The second leg of our East Coast tour showcased the breadth of TRE applications – from injury rehabilitation to international peace-building. [Learn about our time in Boston]. Starting in New York City, Mary Shriver facilitated a successful introductory workshop on the Upper East Side at Pure Yoga, which promises to host further TRE offerings throughout the year.
We then turned our focus to Harlem with a public lecture given by Nkem Ndefo. The talk entitled “Seeking Internal Justice: Embodied Healing and Cultural Transformation” was a primer on the intersection of structural oppression and trauma neurophysiology pointing to a new paradigm in social justice activism. This event was paired with a sold out daylong workshop, both of which were sponsored by CONNECT, a community-based organization committed to preventing interpersonal violence and promoting gender justice. Nkem and Ranjana Ariaratnam co-facilitated the “Beyond Wellness Window Dressing” workshop. This unique self-care class blended TRE, compassionate communication, and behavior change theory from a strengths-based approach. In the closing circle, one participant shared that she is always on guard and in spite of many different attempts with other modalities, she can never relax with others around. But after this workshop, she was amazed that she could close her eyes and finally let go into safety. Many of the workshop participants will take part in New York’s first ever TRE certification program starting in October 2016.
We were happy to have another public event, especially for those people who were on the waiting list from our Harlem workshop. The intro class at Brooklyn’s Third Root Community Health Center was lovely and relaxed. One participant who had recently started a self-taught TRE practice realized the value of expert facilitation. He had been going at TRE with a “weight lifter’s attitude” of more is better. Learning about self-regulation brought a gentleness into his practice that was greatly appreciated.
We closed out our time in the city with back-to-back presentations at New York University. At McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research, we presented an introductory lecture with an opportunity to experience the TRE movement sequence for clinical, research, and administrative staff. At Langone’s Rusk Rehabilitation Center, we gave an experiential TRE introduction to the team at the Motor Recovery Research Lab. They were pleasantly surprised to discover how the therapeutic tremor activates easily and is actually quite enjoyable. It was no surprise that that researchers had lots of questions about mechanisms and outcomes. Hopefully some good research questions will be developed and pursued.
Our last stop was a multi-day workshop for the United States Institute for Peace on the invitation of Manal Omar, the Acting Vice President for the Center for the Middle East and Africa. We adapted our “Beyond Wellness Window Dressing” workshop to more directly address the effects of vicarious trauma and burnout in staff that work in some of the highest conflict zones internationally. It was not lost on the participants that untreated trauma plays a central role in the genesis and perpetuation of cycles of violence and war. One senior program officer made a direct linkage between the decades of oppression in Iraq and the effects of trauma neurophysiology on psychosocial behavior, including reactive anger and violence. In the closing circle, he shared that much like Saddam Hussein had cordoned Baghdad into sectors separated by barricades and checkpoints, his own body felt disconnected and numb. But after the workshop, when the blood began circulating and sensation returned, his body felt whole and free. Once more TRE demonstrated the power of self-initiated release, connection, and healing.