Tag Archives: body mindfulness

Yes: Hello, light!

Graffiti on long wall, of big round yellow sun, a white bird with wings spread wide, and the word 'peace'Good morning! Some places, today, it’s Xmas eve. Other places, for other people, it isn’t. However you are with whatever day it is, I hope you’re being easy with yourself this morning.

For me, for the people I come from, it’s Xmas Eve today. I’m not with them, but I’m remembering. I’m remembering how excited I used to get about what presents I’d be receiving the next morning (after having gone through the huge Sears catalog and cut out the pictures of the toys I wanted; my sister and I would create enormous lists for Santa on pages and pages of printer paper that my dad brought home from work (remember when the paper was all connected in perforated section? Yeah, that paper.), about preparing the plate for Santa (with carrots for the reindeer and cutout sugar cookies that we’d frosted and decorated for Santa himself — Santa always left us a note thanking us for our generosity, telling us how tasty the cookies were and how much the reindeer appreciated the treat; I learned the truth, I think, when I began to recognize my dad’s handwriting), about getting to go see whichever cousins we’d see that year, on my mom’s side or my dad’s side. There was something in this time of year (for awhile, at least) that made room for being excited about being excited, getting to live in anticipation (however painful!). I miss that big anticipation sometimes.

Now, though, I get excited about being in my home, about baking for others, about getting to share something new with someone who will appreciate it, about getting to reflect on the accomplishments and struggles of the last year, about connecting with cousins again (even just through xmas cards, it’s still a big deal).

Much doesn’t change at this time of year the way that I thought it did when I was very small: everyone doesn’t start loving each other. Wars are still waging. People are still killing one another. Many families, many many kids, will not be safe tonight, or tomorrow, on the big holy day, even in the supposed holy places (and I mean in the world, and on their bodies). Unbridled consumption isn’t saving our country or our communities.

Bring it to the page, if you can: all that loss and celebration, all of our complexity, our beauty and our horror, your feelings about it all.

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As a part of this project I’ve taken on, to be more fully in my body, I went yesterday for a first appointment with a somatic therapist (let’s call it a project and not just self care — these are the ways that I trick myself into being kind to myself). All I know about somatic therapy I learned from Staci Hanes’ Healing Sex, so I was kind of surprised not to find a table in the room, where I would lay myself during the session, so that the therapist could put her hands on me while I spoke to bring awareness to places in my body where I was holding emotion. No, it was a regular therapy room: peaceful, calming, muted colors.

The difference, though, was that as I shared my story, the bits that can be shared during a first meeting, she asked me to be aware of my body — what’s happening in my body, how am I holding my body, where is there energy? It was a powerful shift. When she asked about my nervous system, whether it knew that I/we’re safe now, I turned some attention to that rage of energy running (through) me, and I burst almost instantly into tears: no build up, very much like I think/remember a kid would. Scared kinds of tears, electric. Wow — I guess it had something to tell me. Maybe we don’t know that, here all these years and all this work later.

Somatic work feels important now, powerful and terrifying, too, because it’s unconscious, the body, or sort of of a different conscious than the verbal-linguistic one I’m so comfortable with. I talk about it here not out of a place of exhibitionism but because I know I’m not the only one who feels outside of her skin and yet, too, like she didn’t dissociate, didn’t leave her body, because she never had the experience of being up in a corner of the room, watching myself act (or be acted upon) from far away — because I never lost time (except in alcoholic blackouts). But there are so many ways to leave the body, aren’t there? And there are many ways to come back. One of the ways I come back, invite myself back, is through writing — and now, maybe, through mindfulness, paying attention to how this body is feeling and then taking action (responding) based on that attention, based on the information my body holds and shares.  Just imagine.

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Be easy with you, as best you can, over these days of this holidaytime, this holiday that has its roots in an ancient tradition of welcoming not the Son but the Sun: yes, hello, light. Welcome back. Thank you.

Coming up! Body Empathy on Sat, November 13

(Please help us pass the word!)

First Congregational Church of Oakland

2501 Harrison St.

Oakland, CA

No previous experience necessary! Pre-registration required. Fee: $50-100, sliding scale (Please check in with us if funds are an issue—payment plans are always possible, and we may be able to work out trades or other arrangements as well!) Register here — or write to jennifer@writingourselveswhole.org with any questions!

What if we could truly experience empathy for our bodies as they are – and then, by extension, for ourselves, as we are?

As queer, genderqueer & trans survivors with a wide array of backgrounds and identities in a sexuality-/gender-restrictive culture, our self-protective tendency can be to “check out” by detaching mind from body to such great degrees that it can be dangerous. Physical activity and writing are two ways to check back in with your embodied self.

With deep respect for the privacy and variety in our personal experience of gender expression and our individual histories, this workshop will create safe space for participants to embrace our bodies as they are, and to write the stories our bodies have been wishing to speak, while allowing possibility for the integration of identity and physical presence. Using brief writing exercises and low impact body mindfulness exercises derived from improvisational theater, Zen meditation practice, and the internal Chinese martial arts, participants will have the opportunity to fully embody our gender complexity in a healing and playful environment.

The exercises we practice can be easily incorporated into our daily lives and can enhance our ability to reflect mindfully on our experiences, while interacting with others from a place of self-acceptance, internal power, and confidence, as we move through the world as the fabulously feisty queer & gender warriors we are…
________________________________________

Your facilitators:

Alex Cafarelli is a Jewish genderqueer femme trauma survivor with a background of 17 years of martial arts training. Currently teaching body mindfulness classes in Oakland, Alex also works as a gardener specializing in drought-tolerant and edible landscapes, does Reiki/massage bodywork, and develops and leads element-based rituals to support women, queers, transfolk, and genderqueers in moving through transitions and healing from trauma. Contact Alex at petals_and_thorns@yahoo.com.

Jen Cross is a queer incest survivor and a widely-anthologized writer who has facilitated survivors and sexuality writing workshops since 2002. She offers two weekly AWA-method workshops (Write Whole: Survivors Write and Declaring Our Erotic) in San Francisco. Find out more about Jen at
writingourselveswhole.org or write her at jennifer@writingourselveswhole.org.

Saturday 11/21 — Body Empathy

Body Empathy:
A day of body mindfulness, gentle movement and writing for queer, genderqueer
and trans survivors of sexual trauma

Facilitated by Alex Cafarelli and Jen Cross
10am-4pm, Nov 21, 2009
At The Space, 4148 Mac Arthur Blvd., Oakland
(The Space is wheelchair accessible)

No previous experience necessary! Pre-registration required. Fee: $50-100,
sliding scale (Please check in with us if funds are an issue—payment plans are
always possible, and we may be able to work out trades or other arrangements
as well!) Please write to jennifer@writingourselveswhole.org to register.

What if we could truly experience empathy for our bodies as they are – and
then, by extension, for ourselves, as we are?

As queer, genderqueer & trans survivors with a wide array of backgrounds and
identities in a sexuality-/gender-restrictive culture, our self-protective
tendency can be to “check out” by detaching mind from body to such great
degrees that it can be dangerous. Physical activity and writing are two ways
to check back in with your embodied self.

With deep respect for the privacy and variety in our personal experience of
gender expression and our individual histories, this workshop will create safe
space for participants to embrace our bodies as they are, and to write the
stories our bodies have been wishing to speak, while allowing possibility for
the integration of identity and physical presence. Using brief writing
exercises and low impact body mindfulness exercises derived from
improvisational theater, Zen meditation practice, and the internal Chinese
martial arts, participants will have the opportunity to fully embody our
gender complexity in a healing and playful environment.

The exercises we practice can be easily incorporated into our daily lives and
can enhance our ability to reflect mindfully on our experiences, while
interacting with others from a place of self-acceptance, internal power, and
confidence, as we move through the world as the fabulously feisty queer &
gender warriors we are…
________________________________________

Your facilitators:

Alex Cafarelli is a Jewish genderqueer femme trauma survivor with a background
in 17 years of martial arts training. Currently teaching body mindfulness
classes in Oakland, Alex also works as a gardener specializing in
drought-tolerant and edible landscapes, does Reiki/massage bodywork, and
develops and leads element-based rituals to support women, queers, transfolk,
and genderqueers in moving through transitions and healing from trauma. Cntact
Alex at petals_and_thorns@yahoo.com.

Jen Cross is a queer incest survivor and a widely-anthologized writer who has
facilitated survivors and sexuality writing workshops since 2002. She offers
two weekly AWA-method workshops (Write Whole: Survivors Write and Declaring
Our Erotic) in San Francisco. Fnd out more about Jen at
writingourselveswhole.org or write her at jennifer@writingourselveswhole.org.