Friday, June 4, 2010

Don't Forget to Breathe

I love it when different parts of my life overlap with each other in surprising ways. It can occasionally be strange, but it's often wonderful and informative. Today was one of those good overlap days. Interlake had its annual Teacher Retreat today (also known as an in-service with a special name), and our morning guest speaker was Laura van Dernoot Lipsky. She's a trauma counselor, the director of a Spanish-language preschool here in Seattle, and the author of "Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others". Oh, and she's full of enthusiasm and she's WONDERFUL.

She spent the morning talking about how to use the idea of trauma stewardship as preschool teachers, mostly on the ways that we habitually react to stressful situations at work (of which there are many) and what to do with those reactions. The more she talked, the more I realized that what she was talking about was essentially the philosophy behind Feldenkrais. She spoke about "quality of presence" and how to keep ourselves attentive and useful. (We talk about "quality of touch" in Feldenkrais.) She talked a lot about mindfulness, and about remembering to make space in ourselves for, well, ourselves, and figuring out how to let all the other stuff go. (In Feldenkrais, you can't help someone unless you're coming from a place that's YOU and not everyone else's stuff that got shoved into you.)

At one point, Laura was talking about anger, and about how you don't really know what real anger is until you've experienced it, and once you have, you don't want to go back there. That gave me the shivers, as I remembered back to September and the anger and hatred I drowned in for a few days while dealing with the emotional leftovers from 13 years ago. What a completely awful sensation. Please, whatever powers are out there, don't make me go through that again.

I now have a signed copy of her book waiting for me to read it. It's not as though mindfulness is a new thing or specific to Feldenkrais - as Laura reminded us, it's what our ancestors have always tried to teach us. I just love parallels. I also like being reminded of things I forgot I knew.

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