A (friendly) challenge! – and Gabor Mate

I hope that you are having a safe and awesome summer, filled with pleasant blessings and surprises.

There is a lot that I want to be able to teach you about fear, hope, vitality, overwhelm and the human nervous system.

Some of what I want to teach you, I know really well inside myself.
But what I don’t necessarily know are:
– how to put words around what I know that will enable you to also know it
– how many different things can get in the way of you even understanding what I am talking about

And some of what I want to teach you, I only have glimmers of. There are things I am just beginning to learn inside myself, and I can tell there’s much more. To use a martial arts analogy, I know that I know a lot of stuff, but I don’t know whether I am a first degree black belt or a yellow belt! I know that I know a lot and I know that there is a lot more to know that I can’t even envision yet.

Sometimes it’s a glimmer – like I get the flavor of something – it’s hope – or possibility – or insight – but it’s fuzzy, not clear…

As humans, and especially as traumatized humans, we have many layers of unconscious activity and awareness and self-protection, all running constantly, even when we sleep. Because of this exquisite complexity in our body-mind system, growth, awareness and healing simply are not simple or straightforward.


 But the fact that we are not simple and that growth is not simple doesn’t mean that simple practices don’t work!
They can and they do!
However, a practice that works well for one person make make things worse for another person.
And a practice that really helps can suddenly stop helping.
There is no sure formula.


As I continue with my work, both inside myself and with my clients and peers, I am coming to believe that self practices are truly a key element in our healing and growth. 

If you have read this far, I invite you to a self-practice challenge!

Choose a practice and set an intention to do the practice at least once a day for at least a week. 
You are welcome set the intention for several times per day, and you are welcome to choose multiple practices. But at least one practice at least once a day.

Then do the practice, and every day make some notes on how it is for you. And if you miss a day, just keep going, don’t worry, don’t blame yourself, just continue on. Mistakes are guaranteed!

I can share a self practice story, based on this practice:

I did this practice pretty regularly over the past few weeks, but with just one item rather than five.

When looking for characteristics, here is what I saw – these are from my notes from recent practices. It doesn’t really matter what the objects were, they were various neutral objects.

big nose, straight spine, angry.
Strong. Fierce. Powerful. Frightening. She gets what she wants.
Smelly, gross, in the way
Hovering, peering, foreboding
severe, distant, angry

Then this past week, I was on vacation with my partner, and one of the last days of vacation I did the practice and here’s what I saw:

Ice bucket – just holds things

I’m not sure I can explain the sense of encouragement that I felt when that happened. It was clearly a metaphor for me being able to “just” hold challenging feelings and emotions, my fear, my anger, my confusion, and the upset or fear or distress of people in my life and of my clients, as well as their hope and life force.

There was a sweet and powerful neutrality in sensing how I can just hold feelings like an ice bucket holds ice, no big deal, it’s just what I do.

Now, I don’t think that this specific practice brought about the change in my body, to where it feels more natural and comfortable than before to hold all manner of emotions. But doing the practice allowed me to notice it, to feel it, and to embrace that experience, to make it real for myself.

I will post this self practice challenge in my Facebook group and I invite you to drop in and share:

– what practice you are doing
– how it’s going
– any insights or surprises 

Click here to join or visit my Facebook group for discussing the developmental trauma healing journey

And if you are still with me, there is one more thing I want to share.

Gabor Mate is one of the great trauma pioneers of this time. I have not studied with him (yet?) but I have heard from many people whom I respect that he is a truly thoughtful and insightful teacher. Gabor Mate has released a movie about trauma. It came out a month or so ago, accompanied by a bunch of talks. I did not catch the movie the first time around, I just saw the brief preview. But I have registered to watch it at the end of this month, when the whole set of talks – and the movie – are being re-broadcast.

Clearly the folks putting this together are harvesting emails for whatever outreach they are planning to do going forward. And they do request a donation to access this material, but a donation is not required. I am trusting here that the whole endeavor is a genuine good faith effort to make our cultures more trauma-aware, thus more compassionate and effective.

Many of you are in connected into circles where you have already heard about this, I’m sure quite a few of you have already seen the movie. But for those of you who are not plugged into other trauma-aware circles, I wanted to make you aware of this and invite you to consider signing up and watching.

Here’s the link to sign up for the movie

Here in closing are a few self-practices you could consider for the challenge, or choose any practice that works for you!

So much love to you, the perfectly imperfect you!

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