Can we calm the world by calming ourselves?

Stress is a public health crisis. Our bodies are designed to handle stress in small doses. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic and protests against racial injustice entered the equation, Americans were dealing with chronic stress related to pressures of family, work, finances, environment, climate, digital media, and more.  When stress becomes long-term or chronic, it can have serious effects on our bodies. 
As a Clinical Somatic Educator I see more and more new clients presenting with higher levels of pain, exhaustion, anxiety, inability to focus and an overall low sense of personal agency.
Somatic Education helps people better understand how their brains, nervous systems and bodies react to stress. All humans and animals have a fight/flight/fawn/or freeze response to fearful events with full-body muscle contractions called reflexes. Reflexes keep you safe, like when you reflexively pull your hand away from a hot burner or, eons ago, ran from a sabertooth tiger. Once safe, your nervous s…

Gut and Brain Health

There is a lot of great research about how what we eat keeps our bodies and brains healthy. Particularly fermented foods that provide probiotic bacteria to improve gut flora. This article from John Hopkins explains the gut brain connection.

I usually have a batch of homemade kombucha and sauerkraut going at all times. Both are super easy-peasy to make. There is little hands-on time required. Just patience to let your concoctions do their thing, i.e. ferment.

Here's my basic recipe for sauerkraut.

Ingredients1 head of cabbage 1.5 tablespoons of pickling salt
Yep, that's it. Salt and cabbage.
There are discussions galore about which salts to use. Don't use salt with iodine in it. Beyond that, you can experiment and decide which you prefer--sea salt, kosher, etc. 
I always use green cabbage for my kraut. I'll explain more in a bit. Let's get back to how to make the kraut.
Tools A large bowl (Wooden, ceramic, glass, stainless steel. No plastic.)Two hands OR you can use a kraut…

Pandiculate for Peace

Peace is an Inside Job.  Greetings from Portland OR. Just to let you know, we aren't in the midst of a riot-infested wasteland. Things are tense, and I worry about what will unfold next. But I want you to know that some media outlets are lying to you about what's really happening here. If you want some facts here you go and more here.

 I constantly look at the state of the world, especially right now, through a somatic lens.

See, in the Somatics world we never fight tension with more tension. That just creates--you guessed it--more tension!

The world is in a huge contraction and tensions are high. And things just seem to be escalating.

That's not to say that anger and pushing back are bad.

They just don't do us any good if that's all we know how to do. Like the saying goes, "If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." This goes for both sides of any oppositional issue.

Again, in the Somatics realm we never push, fight against tension, or inflict…

"Breaking the Rules" with Somatics

When you first start doing Somatics, or maybe after months, or even years, of practicing, you might still be approaching your Somatics practice with thoughts like, "This is how I was told to do arch and flatten." so I must do it like I was told. 
We live in a culture that has many rules to keep order in society and organizations. Some of them are more cultural norms than true rules or laws. Think of the many authority figures that tell us how to use our bodies. Doctors, yoga teachers, social media, family, religious leaders, etc.  I think this is why when people come to Somatics they are looking for specific directions and exact rules to follow.
But Somatics is not about hard set rules, per se. Somatics is not about doing what someone tells us to do. Somatics is about being. Somatics is about sensing. It's about you being your own guide and teacher.
To make Somatics a true, self-taught learning experience, here are some questions to ponder. First, check out 20 Reasons Why Yo…

Change is Coming, are you Somatically ready?

Last week I mentioned I wondered who'd care about Somatics classes as the world is breaking up. 
I mean, I strongly believe a personal Somatics practice can powerfully impact our collective consciousness and wellness. I'm just not always sure how what I say lands with others.
Then I got a powerful reply from a new online student. He graciously told me I could share his experience with you too. I stumbled across clinical somatics work, and your classes, a few months ago, and I quickly could feel the powerful effect somatics has on my emotional life and myability to free myself from old patterns of thinking and acting. Somatics has really supercharged my inner work, and because of those two things combined, I have beenable to move through a lot of the anxiety and guilt (as a white male) that kept me from being able to pay attention to protests in the past. I can finally start learning fromour fellow citizens who have been treated so poorly, instead of hiding from the issues, and t…

Make Masks for Those In Need

I recently listened to a story on OPB, my local public radio station, about how farm workers in the Yakima Valley, WA, want to --need to-- work, but working conditions are unsafe during the pandemic. Workers are close together, hand washing is limited, masks that employers do provide are too few and too flimsy, etc.

Meanwhile cases of COVID-19 in Yakima are rising too.

I thought, well I could sew some masks! 
I reached the reporter of that story, and he put me in touch with Christina Ortega with Latino Community Fund. She said workers would love to receive masks!
So who's with me?! Would you help make masks for farm workers in Yakima?

The more of us who can help, the better. Here's how you can help.
1. MAKE MASKS There are tons of mask tutorials online. Maybe you already have a design you like.

Here's a simple face mask tutorial I like, though I don't put in a nose wire.

This video shows a way to avoid fogging up your glasses, and it's an alternative to a nose wire…

Connecting movement of life to the whole body

Let's talk about rotation of the body.

Envision a sprinter running.

She runs with her whole body, not just her legs and arms doing the action.

Her torso has a lovely contralateral, rotational pattern to it, that makes her running quick and easy.

As one leg and hip swings forward so does the opposite shoulder girdle and arm. The opposite diagonal swings backward.

But most of us don't move that freely from our centers, i.e. our torsos.

You could even try this little exploration we often do in classes. 

stand upput your left finger tips on the front of your left shoulderright fingers on the front of your right hip bonenow take a walk around your room and notice if there is any movement in the shoulder and/or hip areadon't try to "make it happen" just notice what happens as you walkthen switch to the other diagonal--left shoulder to right hipwalk with that diagonal as your focusyou may find there is no movement, or one region moves less or more than the other, or maybe…