shelter in the storm

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I have been reflecting on the effects of long-term, chronic stress.  I have also been feeling them.  I recently read about the phenomenon of “biological weathering.”

The term “weathering” describes how the constant stress of racism may lead to premature biological aging and poor health outcomes for black people, like disproportionately high death rates from chronic conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and most cancers.

Mental anguish and stress from “fighting against larger structures and systems can have an impact on your health,” Joia Crear-Perry, M.D., founder and president of the National Birth Equity Collaborative, tells SELF. This, in a nutshell, is weathering. https://www.self.com/story/weathering-and-its-deadly-effect-on-black-mothers

The pandemic is weathering us.  A disastrous, divisive, ugly presidency weathers us.  Witnessing the endlessly brutal effects of racism on our black brothers and sisters is weathering.  And on and on.

There are things that we can do to mitigate the harms.  Practical, heart and mind strategies to help us find shelter in the storm.  Many of them are simple, some are deeper and more detailed.  In my work as a trauma-informed somatic practitioner, I am helping folks discover ways to navigate the turbulence, the uncertainty, the anguish of these times, and open to greater ease and heartful engagement.

I am offering telehealth, teletherapy sessions based on the principles of  Somatic Experiencing®,  a body-oriented approach to the healing of trauma and other stress disorders developed by Dr. Peter A. Levine. SE engages both body and mind, focusing on regulation and repair. Listening to the body and our emotional responses, helps us to gain balance and calm. By establishing effective defensive responses, we create better boundaries and a feeling of greater empowerment and agency. Somatic Experiencing® focuses on the sensations that lie beneath our feelings and uncovering our habitual responses to these feelings. Clients develop increased tolerance for difficult bodily sensations and suppressed emotions, helping them to gain access to greater resilience and expressivity, while learning how to stay in the present moment.

During this time I am offering sessions on a sliding scale.  If you would like to schedule a session and explore some supportive possibilities, you can contact me at pjj@paulajosajones.org.

In the meantime, be well, be safe.

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fierce, brilliant beauty

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I have been wanting to write something, but words fail me.  I feel that I have an obligation to speak, to join the big turbulent river of outrage, unrest, change, transformation, fury, sorrow, horror, and compassion.

As a privileged white woman, I question my voice.  As a queer woman, I know something about this ground.  My two daughters are Nepali, I have a black son-in-law, and two half-black, half-Nepali grandchildren. We are an American multi-ethnic, gender-fluid family.

I have been hearing so many voices, so many wise and rich perspectives, but I have been missing the unvarnished, unapologetic outrage until I heard Kimberley Jones on John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight. Her understanding of the historic (and ongoing) denigration and obstruction of black and brown people is brilliant.

I am grateful beyond words for her passion, her clarity, her bravery. I want everyone to hear her, to fully grasp what she is saying, and to share it.

finding fluid resilience

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Here is your weekend meditation.  Just spend a few minutes watching the jellyfish (video below).  Notice the pulsation, the opening and closing – letting in, letting out – the softness and ease of their movement, the drift, and the ways they are carried and supported by their watery environment.  Their effortless, casual connection with each other – sometimes the bells touching and other times, just the long tendrils passing by.

I like to feel that even as we are physically apart, that the tendrils of our love, our deeper social connections – the ones that do not rely on physical proximity – are passing near, gliding and drifting together, all part of our communal knowing, our social expression.

Can you allow these images to support your own watery, flowing body? Enjoy!

 

 

 

moving, softening, opening

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Here is the second of my somatic meditations.  This one invites you into movement.  I hope that you will find it nourishing.  Please share it with anyone who might find it helpful.

As I mentioned before, I am “seeing” students and clients online at this time.  My work with trauma is deeply informed by Somatic Experiencing, as well as my work as a somatic movement therapist and educator.  At this time, I am particularly supporting those who are feeling overwhelmed, lost, sad, fearful, or isolated.

If I can be of help or if you would like to have a conversation, please contact me at pjj@paulajosajones.org.