How to See, Hear & Hold Yourself through an Embodiment Practice (Part 2)

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While I meant to follow up with Part 2 weeks ago, the month of May (December’s ugly sister), held me hostage until all the school festivities settled. I could have pushed through in some way — stayed up too late, skipped a morning walk — but part of my own mothering myself is listening to my body for creativity cues. I’ve yet to embody Anne Lamott’s “butt in chair” advice if it’s past sundown or I’ve got the wiggles.

Like I mentioned in my last post, this embodiment work of seeing, hearing and holding yourself involves:
”somatic work as ‘womb-to-walking’ because it’s rich not only in physical developmental patterns but also our initial psychological development patterns. While the parent, therapist, bodyworker, teacher, or other loving/helping figure can offer a child the qualities of being seen, heard and held literally and figuratively, at some point, each of us — in one way or another — is bound to be challenged and even privileged to do this 'mothering' work for our own body and self." In a nutshell, we can be led, we can be guided and taught, the work can be modeled to us, but ultimately, it’s a process of attuning to oneself.

  1. It’s process- and reflective-based work. In other words, to see, hear and hold yourself like you needed to thrive as an infant, and like you still need today as an adult is daily work that takes time, compassion and curiosity. While you can read about it in a textbook, it’s feelings- and sensory-based work that cannot be intellectualized. Like a caregiver feeding a baby, one can watch the clock for a three-hour feeding schedule, but better yet, pay attention to the baby’s sound cues, twists toward the bottle or breast, or other hunger patterns (before baby gets too pissed and dysregulated!). You can have a cognitive awareness of a somatic response or urge, you can have a visualization of what you need or want — which are both worthy of helping to integrate the mind-body connection — but processing the experience from an internal, sensation-based awareness offers the foundation of turning inward to yourself from a deeper place of holding not only physically but also emotionally. This processing is a practice, one that requires compassion (a softening toward yourself) and deep curiosity (looking at all your parts — the good, bad and ugly — with wonder, not judgment).

  2. Start where you are. There are a million different places to start, so let’s start where you are, right now, in this moment. How’s your jaw? Is your tongue locked to the roof of your mouth? Are you clinching your belly? Where’s your breath going? Where are you holding? Where do you want to be open? What areas might be numb or checked out? How’s your pelvis doing? Is it tucked under? What about your shoulders? Could they use an exhale? Are you standing when you have an urge to sit? Are you sitting when you have an urge to flow like water? Is there some place that needs to adjust, just an inch to shift your view? Do you need to shake off something? If you could reach for something, what would you reach for? What if you allowed yourself to move how your body wants? If you can’t right now, can you be curious about why not and still be present with the urge or desire?

  3. Notice, notice, notice. Deep urges, lingering thoughts, big dreams, postural tendencies, numbness in the body, dissociative tendencies, areas of tension, flutters of wonder. Notice these things, and keep noticing. And when you forget to notice, or you override an urge, just notice. This noticing practice is like the internal mother who provides unconditional love. When the baby takes that step, hooray. When the baby falls, that’s okay, try again. When the baby sleeps for more than five hours, hooray. When the baby cries every two hours, we rock and feed, rock and feed. Underneath all the body awareness lies an ocean of richness about who we are, what we need, where we’ve been, where we’re going, and ultimately, an okayness of what is.

  4. When and if it feels safe enough: It’ll be nice to get out of the proverbial chair, take off your shoes and even get on the floor. In other words, when it feels safe enough to make a change, depending on what your body needs, when it feels safe enough to move beyond your pattern of conditioning or habitual patterns, it will be okay to take that step because you’ll have an internal capacity to see, hear and hold yourself. You’ll be able to stay in and see the process, to sense your body and hear your own presence, to notice how you need to be held along the journey. And, finally, having a sense of exploration and playfulness is not a bad thing either! :)

Want to practice this in person? Come to my June 1 workshop (one week away) in Decatur at the Decatur School of Ballet. Click here for more details.

#EATINGDISORDERS #YOGAFOREATINGDISORDERS #RECOVERY #ANOREXIA #BINGEEATING #BULIMIA #DISORDEREDEATING #EMOTIONALEATING #INTUITIVE EATING #BODYBASEDPSYCHOTHERAPY #DIETING #YOGAFORANXIETY #ATTACHMENTBASEDYOGA #YOGAFORRECOVERY #FOODADDICTION #OVEREXERCISE #EXERCISEBULIMIA #MINDFULMOVEMENT #YOGA #DEVELOPMENTALMOVEMENT #NATIONALEATINGDISORDERS #MATERNALMENTALHEALTH #ATTACHMENTBASEDYOGA #YOGAFORRECOVERY #FOODADDICTION #OVEREXERCISE #EXERCISEBULIMIA #MINDFULMOVEMENT #YOGA #DEVELOPMENTALMOVEMENT #NATIONALEATINGDISORDERS #MATERNALMENTALHEALTH

How to See, Hear & Hold Yourself through an Embodiment Practice (Part 1)

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When my children detest my assertiveness and push back (“Sorry, time to turn off the tv,” which results in tears or developmentally appropriate defiance and furrowed brows), I recognize my own frustration. Luckily, I have not raised them to be fearful of me, so they tend to push back with defiant words (“poopy face!” from a 4-yr-old, anyone?), clever negotiating or avoidant behavior, which I recognize as their need for connection and empathy, not my need for aggressiveness toward them. I usually even ask during a tantrum, “hey, do you need to be held?”, which always results in a tearful “yes.” A big pause and genuine co-regulating hug, and wa-lah, my work is done (for the moment)! It’s the Victor Frankl quote:

Between stimulus and response there is space.
In that space is our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

While I certainly do not believe everyone needs to become a parent to learn the greatest lessons of life (we all have unique opportunities and challenges to push us to grow, stretch and learn; doesn’t necessarily include parenting), my journey of mothering has and continues to teach me about the importance of a warm container, a safe place to anchor and be held. While good boundary setting is a necessary part of this container-relationship too, the main idea is the mother or primary caregiver’s being able to see, hear, and hold the WHOLE child — all the child’s behaviors and tendencies and energy as important parts of what make them whole, but they as parts do not define their essence.

As a psychotherapist who works from a body-based approach, I find the quality of the therapeutic relationship sets the stage for the client’s movement forward. Before my counseling work, as a movement teacher and personal trainer for eating disorders and addictions, I worked from noticing and building movement or breath patterns for people to increase their body awareness (this includes interoception and proprioception; in a nutshell, what we notice inside and outside of us, respectively).

When I entered the counseling world, I noticed these patterns usually on a more subtle, nonverbal, unconscious level. However, adding in the need for safety for a client to effectively participate in therapy, I found the value of inviting the body into the treatment environment: to slowly invite attention to a tone of voice, or a tilt of the head, or nervous tapping of feet underneath an otherwise steady demeanor.

Because I work a lot with folks who struggle with disordered eating as well as mothers whose own bodies are always in physical demand (many times to everyone else but themselves), I became really curious about the innate and universal gestures, movements and patterns that are all asking to be seen, heard and held. Therefore, why not return to our earliest place of being seen, heard and held from the most physical level, hence, my love for introducing developmental movement into the therapeutic work.

I like to describe this somatic work as “womb-to-walking” because it’s rich not only in physical developmental patterns but also our initial psychological development patterns. While the parent, therapist, bodyworker, teacher, or other loving/helping figure can offer a child the qualities of being seen, heard and held literally and figuratively, at some point, each of us — in one way or another — is bound to be challenged and even privileged to do this “mothering” work for our own body and self.

I consider this an opportunity for healthy embodiment, as we are often conditioned through complex or developmental trauma to split our psyche from our soma. We are taught to ignore our urges, sensations, “gut feelings.” We are taught to blaze ahead with a narrowly defined scope of intelligence and thinking, often cutting ourself off from the wisdom of the patterns and rhythms of our body. We are taught to “shake it off,” “you’re okay,” “chin up,” too often when even if it looks like the scraped knee isn’t bloody, that little person inside might just need two minutes of big holding for lots of other things she can’t quite articulate yet.

So — How do you mother yourself through mindful movement? How do you see, hear and hold yourself in an healthily embodied way? A few hints are:

  • It’s process- and reflective-based work (aka: it’s daily work that takes time, compassion, curiosity)

  • Start where you are (yes, how’s your jaw? is your tongue locked to the roof of your mouth? are you clinching your belly? where’s your breath going?)

  • Notice, notice, notice. Deep urges, lingering thoughts, big dreams, numbness in the body, dissociative tendencies, areas of tension, flutters of wonder.

  • When and if it feels safe enough: It’ll be nice to get out of the chair, take off your shoes and even get on the floor. (Having a sense of exploration and playfulness is not a bad thing either! :) )

***Part 2 continues in my next postClick here to check it out!

#EATINGDISORDERS #YOGAFOREATINGDISORDERS #RECOVERY #ANOREXIA #BINGEEATING #BULIMIA #DISORDEREDEATING #EMOTIONALEATING #INTUITIVE EATING #BODYBASEDPSYCHOTHERAPY #DIETING #YOGAFORANXIETY #ATTACHMENTBASEDYOGA #YOGAFORRECOVERY #FOODADDICTION #OVEREXERCISE #EXERCISEBULIMIA #MINDFULMOVEMENT #YOGA #DEVELOPMENTALMOVEMENT #NATIONALEATINGDISORDERS #MATERNALMENTALHEALTH #ATTACHMENTBASEDYOGA #YOGAFORRECOVERY #FOODADDICTION #OVEREXERCISE #EXERCISEBULIMIA #MINDFULMOVEMENT #YOGA #DEVELOPMENTALMOVEMENT #NATIONALEATINGDISORDERS #MATERNALMENTALHEALTH

JUNE 1, 2019 M-Bodied: Yoga & Therapy for Mothers

Welcoming mothers-to-be, new or seasoned mothers, and anyone who wants to nurture herself through mindful movement. This June 1, 2019 workshop invites you to attune to your body, its rhythms and deeper hungers.  We will practice all-levels yoga for all bodies through the lens of developmental movement, with a focus on finding nurturing shapes, postures and movement your body and heart crave for comfort, support and empowerment. This re-patterning of our own infant dances from womb-to-walking helps us to not only become more attuned to our own children's stages of growth but also our own process of practicing healthy embodiment within ourselves. We practice mothering ourselves through mindful movement.  Questions? Feel free to PM me.  FB event here:  https://www.facebook.com/events/442480966511516/   Caroline Gebhardt, APC, RYT is a mental health counselor and yoga teacher who helps women return home to the body and truest self through body-based psychotherapy and developmental movement. She is also a mother and is passionate about the rich, spiraling journeys encountered when birthing oneself as a mother.  Visit her at  www.bodybasedpsychotherapy.com   When: June 1, 2019 11am - 1pm  Where: Decatur School of Ballet, ***Church Street Studio  Register: 404-210-6752 ~ $45 by 5/29  "This is your body, your greatest gift, pregnant with wisdom you do not hear, grief you thought was forgotten, and joy you have never known." ~ Marion Woodman

Welcoming mothers-to-be, new or seasoned mothers, and anyone who wants to nurture herself through mindful movement. This June 1, 2019 workshop invites you to attune to your body, its rhythms and deeper hungers.

We will practice all-levels yoga for all bodies through the lens of developmental movement, with a focus on finding nurturing shapes, postures and movement your body and heart crave for comfort, support and empowerment. This re-patterning of our own infant dances from womb-to-walking helps us to not only become more attuned to our own children's stages of growth but also our own process of practicing healthy embodiment within ourselves. We practice mothering ourselves through mindful movement.

Questions? Feel free to PM me.

FB event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/442480966511516/

Caroline Gebhardt, APC, RYT is a mental health counselor and yoga teacher who helps women return home to the body and truest self through body-based psychotherapy and developmental movement. She is also a mother and is passionate about the rich, spiraling journeys encountered when birthing oneself as a mother.

Visit her at www.bodybasedpsychotherapy.com

When: June 1, 2019 11am - 1pm

Where: Decatur School of Ballet, ***Church Street Studio

Register: 404-210-6752 ~ $45 by 5/29

"This is your body, your greatest gift, pregnant with wisdom you do not hear, grief you thought was forgotten, and joy you have never known." ~ Marion Woodman

Yoga as Process and Presence, not Prescription: (and what i don't like about yoga 😉)

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FYI: Self disclosure time on what I don’t like about yoga. 😉

Since poet Mary Oliver’s passing in January, you might have noticed a surge of her poems showering social media. Her poetry has spoken to me for years because of her presence in life, in nature. She makes words out of her process of living, not of a “one day”, trite, dreamy, Pinterest-like magazine spread. She’s in it for noticing the sunshine and the unruly weeds.

Years ago when my older child was a baby, I began a nightly poetry practice where I gave myself 15 minutes to jot down specific sensory details of my day, and I allowed it to turn into a poem. I pushed away perfection by setting a timer. (Done is better than perfect - thanks, Mom). But the richness I enjoyed and what really steered the poem were the specific details of what I noticed:

  • swollen ankle where my boy accidentally rammed a monster truck into me

  • doctor handing my my warm and damp second born

  • my boy asking me “how do planets move?” while his feet wedge between my calves in bed

  • painful knees, bone-on-bone, leading me back to my slow center

Writing or journaling about my own unruly weeds, pains in my body or heart, has continuously opened a path of “okayness” and wisdom for me. It has led me to ask for support, to reach not only for support through my own therapy but also for what I want. Opening the lid on my own pot of dark has gently, gradually, led me to my truths revealing my deepest hungers. And they come to fruition organically, in due time, sometimes with bittersweet growth but always with deep satisfaction.

Now what is it that I don’t like about yoga? And how does it relate to a Mary Oliver poem? I believe in the practices of yoga - from meditation, to self-inquiry and self-knowledge, to service, to an asana/posture practice, etc. Yes, I do. I believe whether they are performed in Lululemon or in dusty basements, the practices are gateways to noticing, to tolerating distress, to strength, to learning (or being subjected to) surrendering.

But I also believe yoga practices can be applied like prescriptions of bypass. Wear this, look like this, meditate like this, act like this, eat only that, detest that, buy this, do this sequence, learn from this teacher, perfect that pose…. Sometimes yoga culture can feel like diet culture. Lots of promises, lots of quick fixes, and some rigidity that tastes stale, suffocating and slimy. And that makes me — and many people I know and care for — run like the wind. And we should run.

Because yoga should be about connection. About process. About compassion. About effort with loving discernment. About noticing the reach, noticing how we react when we can’t have what we want, noticing how we project onto others, noticing how our bodies are shaped differently and can’t be forced into a certain shape, or sometimes are too watery and bendy and need to push away a too intense practice and say “no more.” It’s about discernment for what works for you. For what gives you energy, for what takes you to your truth, for what lights you up and gives you your spark back. It’s not about restriction and getting smaller in your body, your mind, your experience or your heart.

In the process of reaching for strength (literal and figurative), awareness, stillness, bliss, flexibility, truth, wanderlust, one has to taste the process along the way. Not only the warmth of the sun salutations but also wrestling with wanting something you can’t have, noticing the fidgety feelings in a yin pose, seeking support for trauma or sensations that get stuck or scarily activated. The dark, the shadow, the part you don’t want to see about or for yourself, has just as much value — if not more — than the light.

“Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. At all counts, it forms an unconscious snag, thwarting our most well-meant intentions.” (Carl Jung)

This Mary Oliver poem talks about reaching, opening with “there are things you can’t reach,” but her own rapture and digesting of life shows up in the process, the richness of living, the journey of wakefulness (and I might add “bliss”) shows up in the process of everyday living. In noticing the details. And she starts closing with “Everything in the world comes. At least, closer.”

This takes me back to my last blog post where I wrote about the embodiment process of YIELD, PUSH, REACH, GRASP, PULL. Check it out and notice where you need to go. If you’re a yogi, think of a shape that is a parallel to one of those patterns. Stay in it. Be in it. It’s not about “getting to a pose”. Yes, it is about “reaching” for a pose, but it might not be time. There might be more interesting and healing fish and snakes to notice and digest along the way. 🌞🦋🌞

Where Does the Temple Begin, Where Does It End? 
By Mary Oliver

There are things you can’t reach. But
you can reach out to them, and all day long.

The wind, the bird flying away. The idea of God.

And it can keep you as busy as anything else, and happier.

The snake slides away; the fish jumps, like a little lily,
out of the water and back in; the goldfinches sing
from the unreachable top of the tree.

I look; morning to night I am never done with looking.

Looking I mean not just standing around, but standing around
as though with your arms open.

And thinking: maybe something will come, some
shining coil of wind,
or a few leaves from any old tree–
they are all in this too.

And now I will tell you the truth.
Everything in the world
comes.

At least, closer.

And, cordially.

Like the nibbling, tinsel-eyed fish; the unlooping snake.
Like goldfinches, little dolls of goldfluttering around the corner of the sky

of God, the blue air.

#EATINGDISORDERS #YOGAFOREATINGDISORDERS #RECOVERY #ANOREXIA #BINGEEATING #BULIMIA #DISORDEREDEATING #EMOTIONALEATING #INTUITIVE EATING #BODYBASEDPSYCHOTHERAPY #DIETING #YOGAFORANXIETY #ATTACHMENTBASEDYOGA #YOGAFORRECOVERY #FOODADDICTION #OVEREXERCISE #EXERCISEBULIMIA #MINDFULMOVEMENT #YOGA #DEVELOPMENTALMOVEMENT #NATIONALEATINGDISORDERS #MATERNALMENTALHEALTH

How a NO Feeds a YES

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We can't always have everything we want. And, frankly, it can really stink to deal with hearing a No from someone else or have to provide the No and remain the steady container perhaps as a caregiver during a tantrum. But every time I receive a No or say a No and stay with the sensations and presence in my body, it gets a little easier, a little less hairy and less distressful, and overall healthy boundaries for all parties. Many of us -- most of us -- well, we all -- have had instances where we couldn't say No for various reasons. Some we remember, some we don't.

It's an important practice to re-pattern or practice that No. We have to practice knowing from our core what deserves a NO, then pressing into Earth while we twist our head, turn around and leave, and/or vocalize a No. From a body-based perspective, and thanks to Body-Mind Psychotherapy and Body-Mind Center’s technique of the Satisfaction Cycle, it can go like this: 

1) It's takes presence of YIELDING into a situation with awareness, resting into knowing what is a no, what is a yes. Being able to sense what is okay, what is not, with your body, noticing where your body meets a supportive ground, and perhaps with resources, time, appropriateness of a situation. (Yielding is more about mindfulness and discernment and wakefulness even when it's hard -- the opposite of dissociation, denial, apathy or collapsing into a position). 

2) Then it takes PUSHING. Pushing away. Many times twisting, turning the eyes, turning the head or body - from a "no, thank you", to a "not today, honey", or to a "hell no." All have their appropriate places.

3) The beauty of the push -- of the pushing away and "NO" leaves space for what you want. You have the wide open space and view of possibilities of what you can have, what you do want. That's when you REACH. Might take a minute or a while, but you have the space and allowance to reach.

4) Once you know and see and sense and feel what you want to reach for, you GRASP. You hold it with not only your literal or figurative hand but more so with your heart, your awareness, as well as with a trusting that you can have what you deserve, but you just don't always get what you want.

5) Then you PULL. You pull it closer to you, having appreciation for the process of yielding with awareness and discernment, pushing to create boundaries and a clearer path, reaching for what you might want, grasping with empowerment and ownership and trust, then pulling toward your core.

This is a beautiful practice that can be applied to many facets shape-shifting not only your cognitive awareness or functioning but also your somatic awareness, connection and integration. Try it in the morning as a way to set your intention for the day. 🌞 

#EATINGDISORDERS #YOGAFOREATINGDISORDERS #RECOVERY #ANOREXIA #BINGEEATING #BULIMIA #DISORDEREDEATING #EMOTIONALEATING #INTUITIVE EATING #BODYBASEDPSYCHOTHERAPY #DIETING #YOGAFORANXIETY #ATTACHMENTBASEDYOGA #YOGAFORRECOVERY #FOODADDICTION #OVEREXERCISE #EXERCISEBULIMIA #MINDFULMOVEMENT #YOGA #DEVELOPMENTALMOVEMENT #NATIONALEATINGDISORDERS #MATERNALMENTALHEALTH

 

Come Home to Your Body to Be Home to Your Child

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Dear new moms and/or seasoned moms,

Practice being with your own body so you can resonate with your child. This helps them to feel connected, seen, heard, not alone. This helps them to lean back in to you, so you both feel more connected, in sync.

Our culture wants to cut us off from our neck down. Resist! Come home to your body so you can come home to your own wildness, your rawness, your sensations and inner knowings. Seek help if reconnecting with your body is too uncomfortable, makes you triggered or highly anxious, or brings up lingering trauma (it’s a high possibility if never explored before, but a trained trauma helper can guide you thru it).

Once you can be with your own body in a way that feels safe and secure and “like home” to your nervous system, you can be more attuned to your child, and he will feel it. He will know it and respond in a more connected with you. He might even sleep a little longer or finally pick up his sweaty socks. (No promises there!)

What a beautiful practice to connect with yourself, to return home to your cells and blood and bones and intuition not only as a pathway to your deepest, wisest, brightest self but also as a pathway to connect in a richly present way with your loved ones. Whether you are in the middle of infant sleeplessness or adolescent attitudes, your children need you, you need you, and yes, that connection can happen. And yes, the dishes will pile in the sink somewhat, but embracing the messy, that “this too shall pass,” and acknowledging the cycles from your feelings, to nature’s ebbs and flows, to the ever-changing tidy->messy->tidy->messy (literally and figuratively) is how it’s supposed to be. In other words, imperfect but wildly, beautifully awake.

Sometimes resonating with your own body needs a helping hand, someone to travel with you to keep you safe and steady as some deep psychic excavation and holding might be necessary to help unplug some stuck, perhaps dark, stubborn places. But the rewards, riches and treasures of reconnecting, of reintegrating what it means to be able to receive breath into your cells, to receive a breath of fresh air and possibility into your spirit.

Peace and aliveness on your journey. I’m happy to provide a free 15-minute phone conversation if you’d like some help on your mothering journey. Click here to connect with me.

#EATINGDISORDERS #YOGAFOREATINGDISORDERS #RECOVERY #ANOREXIA #BINGEEATING #BULIMIA #DISORDEREDEATING #EMOTIONALEATING #INTUITIVE EATING #BODYBASEDPSYCHOTHERAPY #DIETING #YOGAFORANXIETY #ATTACHMENTBASEDYOGA #YOGAFORRECOVERY #FOODADDICTION #OVEREXERCISE #EXERCISEBULIMIA #MINDFULMOVEMENT #YOGA #DEVELOPMENTALMOVEMENT #NATIONALEATINGDISORDERS #MATERNALMENTALHEALTH

Antidote to Disordered Eating? Spiritual Mothering and Divine Feeding

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Just came across this beautiful piece on disordered eating. (*details in story are potentially triggering) Indeed, it does look different for everyone.

And a common misconception is that disordered eating (or a clinically diagnosed eating disorder) is about body shape or weight. Even the DSM-5 uses criteria of disturbance of or self-evaluation of weight/shape as qualifiers for anorexia and bulimia. It is an unfortunate lapse of judgment to claim weight/shape focus as criteria because it can limit treatment options to those whose dis-order or dis-ease does not embody a body weight/shape focus or presentation.

While disordered eating can truly stem from body shape at times, especially with history’s and modern culture's extreme and bizarre expectations and appearance-laden pressures of women's and even men's bodies, the ritual of eating (or not) can serve as a defense or coping mechanism to the sometimes brutal parts of life which can fall along the spectrum of being a highly sensitive person, to generalized anxiety, to complex trauma, or to PTSD. It bears repeating: disordered eating or eating disorders - however defined - can but do not always include an obsession about body weight/shape.

I wish for us to never make assumptions or comments about someone else's body, about their struggle (or lack thereof). We come in different shapes, sizes, lengths and colors and need not only healthy, diverse, pleasurable feeding and eating experiences, but we need deeper psycho-spiritual nourishment that surpasses the quantifiable checks and balances our culture adores. In my personal and professional practices, it's a return to deep inner nurturing, a practice of spiritual mothering and divine feeding. 

#EATINGDISORDERS #YOGAFOREATINGDISORDERS #RECOVERY #ANOREXIA #BINGEEATING #BULIMIA #DISORDEREDEATING #EMOTIONALEATING #INTUITIVE EATING #BODYBASEDPSYCHOTHERAPY #DIETING #YOGAFORANXIETY #ATTACHMENTBASEDYOGA #YOGAFORRECOVERY #FOODADDICTION #OVEREXERCISE #EXERCISEBULIMIA #MINDFULMOVEMENT #YOGA #DEVELOPMENTALMOVEMENT #NATIONALEATINGDISORDERS #MATERNALMENTALHEALTH

Your Shadows Birth Your Spring

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“Faithful followers, there is no shadow of me and a beautiful spring it shall be.”

What a statement and promising idea - not only that Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring this February morning but also the dreamy denial of his shadow. Of course he has a shadow! And so do we all. But it’s not necessarily a bad thing, so let me explain. In her book, The Way of Woman, Helen M. Luke, a beloved Jungian psychoanalyst, says:

“The shadow personifies all the inferior and rejected sides of the personality. These shadow qualities are not all negative but may also be potentialities for which the ego has not taken responsibility.”

If you’re reading this, you probably have tasted a sample or two of your own negative shadow - maybe a part of you that makes you cringe, that you want to shove into the basement, that makes you ooze shame. Or maybe it’s something that flickers here and there, like a part of you that carries a deep habit or belief that in your daily, external life, you abhor or vote against. Perhaps you’re actively working with your shadow, to understand her, getting really curious as to why she shows up when she does. That’s hard work and takes courage, determination and deep vulnerability to explore.

But what about the shadow that carries possibility? The possibility of something new, radical, powerful or seemingly impossible but actually within hands reach? What a relief (albeit still scary) that your shadow — negative or potentially positive — can birth this richness to help you become more you, make your life full, more wakeful and sacred? Marion Woodman, another Jungian psychoanalyst and women’s movement figure, said:

A life truly lived constantly burns away veils of illusion, burns away what is no longer relevant, gradually reveals our essence, until, at last, we are strong enough to stand in our naked truth.

From my professional experience as a counselor and from my personal experience of traveling this journey as a human being who’s interested in getting to know herself fully, I seem to notice a pattern. We tend to initially unpack our more “negative” shadow first. After all, that’s what usually drives us to therapy — like the game whack-a-mole, it rears its ugly head in various, sometimes unconscious ways until we finally pay attention.

An example of both negative and potentially positive shadow might be someone whose bulimia, anxiety and rage drive her to therapy. When we start practicing unpacking the bulimic behaviors, anxiety and rage with curiosity and compassion, we start to recognize the roots — her compulsive caretaking stems from her buried and deep hunger for care and attention that she never got in her early developmental years or beyond. Instead of recognizing and asking for what she needs now because she doesn’t have the tools or belief of worthiness, she continuously says yes to everyone and everything, wiping up everyone else’s spills until she’s had it and privately, secretly, shamefully at home, binges and purges alone in the dark, and then out of disgust and exhaustion, she rages at her kids, spilling and spewing her anger and resentment on her loved ones.

Her caretaking might look like the Perfect Mom on the outside, but her negative shadow shows up as compulsive caretaking — unsustainable and ultimately hurtful to herself and others. She might not even recognize the caretaking as “negative” or harmful. She might deny it for years. But eventually, the cracks and crevices of excessive caretaking widen and deepen perhaps physically, mentally, or spiritually, and she realizes she has to find another way, which usually involves exploring why caretaking gives her such a charge and seeming self worth.

Once she recognizes the caretaking as a shadow part of herself that she uses as a bridge to worthiness, acceptance and approval, she’s ready to step deeper into her potential. An example might be her power hiding behind taking care of everyone else. Instead of saying yes, instead of swallowing what she doesn’t really want (obligations, shoulds, ought-to’s), what if she began saying NO with her words instead of purging a “no” or purging grief at what she fears she can’t have? What if she realized that by saying no, by not caretaking compulsively, she had more room and creative energy to fuel her deeper hungers and interests? What if by saying NO, by owning her power of caring for herself, her true spring would indeed come early?

While this is just one example, often it can be harder to step into one’s own potential and power than meeting one’s own negative shadow. It can be way more challenging to get BIGGER, BOLDER, TRUER than to wrestle with or accept your “ugly” internal parts. Why? Because like the months of February and March, who are both pregnant with possibilities of Spring’s fruits, the qualities of being exposed, frostbitten, dry and dark still remain early in the year. Who wants to walk in the dark? Who wants to strip and bare her bones of boldness when the butterfly bush has yet to bloom?

Maybe someone like you. Maybe someone whose trips around the sun have shown her enough of her own eclipses to know the dark, walking in the dark, is not something to deny or bypass but something to plant and embody by putting one foot in front of the other. Welcome, Spring.

Instead of transcending ourselves, we must move into ourselves. ~ Marion Woodman

#EATINGDISORDERS #YOGAFOREATINGDISORDERS #RECOVERY #ANOREXIA #BINGEEATING #BULIMIA #DISORDEREDEATING #EMOTIONALEATING #INTUITIVE EATING #BODYBASEDPSYCHOTHERAPY #DIETING #YOGAFORANXIETY #ATTACHMENTBASEDYOGA #YOGAFORRECOVERY #OVEREXERCISE #EXERCISEBULIMIA #MINDFULMOVEMENT #YOGA #DEVELOPMENTALMOVEMENT #NATIONALEATINGDISORDERS

Exercise as Embodiment: redefining exercise with curiosity, exploration & sustainability

Exercise tends to be tricky when introducing or re-introducing into a person’s life who has typically struggled with exercise by means of avoidance or compensation. (If you’re wondering about the signs/symptoms/consequences of compulsive exercise, read NEDA’s checklist.) If medically stable, exercise tends to be strictly prescribed and monitored, which can be a useful way to set boundaries and offer a safe container when moving the body again from the definition of traditional exercise. But ongoing embodiment and wakefulness through staying connected with the body should be valued and offered not only within the treatment plan but also as a long-term goal.

Before becoming a counselor, I worked full-time as a personal trainer due to my love of movement as a pathway to connection. Most of my clients were also in therapy for a variety of reasons, many of whom were healing from disordered eating and/or addictions. The beautiful thing about having already exposed themselves to therapy was they were mostly ready and willing to be curious and exploratory with movement options, after all, they had invited me into the privacy of their homes.

The lid had been lifted from the pressure cooker of intense treatment and therapy, and they could let off some steam through learning about their bodies and different exercises while choosing their own music, props and qualities of movement. I brought the smorgasbord of options, they got to lead the way. My gentle instruction of safety, flexibility and alignment, and our relationship offered the safe container and boundaries for their exploration, and ultimately, their empowerment.

Because I’m a pattern person (perhaps from my dance and step aerobics days), I tended to notice patterns among many of my clients. While unique to each individual, the general trajectory of our experience together tended to be:

  1. traditional work (resistance training)

  2. body-based training (walking together, yoga asanas for body awareness)

  3. subtle but deeper connection between the body and self (breath work, yoga asana as connection to the process in lieu of a geometrically-shaped pose, or even a return to the dumbbells with new awareness)

Once my clients started exploring movement in this third way of deeper connection — whether with dumbbells or in staff pose while rooting their sitz bones to the earth — I often referred them back to their therapist because such rich information would come up during our time together. Some of it was body-based and contained unpacking trauma work with a trained counselor. Some of it was the cognitive processing of their own stories, patterns and rigid thought patterns. Most of the time, it was both.

Regardless of the personal details of reintegration of body-mind-spirit, I became fascinated and passionate about witnessing people discover their bodies and their minds and hearts in a new way. Again and again (*and not without work and courage and time), possibilities of new ways of living and relating to themselves and others were birthed. It was like a bonding experience not only with their own flesh and blood but to something bigger. It was the process of discovering their own embodiment wasn’t something they had to study or strive for, but a quality of being that rested within simply because they could return home to the roots of their flesh and blood for guidance, connection and hope. This entire process enlightened not only my path to become a psychotherapist but also showed me how the somatic exploration — on physiological and psychological levels — start early through developmental movement from womb-to-walking.

I write this to express the importance of boundaries and quality of care when introducing or redefining exercise to anyone vulnerable body-based work. Prescribing doses of exercise needs to be followed up by processing as well as a safe relationship to help walk along as the experience of reconnecting is felt, understood and expressed.

*While I still lead and participate in movement group work as an educator and as a counselor (when I offer group psychotherapy), most of my work now happens within individual therapy sessions from the lens of Somatic Therapy’s developmental movement and attachment-based therapy. Questions or interested in therapy? Contact me for a free 15-minute phone conversation.

#EATINGDISORDERS #YOGAFOREATINGDISORDERS #RECOVERY #ANOREXIA #BINGEEATING #BULIMIA #DISORDEREDEATING #EMOTIONALEATING #INTUITIVE EATING #BODYBASEDPSYCHOTHERAPY #DIETING #YOGAFORANXIETY #ATTACHMENTBASEDYOGA #YOGAFORRECOVERY #OVEREXERCISE #EXERCISEBULIMIA #MINDFULMOVEMENT #YOGA #DEVELOPMENTALMOVEMENT #NATIONALEATINGDISORDERS

#EATINGDISORDERS #YOGAFOREATINGDISORDERS #RECOVERY #ANOREXIA #BINGEEATING #BULIMIA #DISORDEREDEATING #EMOTIONALEATING #INTUITIVE EATING #BODYBASEDPSYCHOTHERAPY #DIETING #YOGAFORANXIETY #ATTACHMENTBASEDYOGA #YOGAFORRECOVERY #OVEREXERCISE #EXERCISEBULIMIA #MINDFULMOVEMENT #YOGA #DEVELOPMENTALMOVEMENT #NATIONALEATINGDISORDERS

Wholeness v. Balance

Props to this tight-rope-walking woman pictured below, but when I think of balance, or if someone asks me about exercise “balance”, or food “balance”, I feel a little angsty in answering (and possibly disappointing) because in real life “balance” seems a little unattainable and imaginary like Perfectionism. Yikes. As you can guess, I feel the word balance can be loaded and lofty. Here’s why:

I was lucky to be in a beautiful discussion yesterday regarding the nervous system and how “balance” is defined and/or ideal within the realms of sympathetic and parasympathetic states of being. (in case you’re wondering, that’s a rabbit hole of nuanced language and science that as we all agreed is rather too elusive to sum up sometimes via language as it is still being unpacked by scientists, researchers and therapists.) But we did agree on the word WHOLENESS.

Wholeness means you identify with, know, can relate to, are aware of, own, hold, contain, are getting to know, embrace, keep in check, or dance with All Your Parts. From an Internal Family Systems Therapy perspective, sometimes our Parts (maybe the part that harbors a painful wound, maybe the part that is unconsciously jealous of others, maybe the part that automatically restricts or overeats to numb layers of feeling) get really rigid or extreme and initially seem separate from each other. But upon closer and compassionate inspection, they’re related, and they all affect each other. So when we identify, become aware, hold, get to know and dance with all those parts within the safety of healthy re-patterning, they might still exist but at a lesser degree. You can step back and see them and know how to work with them. They can even serve you in teaching you how to move forward in a healthy way.

All that to say, it’s not about a perfect balance of xx minutes of cardio, xx minutes of weight training, a particular style of yoga class. And it’s certainly not about a perfect ratio of carb cycling, or weighing your food to get a perfect measurement. That stuff might “work” (as in, give you preconceived “results”) in the short-run, but in the long-run, they are unsustainable practices. They keep you tethered to rigidity and labor that results in burnout, boredom and/or injury.

All that to say, it is about WHOLENESS. If we translate “balance” into “wholeness”, we can approach life in a more playful manner. We can release the reigns in our jaws and heart centers and settle into an okayness that we are supposed to be exactly where we are. We can invite the breath deeper into the body with an experience of being able to be with all those sensations that arise.

As I’ve experienced and taught others for many years, some days your body needs to dance or garden, some days it needs to push and pull, some days it needs a non-traditional dinner that might not have a speck of green. (Or, can’t help it, but maybe it is indeed green eggs and ham!) When you allow MORE, when you allow ALL of you (the good, bad, ugly, sparkly, spiritual, irritable), you naturally need less control, and therein, the unhealthy, unproductive, painful behaviors naturally fall away. You trust the process. You trust the cycles. You trust today is different tomorrow. You trust your meaning of balance is fluid and, most brilliantly, keeps you awake to your unique needs, desires, dreams, urges and ideas.

“The moon is a reminder that no matter what phase I’m in, I’m still whole.” ~ author unknown

*Interested in tuning into your intuitive movement, to your body’s sensations? Come to a free workshop in Atlanta for Love Your Body Month on February 23, 2019. Click here for info.

#EATINGDISORDERS #YOGAFOREATINGDISORDERS #RECOVERY #ANOREXIA #BINGEEATING #BULIMIA #DISORDEREDEATING #EMOTIONALEATING #INTUITIVE EATING #BODYBASEDPSYCHOTHERAPY #DIETING #YOGAFORANXIETY #ATTACHMENTBASEDYOGA #YOGAFORRECOVERY #OVEREXERCISE #EXERCISEBULIMIA #MINDFULMOVEMENT #YOGA #DEVELOPMENTALMOVEMENT #NATIONALEATINGDISORDERS

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*free* Mindful Movement & Fueling workshop!

Mindful Movement & Fueling Workshop    FLOW Training (Caroline Gebhardt, APC, RYT) and Nutrifit Sport Therapy (Page Love, RDN, LD, CSSD) will be hosting a free *Mindful Movement and Fueling* workshop offering experiential fueling and movement. Along with balanced snacks/drinks and nutrition education, we’ll practice a blend of developmental shapes and yoga postures followed by rhythmic movement meditations to experience creative and sustainable mind-body awareness. Attendees will have a chance during our closing circle to ask questions and process their experience with both Page Love, a registered and sport dietitian, and Caroline Gebhardt, a body-based psychotherapist.    Date: February 23, 2019, 3-5pm    Address: 1117 Perimeter Center West Conference Room, ATL 30338     *No yoga/fitness experience necessary, every BODY is welcome! Please bring a yoga mat, journal, wear comfortable clothing.  *Please RSVP and/or direct questions to NutriFit Sport Therapy at    770-395-7331    or FLOW Training at    404-210-6752   . We welcome donations to help support EDIN, the Eating Disorders Information Network -    www.myedin.org    *Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/233959674172507/    #EATINGDISORDERS #YOGAFOREATINGDISORDERS #RECOVERY #ANOREXIA #BINGEEATING #BULIMIA #DISORDEREDEATING #EMOTIONALEATING #INTUITIVE EATING #BODYBASEDPSYCHOTHERAPY #DIETING #YOGAFORANXIETY #ATTACHMENTBASEDYOGA #YOGAFORRECOVERY #OVEREXERCISE #EXERCISEBULIMIA #MINDFULMOVEMENT #YOGA #DEVELOPMENTALMOVEMENT #NATIONALEATINGDISORDERS


Mindful Movement & Fueling Workshop

FLOW Training (Caroline Gebhardt, APC, RYT) and Nutrifit Sport Therapy (Page Love, RDN, LD, CSSD) will be hosting a free *Mindful Movement and Fueling* workshop offering experiential fueling and movement. Along with balanced snacks/drinks and nutrition education, we’ll practice a blend of developmental shapes and yoga postures followed by rhythmic movement meditations to experience creative and sustainable mind-body awareness. Attendees will have a chance during our closing circle to ask questions and process their experience with both Page Love, a registered and sport dietitian, and Caroline Gebhardt, a body-based psychotherapist.

Date: February 23, 2019, 3-5pm

Address: 1117 Perimeter Center West Conference Room, ATL 30338


*No yoga/fitness experience necessary, every BODY is welcome! Please bring a yoga mat, journal, wear comfortable clothing.

*Please RSVP and/or direct questions to NutriFit Sport Therapy at
770-395-7331 or FLOW Training at 404-210-6752. We welcome donations to help support EDIN, the Eating Disorders Information Network - www.myedin.org

*Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/233959674172507/

#EATINGDISORDERS #YOGAFOREATINGDISORDERS #RECOVERY #ANOREXIA #BINGEEATING #BULIMIA #DISORDEREDEATING #EMOTIONALEATING #INTUITIVE EATING #BODYBASEDPSYCHOTHERAPY #DIETING #YOGAFORANXIETY #ATTACHMENTBASEDYOGA #YOGAFORRECOVERY #OVEREXERCISE #EXERCISEBULIMIA #MINDFULMOVEMENT #YOGA #DEVELOPMENTALMOVEMENT #NATIONALEATINGDISORDERS

Mindful Movement for the Treatment of Eating Disorders: attachment-based techniques and experiential movement as an integrative approach

Are you a #yoga teacher, therapist, or allied healthcare practitioner with an interest in using yoga and mindful movement for eating disorders? Are you wondering how to help clients or students to reconnect with the mind and body in an attuned, sensitive way?

Our time together will include:

  • a discussion of attachment theory and its influence on psychological and physiological therapeutic parallels that when imbalanced often show up in unhealthy behaviors or patterns often seen in eating disorders.

  • we’ll practice several ways to notice and experiment our own patterns and needs through yoga postures and developmental movement as a way to offer these tools first to ourselves, then to our clients on the mat or on the couch.

  • this also offers a brief reminder of nervous system science and how it applies to the therapeutic relationship, a person’s stage of change or readiness, and as a reminder for using a trauma sensitive approach for the ED population.

This workshop is aimed at yoga teachers, mental health clinicians and other practitioners who have an interest in treating disordered eating with sensitivity while carefully inviting the body into treatment. 
🙏🏼🙌🏼🙏🏼🙌🏼

WHEN: Sunday March 10, 2019 from 2-5:30PM
WHERE: Gathered and Grounded in Decatur 
HOW MUCH: $75.00

REGISTER: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/yoga-mindfulness-and-movement-for-the-treatment-of-eating-disorders-tickets-54762813048
*space is limited

**CEs for LPCs and LCSWs pending (3 hrs)

For more information, check out http://www.southernyogatherapy.com/ or contact Caroline 🦋

#EATINGDISORDERS #YOGAFOREATINGDISORDERS #RECOVERY #ANOREXIA #BINGEEATING #BULIMIA #DISORDEREDEATING #EMOTIONALEATING #INTUITIVE EATING #BODYBASEDPSYCHOTHERAPY #DIETING #YOGAFORANXIETY #ATTACHMENTBASEDYOGA #YOGAFORRECOVERY #OVEREXERCISE #EXERCISEBULIMIA #MINDFULMOVEMENT #YOGA #DEVELOPMENTALMOVEMENT #NATIONALEATINGDISORDERS

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What Makes You Come Alive: a body-mind writing practice

Howard Thurman said, “Don't ask what the world needsAsk what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Have you asked what makes you come alive lately? Have you slowed down a little and asked if you really want that thing or if it’s a should or a must? Have you paused before you started your weekend and asked what would be a more true path for you? Have you paid attention to your senses, to what your body might be whispering or screaming to you?

The answers don’t always spring forth. Sometimes they do. Sometimes we pay attention. Sometimes we deny or ignore. Sometimes we minimize or make excuses for bypassing the taps we receive on our shoulder, and that’s a really important thing to note along the journey. Most of the time, we have to practice this listening, knowing and acting on our truths, our deeper hungers.

Here’s a simple practice. You can do it by listing what messages or sensations come to your mind and body. You can journal it. You can dance, drum, walk, talk it. Be curious, compassionate and take care of what comes up. Come back to your breath. Come back to your body. Get to know the messages and sensations. Sit down next to them and be gentle like you would to an abandoned kitten or a wounded butterfly. Take what comes up to a trusted helper to explore if you need support. Most people do need another tender heart and ear to trust with these treasures they start to discover.

Get paper and a pen. Or your notes app on your phone. Set a time for 5 minutes at least and invite your breath and stillness:

Dear You: If you were feeling less anxious or overthinking less, or not obsessing about food or your body, what would you be doing with your time?

Feel free to comment and let us know what you find. <3

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M-Bodied: Heal Your Dance with Food: a yoga & mindful movement workshop for eating/food/body image recovery

Yoga + Mindful Movement = Healthier Connection with Your Body & Food

Mark your calendar!  Saturday, September 29, 3:00-5:00pm

This is a therapeutic movement practice and experiential workshop for those who struggle with emotional eating, who are in eating disorder recovery, and/or for helpers who want to learn to use yoga + mindful movement as a tool to help others attune and connect. 

What’s included? A top-down (cognitive) and bottom-up (somatic) marriage to reintegrate mind, body and spirit. Here’s a taste of what we will practice:

* -- "nervous-system informed yoga" through the lens of developmental, bio-psycho-social movement patterns of somatic psychology
* -- creative movement meditations using metaphor to tap into your Core Self and internal witness
* -- body-based writing as a way to merge cognitive-based theoretical interventions with the body’s felt-sense

To register: PayPal or Venmo $45 to carolineflow@gmail.com by 9/26

I’m happy to answer questions, send me a note or call me for a conversation.

#eatingdisorders #yogaforeatingdisorders #recovery #anorexia #bingeeating #bulimia #disorderedeating #emotionaleating #intuitive eating #bodybasedpsychotherapy #dieting #yogaforanxiety #attachmentbasedyoga #yogaforrecovery

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Wine, Weed & Cake

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Wine, Weed and Cake – Communion, Connection, or Compulsion? When mention of these come up in conversation – at a dinner party, at the park, at Thanksgiving dinner with Uncle Earl – I notice heads turn, eyebrows raise, and pupils focus (or enlarge?). It’s true all three soothe, soften and serve in a variety of ways, so it’s no wonder wine, weed and cake draw instant attention and questionable connection.

All three take the edge off, ease hardened anxiety in the chest, encourage deeper breathing (hello, marijuana), slow down thoughts, and probably make you smile a little more – all until you’ve had too much, and then you can probably recall how yucky you felt or behaved. You might swear to cut back, take it easy next time, restrict or abstain. (And, for the record, if you’re questioning about your or a loved one’s lack of control and unmanageable lifestyle, consider getting help either through a 12-step or harm-reduction program. See resources at the bottom.)

Our Dance with Connection: Despite my fascination with noticing how eyes light up at mention of wine, weed and cake, I tend to be even more fascinated with exploring how people connect and engage with or without those party favors. And, thanks to modern neuroscience, we’re starting to understand the connection between the brain and how it dances with the environment. Whether connection happens through champagne, THC, buttercream frosting, gossiping, caretaking, dancing, parenting, exercising, (over)working, gardening, traveling, the list goes on…,

1)      Sometimes our connections are fed by playfulness and engagement resulting in an ideally operating nervous system activated by the myelinated ventral vagal branch of nerves called the Social Engagement System. Here, we know our limits and practice the lifestyle of choosing to stay grounded or engaged. We can taste life with delight but stay connected to and act appropriately on our body's signals whether we sense fullness, exhaustion, energy or other needs. 

2)      Sometimes our choices for attempted connections are fueled by  A) feeling unsafe resulting in an overactivated sympathetic nervous system response (Fight/Flight), where overindulgence might creep in... or B) feeling overburdened resulting in a dorsal vagal nerve response, operating from the parasympathetic nervous system (Freeze/Feign/Faint/Shutdown), where overindulgence might creep in as well.... C) Whether a sense of feeling unsafe or overburdened is present, we tend to surpass any moderation – consciously or not – resulting in unsavory behaviors/consequences and/or existing in a stuffed or stoned state of dissociation.

I just described the Polyvagal Theory in its most simplistic form, and this research shows how stimulating the myelinated ventral vagal nerve through a variety of activities or practices can help lead us to a more sustainable lifestyle path and more healthily regulated nervous system. Many of these are intentional body-based techniques, some are what you do naturally everyday, but perhaps they need more mindfulness. (Pssst, check out another great Polyvagal Theory explanation here:)  

That said, if you find yourself leaning toward overconsumption, misuse or habitual use of these types of beverages, inhalants or edibles, what might you be avoiding? What feels so scary, unsafe, or burdensome that using a filler feels like the only way to tolerate it? How can you unpack what you’ve stuffed inside that deep well of longing? What are you truly craving?

a)      Wine: How does the cool chardonnay soothe your internal frazzle or fill in the blank? Does it soften it or erase it? What if you let that internal frazzle have a voice? Where might that frazzle or tension show up in your body? What would it say? What does it really need for support?

b)      Weed: How does smoking a bowl with your friends draw you closer? Do you feel more connected to them? Do you feel more connected to yourself? Or do you feel that perfect amount of disconnection that makes the untolerable now tolerable? What else would you like to blow off? If you can’t blow it off (aka smoke it away), what else might help tolerate it?

c)      Cake: How does sliver after sliver pack away the buzz of angst or untouchable grief? Does it keep you from feeling alive and vulnerable? What if you paused before swallowing another rush of frosting, felt your feet on the ground, air on your skin? How could those big feelings (sometimes very hard to feel or access) get support, containment or a big hug?

The Confusing Parts: It might be really hard to answer those questions. There might not even be answers, and that’s okay! Just recognizing an inkling of awareness that “maybe I use these things to avoid something bigger,” is a giant leap into unchartered, mysterious, yet possible territory for healing and growth.

When we feel things are unsafe, or when we feel like we need to control a situation, or when we feel like checking out more and more, it’s easy to swallow another drink, accept another inhale, or polish off the birthday cake. All can result in heightened feelings of power, charm, acceptance, connection or feeling so disconnected and stoned that we drift away into our own world or perhaps sleep. The most confusing parts are that

a)      sometimes we aren’t even aware of why we make the choices we make, and

b)      these are socially acceptable ways of disconnecting from ourselves and others while sometimes, many times, being with other people.

The Good News: The beautiful thing about what neuroscience is teaching us is that our nervous system can be retrained. And, thanks to the Mindfulness movement, we can become our own witness. We can become aware of our patterns with the help of experienced support. We can tenderly and then generously make changes for ourselves. We can rewire how we connect and engage with others and ourselves. Along the way, we can discover the wealth of treasure buried deeply in our wells of shame or wonder. We can live more connected and aligned with our strengths while being compassionate with our wounds.

I love working with people to help unpack their constant cravings, shameful indulgences or other behaviors that are hard to admit not only to oneself but with others. I believe in the power of our wounds, how transformational they can be if we offer them curiosity, compassion and care. And, I believe in the power of the body to hold so much of this healing wisdom. I offer body-based psychotherapy to help bring our deepest senses and wisest truths to the table. Questions? Contact me for a 15-minute phone chat to see if we are a good fit.

*I must give credit to the Annina Schmid Counseling for calling my attention to her own Wine Weed & Cake work. Check her out!

 

12-Step and Harm-Reduction Resources:

Alcoholics Anonymous – http://www.aa.org/

Al-Anon – for loved ones of alcoholics struggling with codependency, etc. – https://al-anon.org/

Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition – http://www.atlantaharmreduction.org/home.aspx

 

#eatingdisorders #yogaforeatingdisorders #recovery #anorexia #bingeeating #bulimia #disorderedeating #emotionaleating #intuitive eating #bodybasedpsychotherapy #dieting #yogaforanxiety #attachmentbasedyoga #yogaforrecovery #nationaleatingdisorders

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Recipe for Using Yoga to Heal Food & Body Issues

Food + body issues + yoga: I feel they beautifully go together because yoga means to yoke, to connect. Not only the shapes, or postures, the asana practice – but mind, body and spirit. So we use the breath, we notice our thoughts, we turn toward the subtle body messages that are coming up in a way not only to connect with ourselves to know how/when/where to nourish ourselves literally and figuratively, but also to connect with others, which taps into healthy, sustainable, grounded nervous system functioning (not to mention healthy collective connection with the world around us, which is greatly needed now!). 


How does a yoga practice (or mindful movement practice) help the spectrum of emotional eating? Yoga is such fertile ground in terms of connecting those food and body issues – whether you’re on the yo-yo dieting cycle, hopping from diet to diet, whatever is the trendiest diet in the in the news, or what friends are talking about. Or, emotional eating – that broad spectrum of emotional eating – binging, purging (of any kind), obsessive calorie-counting – whatever those behaviors are that take you away from a true source of nourishment and wisdom. But, your body does have that. We have to practice coming back to that deep source of knowing, and it is a practice. It's returning to that wise source of knowing again and again and again.


Our Culture of Food and Body Wars: It's one of those things - it can be taboo. People still don't want to talk about it or admit, “Hey, I struggle with this.” I would like to invite you to know you are not alone. The struggle is common. And, it's also no wonder with the messages that we get in this culture that you should be a certain shape size, look, etc. The food/weight pressure is really a dangerous and manipulative distractor from connecting to that richer place within for creativity and living in a healthily embodied way.


There is a way to break free. A way that can help you discover your true path or paths and to live in a more sustainable, fulfilled way. I offer body-based psychotherapy and movement education, and one way is to use yoga (through the lens of developmental, bio-psycho-social movement patterns of somatic psychology) as a framework, as a place to land, as a place to have the earth hold and contain the reintegration of mind, body and spirit. In this way, we can start to explore and re-pattern the nuanced, complicated world of food and body issues. 


Find connection and safe space. Again, you're not alone. And, it's important to find a safe space for that, especially to invite healthy nervous system functioning which messages to the rest of you, “it’s okay to lay down your guard, you can lay down those grueling diets and behaviors.” Yoga is accessible, mainstream – in studios, online. It's such a wonderful place to start exploring the messages within the body like interoceptive awareness, the internal body signals that help us to know: Am I hungry? Am I not? Do I want to stretch, or do I want to open? Do I want a more staccato-type rhythm to my day? Do I want to flow like water? Or maybe I want a little taste of everything. 


To find and build that internal connection and deeper wisdom within, use the following Three Cs recipe:


a)    Curiosity – What is this about? Put on your investigator hat or glasses, microscope or binoculars, and you say, “what is this about?” Look at your patterns and behaviors and feelings from all different angles. Where do they come from? Begin to gently ask yourself, “Why do I do this? What am I trying to get?” That's where you get really curious.
    You might experience different sensations or feelings arise when you begin a yoga or mindful movement practice. You might feel resistance. You might hate it. You might feel it’s not intense or sweaty enough. Or, you might feel it’s too much to move. You might not feel flexible or strong enough to hold your body or your feelings or anxiety. You might also discover endless possibilities of turning within and realizing how mysteriously and graciously connected you can be with your own body. 
    In being curious, you practice leaving judgment behind like you might be curious about why a little kid or a sweet animal does what they do. The judgment keeps you from discovering your truth, and it keeps you from the next C…

b)    Compassion – Having compassion for yourself, especially when you pay attention to your body or get on the mat because sometimes the mat practice isn't fast enough, or maybe your body is “too soft” (It’s not enough, you want to bite off more than you’re served), or your body doesn’t seem flexible enough to do what you want it to do (by the way, we practice to get more flexible not only externally, but internally, in our hearts and our minds). Or, perhaps paying attention to your body is triggering or uncomfortable (so you go back to being Curious). Again, it's a practice having compassion for yourself, which also helps being more compassionate and patient with other people.

c)    Care – How can you care for what you discover? How do you care with your need to do more? How do you care for the distress of what comes up either in your wildly beating heart or the incessant thoughts or your desire to do something else with your body or your feeling of not being “good enough.” How do you care for that? Sometimes care is doing things that we don't really want to do but we also know that that's kind of part of the growth and that's part of the expansion and the stretching and the internal muscular endurance. And, then sometimes the care is allowing space to soften, to rest. Care is broadly defined, sometimes it’s an internal, abstract job, sometimes it’s an external, concrete task.

Review and practice the Three C’s as a way to return to yourself and begin exploring how to befriend your body as a gateway to befriending and reconnecting with your mind and spirit as well. Practice being CURIOUS, COMPASSIONATE, and CARING when inviting your body into your healing journey. Whether you’re in a class or doing an online video, or working with a psychotherapist and becoming interested in noticing your body’s postures or non-verbals, instead of simply getting through the poses, movements, sequence or technique – STOP. Pause. Pay attention to the breath, to pay attention to the subtle body, to pay attention, and become curious about the places that feel tight, or numb, or open, or vulnerable, or perhaps places that feel like they need to be supported or held. You might be able to notice and watch even playfully any judgment that comes up, and you can have compassion around it all.

If you’d like to experiment with a basic sequence of yoga-based developmental movement, I recently posted a video offering an intro and practice to my Movement Education. Watch here: https://www.bodybasedpsychotherapy.com/videos/ I introduced it with the idea that you enter the practice like you're a seed in fertile soil and you want to get really comfortable first, and then you want to sprout and grow. In that practice, we start on the ground and work our way up and that's a sequence that I often teach in which we can get creative, but that's a basic practice of developmental movement. 


Developmental Movement as a path to answering “What am I Hungry For?” We were all once embryos, once nourished in a very quiet, sustainable way attached to the uterine wall. We expanded outward with our limbs, our brain, our spinal cord, not in that particular order. But returning to that place of nourishment – of attachment – that's the quality of sustainability in which you can return for that deeper sense of source within. It is possible and sometimes, many times, it takes support and help to find that that place of feeding yourself, of nourishing yourself, of re-attuning to yourself, to notice not only “what are you hungry for?” but also:


o    “What makes me full and what doesn't it?”
o    “What is delicious and what's not food-wise but also in a deeper sense?”
o    “How do I want to be in this world?” 
o    “How do I want to attach, and with whom?”
o    “Who and what drains me of my rightful energy, and how can I say no?”
o    “Where do I want to individuate and grow, and how?”


In mindfully led movement – or in my signature movement group “M-Bodied: How to Heal Your Dance with Food – we can play with these developmental shapes, movements and patterns that we've all already done before in the womb as babies from which we've expanded and been birthed onto Earth. That's where an intentional yoga or mindful movement practice comes with wonderfully rich tools to take us back to our bodies, to Nature 101. 

We can ground, we can be held, Mother Earth can hold us. And then, we can press, and we can say no when we need. We can open our hearts. We can expand. We can set boundaries where we need. We can even connect with others and hold others where we and they need. You can discover your deeper hungers, to help heal your dance with food, body image, weight, shape, and all of those things that are really blaring alarms that there's something richer and way more delicious going on. 

I promise discovering those riches can happen, and it's a beautiful journey. Again, it's a practice, you don't have to be alone and you don't have to struggle and it's my wish for you to be Curious, to have Compassion, and take really good Care.

#eatingdisorders #yogaforeatingdisorders #recovery #anorexia #bingeeating #bulimia #disorderedeating #emotionaleating #intuitive eating #bodybasedpsychotherapy #dieting #yogaforanxiety #attachmentbasedyoga #yogaforrecovery

M-Bodied: Using Mindful Movement to Heal How You Dance with Food

So, how do you dance with food? Check out these examples:

o   Do you smell, lean in, chew slowly, pause and wait for a cue for more?

o   Do you twist your head “no” at the offer of a rich bite but secretly eat alone at home?

o   Do you ever feel like you can’t get enough, you could swallow the dance of food all night and day?

o   Do you pick all day or rearrange your plate without allowing yourself a clear start and stop?

o   Do you perfect, plan and calculate so much that you’ve forgotten how delicious flexibility and spontaneity taste?

o   Do you allow yourself to feel pleasure and energy when eating regular meals?

o   Do you taste test food trends and drop it like it’s hot once a more promising plan hits the newsstands?

o   Do you feel guilty or “bad” for partnering with certain (food) edibles?  Example: I'm so bad for eating that cake!

o   Do you skimp all day so you can rave – in the form of indulgence – all night at that party?

o   Do you feel like you have the proverbial two left feet in the form of foggy/absent belly cues or an overzealous appetite that stems more from your heart than belly?

o   Do you feel a push-pull inside of you – one that wants to be deeply nourished emotionally, one that wants to control or bury herself with food rituals?

o   Do you feel stuck, unable to catch a fuller breath, much less a healthy relationship with food?

o   Do you feel like this is how you’ve danced for so long, why try to change, or who would understand?

 

When we practice witnessing all the patterns – the feeling stuck, the feast and famine tug-of-wars, the twists and turns of restriction and binging – we can become more aware of our unique dance with food, on and off the plate. We notice how we play with our food, then we notice more. Like With whom? Where? When? Why? How much? Then we notice our body. We notice being stuck on one side of the room but having an inkling of a feeling – a felt sense – of wanting to leap or sashay to the other side, of wanting to bite into something richer besides food, eating or body issues. But how? How do we dance with food in a healthier way when don’t have the skills, support, confidence or guidance?

Much of healing our dance with food takes us way back to when we were babies. Even though we all have different histories of caregiving, the practice of repairing our relationship to nourishment starts with the basics:

o   the need/drive/desire to receive,

o   utilizing all 6 senses, and

o   a system of support for containment during this exploratory journey.

This “healing our dance with food” metaphor parallels a movement practice I offer called M-Bodied that uses embodiment – along with a blend of evidence-based theoretical techniques – to re-pattern, repair and reconnect with a deeper sense of nourishment literally and figuratively.

M-Bodied uses mindful movement from a mothering approach. We practice mothering ourselves, using the re-connection with the body, the earth and the therapeutic container of support to attune ourselves to something greater and wiser for feeding, healing and expanding in a sustainable way. To repair our relationship to nourishment and reconnect with the body in an embodied way, M-Bodied uses body-based techniques and mindful movement to mirror, practice and re-pattern the basics of a relationship to sustainable nourishment:

Basics of a Relationship to Sustainable Nourishment

1) need/drive/desire to receive

2) utilizes all 6 senses (sight, taste, touch, sound, smell, intuition)

3) system of support for containment

 

M-Bodied: Reconnecting with Mindful Movement

1) yoga as gateway to body awareness/connection

2) movement meditation metaphors using rhythms, cycles, images, dreams, body-based writing

3) therapeutic group, Body, Earth

 

In other words, M-Bodied offers the following:

a)      Basic yoga postures and practices serve as a framework to invite the body into the healing journey.

b)      Creative movement metaphors intertwine with a blend of cognitive-behavioral and mindfulness theoretical approaches to offer a top-down and bottom-up therapeutic approach.

c)       The individual and collective witnessing of the group and therapist as well as the relationship between the body and the earth serve as a system of support for containment and growth.

 

Stay tuned for details about a new M-Bodied group being offered soon in Decatur! Feel free to write me with questions.

#EATINGDISORDERS #YOGAFOREATINGDISORDERS #RECOVERY #ANOREXIA #BINGEEATING #BULIMIA #DISORDEREDEATING #EMOTIONALEATING #INTUITIVE EATING #BODYBASEDPSYCHOTHERAPY #DIETING #YOGAFORANXIETY #ATTACHMENTBASEDYOGA #YOGAFORRECOVERY #OVEREXERCISE #EXERCISEBULIMIA #MINDFULMOVEMENT #YOGA #DEVELOPMENTALMOVEMENT #NATIONALEATINGDISORDERS

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YOGA FOR EATING DISORDER RECOVERY: HOW STAGES-OF-CHANGE INFLUENCE EXPERIENTIAL MOVEMENT AND RE-CONNECTION

Years ago, when I first began private movement training — from walking with clients, to resistance training, to yoga blended with intuitive movement — I mostly worked with people who were really, really eager to do some exploration and reintegration of their mind-body relationship. Afterall, they’d asked me to come into their home, their intimate space, and they trusted me while they breathed and shifted perspective through movement. Keeping in mind the stages-of-change can be fluid, these people were primarily in the PREPARATION or ACTION stages-of-change. (See the image above for a glance at the stages.)

At the time, I wasn’t aware of how easily our work unfolded. Not until we established a long-term relationship did I realize I needed more tools to help with trauma or other body-sensitive issues that I began seeing as a pattern in our sessions, those things that without deeper exploration and care would continue pulling them back into previous stages-of-change and high ambivalence about the possibility of healthy embodiment. Therefore, after much consideration and birthing two of my own babies, I went back to school to get my master’s in mental health counseling as a way to offer therapeutic body-based exploration and counseling.

Fast forward a few years, among several more long-term clients and emerging from the fog of newborn baby days, I dove into graduate school in between afternoons at the park and 730am Sunday morning grocery runs. During my first semester of graduate school, I began leading yoga groups at an outpatient eating disorder treatment center. Then I became an intern at this same treatment site, so needless to say I was immersed in opportunities to learn and grow as a counselor-in-training for the spectrum of people struggling with disordered eating. It was here that I also became fascinated with stages-of-change and how the stages present strongly in a nonverbal way.

Comparatively speaking, teaching someone to get in their body in their own home who willingly invited me drastically differed from someone in the thick of intensive partial hospitalization treatment. The former offered more opened nuances of connection, the latter tended to resist opening to explore the body, breath, etc., often for very good reasons!  I understood the mistrust, the fear, the resistance, the lack of eye contact, the turned positioning of the body. Some of these nonverbals and verbals clearly showed as PRECONTEMPLATION or CONTEMPLATION stages-of-change. The tension of opening, of experiencing distress and reconnecting takes vulnerability and courage along with a supportive container, a gentle but firm holder.

Due to these literal and figurative shapes and patterns that showed up on yoga mats or in therapy groups and my belief in the power of reparative relationships, and especially my personal experience of mothering and daunting-but-sweet tasks of attunement and attachment, I started piecing together my own perspective of the integration of stages-of-change, attachment theory, and somatic techniques among those people who struggle with disordered eating. Now I practice and teach body-based counseling and experiential movement work through the lens of:

  1. how “ready” someone is to change,

  2. how connected/disconnected or attached/detached a client might be from herself or other sources of human connection, and

  3. how/which body-based techniques, nuanced language, as well as how the helper's own embodiment might be helpful for the client to experience change, healing and growth.

As I continued observing, exploring and working with shapes and patterns that showed up to treatment, I also happened to have the opportunities to present this work at two different conferences — the Southeastern Eating Disorder conference in August 2017 and the International Association for Eating Disorder Professionals symposium in March 2018. While piecing together and articulating this material to be presentation-ready, I saw even more organic unfolding of parallels in traditional yoga postures alongside developmental movement in humans. (I like to tell people who say they “can’t do yoga because they can’t touch their toes” that although yoga studios might be sprouting on every street corner, we’ve actually all been “doing yoga” since we were in the womb — Sometimes we just need more conscious re-patterning to access the bounty of the practice!)

From those who are seeking change at any opportunity to those whose arms are crossed and heads are turned away, what I’m most excited about are the possibilities of understanding the meaning behind the movement. What are their stories, their needs? How are their protective shells serving them? How much do we nudge them forward? How much do we hold them?  There is no one-size-fits-all answer because every person is unique. But there is a practice of noticing patterns, to hugging resistance, to being the witness to unfoldment.  And I am passionate about teaching other helpers to see these parallels and to attend and attune to clients and classes with sensitivity and effective containment to induce productive, healthy embodiment. And from my personal training and yoga backgrounds, I’m excited to support that traditional exercise is not for everyone, and that the Western yoga practice is not for everyone. But —

  1. That each stage of change serves a purpose — to shield us from perceived or incredibly real pain or to eventually help us face our growth and transformation.

  2. That we have always and will continue to need connection in the form of a trusting caregiver (that might be a helper, teacher or healer to start with…then ultimately, that guru comes from within).

  3. That the body has always and continues to work as a whole from the inside-out, and it literally unfolds from the womb to walking in developmental patterns that parallel our internal evolution.

If you’re interested in learning more about helping people with disordered eating reconnect with the body, breath, heart and mind in healthy, productive, safe ways — stay tuned!  I’ll be presenting this material in a workshop soon in the Atlanta area!  Contact me here.

#EATINGDISORDERS #YOGAFOREATINGDISORDERS #RECOVERY #ANOREXIA #BINGEEATING #BULIMIA #DISORDEREDEATING #EMOTIONALEATING #INTUITIVE EATING #BODYBASEDPSYCHOTHERAPY #DIETING #YOGAFORANXIETY #ATTACHMENTBASEDYOGA #YOGAFORRECOVERY #OVEREXERCISE #EXERCISEBULIMIA #MINDFULMOVEMENT #YOGA #DEVELOPMENTALMOVEMENT #NATIONALEATINGDISORDERS

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