After #MeToo, Aikido.

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Source: http://upliftconnect.com/aikido-conflict/. Many thanks. 

Times are changing. The sheer number of women who have come forward with tales of being sexually harassed or assaulted by Harvey Weinstein has opened up a national conversation that is long overdue.

 

The many #MeToo tales of sexual harassment, abuse, assault, and rape shared on Facebook and Twitter have made it clear: this situation is not just happening in Hollywood. It’s common. It is rare that a woman has never experienced such inappropriate sexual behavior. Millions of women — and teen girls, and girl children — have been touched in a sexual way that they did not want. And we’ve pretty much normalized it, except in especially heinous cases such as Bill Cosby and the occasional gang rape or murder or famous person.

“Oh, well, that’s Hollywood for you. Oh, well, she was asking for it. Oh, well, she was drunk. Oh, did you see what she was wearing? Oh, that’s just how it is.”

Some men and non-binary people have experienced it too, and there are female perpetrators out there as well. But by and large, it’s men who are predatory, unwilling to ask beforehand for clear verbal consent, willing to proceed even if the victim does not cooperate or is not enthusiastic (or is frozen with fear), and uncaring about the effect on the victim, which can be emotionally crippling and last a lifetime.

Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 11.01.23 AMI’ve been reading The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk, a psychiatrist specializing in trauma recovery, and he points out that when something traumatic occurs, the brain focuses on survival at the expense of the speech center in the brain (pp. 42-43). Think about this. Many trauma victims can’t tell a coherent story about what happened, sometimes not for years. Much traumatic experience has gone unreported, and yet it remains in the body and mind of the victim until addressed, usually with professional help, and meanwhile the brain stored fragmented images of the event that can reappear as terrifying flashbacks.

How many women have been triggered by the Weinstein stories? How many women are still recovering memories of abuse and harassment?

I firmly believe this predatory behavior is part of the patriarchy that we are moving away from in our culture. You see its resistance and dying gasps and desperation in the headlines every day. But it’s on its way out: There will never be another Harvey Weinstein in Hollywood again, and there will never be another American president who has engaged in predatory sexual behavior again either.

Meanwhile, women are sharing how much we live in fear, listing the habits we have developed from fear that simply do not enter the minds of men. Going running alone at night. Leaving our drinks unattended at a bar. Staying late at the office. Entering parking garages at night without an escort. Riding the bus or walking on a trail alone without a cellphone. Holding our keys like a weapon when walking alone to our car. Carrying mace. Smiling, making eye contact, or making small talk with a strange man, because we don’t know if he will take it as a sexual invitation.

Men are listening and learning and many of them, I hope, are developing more empathy and compassion and wanting to change this dynamic for the better.

Anyway, I want to share something I do that helps me feel good about myself. I took up Aikido.

Aikido is a Japanese martial art. It’s different from the rest. It’s defensive, not aggressive. Watch this short video of a couple of guys from South Austin Aikido practicing.

In just three classes, I’ve learned to take a bigger man down to the floor. It’s fun, it makes my brain work differently, and it could be useful. And it’s exercise, and it is a philosophy: ai = harmony, ki = spirit, do = the way — the way of the harmonious spirit. Yes, and.

I’ve been told that women learn faster than men (because men usually have to unlearn some things), and that it gives an advantage to smaller people because it’s not about overpowering someone. You learn to disable aggression calmly.

If you’re in Austin, I invite you to join me. The class I’m in meets Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 12 – 1 pm. (It’s not on the schedule yet because it’s a new class.) My sensei is Rodrigo Martins. There are usually one or two more advanced students there to help with newbies like me.

You can wear anything to move in. You can visit a few times before deciding to commit, and if you do, it costs $85 per month. For that price, you can take all three classes each week, so that’s a bargain right there! Now is a particularly good time to show up and check it out before starting a full month in November.

South Austin Aikido is located in Southwood Mall on Ben White, in the building behind Blazer Tag.

 

 

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Opportunities to assist in Texas, after Harvey

Please share! Two of my Austin friends have set up GoFundMe campaigns after Hurricane Harvey devastated the Texas gulf coast, and I want to spread the word. The need in Texas is great. However you can help, it’s much appreciated.

Barbara Newitt grew up in Houston, and her 90-year-old mother and her two sisters still live there, together, whereas Barb has been in Austin for decades.

Her mom and sisters lived a block from Buffalo Bayou, a major waterway in central Houston. Their home was flooded. After a medical emergency, four policemen came to evacuate them, somehow got a boat, and the mom, Lydia, was taken to a hospital. One daughter stayed with her. The other daughter was taken to a public shelter. Continue reading

After my first 10-day Vipassana meditation course

On Wednesday, August 9, I got up early, loaded my car, made a home visit to massage one of my regular clients, and drove from Austin to Kaufman, Texas, a 3.5 hour drive.

BTW, my client commented afterwards that it was really a great massage. He even had a waking lucid dream toward the end of the session. I attribute that to his learned ability to relax deeply while staying awake and to me having more presence and being more tuned into him and myself. I knew that for the next 10 days, I’d be stepping out of my everyday life and meditating quite a lot without distractions. I didn’t have my normal everyday thoughts about logistics (travel, meals, timing, errands), which made a huge difference in my ability to really be present. So it started before I even left town.

IMG_0175I arrived at the Southwest Vipassana Meditation Center near Kaufman mid-afternoon. I registered, was assigned a room in the women’s dorm, and surrendered my wallet and cell phone. I had left books, computer, and writing materials at home.

I unloaded my stuff and set up my room, which was small, furnished with an extra-long twin bed and a plastic chair and small table, with open shelves and a place to hang clothing, and a bathroom with a shower. And a big window looking out on trees and clothesline. Very simple and adequate, and yet this particular Vipassana center is considered one of the more luxurious centers worldwide. Continue reading

HeartMath Institute sale!

Just got an email that the HeartMath Institute is having a 20% off sale August 3-17, plus free shipping on all orders over $40 in the U.S.

That means if you’ve been wanting to try HeartMath’s Inner Balance Bluetooth sensor, you can save if you buy it now. It’s one of the items I feature on my Products I Recommend page. The app (for iOS and Android smart phones) is free.

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If this is completely new to you, the HeartMath Institute promotes biofeedback programs from simple to complex that help you raise your heart rate variability (HRV), an indicator of health.

Also, if you are a member of the HeartMath Institute, you can get an additional 5% off your purchases. Since you select your annual fee based on what you can afford to give, this seems like a great time to join.

Donating blood has health benefits!

I donate blood. I am lucky enough not to have any of the contraindications (most of the time, details below) that can prevent people from being blood donors, and yes, there is an extensive questionnaire that you have to fill out every.single.time you donate, even when nothing has changed since the last time you donated. (Blood centers are careful. They have to be, and I’m glad they are.)

I imagine that somewhere in the central Texas area, someone, or several someones, are grateful that I did this. I know nothing about the recipients, but I’ve needed blood in the past, and I am very grateful to the donors. My child grew up with a mother because blood was available when I needed it.

I learned last year that because I’ve never had cytomegalovirus, my blood can be given to infants, who don’t have an immune system yet, and to others with weak immune systems. CMV is a common virus that has infected 50 to 80 percent of Americans over 40. The crazy thing is, you can be infected with it without even knowing it! It’s not serious at all if your immune system is working. Continue reading

A Secret Grave, an online serial murder mystery

I have a friend, Nicole Schindler-Jeffords, who is fabulously talented and creative. She is an artist who paints portraits in oil. She is also a published novelist and a born storyteller. She has many circles of friends. I’ve known her for at least a decade through the Austin ecstatic dance community.

Here’s are two of Nicky’s self-portraits:

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Self, by Nicole Jeffords

Continue reading

Orienting to space

Not too long ago, I posted Orienting to stillness, orienting to motion, providing some options for people who are interested in exploring awareness. Today I want to share some experiences with orienting to space.

First, a little backtracking. Starting in 2010, I wrote here about the 12 states of attention (and also here), which I learned from Nelson Zink on his website Navaching (which also included instructions for night walking), which sadly he has taken down. Reading his book of stories The Structure of Delight is an experience I highly recommend. It’s like no other book you’ve encountered, and if you’re interested in acquiring wisdom from a bunch of interesting characters, you’ll enjoy it.

(If you don’t want to click the links about the 12 states, here’s a summary: We primarily use our visual, auditory, and kinesthetic senses. Our experience can be subdivided into narrow and broad. For instance, a broad auditory state would be listening to the whole orchestra playing, while a narrow auditory state would be singling out the oboe in the orchestra. These states can be further divided into external and internal. An external visual state is seeing your environment with your eyes, while an internal one is imagining or remembering something. The image below shows the 12 states.) Continue reading

What is biodynamics?

Biodynamics is a western approach to wellness. Osteopath William Sutherland (1873-1954) began exploring the dynamics of the skull and its membranes and fluids, establishing the field of cranial osteopathy, from which craniosacral therapy and biodynamics evolved.

After years of sitting quietly with patients, listening to their body-mind systems, Sutherland and other cranial osteopaths became aware that something other than tissue manipulation was helping their patients heal from all kinds of conditions. They learned over time that the more they just listened and the less they tried to do, the more their patients’ inherent healing processes took over, returning their systems to healthier functioning. Over time they learned how to support and augment the healing process with their presence, attention, discernment, and intent.

This way of healing came to be called craniosacral biodynamics, biodynamic craniosacral therapy, or just biodynamics. As a separate modality from cranial osteopathy, it’s been in existence for nearly 40 years. Although biodynamics shares some elements with biomechanical craniosacral therapy, it focuses more on perceptual awareness of the fields in and around us.

Biodynamics, although Western in origin, resonates with Buddhist and Taoist beliefs about emptiness, form, transformation, compassion, and oneness, as well as shamanism.

New work-related blog

I am blessed and fortunate enough to have a worldwide reader base for this blog. See the graphic map on this post to view all the countries where readers are from.

I live and work in the Austin, Texas, USA, area, and I have created a new website, MaryAnn Reynolds, MS, LMT, BCTMB, on WordPress for my private massage and bodywork practice. I also have a blog as a page on that site.

To prevent confusion:

  • The new blog will be limited to posts about local events I’m participating in and my massage and bodywork practice. If you are interested, check it out and see if you want to follow that blog.
  • This blog will remain dedicated to more general topics relating to wellness.
  • I haven’t done so yet, but I may occasionally cross-post if the information seems related to both blogs.

To your health and well-being!

Sacroiliac joint healed!

Back in late June 2015, I wrote about using a sacroiliac belt for pain in that joint. (See When the healer needs healing: chronic pain in a sacroiliac joint).

I posted a few updates. (See Update on using the sacroiliac beltA cheaper sacroiliac belt, working toward “the new normal”, and SI belt update, plus insoles for Morton’s foot.)

It’s now January 2017, and I’m here to give you an update, prompted by a couple of comments I’ve received recently from readers who are suffering from SI joint pain.

I finally stopped wearing the belt last month, in December 2016. That’s right, I wore it most of the time for 18 months, a year and a half. My pelvis feels pretty aligned now. It’s not perfect but it is strong and tight enough that it stays in place . Since I started wearing it, I haven’t had that unstable, painful feeling of my SI joint going out of place. Continue reading