The Compassionate Friends Make Time for Healing
Posted March 14, 2023 in News Articles
Author: Karen Pinsky
The Well has visited with The Compassionate Friends over time, supporting these bereaved parents with programs and resources. Here is an overview of a recent workshop we offered them at our new space. Thanks to Karen Pinsky for sharing this.
Fifteen of us gathered at The Well's Camp Washington location for a wonderful 4 hours of learning why we feel the way we feel and ways we can diminish the frequency and intensity of these physical manifestations of our trauma.
First- the location. When you first walk into the building you are in a huge room with very tall ceilings and windows across the front. There is the peaceful sound of the small fountain and the floor is lined with nice rugs and amazing pillows and bolsters. There were chairs in a circle off to the side and that is where we began.
After getting the verbal tour of the place from Stacy, she took some time to explain what she does, talk a bit about how our minds and bodies are connected and a short A & P (Anatomy and Physiology) lesson- beyond the hip bone connected to the thigh bone!
Stacy’s own personal journey led her to where she is now- suffering crippling anxiety and other issues- she found yoga and meditation to be healing for her. She studied the connection between mind and body and learned techniques to help others- which she has been doing for many years- not only locally, but around the world. From victims of human sex trafficking to veterans of wars to people with severe anxiety or those who have suffered tremendous losses, these techniques are quite successful. The way in which our breathing changes, our heartrate increases or decreases, blood flow to vital areas decreases all affect our entire being. When our core constricts we can experience stomach ailments, when our brain won’t shut off at night, our sleep is impacted which then impacts our functioning in general.
I am not going to remember everything she said or did, but I will be getting info from her to share with you al at a later email.
We began by “waking up” our body. We rubbed our hands together, massaged our faces, gently pinched our earlobes, tapped our faces, our chests, arms and so on all the way down. We also shared our individual post-trauma ailments so Stacy had an idea from where we were all coming.
We did some energy exercises- one where we all stood side by side in a circle and gradually closed the circle so that we were quite squished, shoulder to shoulder. Gradually you could feel a group swaying movement- all of our energies coming together. It was pretty cool.
At some point we went to the floor- paired up with a partner. I really can’t recall everything we did but this one thing is my favorite- I learned it years ago at another Stacy workshop- and when I cannot sleep I do this and it is amazing how it helps.
To begin- one partner lays on their back with their knees bent, feet pulled in towards their behind. The other partner starts off at the lying person’s side and their job is to observe. They are asked to watch for their partner’s facial expressions, ease (or not) of breathing, where that breath is (chest, upper abdomen, lower abdomen.). They then move to the foot end of their partner and continue observing. The person lying down is asked to bring both soles of feet together, butterfly style. They then very slowly lift their hips about an inch or two off the ground, until their hips and legs begin shaking. They are instructed not to try and stop the shaking as that is the pent up energy trying to escape. (Stacy gave the example of a jungle animal who is attacked by another jungle animal. They survive but after they are safe their body just quivers all over…..and then they are ok and go on with their day. That traumatic energy has been released.
So- after a minute or three the lying down partner is instructed to lower their hips and just feel how their body touches the ground. The next thing they are asked to do is to very slowly lift their still folded legs upwards until they, once again, experience the quivering. Then lower and relax. I can tell you from a personal experience, I felt my body melt into the floor.
At some point – I think after the chairs and before the floor, we took a break and enjoyed bagels and cream cheese and various chips and casual conversation. We toured the building- how would you like to work in an office that has a hammock and wonderful floor cushions!
All in all it was a special experience and we are already in planning stages for our next time with Stacy- maybe change in up a bit. A huge thanks to Stacy for giving up her Sunday for us.