Tarka #015

On Healing & Intimacy

On Healing & Intimacy

“No [wo]man is an island.” - John Donne

Like other pack animals, human beings begin and survive early life through union and community. We are resilient and independent creatures, yet our flourishing can often be measured by the level of connection and care we experience. Being in relationship to others is so central to human existence that it might seem like we all should know what we are doing. Yet, like breathing, there is so much more we can learn. With skill and attention, learned behaviors can be modified, communication improved, hearts opened.

One of the more challenging aspects of surviving trauma is the effect it can have upon relationships. While love certainly has the power to heal, often the residual effects of trauma both limit the survivor’s ability to connect and may also impact the way they communicate. In this regard, survivors of trauma have an acute need for deep and meaningful connections and also require support so that they are able to cultivate these relationships.

In this month’s opening article, “Re-Pairing: Seven Principles for Enlightening Conversations,” David Bullard offers an excerpt from his book in progress. Here he delves into negative emotions, judgements, and argument, to look for tools and practical approaches for developing better communication with loved ones.

Robyn Smith’s “The Yoga of Healthy Relationships: Using Embodied Communication to Create Deeper Connections,” discusses insight from Smith’s work as a relationship coach and yoga teacher. Smith teaches the Yoga of Relationships and uses a technique that she’s coined, Embodied Communication to reduce petty arguments and improve communication.

Next, Bullard, who is also teaching the course Re-Pairing: Practices for Cultivating the Embodiment of Intimacy, at Embodied Philosophy this month, includes an interview that addresses the influence of Buddhist principles and practices on his work as a couple’s therapist.

Subsequently, we have two articles from the group of researchers, Emma M. Millon, Han Yan M. Chang, and Tracey J. Shors, that both consider the role of stressful memories as ruminative thoughts and how this relates to women’s ability to heal trauma caused by sexual violence. The first article establishes groundwork for the second. In both, rumination, the “repeated rehearsal of thoughts [which are]…usually autobiographical, negative in nature and about the past,” is identified as a cognitive habit that prolongs the experience of trauma, especially for survivors of sexual violence.

The second article (written at an earlier date) discusses MAP training, a therapeutic approach that combines mental training like meditation with aerobic exercise to help individuals heal from trauma. The two articles together demonstrate why approaches like MAP training are especially effective for coping with ruminative thoughts and healing.

Next, Michelle Woo interviews Zabie Yamasaki in, “In the Aftermath of Sexual Assault, Yoga Provides Healing.” Zabie is an activist, yoga teacher, and survivor of trauma who specializes in supporting survivors of sexual assault through trauma informed yoga. The interview details aspects of Zabie’s teaching and provides first-hand accounts from some of her students.

Drawing on foundational thinkers in somatic and eco-psychology, and post-colonial thought, Chanda Williams writes about the restorative value of connecting to nature and, in her words, “being present with the land.” The relationship we cultivate with the natural world around us deeply effects how we relate to everything else.

Martha Eddy’s, “Somatic Practices and Dance: Global Influences,” continues the inquiry into the history and development of somatic therapies (found in her Tarka #14, “Intersectionality,” article) by specifically looking at the influence of global dance traditions. She also speculates about why the history of these various movements are not more widely recognized in somatic practice and subsequently draws the reader’s attention towards a broader appreciation of some of the founders of somatic practice and the significance of recognizing cross-cultural influences.

Isa Gucciardi’s “Mothering and Matriarchy,” addresses the relationship that every individual, in differing ways, cultivates with mothering and motherhood. This article, part social critique, part plea for a greater social/ecological awareness, looks at an example of the Iroquois matriarchal society to demonstrate how the skill of caring for others can be cultivated by establishing a stronger connection with the natural world.

Finally, Katy Jane’s, “Sonic Healing through Vedic Chanting,” gives an account of Jane’s experience in India during Navarātri (“Nine Nights of the Goddess”). Jane discusses Vedic chanting as “vibrational medicine,” and details the six rules of chanting that relate to the six cakras in the body. When followed, this process leads to healing, for the one chanting and for those around them.

The content in this month’s Tarka supports the Certificate program in Embodied Healing and the recent conference Tracing Trauma. It also provides some diverse perspectives that will enrich the course offering, Re-Pairing: Practices for Cultivating the Embodiment of Intimacy offered this month.

Stephanie CoriglianoTARKA Managing Editor