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Lesson 1, Chapters 10-11


Nicole
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Q: Complete the body practices starting on pg. 141, which are written within Chapter 10. Which practices do not seem appropriate for a correctional setting?

Q. Complete the body practices starting on pg. 155, which are written within Chapter 11. How might they be utilized in a correctional setting?

This topic was modified 11 months ago by Nicole

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David Westlake
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pg. 141 Thanks for the chance to go through these. I like how visceral they are in my body. It seems that folks could use all of these depending on where they were or what they were doing at the time. Some are louder than the others so may not be appropriate at all times. Breathing into the belly, 20's and touching the areas of trauma seem to be universal gestures that could be completed whenever one had some personal or exercise time. Any of them that makes noise just have to be done with this in mind. Humming, singing and chanting would need to be done with an awareness of who might be listening or annoyed. 

pg. 155 I appreciate these one too. All very practical. The last two seem a little complicated to do if incarcerated especially with the need to have a special Balancing Bird and oil/lotion to use. 

 


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Shawn
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I really loved these chapters. I love that they offer the foundations and opportunities to take action, providing something tangible to begin the work towards healing. 

1. I believe that most of the practices offered in Ch. 10 could be used in a correctional setting.The Belly Breathing, Slow Rocking, Rubbing Your Belly, 20's and Breath, Ground and Resource seem appropriate in general. I agree with David, that one would need to be mindful of their surroundings if practicing Humming, Buzzing, Om-ing, Singing Aloud and Chanting, although they might be better in a class setting with the option to join and not necessarily done alone, unless that person feels safe to do so. The only one that seems questionable in a correctional setting is the Touching Your Discomfort practice. This might be a better practice to try with a therapist and not necessarily alone or even in a class setting, especially if new to the practices, and depending on how much trauma is present. It could be triggering even if focusing on a moderately painful incident.

2. The practices from Ch. 11 could be introduced in a class setting with guidance (and then independently), with the exception of the Finger Balance and the lotion and oil on the hands. These might be challenging to acquire in a correctional facility. Although the Soothing Your Hands practice could be modified by just exploring the hands, fingers and palms by rubbing them with the opposite hand and holding your own hands and exploring sensations as you do so. I would just add that many of these practices ask the participant to close the eyes. In a correctional setting especially, I would offer this as a suggestion. 


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Joanna
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Greetings and my apologies for my absence, I have been away helping my daughter but it is great to be back to the book and incorporating the practices. I had some interesting reminders while reading these chapters. The humming was a particularly powerful practice - I personally do not hum, I have a paralyzed vocal cord so it is pretty much impossible but I think about humming. My daughter who I was visiting is turning 25 next week and for as long as I can remember she has been a hummer from the earliest sounds she made to the present. I would often find her behind the couch playing and humming and it was so sweet and I understand the peace that comes from it. My mother was also a hummer, always sharing the tunes that would run through her. I think humming is definitely a positive contagion for those around the hummers as long as it is calm and quiet so that could be done in a facility.

I feel like rocking has been given a negative connotation with the perception that the action denotes mental illness but when we think of the soothingness of a rocking chair and our grandmothers gently rocking or just feeling that sensation it is also a powerful calming practice . Buzzing, chanting, singing are also options depending on the person's situation if they have their own cell or even just mentally practicing these activities with very little sound. I particularly like the 20's rolling the joints and that is something that can be done in bed, morning and evenings, along with the body scan and the coming into the room. 

Several years ago my nephew went to Vietnam with his wife to visit family - he brought back two bamboo birds, one for each of my daughters and he showed us how to balance it on the fingertip. Of course we thought them very cool but did not realize their true purpose. I was so excited to read about this practice and now have the birds hold a special meaning for me and I have them in my yoga meditation room!

 


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Laura
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1. I thought that many of the practices could potentially be used in a correctional facility. The sound or rubbing ones would depend on how comfortable the person felt if not alone. I also wondered if they are as effective in loud environments.  I am curious about the touching your discomfort without a safe person to check in with. But, it does say not traumatic.  I too also wondered about the stigma of rocking. Again, if in a communal space some of these require a secure sense of self/not being worried about what others think or will say.

I immediately thought about how my son hums and has hummed since he was very little. My mom has always said it is a happy sound. He definitely is the most settled when he is humming so I can see why she senses his happiness when he hums. Anxiety has always shown up in his life and he began humming instinctively to self-soothe. I had to advocate for him in school when it bothered some teachers. He also liked to rub the tip of your finger while sitting on your lap. I think this is similar to the rubbing your belly or how people carry a worry stone in their pocket to rub.  When I read this chapter it really reminded me of how kids instinctively know these tools to self-soothe that we often take away from them or shame them about (thumb sucking, rocking, humming).

 

2. I really loved these practices and could see using many of these practices. I never knew about the balancing bird and order some for me and my son and to hand out to people I work with. I particularly liked the one where you imagine a person, animal or place that makes you feel safe. This can be done anywhere. It is also a way to build community in a constricted setting by re-membering people in your support corner using visualizations.


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Caroline
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I wonder if "making noise" like with humming, buzzing, or om-ing is "allowed" in a correctional setting.  I don't know the protocols and I am curious what is acceptable or permissible.  The same questioning goes with rocking; how would this be perceived and viewed by the CO's or other individuals experiencing incarceration?  My sense is protection and remaining "invisible" to avoid conflict or draw attention to oneself in a correctional setting.  I have this internal alert going off to protect oneself because the environment is unpredictable and seemingly unsafe.  Maybe I am wrong; that is my perception of prison though. 

The practices I think could be safe would be 20's, rubbing your belly, belly breathing, breathing & grounding.  These practices could be done in one's cell or in common areas where it is not visible to others if mindful breathing and grounding practices are engaged.

I am curious about what is "allowed" in a correctional setting and look forward to hearing more about the dynamic from others who may have experience.


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Caroline
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Question 2 (Chapter 11)

I tried to edit my first post to include reflections on question 2 and received an "expired" message after I typed in my thoughts.  So, I'll consolidate here in my second go!  Basically, I wonder about the safety aspect of closing one's eyes during some of these body and breathing practices.  For individuals experiencing incarceration, I am curious about their experience of awareness and comfort around closing their eyes in a non-sleep experience.  Maybe that is challenging too.  If I were teaching a yoga class, I would invite individuals to close their eyes if comfortable.  I think some of these practices could be helpful like the body scan, squeezing/holding, and self-soothing one's hands.  Some of the others which include a visualization with closed eyes, I wonder about practicability in a correctional setting.


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Nicole
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I am loving all of the thoughtful responses here! 

@shawn-chereskin

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@joannathurmancomcast-net

@lslakey

@carolinecl

 

I want to acknowledge a few general themes I see happening in this thread:

- We definitely, always want to offer the choice of closing one's eyes. I appreciate everyone's intuition on this even if you have not been inside. I always use this specific phrase for a final resting pose, " You are welcome to close your eyes. I will keep mine open to guard this space for you to rest." 

- I do not feel that the "Touching Your Discomfort" Activity would be very appropriate for this setting unless you were working in partnership with a therapist. This feels like a situation where someone could become triggered past the point of being able to regulate, and we would not be able to stay for long enough to provide resourcing.

- Activities such as Om-ing and Chanting may be perceived as religious practices (as they are for many) and could be very controversial. We do consider our trauma-informed practice to be secular, so it is important to honor that there may be a diverse group with different beliefs and faiths. In certain states, especially southern states in the US, this might best be avoided altogether. 

- Humming, buzzing, rocking, and singing all may depend upon the environment you are in. Many participants practice in loud rooms with other people in the room that are not doing yoga. Consider how they may feel engaging in these practices while others may witness. 

- There may be circumstances where singing, etc. are not allowed, but I have not encountered this. I am curious to hear from @shawn-chereskin and @breathingstillnessgmail-com to hear their take. If anything, I anticipate a situation where a correctional officer or outside person may mock this practice.

- While overall there may not be specific rules about these practices, always keeping the participants and their experience in mind is key!

 

 

This post was modified 10 months ago by Nicole

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Nicole
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@joannathurmancomcast-net love the pic! Thanks for sharing!


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Shawn
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@nicole I know I answered this question during our time together on Saturday, but thought I'd answer here as well. While teaching, I have never encountered a situation where we weren't allowed to sing, chant or hum, but I usually stay away from these practices since there is almost always a CO in the room or other inmates walking through the room while we are practicing together. I never want our practices to be misunderstood or come off as religious or even just strange or like you noted, doing something that will be mocked during or after. I have, however, offered bumble bee breath and lion's breath as an option in classes if the participants feel safe and comfortable trying them out. And, I usually wait to offer these options until a level of trust and rapport have been established. Most of the participants enjoy these and we even get some laughs, but there are always a few that don't feel comfortable trying them out, and of course, that is ok. 


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Nicole
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@shawn-chereskin Thank you for sharing here as well, so helpful!


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Marjorie
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1) I think that all breathing exercices are appropriated, I just have dubt about buzzing, humming, chanting because some people can not be confortable doing using the voice, and making sounds, at least I would do this king of exercices after a while. I wish that it would be possible to make a Ohm, also after a while, when the participants would get used to do yoga, would gave up their prejudices and would feel the feeling of union with the other participants, gaving up the feeling to be judged, or to judge. Also I doubt about the rubbing belly, working with people who get troubles with the justice, without to know their past, I wouldn't do exercices which encourage them to rubbing their body. I canno't know what can wake up this kind of exercice, in the mind of the person, trauma that she experienced or trauma that she created..?

Also, slow rocking would depend of the capacity to letting go, but some people couldn't feel confortable in doing free movement, they would also just not feel who they have to move, what they have to do... For someone who is a constant state of control, with probably dissociation, it is difficult to feel what need the body, and let's it moving freely.

I would have doubt concerning "touching your disconfort", because I wouldn't be the psychologist, and I would be scared to bring them in zone which would be complicated for them. I would probably approach the topic in another what, like doing meditation, I could encourage them to focus on a pain and encourage them to accept it, as it is. With that exercice, I could explain that it is possible to do the same concerning a traumatic experience, but I am not sure if I would feel at my place (or my role) as a yoga teacher bringing them to focus directly on a traumatic experience. I remember that in the programme of Mindfulness (MBSR), it does exist a meditation focused on a a fisical pain, but it doesn't not approach the topic of a traumatic accident. However, doing that exercice, approaching the topic of a traumatic event, I would like to collaborate with the psychologist of the detention center.

 

2) "Breath, ground.... revisitted", would be a good exercice  of meditation."Squeez", I would do that exercice with some changed. I would encouraging them to do a self massage, where they feel tension, but it could be difficul to bring the participants to do that exercice at the begening of a yoga program, because it can be difficult for them to realize where they have tensions. I used to do it with some self massages with the youth of the juvenil center where I do yoga classes, and in a mental heatlh center, but I start with them guiding them. Some participants can recognize some tensions, others are totally disconnected of their body.

All exercices are good exercices of mindfulness, that I could encourage the participants to do at their room, but I don't know if a dollar or a lotion is appropriated.


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Kristin
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Pg 141

Having worked with youth in a probation setting, I have used some of the breathing exercises, particularly the humming and the belly breathing. In my experience, the kids will make jokes out of discomfort and embarrassment, but ultimately they end up really liking breathing exercises. I have found that breathing exercises empower people to feel present in their own bodies and take control of their overwhelming anxiety and discomfort.

 

Pg 155

The body awareness/guided meditation-type practices are so valuable for giving people a level or presence and freedom in their physical bodies. Some have felt unsafe their entire lives, and these exercises can be such a gift!


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Sarah
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Q: Complete the body practices starting on pg. 141, which are written within Chapter 10. Which practices do not seem appropriate for a correctional setting?

I personally am made uncomfortable by the idea of completing these in a correctional setting: "Buzzing" exercise, the "Slow Rocking" exercise, "Rubbing Your Belly" exercise, "om-ing" exercise, "singing aloud to yourself" exercise, and the "touching your discomfort" exercise. Too much noise may drive some over the edge, the rocking is triggering for me, I think too much touching ourselves in front of others is also a risk, and maybe if it wasn't called 'touching your discomfort'. I think there are clear adaptations that could be made so one could practice similar and effective exercises. There are so many options available, but being sensitive to the environment and the ability to control one's self is the priority. Also, the length of time the students have been practicing and their own comfort and the rules of the institution are important. 

Q. Complete the body practices starting on pg. 155, which are written within Chapter 11. How might they be utilized in a correctional setting?

I love these exercises! They are very safe, meditative, thoughtful, and very efficient and thorough. I think the balancing bird one may be a bit difficult or impossible but the other exercises are simple meditations that folks can be walked through. I would probably start, "These exercises may bring some things up, but they're meant to help. Know that no matter what you experience, you are safe, we are all going to be feeling things, and that this exercise is going to help us all moving forward." Just being so present and aware is part of the practice. 


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