Thursday, May 27, 2010

Wings Foundation

A few weeks ago I went to a Wings foundation group for women who have been sexually abused as children. It is a survivors group. I was terrified to go because I didn't know what to expect. I was considering working with the leader of the group in individual therapy because she was the person my previous therapist recommended. I knew that the rules of Wings are that a group member can't do individual therapy with any of the members of her own group. I went to that group to decide whether to continue in the group and wait to do individual therapy or to join another group. I had a positive experience in the group. I felt heard and also felt so much empathy for the other group members. By the end of the two hour group I felt safer and less afraid. I was also clear that I wanted to do individual work with the group leader so that meant I needed to find another group. It is really true that when one door closes another door opens. It turns out there was a group five minutes from my house on a night that worked better for me. Last night was my first meeting. This time I was nervous not terrified because I knew more of what to expect. Once I can move from feeling out of control to having enough information to relax a little it makes all the difference. This time I was nervous because I didn't know who would be in the group or what the leader would be like. The therapists who lead these groups all volunteer their time for a whole evening every week. Because of this I knew whoever the leader was she would be someone I admired.
There were eight women in the group of diverse ages and backgrounds. What we had in common was a traumatic past and a resilient spirit. Most of the people in my life have been very supportive and I am grateful. These women understood because they had been there themselves. I felt freer to share what happened to me because that is what we were there to do. I didn't have to pretend to be fine or get lost in feeling devastated. I could just be me sharing what my life has been like since I recovered this childhood memory. I am in the place where I am starting to see some of the benefits of being willing to face the truth of what happened to me and to do the work to begin healing. In the midst of all of the anxiety and the heavy blanket of depression I feel smothered by sometimes I am starting to notice colors are brighter and smells are stronger and my body is more flexible. I am more aware of my strength in the midst of my vulnerability. I am even starting to see what all of the hoopla is about sex and to feel more open to and trusting of my partner. The women in this group seemed so courageous to me. They all shared a commitment to heal and grow, some of them through very challenging obstacles. I came away from the group inspired with hope about the power of the human spirit. The leader was very skillful and I felt held by her compassion and boundary setting. I am eager to go back next week. I have the feeling this group will contribute to my life in ways I can't even imagine yet.
Wings foundation holds group for women and for men in Denver, Boulder and Colorado Springs. If you or someone you know could benefit from a group the phone number is 303 238 8660 and the website is
Thanks for listening.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


In the midst of discovering childhood sexual abuse, I have been training as a Deeksha Oneness Blessing Giver. In fact, the memory of the abuse surfaced the day after a powerful chakra clearing process that was part of my Deeksha training. Deeksha is a blessing that is given by placing my hands on another person's head and allowing the energy of divine oneness to flow through me.
I first heard about Deeksha from my friend Ginger who was passionate about it. Although I respect her I wondered if she had gone off the deep end. I first experienced receiving a deeksha blessing when Gary and I went to a restorative yoga class three years ago on my birthday. The teacher was also a blessing giver and went around the class putting his hands on our heads while we were in restorative yoga poses. I though it was interesting and wierd and didn't feel much. A friend and I attended a deeksha gathering where there were eight deeksha blessing givers at meditate '08 which was a week long program with all different kinds of meditations across the water from the democratic convention. That experience left me feeling peaceful and curious. When Ginger decided to become a blessing giver the training was in Fiji at Oneness University and lasted three weeks. She raised the thousands of dollars needed for the trip and training by asking for support from her friends. It was a major stretch for her because Ginger is great at giving and challenged by receiving. Listening to Ginger's enthusiasm grew my curiosity. I started going sporadically to Ginger's weekly deeksha group and I experienced my mind calming for the rest of the day. I have a very noisy mind and this quieting experience was of great value to me.
There is a vision of training as many blessing givers as possible before 2012 because it is believed that there is a portal or opportunity to shift the energy of the planet toward the awareness of onesness at that time. It feels a little wierd to be writing this and I have come to believe that focusing on the oneness that we all share has brought great healing to me. Deeksha is changing all the time. One of the changes was that it became possible to become a blessing giver in Colorado with one of the trainers from Fiji in a weekend. When I learned that, I decided I would go through the training for my own personal growth, even though I doubted I would ever be a blessing giver. The weekends when the trainings were offered kept not working for me and I began to doubt that it would ever work. Somewhere in the back of my mind I held a strong desire to make it happen. Then Ginger got invited to go to India where the oneness movement was now centered to become a trainer. I knew I wanted to be part of the first training she did. When the training was scheduled I had a plane ticket to visit my Mom. I was so disappointed. The person I do bodywork with took the training and she began to do deeksha oneness blessings with me after our bodywork sessions. The combination of deeksha and aston-patterning seemed to move my body more quickly into attunement. I started to realize I really wanted to give blessings to the people in my life that I care about. Then Ginger created a course that met one evening a week for eight weeks. It was perfect for me. It gave me time to integrate the vast amount of information offered and a small group of fellow students with whom I felt comfortable. I saw that even if I didn't think I knew what I was doing or trusted that I could do it right, the eneregy of oneness would flow through my hands anyway. I like to be in control. It has been freeing for me to give these blessings and know I'm not in control of the process. Now my experience of giving blessings is more powerful than receiving them. When I give a blessing I experience what I call the "thank you God feeling". It is a rippling through my body of a wave a gratitude and an appreciation of the beauty of the person receiving the blessing. I am blessed by the blessing. Have you ever experienced a deeksha oneness blessing? Are you curious? Call me or go to for a listing of many opportunities. Most are on a donation basis. I am so glad I listened to that persistent inner voice drawing me toward my inner desire. Deeksha has been such a powerful experience that giving is receiving. What is your inner voice telling you in this moment about something you might take a risk and do in the midst of fears and doubts? Would you be willing to take a moment to be still and listen?

Friday, May 14, 2010


I have been going through some very challenging times. Discovering my childhood sexual abuse has turned my life as I knew it upside down. I am aware of the importance of playfulness and how much easier it is for me to be serious. I think I grew up in the "play when the work is done" school. Although I allow myself pleasure it is often laced with guilt. Deep fun in the form of healing work or things that are good for my physical, mental or spiritual health are more acceptable and easier to see as productive. I am grateful that I got two opportunities to just play this week.
Satya, the owner of Whole Yoga, the delightful studio where I teach organized an evening for the teachers. She asked all of us to bring our props. People brought exercise balls and a headstand machine and hula hoops and balance boards. We chanted and shared and then played on all of the toys we brought. The only structure was to take care of your own body and let yourself have fun. It was so satisfying to get to know some of the other teachers in this free flowing way. When we were done playing we taught each other yoga poses and then had a potluck. I am so blessed to have a group of people to play with who share my passion for yoga. I am grateful to Satya for organizing creative ways to build community. If you've been thinking of taking a yoga class that stretches your body and expands your spirit Whole Yoga is the place. There are many inspiring teachers, each with his or her own style. I teach on Wednesdays at noon. I'd love to have you in my class.
This afternoon, Spirit Song, my chanting group, met at my house. It has been a reliably uplifting monthly experience for several years. We meditate and do a short check-in and then sing. We start with a chant and after singing it for a while begin to improvise. Sometimes we have movements for our chants and dance around. What a pleasure it is. Even if I am tired and cranky before we start, singing carries me in its wake of joy. I feel very safe in this group because we have shared so much together. Today we were all in rambunctious moods and after chanting for a while we began to chant "oy vay" which is yiddish for oh no or woe is me. We wrung our hands and danced around lamenting our fates. From there we evolved into snorting wrestling pigs, rolling around and laughing hilariously. We decided to rename the group Spirit Snort. We created a new way to confront a person to clear an issue by snorting at them. Then we decided to sing upside down in legs up the wall yoga pose. It was so freeing to play uproariously. I realized how much I needed the release after all of the personal work I have been doing. I think all of this work has created more space within me to let go and be playful. I am eager to reconnect to the spontaneity of the little girl I was before the abuse happened. She is a ready and willing playmate.
What ways do you find to play? How could you experiment with letting yourself play more?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

inner teenager

Thanks for all of the support. It means a lot to me to know that my blog is contributing. Since I have been writing about childhood sexual abuse and reading and painting and talking about sexual abuse I am making up a story that I am nowa drag. I imagine when people get ready to read my blog, or see my name on their caller ID or have a plan to get together with me, that they think," Oh no if I hear one more word about childhood sexual abuse I am going to scream. Whatever happened to that joyful being that Andrea used to be?" I know I am projecting. Even though I am the one wondering where the me I knew has gone and projecting that on to others, it doesn't make it feel any better. I used to have mood swings. I used to feel like my moods were like monkeys swinging from trees. Now it's like there are hippopotimi swinging from the same trees. One minute I am infused with joy because I can feel the space that releasing all of this pain is creating within me, the next I am overwhelmed with the pain of the loss of so many years of experiencing sexual pleasure.
One minute I am excited about my new-found strength in setting boundaries, the next I am angry and pounding on my bed and sweating and crying. I am obsessed with reading The Courage to Heal. A guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse. It has been so helpful to finally read this book. I have had the book for twenty years and never really read it. I skimmed it so I could be helpful to clients. When I first recovered the memory of the abuse last month I skimmed the book again. I told myself that after all of the work I had done on myself I really didn't need to actually read the book. I could have kept pretending that this memory wasn't really affecting me very much. When I stuff my feelings, I have noticed I want to eat everything that isn't nailed down. And I do. My pants are all getting tight and that has been a good motivation to focus and read this book and do the writing exercises. These two women wrote this book to help people like me and I am now letting them.When I sit down at my kitchen table to read the book I say to myself, "Now for a little light reading." It is getting easier to laugh at myself.
I notice each time I pound on my bed or write about my grief or cry as I share what happened I get softer and more open. I am healing the part of me that is a tough girl. Today in my therapy session I connected with my inner fifteen year old. She is rail thin and very tightly wound and lives mostly on diet pepsi and cigarettes. She doesn't want help from anyone. She protects herself by shutting her heart down and pretending she is fine. She is not fine. I let her know that I will protect her and that she can relax and be a teenager and have some fun. Fun? What a concept!
Fun wasn't safe for her because it made her too vulnerable. She wants to go shopping and dance to loud music and talk to her friends on the phone. She wants her hair to be straight and she wants to write poetry and she wants to do what she wants to do when she wants to do it. She is strong-willed and yet it's hard for her to ask for what she wants. I want her to know I love her and accept her for who she is. I will listen to her and nurture her and protect her and not let her be in charge. I am in charge. I care about her and I am the grown-up here.
I reassured her that I intend to be more conscious about food. She doesn't want me to stuff her with food or deprive her of pleasure. Together we will seek a balance of enjoying food when hungry and finding other vehicles to pleasure besides food. We will make mistakes and know it's OK not to be perfect. Together we will learn it is OK not to be rigid and to let safe people in more. I admire her spunk. She is a risktaker. I want her help in stretching into areas I find uncomfortable. I want to provide her with boundaries that allow her to feel taken care of better. I am committing to taking the time to give her the attention to get to know her. There is a lot to be gained for both of us.
What do you know about your inner teenager? Would you see it as useful to check in with her or him? Would you like to get some help in doing that? You could also write to your inner teenager in your joural.