Tag Archives: Santa Monica

#OccupyYouAreBeautiful: Why I’m Camped Out On A Rooftop Yoga Mat

Right now I’m sitting on a yoga mat on the rooftop of 2309 Main Street in Santa Monica, California. Just below me is a giant red wall painted with the words “YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL,” and there are two ten-foot tall inflatable dancing man balloons blowing in the wind beside me. There are men and women walking by on the sidewalk below, a beautiful community garden across the street. The ocean is just visible in the distance. This is #OccupyYouAreBeautiful.

Between today and Wednesday, September 18, this yoga mat will be my home. I will stay here all day and all night — I will eat here, sleep here, and I will be joined by yoga teachers, musicians, speakers, and other members of the community.

#OccupyYouAreBeautiful is a public demonstration of solidarity with people who struggle with food and body image issues on all ends of the spectrum. Together, we are taking a stand – for life, for happiness, and for the right for all people to feel beautiful in the bodies they inhabit.

The statistics around eating disorders in this country are discouraging. Nearly 24 million Americans suffer from eating disorders, and millions of others struggle with food and body image issues at a sub-clinical level. This disease kills nearly half a million people every year – daughters, sisters, brothers, friends, and spouses. That’s not okay. 32-year-olds shouldn’t be dying of starvation. 8-year-olds shouldn’t be vomiting to lose weight. This is not the kind of society I want to raise my kids in.

Over the past several years, I’ve built my life and career around helping others recover from this illness. I believe yoga can be a game-changer in the fight against eating disorders, and more importantly, I believe it can help shift the sociocultural dynamics that contribute to eating disorders to begin with. Yoga teaches critical skills for developing a healthy relationship with food and one’s body (which many of us never learn as children), and it can equip those who struggle with these issues with skills that pharmaceuticals, talk therapy, and other traditional forms of treatment simply do not provide.

That’s why I developed Yoga for Eating Disorders — to teach people who struggle with eating disorders practical tools for using yoga in their recovery. Specifically, the program teaches yoga-derived exercises for tuning into hunger and fullness signals, coping with difficult emotions, and learning to relate to the body as an ally rather than an enemy. The average cost of eating disorder treatment is $1,250 per day, and even at that rate over half of patients relapse after discharge. Eating disorders — from anorexia to binge eating — take a huge toll on our healthcare system. Yoga is a cost-effective way to teach those who struggle with these issues skills for long term recovery, potentially shortening treatment, reducing relapse, and ultimately saving lives.

On July 30th (my 24th birthday), I launched a crowd-funding campaign with the ambitious goal of raising $50K to take Yoga for Eating Disorders to treatment centers around the country at no charge, collect data for an evidence based study on its effectiveness in treatment, and offer pro-bono talks about eating disorder prevention at local schools in each city where the program is offered. We’ve raised almost $30K so far, but with only 4 days left in the campaign it’s time for something a little more drastic. It’s time to Occupy.

Inspired by my friend Will Baxter of the Don’t Let Will Die campaign, I am demonstrating my solidarity with eating disorder sufferers around the world by taking a stand. I invite you to take a stand with me – for life, for freedom, and for the belief that all people have the right to feel beautiful in the bodies they inhabit.

With less than 100 hours left in our campaign, I need your help. I will not let this campaign fail. This yoga mat saved my life once, and I’m not getting off it until other have the same opportunity.

Stand with me by donating today!

You can stand in solidarity with Chelsea and #OccupyYouAreBeautiful by making a donation, sharing this campaign with your friends and family, commenting on this page and visiting her at 2309 Main Street in Santa Monica, California. There is no reason this has to be the only #OccupyYouAreBeautiful. Host one in your own community!

3 Ways Yoga Can Solve The U.S. Military’s Mental Health Crisis

With recent shootings and deaths involving military or former military personnel, as well as the many reports of depression and suicide amongst soldiers,  yoga can help address what appears to be a military mental health crisis.

While effective psychotherapy for soldiers is important and yoga by itself can be very good, having a more integrated understanding of the relationships between body and mind may be a missing piece.  The experiential component that happens in yoga can retrain the brain and nervous system while providing an environment for integrated healing to occur.

A non-clinical practice like yoga can also aid in shifting the perception of PTSD and the need for therapeutic work to being an ordinary part of maintaining mental health for every soldier.

1) Let’s acknowledge that military training and combat are inherently traumatizing, both physiologically and psychologically.

Yoga practice can be used as an ongoing way to calm the nervous system, process overwhelming experiences and spend a little time each day re-balancing body and mind. Having this be an integral part of basic military mental health would make soldiers better able to cope with the high-stress experiences that are part of the job.

2) Understand PTSD (post-traumatic stress syndrome) through the lens of somatic (or body-based) psychology.

It is fantastic for soldiers and their families that the military is seeking to acknowledge and clearly define PTSD, and reduce the stigma.

A next step would be to include a more mind-body research-based understanding of what is going on in the nervous system and brains of soldiers suffering from the condition —as a way to address the problem more comprehensively.

3) Let’s train a group of yoga teachers to serve the military in two specific ways:

a) With an understanding of somatic psychology and the basic neuroanatomy of trauma, and in how to use yoga to support discharge of unresolved nervous system energy, safe integration of traumatic memories and using breath and body awareness to become more self-regulated and “resourced.”

b) With basic knowledge of the warning signs that will assist in identifying soldiers who have been pushed into extreme states of depression, paranoia, or delusions that would indicate the need for psychiatric assistance. It is no the fault of these men that they become a danger to themselves and others, and the sooner this can be recognized the safer it will be for all concerned.

It is essential that we take better care of our soldiers and their communities. The above suggestions could make a significant difference by using a science-informed, psychologically aware model of yoga to resolve, heal, and integrate PTSD more effectively.

The The Awakened Heart, Embodied Mind yoga teacher training provides a good grounding in the relationships between somatic psychology, neuroscience, yoga and healing trauma. For more information, click here

photo by: dctim1

Early Mother’s Day Spring Boutique





April 29nd, 2010
10am-2pm

Get a head start on Mother’s Day!

Couture gifts, handbags, designer bed & bath products, heavenly scented custom made candles, Diamonds By Designs Spring Jewelry Collection, Culinary Delights of organic oils, vinegars and kitchen goodies. Exclusive designer childrens clothing, organic womens clothing, specialty gift items and much, much more.
Free gift wrapping.

Champagne and Gourmet Snacks

Location~

3009 Ocean Park Blvd, Santa Monica, CA

A portion of all proceeds will be donated to Breast Friends Forever in association with Breast Cancer Resource Center of Santa Barbara

A Oriah Production ~RSVP to 310.871.5588

Homelessness Myth #2: “They’re All Bums!”

Absolutes can be tricky because there is usually an exception that "proves" or breaks every rule.  We have often heard the expression, "Never say never!"  We generally know in our hearts that in the world of human beings, no one is perfect, no rule remains unbroken and no expressions are absolute.

 The same is true with homeless people.  There are no absolutes.  Just based on what we intuit about the world around us, we know that each homeless person is a unique person – just a housed person without the home.

Whether a person can be called a bum actually depends upon how, of course, we define the word, "bum."  However, anyone chooses to define that word, I think most of us would agree that children are not bums under any definition.

In my experience, I have found that approximately 25% of homeless people are children. Together, women and children make up close to 40% of homeless people and are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population.  They have not chosen homelessness as a life-style; rather, homelessness has been forced upon them. 

Escaping battery is one reason why women become homeless.  When women leave their batterers, they generally take their children with them.  Battered women’s shelters are testaments to this experience.  Not unlike homeless shelters generally, most of the battered women’s shelters are full.

Another reason women and children become homeless is the impact of a challenging economy upon single mothers.  Since the first working mom sought employment, finding a job and arranging for childcare so she could go to work have been huge issues. In the past, however, some of these working moms had family that they could rely on to some extent for support.

 Today, large distances separate many family members and extended family finances have dwindled due to a host of economic circumstances.  Thus, poor mothers often find they are unable to get help from their already overstressed family support system. 

 The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 signed into law by President Obama on February 17, 2009, will hopefully help prevent more people from becoming homeless.  On October 8th, LaDonna Pavetti, director of the Welfare Reform and Income Support Division of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, testified before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support that the ARRA  "prevented millions of Americans from falling into poverty and has helped some states to forgo significant cuts that would have weakened the safety net for very poor families with children."

 Part of ARRA, the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) as administered through the States and their continuum of care may help homeless women and children become housed.  Since applications for assistance are just now being made available to potential participants, the impact of the HPRP is yet to be felt.

 The opinions that some housed people may have of homeless people may be understandable, but their opinions are uneducated.  For example, some housed people may see homeless people sleeping in public during the day and conclude they are lazy. 

 In truth, many homeless people choose to sleep during the day because it is too dangerous for them to sleep at night because that is when they are most vulnerable.

 Some time ago, I accompanied students from Crossroads High School in Santa Monica as they made a short film about homelessness in their city.  I introduced them to my friend, "Charles," who spoke to them very frankly about his experiences since he became homeless.

 Charles shared that although he was over 6 feet tall and weighed over 230 pounds, he was afraid to sleep at night. 

 "Why?" asked the surprised students.

 Charles was slightly embarrassed when he confessed that when he slept at night he was afraid someone would hurt him.  Instead, he chose to sleep during the day and in well-trafficked areas because he felt that the constant flow of people would provide him with an additional measure of safety.

 Charles asked the students if they had read the reports of some young people who had killed homeless people while they slept.

 Bums or people protecting themselves?  You decide.

 I look forward to your comments.  Thanks,

 Christine

 

Homelessness Myth #2: “They’re All Bums!”

Absolutes can be tricky because there is usually an exception that "proves" or breaks every rule.  We have often heard the expression, "Never say never!"  We generally know in our hearts that in the world of human beings, no one is perfect, no rule remains unbroken and no expressions are absolute.

 The same is true with homeless people.  There are no absolutes.  Just based on what we intuit about the world around us, we know that each homeless person is a unique person – just a housed person without the home.

 Whether a person can be called a bum actually depends upon how, of course, we define the word, "bum."  However, anyone chooses to define that word, I think most of us would agree that children are not bums under any definition.

 In my experience, I have found that approximately 25% of homeless people are children. Together, women and children make up close to 40% of homeless people and are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population.  They have not chosen homelessness as a life-style; rather, homelessness has been forced upon them. 

 Escaping battery is one reason why women become homeless.  When women leave their batterers, they generally take their children with them.  Battered women’s shelters are testaments to this experience.  Not unlike homeless shelters generally, most of the battered women’s shelters are full. 

 Another reason women and children become homeless is the impact of a challenging economy upon single mothers.  Since the first working mom sought employment, finding a job and arranging for childcare so she could go to work have been huge issues. In the past, however, some of these working moms had family that they could rely on to some extent for support.

 Today, large distances separate many family members and extended family finances have dwindled due to a host of economic circumstances.  Thus, poor mothers often find they are unable to get help from their already overstressed family support system. 

 The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 signed into law by President Obama on February 17, 2009, will hopefully help prevent more people from becoming homeless.  On October 8th, LaDonna Pavetti, director of the Welfare Reform and Income Support Division of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, testified before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support that the ARRA  "prevented millions of Americans from falling into poverty and has helped some states to forgo significant cuts that would have weakened the safety net for very poor families with children."

 Part of ARRA, the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) as administered through the States and their continuum of care may help homeless women and children become housed.  Since applications for assistance are just now being made available to potential participants, the impact of the HPRP is yet to be felt.

 The opinions that some housed people may have of homeless people may be understandable, but their opinions are uneducated.  For example, some housed people may see homeless people sleeping in public during the day and conclude they are lazy. 

 In truth, many homeless people choose to sleep during the day because it is too dangerous for them to sleep at night because that is when they are most vulnerable.

 Some time ago, I accompanied students from Crossroads High School in Santa Monica as they made a short film about homelessness in their city.  I introduced them to my friend, "Charles," who spoke to them very frankly about his experiences since he became homeless.

 Charles shared that although he was over 6 feet tall and weighed over 230 pounds, he was afraid to sleep at night. 

 "Why?" asked the surprised students.

 Charles was slightly embarrassed when he confessed that when he slept at night he was afraid someone would hurt him.  Instead, he chose to sleep during the day and in well-trafficked areas because he felt that the constant flow of people would provide him with an additional measure of safety.

 Charles asked the students if they had read the reports of some young people who had killed homeless people while they slept.

 Bums or people protecting themselves?  You decide.

 I look forward to your comments.  Thanks,

 Christine

 

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