, I recognized this inner-state of being on a cellular level; learned helplessness. As I stopped, frozen in the ever-present-past, another layer of implicit belief emerged; “even if there was someone there - they couldn't help me - it'd make it worse.”
When that was not instantly made wrong by my inner critic, I felt a slight inner-shift as a tender aspect of my inner self emerged, which seemed very vulnerable and all alone. So completely and utterly alone there was no one else to reach out to, no one to see me, to hear me, or to help me.
I resisted the inner...