Updated: 4 days ago
Gina Duran started out on a Somatic Journey which evolved into a SOMATIC AWAKENING.
She has been on a healing journey for years: yoga, talk therapy, EMDR, art, massage therapy and plant medicine.
However, her body was holding a lot of physical pain (related to her life experiences). She had learned to soldier on, to live with it and had various ways to find relief temporarily.
She had taken few of my classes years ago and we had connected as yoga colleagues. She felt drawn to somatic bodywork and finally reached out to initiate the conversation.
As we embarked on a 10 week series of sessions, her pain began to lessen and eventually vanish. In the process, Gina was able to recover memories and come to terms with trauma that she has been holding unconsciously.
In this beautiful interview Gina shares about:
-Her work as an Artist, Activist and Poet
-The experience of consciously revisiting and integrating traumatic life events
-Noticing her body deeply shift and change, her voice and her expression become more authentic
-Her use of plant medicine as a way to open up to self-love and integrate somatic bodywork
-Collective love and self-love and how communities need both to thrive and evolve
and so much more!
Working with Gina has been deeply inspiring and exciting for me, she was holding so much and it's deeply satisfying to see her feeling free, happy and at ease in her body. I look forward to seeing what incredible work she bings forward in this new chapter of her life.
Gina Duran is the founder and teaching artist for the IE Hope Collective; an outreach that helps people living on the streets and in shelters, and provides poetry, art, and yoga workshops for low-income, homeless, foster, refugee, and LGBTQ2S+ youth.
She was the Guest Editor of Boundless 2022, of The Rio Grande Valley International Poetry Festival and is currently the Host for The Collective on KQBH and Spotify. Duran teaches yoga, mindfulness, poetry and art workshops for EOPS, NextUp, CalWorks, the CARE Program, and Foster Youth at Chaffey College, and has taught workshops at the University of Redlands, Pitzer College, Ontario TAY Center, Joshua Home: an LGBTQ Youth Safe Haven, and the Pomona School District.
Works from her debut collection of poetry “…and so, the Wind was Born,” published by FlowerSong Press (2021) can be found in the Her Story Mixed Tape Collection at the Autry Museum of the American West, in LA and Life in Quarantine project, at Stanford University.
Her research Sexual Violence and the Assimilation Response of LGBTQ2 Female Identified Latina and Indigenous Americans, published by the University of Illinois Urbana-Chanpaign (2018) informs her art, poetry, and efforts for marginalized youth. When she's not making art and building community, Duran is a first semester MFA Grad student at Antioch University (in LA) while she works as a Substitute teacher, Yoga Instructor, Massage Therapist, and youth program director. She feels art and community can and will lead to positive change.
Your Podcast, Your Way: Transcripts for Every Listener
A: Hello everybody and welcome to Free Your Soma, Stories of Somatic Awakening and How to Live from the Inside Out. I am joined today by Gina Durand, who is a teacher, activist, poet, a yoga teacher and a massage therapist. She's the author of a book, And So the Wind was Born. It's a book of autobiographical confessional poetry that I recently finished reading, really remarkable writing. And she's here to share not only about her ethos and the things she's passionate about, creating communal love. She's also the host of her own radio program, which you can also find on Spotify now I think, right, and other podcast stations. Maybe she'll tell you in a minute, right? But it's on KQBH. It's called The Collective. And yeah, we're also going to share about the amazing 10 weeks that Gina and I just spent together doing somatic education, working hands on to release the traumatic experiences, the stories and the physical pain that had a grip on her body and had had a grip on her body for a long time. So we're going to explore that too, the way that she has experienced this somatic awakening. So thank you so much, Gina, for being here today and sharing your amazing story. Thank you for having me. Yeah. Would you just introduce yourselves a little bit to our audience, give them an idea of, you know, who you are and what you're about?
G: So I'm a poet and I use my, and I'm also a researcher. So I do a lot of research at colleges, such as on immigration and sexual violence and the assimilation response. And that's my phrasing. I, so I have to also quote that because I, at the University of Illinois, Urbana, Champaign, they own the rights. So sexual violence and the assimilation response, a female identified LGBTQ to Indigenous and Latin, sorry, Latina Americans. There you go. Very long title to help explain the research. So what I did is I did a lot of research on sexual violence and also immigration and I combined those two, but I also have my own life experiences. And then I went to recreate basically in a visual, an artistic way and performative way in, at Pitzer College. So after I did the research at the University of Illinois, I then did this whole performance with an installation. And, and then I also wrote poetry about it too, which eventually became my book. And so the wind was born. So, and then I use that, all that work that I did for the research, the art and the poetry and I, and the book, and I use that now for foster youth and homeless LGBTQ youth and refugee youth. So, and now also at juvenile halls and camps.
A: Oh, yes. So what I think is amazing, we'll get into this a little bit more, is the way that you, you know, you recognize the life experiences that you've had and, you know, you've had some very intense, especially early life experiences. And you see how those experiences aren't just things that have affected you, but they affect other people who are similar in many ways to you, whether they are, you know, immigrants or whether they are LVGTQ or in a whole variety of categories, how these kind of experiences don't just happen to you, they happen to other people. And so kind of taking and looking at it communally, looking at that, like, as how it affects a community when you have people who are living with a lot of trauma and pain, right, in their body. And you can understand that deeply because that's where you've come from as well. So I just think it's so amazing how you really branch out and you have this act of service at the same time you are have been living with these memories and these experiences that you are also simultaneously drawing from as you relate this work to a larger community.
G: Yes, excellent point. Well, service, I think, is actually where I started. I started at service rather than the self. And I think that's the reason why I've always been really huge on service. Ever since I was nine years old, I actually started helping the homeless and going to Skid Row to help. So and this is why I started my organization, the I Hope Collective. So it originally started helping homeless by going out onto the streets and giving essential items such as clothes and water and food. So and jackets, you know, just like rain gear, things like that, blankets, sleeping bags.
A: Yeah, yeah, I think that that's a really amazing place when we're starting on a healing journey and we're not quite ready or we don't have the skills or the tools to completely direct that, you know, that healing force that ourselves, we can start outward, we can start with the external and we can start creating more, I guess, creating more safety in the world around us, right? When we're not it maybe as of yet quite clear how to create that safety within ourselves. And so I love how you say you started kind of with service and you started with the external and doing a lot of outreach and making a difference there. And then you got to the point in your journey where it was time, maybe it's even what's happening now, it's time to start kind of redirecting more of that more consciously inward for yourself. But I do want to say, you know, you have already gone through, you know, by the time that we met each other, which was at a yoga studio, right? Yoga. You've already gone through yoga trainings, you had already started incorporating yoga and meditation and spirituality in smaller or maybe larger ways into the work that you do with students, with, you know, activists, you're the activism that you do. Can you say a little bit about that? Because I know you've had several projects around yoga and offering these kind of healing modalities to the people in need. About the activism with the. How you've blended that because I know that you've blended that over the years.
G: Well, yes. So what I started with was my work with the homeless and then I started to do work as a community health worker. After this is after I was a massage therapist. So I decided I went into psychology. I actually am a psych psychology major. And after after massage therapy, and I got remarried. And she, my wife, my ex-wife now actually helped me go to school. So she was like, okay, you're going to go to school while the kids are in school. And don't worry about, you know, working too much during this time. And so I really appreciated that she is she and I are still friends. So I, they wanted me to do criminal justice at the school. So I also was taking criminal justice classes. I essentially have an AA in criminal justice. And I just, I didn't want to be a criminal psychologist that wasn't for me. And so I left that school and I switched to Chafee College. And that is where I started doing like all kinds of art and poetry. And I just kept taking more and more of these classes until we met. I met a very important friend of both of ours, Michelle Dowd, who actually encouraged my poetry and got me into, she said, here's this project. It's called a civic imagination go. And I was like, what? You're just going to tell me civic imagination and just decide what I'm going to create out of this because she knew I wanted to do more with the IE Hope Collective. And I was like, oh my gosh, okay, I will, I will do more with the IE Hope Collective with through the civic imagination. It'll help me, it'll help me decide what I'm going to do because I wanted to do more for for youth also. And because I was also a community health worker at that time, I, and I found out that homeless LGBTQ youth have the second highest suicide rate in the United States. And the first is Native American women. So not, sorry, Native Americans in general. Native American women are more so to be sexually violated. They have the number one in sexual violence. And guess who has the second? Homeless LGBTQ youth. So I felt like that and that is what eventually led to my research. So sexual violence is what causes suicidal ideations and suicide. And, and so that made me say, okay, what do I want to do more? And it started to connect with this community project that I was doing for Michelle, which was at the Wignall Museum of Arts. So from there, I decided, I know, I want to have them decorate socks with art. So we're going to put poems on the inside of the socks and art on the outside of the socks. So the art was being the exterior, what people see of us, and the poem being of what's inside. But some people were like, okay, I don't have a poem. It was okay to write something kind to the people that we're going to be handing the socks out to, and also jokes. And all of them were very appreciated. And the people told me that we gave the socks out to, it was in Upland, we found a large group of people that were in need. And they said that they felt like Christmas stockings. And so every, and it was just happened to be around December that I was handing these out. And it was because it was cold. And so the socks were just like an extra thing. They had regular socks too, you know, so it was, it was just a fun thing. And so from there, I decided that how I was going to work with the youth and that was to include art and poetry. And then that's also when I was at that same time, Michelle had me doing yoga classes with her. So I decided I wanted to start teaching yoga. And that's how I kind of just started to bring it all together slowly. And as I was teaching yoga, I had to have a hysterectomy. And she remember that. So like, that was, that was really hard on my body. I couldn't even walk upstairs. I was like starting to have a difficult time breathing. And I couldn't understand like, I'm this person who's usually very energetic and can just like go and go. And then all of a sudden I can't breathe walking up the stairs. Like it was very strange. It turns out I was severely anemic. And I had to have an emergency hysterectomy. And that is why I started doing restorative yoga. And why I started to include massage techniques, because we have the restorative teachers had taught, you know, all kinds of stuff to me, because I had the hysterectomy. So from there, I just started to, I think it was actually Kurt who passed away. And he was a good friend of mine. And so from it was because of him that I started to include my massage stuff. And and now I include it for my youth when I go to foster youth programs at Chaffee College. And I give them like all the all the things that he gave me and all the things that Michelle gave me. So like everyone I met kind of has something to do with why I teach the way I teach. So yeah, I mean, I feel like I've been given a lot of amazing teachers in my life.
A: Yeah, that's wonderful the way that you have, you know, just now even in expressing and sharing the story, you honor them, you point to them, you say, these people help me, it's pointing out to that community aspect again, where it's like we are, we are the community, we are receiving from others throughout our lives, we're all part of this together. And, you know, then we take that wisdom, whatever it is, those skills, and then we make them our own and we share them and we put them back out there. So like the things that you have put together are the collection of all of the wonderful teachers and all of the wonderful people who contributed to you. And then you're able to then share that in your own unique form. So that's just that's wonderful. And I'm excited because we've just done this 10 weeks of somatic movement together. And now you're practicing somatic movement on a regular basis. And so I'm sure this is gonna, it's gonna get in there, it's gonna start spreading into the other things that you do. I already has already has and getting and getting shared, which is wonderful. So would you tell her, would you tell our listeners a little bit about before like, before we started our 10 week period together? What was going on in your body that was motivating you to want to work with me?
G: So, well, I had already taken classes with you before. And I had even subbed for you because they're like, Oh, you teach, you do massage and restorative, why can't you be a sub for for Amy? So I had learned a little bit from you and I'd already taught some of it, like some of my students. So from there, I was like, Okay, Amy knows what she's doing, you and I had had lunch a few times, we had tea a few times, I started to trust you. You know, it was like, it was really hard because I had been through so many negative things, so much trauma. And I kind of at this point, didn't really want anybody to touch me. And I saw, I started to think, okay, who can I get help from? I went and I saw a somatic therapist. And he kind of I didn't really have very much trust for him. I also have my somatic psychologist, right? So she does EMDR for me. And so I liked somatic body work, basically by now. And I realized, okay, this guy isn't is making me uncomfortable. Why don't I go to somebody who I actually feel comfortable with? And how can I feel comfortable with a stranger? Oh, wait, I have a friend who does this for a living. So I reached out to you by this point, I had experienced a lot of things where I realized I needed to reach out and asked for help. Because this seems to be a big lesson for me is needing to learn how to ask for help and receive help is actually is more so I'm good at asking for help for others, but not really for myself. So I needed to learn how to receive. And I had been practicing trying to receive, but I still wasn't very good at it until I was forced into that situation by being homeless.
A: Yeah, yeah, that's like right before we started working together that you had this period of time where your living situation was really up in the air. And I know that was really stressful for you. And when you did find someplace, that's when you reached out and said, okay, I'm, you know, things are stable now and I'm ready. Right.
G: And then the blizzard happened. And you and I both experienced that, but I was doing a lot of digging and a lot of people around me needed to get out and I needed to get out to go to work. So I did a lot of shoveling and I shoveled for a lot of the elder people in the neighborhood. And I was just kind of like, okay, my body was still okay. I was thinking it was okay. What it is is I'm really good at, you know, shutting down the body from my brain and like disassociating, I mean, so, you know, I'm really good at that.
A: You gotta do what you gotta do, right? Yeah, to survive. Yeah. And, and I, you know, I encourage my clients to start to like understand that aspect of their nervous system in terms of like, you know, these tense muscles in this pain that we're having, right after we're done moving around and going and doing all the things when we go to lay down in bed, and then we're aching and we're hurting all over. It's not because our body is trying to punish us. We're feeling the impact of being in survival mode and if pushing our bodies to the limit and over the limit likely. And the reason that these patterns and contractions are happening is because your body is really smart and it's really like capable of doing the things that you need to do, but it's kind of like the lights keep getting left on, like all the muscle contractions keep getting left on instead of turned off when you're done using them, right? And so then over time, what we have is someone who is getting older and they're getting tighter and tighter and they don't feel it so much when they're moving around, but when they slow down, you know, or when they're resting or when they're done doing the thing, then they roll over in bed and their back goes out, right? Or they do some little tiny thing like reaching up for their toothbrush and they, you know, tear their rotator cuff. And it's because there's all these patterns, these muscle patterns that have just been being left on all the time and they're wasting our energy. They're, you know, they're holding every experience that ever happened to us. And as you start to release them and unwind them, you start to feel a lot different in your body. So maybe you can tell us a little bit about that. I mean, when we had our first session, it was, you know, first couple sessions were fairly intense for you, but at the end of them, you felt a lot better. Yeah.
G: So I started off with, I was limping. I could barely actually, before you started to come to my house, it was probably, what was that, like probably a week or two that I had been laying in bed a lot, because I couldn't actually even get out of bed for the first week or so because of my back and my legs and my leg, my right leg was so, and so much pain, I could barely lift it. So I was tripping a lot. It was kind of dragging. And you could, my limp was really visible by then. And my arm basically had frozen shoulder syndrome, I sent essentially, right? So I couldn't move my arm. I couldn't lift things up with it. And this is like, this is intense for somebody who's used to having a very strong body, because I was raised to do these things and like to always be strong. My parents had me lifting weights by the time I was like 11 or 10 years old. And I would have to work out, I'd have to run in the heels during, in the heat. And I'd have to carry large cinder blocks from one side of the yard to the next. And we had a quite a large yard. My grandparents had acres, and they gave like an acre to my father. So like, you know, I was carrying from one side of the yard for this really large yard with cinder blocks that I would have to carry more than one at a time, probably two to three, to try and beat the heat. And so this is from age nine to about 17, when the retaining wall was finally finished being built. So, and it was because my father was in the military. So this is, I guess, a common practice, like a lot with a lot of military people, because this isn't the first time I've, I'm not the first person to tell me this story. So I got used to like numbing myself. And so when I was out in the blizzard, I was out there shoveling and everyone's like, how are you doing this? Like, how are you shoveling so much? And it's because I'm good one, I'm really good at dissociating. And two, because I was using my inner rage. I had a lot of rage built up inside of me. And I think that's also one of the reasons why, for me, it was really hard to know that my body was telling me was probably in pain by then already. And I just was because I was using that anger inside of me for something productive. I'm really good at being productive with my with my emotions, like, through the depression I work, I write, you know, through my anger, I am active, I, I create, you know, so like, I think that's really important. It is important to utilize our emotions, but in positive healthy ways. But at some point, when it becomes unhealthy, that that's like, when do you, when do you know that? And that was really hard for me to know, because I was so good at dissociation.
A: Right, right. And also when you're acting out that, you know, that rage with physical labor, right, it feels powerful in the moment, you're like doing something, right. But then it's almost like you acted out that violence on your own body, because you go to lay down and your shoulders hurting and your neck is hurting and your back is hurting, because you were just pushing through and not really noticing the damage that you were doing to your body while you were charging forward with that. with that rage, you know? So I think times like when we get overly caught up in the emotions, they can end up, our body ends up taking the brunt of that, you know?
G: Right, right. And I mean, the blizzard was hard, but I probably could have been a little bit easier on myself is all I'm saying.
A: Yeah, yeah. So our group, you know, like there was, there were some involuntary movements that went on in your body. There was some twitching. There were, you know, some moments that you went back into certain times in your childhood and in your life experience, you know, when we were working with like a certain area of your body, there was sometimes like a flash of like a memory or a person or a feeling that came up that we recognized had been being stored in that space in your body, right? And it was, you know, not every client that I work with is like this, but it was really amazing with you to kind of see you able to acknowledge and even sometimes in the moment, like process that feeling as it came up and then you would have these nice deep inhales and exhales just in your nervous system. Your body was doing this. I watched it where you would take a nice deep breath and I could literally see you letting go of the tension in that space, you know, which is all about what this work does is help your brain and your body remember how to lengthen and relax muscles that have been holding, right?
G: Right. Well, I've been in therapy since I was like 23. Yeah. So I am very introspective. And I think that also introspection is really great for art as well as writing. And so I use those skills. And that's also what I teach to my youth and my empathy, introspection and community building. So in order to be able to teach those things, you have to have some kind of entunement to that. And then also by teaching it, you are constantly reinforcing it within yourself. So because I go to therapy and I teach this stuff, which is essentially art therapy, right? But I don't have that degree yet, that credential. So I go through my massage, my yoga, my art, my poetry and my community health worker certifications and degrees, right? So I use all that and it becomes the same exact thing. And so I'm allowed to teach it because I have all of these other skills.
A: And then just it was like watching you use those skills in the moment within yourself for your own physical experience in your body was really, really amazing. It was really beautiful, Juno. Because you were sometimes coming up against very dark things in your life experience. And I really respect that you were ready to actually unravel them and release them from the muscle fibers in your body. Because what's happened as a result of that is that you are not walking with the limb anymore, right? And throughout the time that we were working together, it was like, oh, their whole shoulder was frozen, or your neck was tight, or there were these spaces that were holding really tight. And then after the third or fourth or fifth session, it was like, oh, it's just this tiny little spot right here, just this tiny little spot that's bugging you, just right here. It's just the outside of my ankle, right here, right? This tiny little spot above the bone.
G: And I was like, it's right there, I can feel it. Yeah, because you were so powerfully efficient.
A: Your nervous system was so on board to really let this stuff go and to allow it to be integrated into your life, into your body, instead of it being like this thing that was like holding you. And kind of, you know, you don't have to dissociate as much when there isn't pain. Pain and trauma is what creates the dissociation. If you're feeling good, there's nothing to dissociate from, you can be present in your life, right?
G: Well, trauma, psychological trauma is very painful too, and that holds in the body as well. And I remember like, I know that some of the things that I was going through was psychological. And the most interesting thing for me during that whole experience is that the majority of my pain I feel is more psychological than it is actually physical. I mean, there are injuries, yes, that I did have to get past as well, but I noticed that a lot of emotions and memories were actually the things that were keeping it knotted up. And once I released those memories and I was able to actually remember some of the things, like when you parted my feet, and I suddenly went way back in time, I remembered like, oh my gosh, this actually happened to me, I know this. And it took me to more memories of things that had happened, child abuse and sexual abuse. And so from that, I realized that most of this was psychological, it was more psychological. I mean, I remember you telling me- What was What was What the injury, right? Yeah, I remember you telling me, it was like I was holding myself up when I was walking, and I was like, yeah, because I was. I felt almost like I was like an avatar. And I'm just like holding my body, like there's like a higher self of me that was holding my body upright and just kind of like moving myself like a puppet.
A: You know, that's how I felt. That's been really being in your body and filling up the space in your body, right? Because you instead what you've had were all these experiences that were painful and difficult. And going back to kind of that, we could call it like psychosomatic, right? Where it's physical muscular contraction, right? Your back hurts, your neck hurts, but the source of that is experience that happened. Maybe years ago that was an emotional, mental, psychological and physical experience because those things are never separate from each other. When someone threatens us or when we experience violence, whether it's just someone shouting at us or reaching out and grabbing us, even if they're not like physically causing us to bleed, right? Like our bodies tense up. Like we go into fight or flight and there's a whole physiological response that happens with that. So in the case of like, say sexual violence or things like this, of course the muscles of your hips and your legs and your butt and all these areas in the space of your sexual organs are going to get tense because your body's trying to protect that space from some kind of invasion or from some kind of violence that's occurring there. Like I said, even if it's not visible violence like causing you to bleed or leaving bruises, it can be emotional, mental, psychological violence, right? That has that physical intrusive element to it as well. Right.
G: And I do believe there was a moment when I was at the very end, wasn't it? I think it was like after the ninth session, I was at home and it was probably like two days later at night and all of a sudden I started to have some very vivid memories, flashbacks, I think is what they would be called because I felt like it was in the moment and I felt like the danger was approaching my body and all of a sudden because I felt like it was, like someone was about to sexually violate me, all of a sudden I just jumped and I went all in every single movement that you had moved me through, all of a sudden my arms came up in that very protective way and my knees came up and I remember when I would spasm and you would be doing the movements with me and all of a sudden my leg would kick. And like my legs were kicking in this annoyed way and I just couldn't stop getting them to kick and once I actually came to that memory, I was able to accept that that was real, that this actually happened to me and because I was able to accept it and tell myself, Gina, this happened to you because I actually basically had this argument with myself as I'm remembering things and writing them down because I'm like, this is gonna be a poem, watch because that's where I'm always at and so I'm taking notes but also for my therapist and myself so I can actually remember the details of the memories and then I was just like kicking and spasming and I knew that I needed to accept that this is what happened because I basically felt like I had amnesia. There were all these things in my body. I had approached the person who these memories were about and I had actually asked them if they had molested me and they told me no but more and more memories have been coming back so that I think I already knew. If I was approaching the person that I thought molested me and I had had these very visceral nightmares which apparently are not nightmares, they were real and I was also having flashbacks of them, right? So if I already knew all my life but I just was being told that they were just nightmares and I'm telling myself that they're just nightmares, I basically was being gaslit and brainwashed is what this is and I was still in a state of where I wanted that to be real what the lie was. I wanted the lie to be real and by the time I reached you, that lie I feel was devouring me the fear because in that lie is the fear. Yeah. Because I'm too afraid to accept the truth. So the truth is what sets you free, right? That's the old saying and it's true. Once you learn how to accept that, what actually happened to, in my case, what actually happened to me, I'll switch this, once I was fully able to accept that and start to address it, I actually was able to release my pain. Yeah. And literally release my pain, like in my hip which was tightening up and I could feel it on the inside of my hip and I guess is my psoas and we found that out later. Like after I did something and I decided to ignore one of my memories and so you're like here, do this, do these movements. So all these little things are coming up and it's all, and anytime I wanted to hold onto something by not remembering and not dealing with it, that's when it stayed in my body because I'm refusing to deal with it.
A: Yeah, well, in a way, that's this really great little way that our body just stores that. We'll just put that over there in the corner and we're not gonna deal with that right now. We'll just leave it over there and you can continue to live your life but now your shoulder's gonna hurt a little bit. And then over time, if you keep storing things there and you keep those feelings and those experiences and not dealing with them, it can result in chronic pain or illness or injury. I mean, in general, to kind of keep suppressing our traumatic experiences is just gonna keep us in a state of dysregulation on a regular basis which is part of what you were experiencing when we first started working together when you talked about how often you were having breathing issues or skin issues or digestive issues. And what I really love about this work is that it's such a gentle process. Yes, like stuff comes up but the experience itself is very, very gentle and calming and nurturing. And so we don't have to fight these experiences. We can like easefully kind of dance with them and hold them and let them soften under our careful attention and under these tiny little movements. So for anybody who's kind of listening and doesn't quite know how this works, like it is an extremely gentle process. And that's what I think makes it actually so effective. It actually allows your body to relax and come out of fight or flight for a period of time which is where these things can actually be sorted through and dealt with and integrated versus where when we stay in our fight or flight and we try to open that box with me like, nope, don't wanna deal with that. Looks like we're putting the lid back on that one. And we're gonna score it back here in my left butt cheek for a couple of minutes alone. Because I don't have the capacity while I'm all stressed out, while I'm all tense, while I'm all tight. I don't have the capacity to handle that, to deal with that. So in a way it's kind of like thank you body for like letting me keep going in my life and not deal with that right away. But then at a certain point your body's gonna be like, hey, there's stuff in here that I need you to deal with because I am hurting because we are hurting because this is not the way that we really wanna live our lives.
G: Right, yeah. And I had been going to therapy trying to dig this stuff up telling myself, why can't I remember? But I did remember, I did know the truth. And I just kept telling myself I didn't because I needed to live in denial for a very long time. And I paid the price for that. And when I was in massage school, one of my massage schools I think is like in my second year and one of the students who was working on me said to me that there was something in my second chakra. And they said that they thought that I was sexually abused. And I was like, they said, you know who they are. And I was like, no, I don't, I don't know who they are. And they said, Gina, you do. And I had asked if it was my uncle. And they said, well, you already know about him. This person that you are holding back from saying who it is, you know who it is. It's not the person that you're thinking about right now. It's not the person you're trying to convince me that it is. So that was like, that was years ago. I was, I think I was 26 or 27, something like that.
A: Yeah, I mean, to me, what took me, it's like we can hear that stuff, but until we self realize, until it's real inside our bodies, doesn't matter how many people outside of us are telling us what they can see, you know? And that's like kind of the trend of like, you know, going to see like an article or a seer, you know, unless you're in a very open and receptive place, they can tell you a bunch of stuff and it doesn't, it's not real to you. That's not gonna matter. So it doesn't matter. It's only when we're going into ourselves and experiencing it as true and as real inside ourselves that it's actually gonna change anything. Right.
G: Well, as a massage therapist, I've told lots of people this, that you don't let go, you'll get relief when you are ready. Right. And I understood that by like, my body is gonna release things and it did, it had. I had been, I mean, I had already been to massage school. I had several releases. I had several panic attacks just from people massaging me, touching my body. I dissociated severely during that time until I was finally, my body was finally adjusted to being touched in this caring way because I wasn't used to being touched in this caring way. And I was married at the time. Okay. So that just gives you a little, so I didn't have that kind of relationship with my then husband, where I felt like I was being cared for when I was touched. So when I was getting a massage, this was still very a huge shock to my body. And then that's why when I decided to go to you, I was like, okay, I'm finally found someone I know I can trust enough to touch me. And I knew like it wasn't, it's not like it's still a very intimate experience when allowing someone to touch you for a therapeutic way. It doesn't have to be romantic. So asking my friend to come and move my muscles around, just very gently move my arm or turn my chin or make my chin point up. I mean, that was a strong experience for me, right? So here I am, I had a skull fractured by the way, like since when I was one years old. So this trauma goes back very far. And here you are working with this part where I know I get lightheaded in my head and we had already talked about the trauma that I had a skull fracture and that it actually affected me mentally, right? So we were working through this process and I was like, I don't know if it's even possible for you to deal with this because I was one years old, but I feel like you did. And I think most of the pain might've come from, again, psychosomatic injury that I still hadn't released since I was one years old because I was also denied the truth about that too. So a lot of the stories of the things that I found out that happened to me came through other people, such as my aunt who passed away or even the perpetrators themselves, several of them have admitted to what they did to me thinking that it was a joke or that it was normal. And this is how I found out. So I found out in a very traumatic way too, not through some confession of where they were asking for forgiveness or anything like that. Yeah, so hang on.
A: So having someone just being there and handling you and listening and allowing these things to come up and be felt by you and you're actually being able to look at them with someone else there in this mutual space, really was what allowed this stuff that was already there that you already knew about a lot of it, right? It was like processing it again in a way that was actually efficient and actually reduced resolution in terms of, I don't have to keep like holding onto like being upset or afraid or negotiating with this. I can just see it and be with it and accept it.
G: And my therapist even saw the difference. And she's like, this is a really good friendship for you. She's your friend. She cares about you. Because like she's like, do you trust her? Kind of questions like this. And I was like, well, to an extent, I can only trust so far, but as time went on, I trusted more and more. And as time went on, like you were sitting there with me in a way that a therapist cannot, which is to actually hold me. And that's what I needed the most was to be held. And through the psychologist, I was able to talk about things that I felt were too intense to give to you. Cause I was like, okay, she's also my friend. And I want to honor that too. You know, like, so I wanted to make sure that I had the two of you at the same time. So I would go once a week to her, once a week to you. And through that, I was able to get it all out. And I think everyone has their own way. If they want to tell their person that they're working with and that person is who's working with them, the practitioner is open to it. I think that that's fine. But I don't know if I would want to give like things that are, you know, outside of their experience to them because that could be overwhelming to the practitioner, you know, to have to give something like all this sexual trauma to when I have a psychologist who is used to working with it. And that's what I pay her for. You know?
A: Well, you know, the woman who trained me, Eleanor Criswal Hannah, she is a psychotherapist and she's a Hannah Somatic educator. And you know, she teaches people how to become Hannah Somatic educators. And something that she impresses upon us over and over in our training is that, you know, we are Hannah Somatic educators, not psychologists. But that doesn't mean that we can't listen to what people have to say and we can't be present for other people in their suffering and in their pain as a human being. But in terms of feeling some kind of pressure to need to guide or, you know, help somebody work through like a traumatic experience, like we don't have to feel like that's required of us because it's not something we're being trained in, right? But we are being trained in helping people release muscular tension and pain related to the traumatic experiences, right? So there's this kind of fine balance of like, how do I stay like really present for you? And I love doing it, honestly. It's one of the greatest pleasures in life is to just be present for another person fully in their experience without judgment, without trying to fix it, without trying to do something about it from my end, but just remain neutral and just keep guiding the person back to like relaxation and letting go. And if they're not quite ready to do that, how about some more contraction first? So we can kind of do this dance between like engagement and release and engagement and release, right? and allow the person's nervous system to just keep settling down, even as these experiences are arising. And then I love that you had a therapist. I mean, a lot of people that I work with are therapists, and then they also have therapists. Right, they need therapists. It's a killer combination because you really have both, you know, you have the physical shifting that you need to actually tone your nervous system down more deeply and feel safe in your body. And you have the person who's there who you can talk it all out with and you can get that really specialized guidance and facilitation as a therapist can do.
G: Right, and I can analyze, I can sit there and analyze every single thought which I need to do because that's me. What does this mean? Why did I think this? Yeah, with you, yeah, with you, though, like I could feel the memories coming up and in even then you, I remember took that, like, as if my muscle was like the same way you did a muscle contraction. That was too painful for me to move through you realize, okay, she's having a memory, and it's similar to the muscle contraction. And so you treated it very similarly, I noticed, like you would like if my neck needed to turn a certain way, and it was holding on to something that was, you know, a memory, then you would slowly move the neck in a different direction in order to deal with that emotion so I could breathe through it.
A: And going with what's happening in your body.
G: Right, so you were also treating that emotion which I thought was really fabulous I mean, especially when the fear and rage and when rage came up, and I was like, oh, I feel all itchy inside like so I remember that and I, I think it like really helped me and I can even hear it in the tone of my voice. So that that's really great to and I think that's really really really
A: little section on your mouth and that was really interesting. Yeah.
G: Yeah, I was and I think you had me scrunch up my face even and I was like oh I don't know what I look like when I'm sad. Trying to remember. And we had to like open my jaw and clench my teeth. That was really interesting too, which then freed up my face. And I, and I was just telling you this is that earlier before the show started. My face has relaxed, and I think people are able to understand my emotions more, because I think my face would respond differently than my actual emotions. And same for my the tone in my voice. So sometimes I'm thinking if someone is like frustrating me a little bit. And I'm not like, totally angry, you know, and I would like try to address that in a calm way and I'm thinking I'm calm but my face apparently would like be unhappy, you know, like kind of scrunched at the brow or something, and maybe my tone would have a slight shift in it that I didn't recognize. But now when I am approaching people that are in their anger place, and I'm trying to stay calm with them and approach this in a, in a, in a rational way. They're actually catching that they're actually realizing that I am not responding in a in an angry way. So like I had this student who, and I was just telling you about this student who had threatened me in my class. And she came to the gymnasium, where I was to find me the next day, because she found out I was subbing downstairs and she likes to pick on subs, and she also bullied some of the kids too. So she came down and luckily we have security guards everywhere. And, and she threatened me. She said, you know, she was going to find her parents and I was just like, okay, that's fine. Go ahead. And I was like, okay, we're not going to engage anymore, we're done. And I, and I reassured her that the things that she thought, you know, was happening, you know, or being said about her was not being said. And, you know, so I then had to ask the security for help and he's like, do you have an aggressive student and I was like, yes, she's right here. So, after that, it's like a year later I've had her a couple more times since then. And it was just last week. I saw her again. And this time, she saw that I cut my hair. And she was like, why'd you cut your hair. Mr. Anne. And I told her because my aunt passed from cancer, and I wanted to celebrate her by donating 16 inches of my hair to lots of love. And she's like, oh, and then she tried to ask me some more questions again later. And we were talking about juvenile halls and camps and she's like, you understand why they're angry though right I was like, well yeah, I would be angry if I was trapped in a cage to. And she's like, oh, all of a sudden like the same things I could have had the same exact conversation with her before. And she would have probably taken it as like, I was being angry with her. But now I have my face is like more restful. My voice is calmer. And has a different tone to it. And I noticed that she then was like, cool with me. Yeah, well I was and she was she liked me.
A: Yeah, well and I think that that's a great point you just because if you have slightly like an edgy tone, or a little bit of a frown on your face, all the things that you just said can be said in a way that actually sound like upsetting. You know what I mean, like could could sound like maybe slightly sarcastic or something if the right little edge was in your voice. But the way that you would say them when you're calm when you're relaxed, when you're, you know, just conveying the the information in this like more emotive way. Right. Pre programmed already irritated you're like, you know tapping into the subtler emotions of like, yes, there's some sadness here there's some frustration here. I wouldn't like to be in a cage either. Like the whole tone is going to be received completely differently by a person. Right. When, when you're showing up that way you know the first thing I think of when you're talking about this is kind of that idea of like resting bitch face. Right. But I heard that other people have the opposite problem, where no matter whether they're upset or irritated, they look like happy. They just always like they're smiling at like smiling, resting smiling face. And it's a response if like, if so called resting bitch face is like a residue of like some kind of, you know, trauma where we're like keeping ourselves like looking on guard to like protect ourselves from other people. Right. And then like maybe resting smiling faces like fun or like, you know, pleasing and like always trying to be nice and like it can be hard for some people to change their tone to like reflect their boundaries and like how they really feel. You know what I mean. So I think you can go both ways right. Right.
G: I agree. And for me, it's like I was raised to be strong. I had to be like She-Ra and Wonder Woman and not the Wonder Woman wasn't like my one of my heroes, but I had to be strong like this is something that I was, it was completely, it was drilled in on a regular basis that I was, I had to be strong. I had to be powerful. I had to be stronger than a man. And, you know, my father would berate me on a regular basis to try and thicken my skin. So, you know, because of that, I think I learned how to have this hard shell exterior to where and I and he took me to skin row to help the homeless. Right. So I learned how to be guarded in this strong way. So that way, if I were walking down the street and because I grew up in high school where children shot themselves like they shot each other and they we had to get frisked on the way into campus. So, like, there were bars all around our school. So lots of gangs and a lot of violence. I witnessed a lot of violence. I've seen people get shot. I've had a gun in my face. I've had a shotgun pointed right at me on my birthday. So, you know, like this, and this was at a surprise party. Right. So, for me, that was traumatic. But the point is, is that I also like had to learn how to be very tough. You know, so when I'm out on the street, people don't mess with me. Yeah, they don't. And, and, and, but people at the same time when they get to know me they're like, oh my gosh, you're like so sweet and loving you're like a, you know, I don't know I've had like multiple words, you know, like a fairy kind of a thing. But like my point is though is that, you know, here I am this very gentle person, but I walk with this like this strong shell around me like, like the Hulk, that I think I mentioned that before where I always saw myself as like the Hulk, you know, trying to contain the rage so that way I don't burst out. And, and I think that's what people are seeing is that the protective exterior and I kind of had to soften that a bit for them to see like that this edgy part of me is because of trauma and need for it. Yeah, where I grew up.
A: Yeah. It's your armor. Yeah, to battle so that you could survive it is actually in a way this hardening is an act of love from your body to your body to protect you. The thing is, is that once the battle is over. Right, once you're out of that situation when now you're just talking to like, I don't know, like a 12 year old girl at like school, we don't actually need all that armor in that moment. Right. Right.
G: Yeah, I mean she also threatened me so I think that's probably why that exterior came out. And so I was thinking, oh, I got to be really protected. I have to protect myself around her. So it showed in my face and probably in my tone. And then she thought I was being aggressive with her because of the way she was being aggressive with me. Right.
A: And we can do that as a doll. Yeah, it's just part of your programming though the way you're describing it was just like part of like how you would operate. So now what's interesting is that you're getting a new way of operating. So the question I want to ask you is now that your body is not holding tight and your face is more relaxed and your tone is more relaxed and you're experiencing more ease. Do you feel weak? Or do you feel strong in your body?
G: Oh, I would say, I feel, I don't know, I've always felt strong physically. So even though I sometimes have injuries, I feel strong. So yes, I do feel strong but I would say it's more like more rooted is the word that I would say. And, but also, I feel more at peace at the same time. So I don't feel weak or or more strong. I feel more rooted and therefore stronger and more at peace. So not weak, but gentle. So I feel like the gentility of me coming out. So people are picking up more on that now than before.
A: Yeah, because I mean, you are strong, like you're a strong person with all the things that you've been through and you're physically a strong person. And, you know, that's not going to go away. You know what I mean? Like, the somatic movement, the softening, you can be soft and you can be this incredibly strong person. You can have gone through all of this crazy intense, difficult stuff and find peace and be happy. And they don't have to, they don't have to be one or the other. You know, and that's something that for me and my personal journey, it took me time to really find that because I had this belief that if I let go of these defenses, if I let go of these contractions, you know, this hard way of being that it would make me weak. But what I found is that it makes me more strong. Right.
G: Well, one of the things I think I had told you too is that I felt like, what was I going to say? I felt, I don't know, I just, I remember that I was more at ease with myself as a writer. And I was worried that as an artist and as a writer, what, who was I without all this trauma? Like, would it inhibit me as an artist? I didn't know if I would be able to create the same things in the world or if I would speak as powerfully. But it turns out it's the opposite. It just made, it's enhancing my abilities because I'm more focused now. And I'm also in a calmer space and able to sit with my work more and actually discuss my trauma in a more in depth way and think about more of the tools necessary to help others see this experience without traumatizing them. Which was a big focus in my last book too. I didn't want to traumatize people. So I used a lot of magical realism and surrealism. And I'm still using techniques like that, but also a little bit of horror and a little bit of fairy, fairy tale aspects. So I'm bringing in all these things and discussing things and able to use the tactics necessary to describe my experience so that way other people can understand and know how to reach out to youth, understand what's happening to youth through their trauma. I'm trying to show what dissociation is like. And so that's, that's really hard. I don't think I would have been able to dive into that, that part of myself. Had I, had I not done all this work with you because I had been trying and I had been developing this voice for some quite some time. And then the blizzard happened and that brought more of it out. But by the, by doing the work with you as well. And with my therapist. I now I'm like, people are like, wow, this sounds like Sylvia Plath. Yeah, you know, all these other works. So I was like, wow, this is amazing. Like I have now evolved as a writer too. And how, and I just laughed at myself because how silly, how silly is it that I would think that I wouldn't be an artist still.
A: And it's the thing, the idea of like, yes, you've released things and you've let stuff go, but it's also things have been integrated things like experiences, we don't get to like just completely erase them. Of course, those pathways, those memories, they're still going to be in our bodies to some degree, right? If you say you broke your leg, like, and there was a huge, you know, bone. What is it called when the bone bends, but it leaves like a little bump camera. But you know what I mean, there's these things that have impacted our body, there's neural pathways that were built, you know, and the idea with this is not that we get rid of them, we don't like wipe you clean and you're like empty now of your life experience is that these things get integrated, and we build new pathways, and we build new associations and we don't just strengthen the same old ones. We start to branch out and become more and more whole and become more and more embodied and more and more in ourselves, so that it can be a much richer experience to start bringing all of the pieces of yourself together to do something to write to sing to dance to perform whatever it is that we're doing. We now have like all these connections, new connections that are weaving our life together into whatever it is that we're doing instead of just those old pathways that you know, maybe we've explored maybe we've rung them dry those those ways of perceiving ourselves or perceiving the life experiences we've had.
G: Yeah, it's not a spur is that what you're comparing it to.
A: Yeah, like, may not, you know that may not go away completely work with it we can still grow and develop we can still use that arm we can work with those things and allow them to be integrated into the way that we experience our life rather than something that's like sticking out and bothering us.
G: Yeah, I mean, yeah, mean, yeah, mean, yeah, mean, yeah, mean, yeah, just digging just digging just There you go. So like if I'm if I'm sitting there writing and writing about my trauma and I haven't really dealt with it and I'm just digging in all in my darkness. Then all I'm doing is just like aggravating is like eating a bunch of sugar. When I have a back injury, and I know it's going to cause it to flare up, and then I'm going to be stuck in bed. Right, so it's like that. So you're doing the same thing mentally to yourself, which then also causes the flare ups to. So that's really interesting how the brain can do that, even more than what we put in our bodies, not that what we put in our bodies doesn't also do that. But it works in a different way. So like what we put in our bodies like drugs, or too much sugar, it then affects the brain. And then the brain causes the problems in the body to, but it also the drug or the sugar also just causes flare ups too. So I find that really fascinating how all of those things are just so linked like our diet and our, our mental health and our physical health. So all of it is important.
A: Right, and I think that you know when you have the piece of like your nervous system when your nervous system isn't in fight or flight. Then you actually have the ability to digest food. You have, you know, the ability to sleep and get rest. Your body can go into a healing state. When we're on high alert all the time when we're in a state of panic, even just low level panic as like our norm. Those processes have a much, much harder time happening. So obviously, like, you know, if you're in a high nervous system state, and you eat a bunch of sugar, it's going to affect you more negatively than if you're super calm, relaxed, not stressed out and you each a bunch of sugar, right?
G: Right. And though it may not be a good idea, it's just going to affect you differently when you're not in fight or flight. Right. Right. But also speaking of that, I mean, my digestion has improved too. And that was one of the things I think after like the third session, I was like, wow, I think my, my digestion is improving. And I think I've even lost a tiny bit of weight. Like, that was interesting. So like I, I feel like I feel healthier internally as well, like my organs feel healthier. My lungs feel healthier too. So, and I know we did work for my lungs as well, breath work that was somatic for my lungs to reteach my lungs how to breathe. Yeah.
A: Yeah. Well, and if you can think about it, you know, you're strong and all those cinder blocks you were lifting and all that physical activity and I know you played sports, right? All this stuff. You can think about the strength of your musculature and if your musculature all throughout your body, especially your midsection is in contraction. It is literally putting pressure on your bones. It's putting pressure on your internal organs. And it's not allowing you to actually breathe easily because the muscles are shortened and tight and pulling in on you. And so when we released that when we released the muscle fibers back to a more natural length and now that pressure was taken off, was taken off of the places where you felt like pulling and, you know, nerve pain and all those pain sensations, right? But it also released pressure on your organs. It released pressure on your heart. It released pressure on, you know, your digestive system. So it's very mechanical in a way. We like loosened the structure up so that now it can breathe, now it can move, now it can regulate. Right.
G: And I was very athletic growing up. I was in soccer, karate. I was a rock climber. I taught people how to rock climb. And I also played softball and ran track. So there's a lot of sports. And it was also very important to my parents that I play sports, especially soccer. So from soccer was like eight to 18. And so I was very athletic. We had to run the hills every summer for the teams also, not just for my own personal training that my parents wanted because they had their own soccer club. And then I played soccer also for string for high school. So that, like my body, I have read that when it's difficult for some people to lose weight, that it's actually because of their, their body feels like it's in fight or flight. And I think that's what was happening with me. Yeah.
A: Right. And all that physical conditioning that you just mentioned, all that training, it's not like that necessarily was a bad thing. Right. Like we could analyze that. We could go like, were you doing those things voluntarily or were you doing them because they were required of you? Right. But even if they, you know, yeah. And then, you know, physical training and building muscle and being strong, like these are not like things we shouldn't do necessarily. But what somatics offers or what this technique is about is that we don't have to let that build up. We can strengthen our muscles and then we can also relax them. Right. We actually are stronger the next time that we work out or the next time that we go on a run or we can extend our, you know, soccer career or whatever it is because we're not building up the same kind of accumulation. We're not keeping everything tight all the time. You know, like you don't need to keep, if you did a bunch of ab workouts, for example, to strengthen your core, you don't need those muscles on while you're sleeping. You don't need those muscles on while you're laying on your couch chilling. You can, you know, want to be able to turn those muscles off so you can digest your food and you can, you know, go to sleep easily. Right.
G: Right. I mean, I think it's really important because when, if I think my body is in like this intensive training process, right? So this is becoming something that when I wanted to do it, it was fun. But when I had to do it because it was all about me being strong and being trained because I'm being raised by a military, a military man who wants me to be very strong and a mother who reinforces that because she believes women should be strong. So, you know, they had their different reasons for why they wanted me to be strong. But at the same time, I was put in the space of where, of being in fight or flight. And so because I feel this way, because my body feels that it's in danger, going for a run is actually an intensive experience where I, my body feels like it's in danger. So it's going to hold on to that fat. And it's going to have digestion issues with digestion. So like in poor intestinal health is something that I've dealt with my entire life. And in doing things that make me more relaxed actually helps me a lot. I think, you know, I have irritable. And so like my point is, though, is that I have been able to digest my food more easily. And and I'm having healthier digestion, like overall all the time. And I haven't ever had this much health in digestively ever in my entire life. So and and I'm still kind of active, you know, I go for walks and things like that. And I'm trying to actually build that back up now, now that I'm feeling safer in my body. Right.
A: And you're in pain in the way.
G: Yeah. Yeah, I'm like also like missing running because I do like to run and I learned I actually took that for myself a long time ago, probably, I would say probably about 15 years ago, I started getting into running and walking and just doing it on my own. And learning how to get past the idea of it being this intense workout and just making it something for myself. So now that I've done enough relaxation, I'm like, OK, I need to run again. Like, yeah, feel the wind in my hair and just feel my muscles moving and loving the movement. You know, like if you can change your relationship with something like that, like, you know, running can be this thing that I used to find pain in. And now I own it. So it's something I feel good in. And I can get that runner's high in. And I think like that's really important to take ownership of something, especially if it was the part of abuse. If you can't do that, don't force yourself because then you're just going to constantly put yourself like triggering and triggering yourself. But if you're able to, it's like with the somatic movements, you know, like you start walking, not running. Yeah.
A: Like the one little step. And I love that anytime that I work with a client and they go from pain all over, right? And like a lot of fear in their body about about their body and about doing things with their body, like they're going to hurt themselves. Maybe they've already hurt themselves doing things like running or, you know, activities like that. And then they start feeling better. And they start feeling strong. And then they're like, you know what, I'm going to take up tango dancing or I'm going to go running. They start feeling adventurous because they actually feel confident that even if they twist their ankle or they overdo it, they have a skill, they have a way of moving that they can come out of that pain pattern. They can come out of that tension. They can now see that they're not going to be stuck like that in that pain or discomfort. Right. And so they're less afraid of like doing things that might make them a little bit uncomfortable for a little while. Yeah. But so yeah, I mean, it's been just such an amazing thing to watch you come into more of yourself and feel more confident, like you said, ready to start exploring and reclaiming running. The other thing that's really shown up a lot, and I know you've shared about this on social media, is that you're just able to feel happy more of the time, right. And just share more of your happiness and like have it accessible to you. Can you say a little bit about that, about being happy? Okay.
G: So I think it has to start with the fact that I have lived with suicidal ideation since I was about four and a half. So I've had moments of happiness. I've had probably about three months time of just feeling comfortable and good. And now I actually, I can feel a more freedom in myself. Because I can hear my voice again, it goes back to that. These are the signs, my face feeling better, my body feeling better, I feel more comfortable in myself. I am able to think things out more clearly without getting the brain fog of when stuff approaches me that like a child who feels aggressive and is going through their own thing. So I can show up for them now and that brings me happiness. So being able to show up for people who are in their own suffering brings me happiness. Showing up for people when they're happy brings me happiness. So the fact that I feel so happy and people are in response happy towards me is also bringing me happiness. And I haven't had any suicidal ideations for quite some time. I think one of the ways that I had got past that, and I'm just going to be very honest about this, is I did psilocybin therapy. Because I feel like this is a place I can be free with that. So I started with psilocybin therapy and I moved on to the somatic stuff. And I did it with the psychologists also. Not in her presence but with her as in she knew what I was doing and we worked through all the things that I remembered through the psilocybin therapy. So that also helped me a lot too. And then I did a little bit at the very beginning of our sessions and then I actually stopped and I switched only to cannabis with CBG once in a while because that's good for people with PTSD. So I also my therapist knew what I was doing then too because I felt like the psilocybin was too strong for what I was doing with you. And I it also CBG with the THC actually helped my muscles relax enough for when I wanted to do movements on my own and do my more intuitive body work. So I would incorporate my intuitive body work along with your work, the somatic body work. And as you know I'm a yoga instructor too so sometimes that was yoga but sometimes it's just moving your body freely like just allowing your body to move like fluidly the spine to move fluidly and and that would help free me. So I felt like that brought me more happiness too. Like so many things brought me more happiness just by doing this practice along with my regular other practices that I do such as art and with my therapy and and even the the psilocybin therapy you know or the cannabis cannabis therapy. So you know all of those things came into play during this practice and I feel I feel like I'm free and I feel what it is it's such a difficult thing to put like your finger on but it's like when you accidentally step and like my dog is very old she's 19 and a half and sometimes she's has accidents and I step on it you know and I'm just like oh it's gross right and I don't feel that way now now I was like oh man you know it's like what what just happened you know and I don't I don't feel like this anger inside of me like the Hulk I don't feel like the Hulk anymore and that I think is why I feel so happy because I finally got rid of that intense what I would call a monster but maybe it's just anger but to me it felt like a monster it felt like I had a monster inside of me and that and
A: now you're now you're feeling like you are you to be yourself yeah that anger it doesn't have to be taking over it doesn't have to be controlling things you know right I and
G: it and it so go ahead oh I was gonna I was gonna agree with you because what it is is that it's it's not necessarily like I felt like I had to control things but like I had to control me and so by having to control me all the time it came outward into the world to where I am now trying to control other things but it's to control myself not others and because I am able to let go of that I am also more free to not control those things and that also brings me happiness so it's like letting go of control a lot of times when we want to control ourselves so much it it's it spreads out to where others feel like they are being controlled too and I don't want other people to feel ever like I am trying to control them and that actually like would break my heart when some people felt like I was trying to control things because I would never do that and and so that actually brought me a lot of pain and and I just wanted people to understand that I wasn't trying to be that person but because they're seeing me control me so much it it like it becomes this thing where people take it personally even though it's even when you're not actually controlling them they just see you being so controlling over the things around you that they think that it's in control of them
A: right and I mean this idea of control is really interesting because so often when we're trying to like have control right or control something right it's sort of it's sort of funny because it's really different from simply just being in control right like to be in control is a fluid fluid process because being this is a pro is constantly moving and flowing right and so I could like be in control of my body and dance with control or I could try to have control over my body and I could force my body to move in certain ways to to achieve something right or to do something and that's different than just being in control it's you know and I really think don't even think that control is something that we have as much as is something that we be and so it's sort of this frustrating cycle when you're trying to control things or have control or control yourself that you end up feeling kind of out of control actually yeah you do
G: yeah and I find that really interesting too because like you're trying to have this this feeling of safety is what it is it's really a search for safety and really the safety is also within you like the safest place that you need to find is actually in your own self your body and if you don't feel safe in your own body that's where this search for this need for control and this is where this anger comes from because of the lack of safety because everyone was controlling you so now you're like oh how do I how do I gain this back because you feel like you're in danger right so in order to to feel safe and once I felt safe in my body you know that is when I realized I didn't need to have so much control over this anger like anger is just a feeling and and it's can be very productive and that's why I was super extra productive with my anger because I I needed to control it right so I was doing something very good for everyone else with that anger so that way I wasn't out of control but I also hurt myself in that process right
A: yeah kind of getting back to that way that the the anger can end up even righteous anger can end up being violence on our own bodies and our own well-being if we're just pushing and pushing and pushing and we're not taking time to to take care of ourselves or listen to the things that our body is saying yeah and then so you had you know we got to wrap up here because this is such an amazing conversation I feel like we could just keep going and going but the day might continue so what's up to you know this this little kind of anecdote that you shared with me about something that happened last night and you made a different decision for your body then you probably would have made say a year ago do you remember what we talked about that in the pre-interview you talked about something that went on and you made a different choice for your body than
G: what you would oh yeah I was at my my friends performances and they wanted me to do a reading too and I was going to do a reading but somebody fell down and got hurt during during this night and no fault of the other people in the room she just she had a drink and it was warm and she had been standing for a very long time it probably didn't eat enough so she got dehydrated and bumped into a plant and it fell down and so we were all standing for quite a long time we're already standing for the performances because there was just not enough room for all the people that were there and which probably also attributed to her collapsing right so I walked out we're all standing outside for quite some time and my back started to feel tender in my spine and I was concerned about her you know like everyone was concerned about her we called the ambulance to make sure she was okay to check her vitals and and then we were all going back I sat down for a little bit talked to some of the my friends and then realized my back was still sore and even though it was feeling more relaxed in the chair I still wanted to lay down and I decided you know what it's okay if I go this is just an open mic also so like I love my friends and and I care greatly about the arts and what they're all all of their work is and and but I said goodbye because like she wanted to have everyone come back and I and I wanted to but if I wanted to do it it was only because I wanted to make her happy not because I wanted it for myself and I have a tendency to do that where I want things really badly because I want my friends and the people I love to be very happy so instead I said okay I'm going to honor my body this time she'll still she'll get over it it'll be okay she has all these other people all these other poets present that can read too so I left I came home I relaxed and I felt better with my animals and knocked out like that was it that was the end of
A: my day no I think that's a really great but simple win when we start putting ourselves and our own well-being like in the forefront and just responding to that and listening to that in the moment when maybe that hasn't been our pattern maybe our pattern has been you know oh I don't want to disappoint this person oh I want them to you know feel a certain way so I'm going to ignore what my body is saying and I'm just going to keep doing this thing or I'm going to go ahead and go through with this right so I think that's a really awesome example how this work has been getting deeper into you and that's exciting because as an activist and as a person in service like I want you to be well girl I want you to like well for a long time because you have some really powerful missions out there to help other people and it's going to be a lot easier and more enjoyable for you to do all of that work even when it's hard even when it's like challenging stuff it's going to be easier when you and your body are on the same team and when you're helping and supporting each other right
G: yeah absolutely I agree
A: yeah so it's just really exciting and I'm looking forward to seeing how you blend the things you're discovering through somatic education with you know the other things that you're up to and the other things that you do and just thank you so much for coming on and sharing your story and sharing your heart with everybody
G: thank you thank you for having me on I had fun
A: yeah can you tell our listeners a little bit about where they can find you and a little bit like when when you have your radio show if they're like in the LA area or if they want to listen to it on Spotify can you just tell people where they can find and listen to you on your show or
G: sure you can listen to the collective at KQBH LP 101.5 FM it's a part of the Boyle Heights Arts Conservatory and your broadcast live on your FM dial over here in Los Angeles area but we also you can also find us on LP FM dot LA or and that's worldwide or you can find us nationwide on the LP FM LA app so they're also doing some reconfigurations with the websites and all that stuff so things might change in the near future where where you will have more access to us but this is what we have for now and as far for me you can find me on Instagram at buy Gina Duran I'm also on Twitter don't really go on that one that much so if you want to find me probably find me on Instagram or you can find me on Facebook on Gina Duran I don't have a website yet but I'm working on it.
A: Nice yeah yeah well thank you again it's been such an amazing conversation and I look forward to continuing to work with you and continuing to have this wonderful friendship.
G: Thank you I look forward to it too.
A: Hello everyone I'm Amy Takaya and I have an exciting announcement. At the end of September I will be hosting my first full-length retreat. Somatic Awakening will take place in the San Gabriel Mountains. This three-day transformational experience will include Hannah Somatic Movement, hands-on somatic body work by my father William Davis, my cousins Seiji Oshenza and myself. We will also explore somatic yoga and mudra practice as well as an end-of-the-day sound healing to deepen your calm and release. Only nine spaces are available for full-time participants. Day passes will be available for the Saturday activities. Right now you can get 200 dollars off the full price of the retreat. So if you're feeling called into freedom and ease of movement, a peaceful relaxed nervous system, delicious plant-based meals and a fresh and enlivened way of being, go to freeyoursoma.com and hold your space. Payment plans are available by request and feel free to reach out to me with questions or comments at freeyoursoma.com. Thanks again for listening and supporting this self-healing revolution.