Spring Workshop Series with the Center for Transformative Change!

 

healing hands with plant image

With the tender aspiration of offering support and solace to foment transformation in troubled times, I am delighted to announce my Spring Workshop series in partnership with the Center for Transformative Change:

Register here for Healing for Change: Intergenerational Trauma, the Social Nervous System and Inner/ Outer Transformation.  The full workshop overview is below.  Overviews and registration information for the two other workshops coming soon! Check here and my blog for updates!

To RSVP for any of the workshops, for questions or to learn more about my individual and organizational services to nourish transformational healing, please feel free to contact me at:  mordecai@bodyeclectic.net.

Here’s an exciting Spring Spoiler!  ScienceOnOurSide will be spreading its wings and soaring as it becomes the Health Justice Commons. . . . . coming this Summer 2016 in partnership with Partners for Collaborative Change (formerly Practicing Freedom), a project of the Movement Strategy Center!!!!!

I hope to see you all soon!

In healing and in solidarity,

Mordecai


Healing for Change: Intergenerational Trauma, the Social Nervous System and Inner/ Outer Transformation

This interactive workshop for social change-makers provides participants with frameworks and tools for transforming trauma and distilling your own healing wisdom to nourish and inform your unique contributions to social transformation.

The workshop supports participants to co-create space for reflecting on and celebrating the inextricable connections between personal and collective healing. . . . being the healing and social transformation.

Space is Limited. Please RSVP and Register!

No one turned away for lack of funds! Please be in touch with any questions at: mordecai@bodyeclectic.net

 

The workshop offers:

* an overview of western trauma studies centralizing contributions by feminist, Native American, and African American psychologists, social scientists and activists such as Eduardo and Bonnie Duran, Joy DeGruy, and Judith Herman.

* an introduction to new findings in neurophysiology, epigentics and social epidemiology, which inform the conceptualization of the ‘social nervous system’ and which challenge fundamental capitalist myths that humans are inherently hierarchical and that evolution and innovation are driven primarily by competition

* experiential exercises based in somatics and contemplative practices to enable participants to ‘feel into’ the social nervous system and connect with their capacity and calling to contribute to and benefit from this collective field of transformation.

This workshop also provides safe space to reflect on the parallels of findings from the emergent ‘new synthesis’ in the biological sciences with universal spiritual truths while evaluating and critiquing the liberatory potential of science in the context of its oppressive history and ongoing role in enabling cultural appropriation and injustice.

 

******************** Presenters ********************

Facilitator: Mordecai Cohen Ettinger, MA, has over 20 years experience as a social justice change-maker, radical scholar, and healer. Mordecai serves as adjunct faculty at the California Institute of Integral Studies. His academic research focuses on the neurobiology of the social nervous system, and its implications with regard to collective trauma, healing and social change. More at: www.bodyeclectic.net

Co-presented by the Center for Transformative Change, the first national center entirely dedicated to bridging the inner and outer lives of social change agents, activists and allies to support a more effective, more sustainable movement of social justice for all. More at: http://transformativechange.org

 

**************** Accessibility information ****************

To honor disability justice and nourish the health of our bodies and of the planet, this is a scent-free event. The Center for Transformative Change burns incense some days. The Center will not burn incense the day of the workshop. For more about how to be fragrance free, please see the East Bay Meditation Center’s guide. If you want more information about the scents in the space, feel free to contact me at: mordecai@bodyeclectic.net .

The Center for Transformative Change is unfortunately not wheelchair accessible. I host other workshops in spaces that are wheelchair accessible – please be in touch if this is of interest.

 

****************Registration information****************

Please RSVP and Register. No one turned away for lack of funds! Please be in touch with any questions at: mordecai@bodyeclectic.net

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Towards A New Ecology of Justice: Intergenrational Trauma and the Social Nervous System Talk this Sunday at the Marxist Library!

Marxist Library Talk_4.4.16_BLM Protest Image

Happy Spring! I’m excited to announce my first of several Spring events! Please keep your eye out for other spring events and (spoiler alert!) big announcements about my new Health Justice project in collaboration with Partners for Collaborative Change (formerly Practicing Freedom)!

I am giving a free talk, Towards A New Ecology of Justice: Intergenerational Trauma and the Social Nervous System at the Niebyl-Proctor Marxist Library on April 10th at 10:30 am.

Talk of trauma is becoming increasingly prevalent, especially with the ongoing and shocking rise of violence in the US and globally. While western scientific knowledge has historically been produced and used to maintain hegemonic social control, a new synthesis in the biological sciences is emerging.  This emergent synthesis counters and de-naturalizes the central myth of capitalism, that competition and hierarchy are the primary motors of evolution, while offering new explanatory models and empirical evidence of how oppression and discrimination harm us down to the cellular level and is passed intergenerationally.

The material impacts of injustice on the individual body and across generations can no longer be plausibly denied nor can humanity’s radical connectivity with one another, our social world, and our histories.  Bringing the social theories of Gramsci and Foucault with post-colonial psychology and an overview of new findings in neuroscience and epigenetics, this talk will explore how we can understand the dynamic processes of social transformation and justice and critique the liberatory potential of science in light of this compelling paradigm shift.

I hope to see you all there!

Details:

Address: Niebyl-Proctor Marxist Library, 6501 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

Contact Number: 510-332-3865

Wheelchair Accessible: Yes

Scent-Free Event: Yes

Lessons of Disease #1: War Is Not the Answer

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“The thinking that caused the problem will not fix the problem.”  Einstein

As a person who overcame a severe neurological disorder which left me so debilitated I could barely brush my teeth or pick up my 5 pound dog, I often marvel over the messages of illness that circulate in popular culture.  After a recent visit from varicella zoster, the virus which causes the shingles and the detection of far  more severe, life threatening illness in beloved members of my community, these reflections have been foremost in my mind.  Two of these people were diagnosed with cancer.  What I’ve been contemplating  most is the metaphors and images of war applied to illness recovery and the actual roots of illness, especially cancer, in the culture and industries of war itself.

Medical institutions in the United States are indistinguishable from this country’s war machinery and institutions or from big pharma and agrochemical industries.  As I will demonstrate later, many multi-national corporations produce ‘integrated’ product lines that span all of these industries.

So it is perhaps more ironic than surprising that   the war on drugs and crime, and the overall violence, subtle or overt, veiled or seen, that defines our national landscape has morphed into a war on diverse illnesses, especially cancer.  Waging all manner of wars is indisputably a highly lucrative venture, in a recent assessment by the blog SmartAsset, the US Prison System’s estimated worth is $74 billion, greater than the GDP of 133 nations. The war against dis-ease is no different.  US healthcare is a $2.9 Trillion industry.  According to 2014, statistics from the National Cancer Institute, the cancer treatment industry is valued at $125 billion and the organization projects this sum will reach $173 billion by 2020.  Some health advocates assert that the cancer industry is so profitable, there is no incentive to find a cure, clearly, there are literally billions of reasons not to find one.

On the other hand, as genetic and epigenetic research proliferates, I predict, along with many others, that personalizing gene-targeted therapies will be the next huge and plunderable horizon for the treatment of dis-ease.  Invitae, a local start-up in this field, is unique in its aspiration to keep such testing and treatments affordable while demonstrating the pervasive reality of this trend.  The health industry will continue to swell; so then must our will to fight.

Although of course, herein lies the paradox: though the stance of battling disease is a widely accepted and encouraged response to illness, fighting is antithetical to healing.  This does not mean that I would discourage anyone facing illness or staring down their mortality from rallying their will to live, but rather that if we wage war on illness itself perhaps we are misguided in our targets and profoundly mixing our metaphors.

War within wars:  Nuclear medicine & agrochemicals

With regard to clear and undeniable connections between medical and war industries, we can look to nuclear medicine.  In her 2009 book, Under the Radar:  Cancer and the Cold War, Ellen Leopold examines how radiation, a human-made environmental toxin and by-product from annihilating war technologies such as the atomic bomb became a standard part of cancer treatment in the cold war era.  To me, much of western medicine, with its hyper-focus on symptoms, has always seemed to function with a befuddling logic – a rationale that I generally sum up as the ‘knocking down the mountain to halt the avalanche,’ mentality.  Leopold extrapolates that this mentality actually has its roots in the cold war ‘fight fire with fire’, mindset, the one upmanship mentality which drove nuclear proliferation .  The case of radiation therapy in the treatment of cancer is even more painfully befuddling given that radiation clearly causes cancer.  The examples of this are nearly endless, but a poignant case currently unfolding across the globe is the impacts of Fukashima.  According to a recent AP story which covers a forthcoming study in the November issue of the journal Epidemiology, thyroid cancer incidence is up 20% to 50% in children residing in the Fukashima prefecture.  Further, a March 2013 study published in the Open Journal of Pediatrics, reports that infants born in the western states of California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii and Alaska between 1 and 16 weeks after the Fukashima fallout were 28% more likely to develop congenital hypothyroidism than infants born the prior year.  If we consider that the proliferation of nuclear power plants were yet another innovation of war – they produce Plutonium 239 as a by-product, the type of plutonium used to power nuclear bombs – it is not hard to make the connection that nuclear medicine, now a 2.2 billion dollar industry, was an attempt to further monetize and cultivate global expertise on this war innovation.  Finally, in the industrialized world, nuclear medicine accounts for the largest source of human-made radiation to which we are exposed[1].  The war being waged against cancer could arguably be the ‘cure’ that is causing the disease.

The introduction and hyper-monetization of pesticide and herbicide use in agriculture and for the prevention of insect-borne illness is also a result of war industry.  The use of DDT during World War Two innovated mosquito and lice abatement which substantially reduced wartime mortality rates from malaria and typhus .  DDT’s value in reducing global malarial rates is controversial as is its link with cancer causation.  As of 1972, DDT was banned in the US for agricultural use, but it is still used for limited vector disease control across the planet.  The EPA lists DDT as a ‘probable carcinogen’.  Like many other pesticides and herbicides which are organochlorines, DDT is a proven endocrine disruptor which as a class have been widely documented to cause cancer.

Extensive evidence linking DDT to cancer may be difficult to accumulate because DDT’s half life in the body is 6 to 10 years and the time frame of exposure in a person’s lifespan may be a key causal factor in cancer causality.  Failure to account for these variables has limited the scope of research up until now.  However, a June 2015 study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that in a sample population of approximately 10,000 women and their daughters, in utero exposure to DDT increases breast cancer incidence in daughters.  According to a 1975 EPA report, 600,000 tons of DDT were deployed for agricultural use in the US prior to the 1972 ban.  Monsanto, the company that has (perhaps quite literally) made a killing off of RoundUp was one of the top US manufacturers of DDT in the 60’s up until the ban.

Incidentally Monsanto has been making the headlines again recently.  Following the World Health Organization’s March 2015 designation of glyphosate, the active ingredient in RoundUp, as a ‘probable human carcinogen,’ the California EPA has announced it will officially list the chemical as a carcinogen.  Glyphosate is also the active ingredient in Dow’s Accord and Sygenta’s Touchdown.  BfR, a German Consumer Health Protection Agency reports that some surfactants used in co-formulations of glyphosate are even more toxic than the active ingredient itself but extensive 3rd party testing has been prevented by agrochemical corporations because these formulations are protected as trade secrets and copyright protected information.

In response to the WHO finding, countries across Europe are calling for a European Union-wide ban and starting this summer retailers have been removing RoundUp from their shelves.  According to the UK paper The Guardian, Monsanto officials have responded with outrage and accused the WHO of ‘agenda-driven bias.’  To be clear, the WHO’s publicly declared purpose is to serve as “the directing and coordinating authority on international health within the United Nations’ system.”  Among other objectives their agenda is “providing leadership on matters critical to health, articulating ethical and evidence-based policy options, and monitoring the health situation and assessing health trends[2].”  The WHO’s 2014-2015 annual budget is $3.98 billion in US currency[3]. Monsanto’s net worth was 58 billion as of 2014.

Multi-national corporations such as Monsanto maintain their market profitability by systematically discrediting claims that their products cause health risks.  The tobacco industry has does a remarkable job of making a science out of manufacturing doubt in the populace. Stanford scholar Dr. Robert Proctor has termed this agnotology, the cultural production of ignorance.  Proctor’s meticulous research reveals the use of brilliant publicity techniques, such as Virginia Slim’s ‘You’ve come a long way, baby,’ campaign which used the momentum of the feminist and free speech movements to move their products, bribery of the US Surgeon General, and the use of industry backed research produced by staff scientists which for years successfully veiled the health risks of smoking.  The use with increasing precision of agnotology has become essential to the business models of multi-national corporations.  In a story published yesterday, the magazine Mother Jones[4] (which incidentally ran a 1997 expose on big tobacco that convinced me to quit smoking), reports that Monsanto’s stock is tanking.  Monsanto’s ‘outrage’ then is no surprise.  At long last Monsanto’s global legitimacy, whose GMO seeds have been nicknamed the ‘seeds of suicide’ for the epidemic of farmer suicide in India they have spurred, is sufficiently embattled to be affecting its bottom line.

This again begs the question, if there is a war against cancer and other dis-ease, what armies are amassed and against which foes?

The case of Sygenta, the manufacturer of the herbicide Atrazine which is used on over half of the corn crops in the US and on many golf courses and Christmas Tree farms, provides further fodder for consideration of these profound questions.  Sygenta went viral in early 2014 when a class action suit brought against the company for Atrazine contamination of water supplies revealed that the company had engaged in a 15 year smear campaign against acclaimed UC Berkeley scientist Dr. Tyrone Hayes.  His research, beginning in 1997, produced evidence that demonstrated that Atrazine causes the feminization of male frogs at such high rates that frog populations could be severely impacted and that it is a clear endocrine disruptor linking it causally to breast and prostate cancer.  The goal of their campaign, which is well documented by Democracy Now and the New Yorker when the court mandated that Sygenta’s internal documents be released, was to bully Hayes into silence, discredit Hayes’ research and to ultimately prevent an EPA ban on Atrazine, which is already banned in Europe.  Dr.Tim Pastoor, Sygenta staff scientist, would follow Dr. Hayes at scientific conferences in attempt to publicly refute his data.  In his February 21, 2014 interview with Democracy Now, Dr. Hayes retells how Pastoor would threaten him with violence stating, “He would whisper in my ear telling me how he could have me lynched,” and that he threatened sexual violence against Hayes’ wife and daughter, once stating, “Your wife’s at home alone right now. How do you know I haven’t sent somebody there to take care of her? Isn’t your daughter there?” These seem to me to be unmistakably tactics of war in which cancer was clearly not the targeted enemy, but rather an African American scientist who was simply attempting to make his potentially life-saving research available to the scientific community and the public at large.

Finally, Sygenta’s tactics and product diversification as it is termed in agrochemical and big pharma industries, reveal patterns that would seem conspiratorial if they weren’t so commonplace in multi-nationals. Until 2000, when Sygenta was still called Novartis ,while producing Atrazine and battling the EPA’s efforts to ban it, the company simultaneously produced an estrogen blocking breast cancer medication called letrozole.  The drug functions by blocking aromatase which is an enzyme that causes the over production of estrogen. Atrazine, as a hormone disruptor, induces the production of aromatase in the body. In November of 2000, Novartis merged with AstraZeneca and became Sygenta. AstraZeneca also produces two breast cancer medications, Arimedex and Faslodex. Arimedex blocks aromatase and Faslodex acts as a estrogen down-regulator. First as Novartis and now as Sygenta, the company excels at monetizing harm, and doubly profiting from it: the wide use of its herbicides and pesticides creates and drives demand, a ‘captive market’ of people in treatment for cancer. Currently, for women who have survived estrogen sensitive cancers, it is recommended to remain on estrogen blockers for at least 5 years and in some cases for the remainder of one’s lifespan.

In popular health information, there is a pervasive hyper-individualization of illness causality, especially with cancer. If you can keep yourself out of high-risk categories through eating right and exercise, you can prevent yourself from becoming a statistic, another casualty of the war. But when you look just beneath the surface, high cancer incidence is more highly attributable to the collateral damage of the profit making machinery that drives global economies.

Under our skin

War does get under our skin in myriad ways, though. I have a neighbor who is a former Marine and Vietnam veteran, a very kind and thoughtful man. Because of his exposure to Agent Orange there is a lattice of benign tumors throughout his body. He needs to make frequent visits to the Vet Hospital to have these tumors monitored as he has been informed by medical doctors there they can turn malignant at anytime, a prognosis that sounds remarkably, yet perhaps unsurprisingly, like a ticking time bomb.

Further, the discrimination, injustices, violence and abuse we ourselves or our ancestors have faced — which at long last are receiving scientific recognition as traumatic — are increasingly being linked to disease risk, shortened lifespans, and harmful epigenetic changes. To the body, the psyche, the spirit, systematic and ongoing injustice and inequity is indistinguishable from war; the tools, tactics and weapons are simply distinct and their normalization or justification is perhaps among the most harmful of aspects. Perceived through any lens, or enacted through any means, war cannot and does not bring healing.

Most importantly, there are aspects of health and healing that are obscured from view if we look upon overcoming illness as winning a war. Just the thought of war or the need to win evokes flight or fight responses that in turn provoke sympathetic activation in the body’s autonomic nervous system. This type of autonomic engagement, akin to hitting the accelerator of a car, mobilize us for defense. In these defensive states, our bodies are able to devote less metabolic resources to restoration and repair. Bodies need calm, ease and safety to best heal. Shame or blame, which frequently surfaces when a person becomes ill in our society due to the pervasive ableism of our society, also engages traumatic activation in the autonomic nervous system. This generally produces states in which people feel immobilized and resigned or unbearably anxious or sad. Sometimes people feel a combination of these emotions and this is truly overwhelming. The hyper-individualization of illness and its prevention, combined with images of war and fighting leave individuals feeling ashamed for getting ill and disproportionately responsible for their recoveries.

There are over 85,000 chemicals produced in this country, this article has profiled but a few to demonstrate the high levels of toxicity that pervades the planet’s air, water and food supplies. In 2013, the UK Government found glyphosate in 30% of bread tested. That same year the NGO Friends of the Earth commissioned independent lab testing of volunteers of 18 EU countries. 70% of the people tested in Great Britain, Germany and Poland had trace amounts of glyphosate in their urine. US statistics would likely be comparable if not more concerning. This is information you will never receive in a doctor’s office. If we did, how would this alter our attitudes, practices and demands for health? I foresee a much vaster public demand for prevention, rather than cures, for neutralizing the threats to our health, rather than having to constantly fight.

Transforming illness, transforming society

For me overcoming illness was a journey of over 10 years. I had already had a healthy skepticism of the health industry due to repeated incidents of abuse as a child and young adult. This included unsafe exposure to x-radiation and routine display of my body to rooms full of young residents as part of medical treatment for childhood scoliosis. I would later learn that this protocol, currently designated as medical torture by the UN, played a significant role in my later health issues.

With the help of one remarkably talented physical therapist who was also highly intuitive and trained in functional medicine along and many alternative modalities, I recovered. I relied largely upon my own moxie, intellectual intrepidness (in the face of doctors refuting the credibility of my symptoms and the authority of my lived wisdom), and tenacity. Perhaps too much so; most of my healing journey was in isolation. I was frequently in too much pain to leave the house or negotiate the world. I also had to confront and transform the profound shame that inhibited me from seeking help or believing I deserved it. My shame was a consequence of growing up in a family with veiled yet incessant violence and normalized, invisibilized sexual abuse. It was also a product of deeply internalized stigma and oppression for being ill, for failing my friends and loved ones, for being lazy, for refusing to fit within easily mapped and expected gender norms, for being needy, weak, low income. A cacophony of self-judgment and blame haunted me for years. I was also frequently judged, dismissed and blamed by those closest to me, causing a near unbearable sense of alienation and despair. When one day in February 2013, I was in so much pain I could barely lift food to my mouth, I began to question if I could go on. It no longer seemed logically plausible that a body in that much pain could sustain life.

And yet, I was too stubborn to give up. I realized that I must be more than my body, because if I were only my body, I’d already be gone. In the height of my pain, I was also paradoxically able to deeply appreciate the wonder and awe of life and it’s miraculous beauty. I was always an empath but I further cultivated this gift along with my intuition, something that systematic oppression denigrates and strips us of. I became what I refer to as a body detective, an excellent medical researcher often possessing more knowledge than the general internists that reviewed my case. During an emergency room visit in 2011, my doctor mistook me for a doctor and the CT scan technician told me that the questions I was asking would require a consult with a biophysicist to address.

Knowledge was my power. I believe it can be for others as well. This is why I’ve continued to cultivate expertise in the field of Science and Technology Studies which I currently teach at CIIS. Most important, despite all the minimization and incredulity I have faced, my suffering has meaning and it has meaning for others. It has allowed me to assist others in transforming their suffering, helping them transmute their pain into power, and to live a life of authentic purpose as agents for change. The wisdom, spiritual strength and prowess that people cultivate through living with and/ or overcoming illness is invaluable. Not just for us ourselves, the quiet warriors, the survivors, but for our friends, loved ones, families, communities and society at large. Its value as social capital is so vast and crucial it transcends monetary value — finally something incalculable in this world of quantification and big data – let’s recognize it as such.

In the coming weeks, I will have the great gift of spending time with the mother of a precious friend, chosen family, who is recovering from stage four cancer. She is not battling cancer, she is transforming her illness so it fuels her renewal, good health and long life. After years of scholarship and silence regarding my own experiences with illness, her journey has in large part inspired this piece. Her strength, grace and resilience have been astonishing.  It is time for me to speak to lessen the burden for others, to help us glean the wisdom of healing to fuel change.

Something that my friend’s mother recently said about her recovery moved me deeply:  “this is the first time I have really gotten to rest and consider all the things there are to learn and all the things I’d like to do in my life.”  Please understand that the ‘rest’ of which she is speaking involved her lying in a hospital bed with a catheter, a drain clearing the blood from her incision which zigzags with stitches from beneath her breasts to her pubic bone, and multiple IV’s and beeping flashing machines connected to her body.  Supporting her during her stay in the hospital and helping to track her medications for a day exhausted me.  Her determination to heal is unstoppable.  For too many of us here and around the world, the rest we finally eek out for overcoming illness is the first sustained pause our lives permit.

We will all sicken and die, death is a part of life.  It can be a beautiful part.  But have we not yet learned the lesson that the hyper-monetization of healthcare combined with enabling and abetting multi-billion industries to ravage our bodies and planet creates a hell on Earth?  Humanity, at a very high cost to other life and ecosystems on the planet, has accomplished sufficient technological advances to feed, clothe and shelter everyone on the planet.  If we amend our current rates of consumption, we may even still have enough water.  The problem isn’t scarcity, it’s distribution.  No living being on the planet should only get sustained rest or time for contemplation when facing death.  I hesitate to use words with heavy religious connotation, but if anything is an abomination, this would be one, an abomination of the sacredness of life itself.

The best medicine for cancer and all illness is a global universal basic income, global reparations for slavery and colonization, transitioning all societies to sustainable energy resources, making public transportation more available and usable, taking into consideration accessibility for people with diverse and differing (dis)abilities, and most importantly, more time for laughter, ease and creativity, more time for growing our own food, watching our children grow, growing old with grace. . . . .

Humans, specifically the global one percent, have become near experts at monetizing harm, from my perspective a particular, but very certain type of hell.  Let’s get expert on mass producing grace and delight.  You may think I’m dreaming, but I’ve witnessed and experienced miracles, sometimes as prosaic as being able to tie my own shoes once again after years of inability to do so.  I watched my friend’s mother walk two laps around her hospital floor, like a boss, just a few days after major surgery, wires and drains and beeping machines and all.  I know it’s possible.

And, once we embrace a new horizon of possibility, that each and every being on the planet deserves this kind of world, the ones we love, the ones we hate, the species we don’t even know exist, the people we will never meet, then we can do the serious work of co-creating the solutions.

Want Science on your side?  If you have a question regarding a health issue or medical advocacy send them to me at mordecai@bodyeclectic.net  I will address them in an upcoming article or contact you personally.  I am also available for individual sessions and organizational consultations and trainings. 

happy road sign

 

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[1] “Understanding Medical Radiation,” the Siemen’s Healthcare site, https://www.medicalradiation.com/facts-about-radiation/radiation-sources/man-made-radiation/, searched 10/9/15.

[2] Information taken from the WHO website, http://www.who.int/about/what-we-do/en/, 10/9/15.

[3] Information from WHO budget document, http://www.who.int/about/resources_planning/A66_R2_en.pdf?ua=1, 10/9/15.

[4] “Monsanto’s stock is tanking,” by Tom Philpott, Mother Jones website, http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2015/10/monsanto-stock-decline-layoffs, sourced 10/9/15.

Science On Our Side Somatic Circle — September 28th

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September’s Somatic Circle will focus on connecting with inspiration. What makes you come alive? How can we cultivate our inspiration as a source of resilience, a force to help us overcome our obstacles, protect ourselves from the daily stress and pain of living in an unjust society, and as a means to more deeply connect with who and what we love?

Using clear scientific concepts, this session will provide participants with a foundation in the neurobiology of the social nervous system as a tool to help participants understand the ways in which our bodies are built for resilience and connection. We will also experiment with somatic techniques as a group and in dyads allowing participants to develop increased capacity in body awareness and transmuting negative feeling states into positive ones. By virtue of how the autonomic nervous system functions, this is the embodied alchemy we are all capable of.

If desired, as part of attendance, all participants will have the opportunity to receive:
1. individualized ‘homework’ and a 15 minute somacise check-in with Mordecai – that’s a check-in on how you are progressing on your somatic exercises & homework, should you choose to accept it. (Yes I made up this word especially for you – Science!)
2. Or, a 15 minute distant healing session

Event Logistics:

September, 28th, 7 pm – 9:30 pm at the Omicron in Oakland

Space is limited so please RSVP to enroll at: mordecai@bodyeclectic.net.  You will be provided with the address at this time.

The requested offering is $40. You will be welcome whatever you can offer!


About the facilitator:
Mordecai Cohen Ettinger, MA, is adjunct faculty at CIIS where he teaches Science and Technology Studies. He has over 20 years experience as a holistic healer, educator and social justice activist. Trained as a somatic, Reiki, and Cranial Sacral practitioner, Mordecai’s Masters research explores the social nervous system and the neurobiology of trauma and its transformation — particularly trauma stemming from injustice — as it relates to collective and individual resilience, healing and social change. Learn more at www.bodyeclectic.net or email Mordecai: mordecai@bodyeclectic.net 

What’s Somatics:
Grounded in the belief that the body in its wholeness is the foundation for healing, somatic practices bridge science with the sacred combining body awareness techniques with findings in neurobiology and neurophysiology. These practices support & enhance the body’s innate self-regulatory and resilience-building capacities. Used with focused intention, these practices can lead to symptom reduction and deeper insight about who we are, the world as a whole, and the catalyzing impact of inner and outer change.

Liberating Science: Intergenerational Trauma and the Social Nervous System

telomeresTalk of trauma is becoming increasingly prevalent, especially with the ongoing and shocking rise of racist police violence. While science has historically been used to oppress and silence many groups of people, emergent studies in neuroscience and epigenetics offer explanatory models and empirical evidence of how oppression and discrimination harm us down to the cellular level and how harm is passed intergenerationally.

This lecture provides an overview of research of over 10 years on the neurobiology of the social nervous system
and explores the causal dynamics of intergenerational trauma in individual and collective behavior, social norms
and social forms. This lecture uses science as a tool of liberation to help people understand how trauma lives in
the body and the mechanisms by which it is passed from generation to generation. It will invite participants to
consider how healing trauma individually and collectively can help create new power and possibilities for social change to emerge.

About the Presenter:

Mordecai Cohen Ettinger, MA, has over 20 years experience as an educator, holistic healer, and social justice change maker. He serves as faculty at the California Institute of Integral Studies where he is currently
creating a new Science, Technology and Society Studies Program.

His academic research focuses on the neurobiology of the social nervous system, and its implications with regard to collective trauma, healing and social change. Trained in Somatic Experiencing, Reiki, and Cranial Sacral therapy, he has studied with Dr. Peter Levine, Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, Dr. Raja Selvam and MaryEllen Sperling, PT.

Mordecai has served as Interim Executive Director of Caduceus Outreach Services, Interim Co-Director of Justice Now and co-founded the Transgender, Gender Variant, Intersex Justice Project in 2004. Other organizations Mordecai has had the gift of working include Advocates for Informed Choice (AIC), The Arab Resource and Organizing Center, Community United Against Violence (CUAV) the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, People’s Durham, San Francisco Women Against Rape, and Sins Invalid.

Space is limited! Please rsvp at mordecai@bodyeclectic.net

For those that cannot attend, there will be a live streaming webcast. More details to come!

Happy Happenings at the Omicron!

happy road sign

Hello dear friends,

Despite all the challenges we current face in our society, the natural world reminds us that May is the time for expansive possibility!  At the Omicron, A home for Healing Arts, inspiration and possibility can be your refuge.

Please feel welcome to join us at our upcoming events listed below.  To attend and receive the Omicron address, kindly RSVP via email. Or, send me facebook friend request and RSVP via facebook (for the Healing Arts Lab onwards, facebook event pages coming soon!).  Feel free to email me with questions: mordecai@bodyeclectic.net . Walk in beauty my friends!

Somatic Healing Circle, Tonight!!, 7:30 pm -9:30 pm: Somatic Circles use the social nervous system and somatic education to support participants to connect deeply and develop practices to alleviate the symptoms stemming from suffering. Participants will also experience the magic and alchemy of which we are all capable: transmuting pain to power.

Requested donation is $20-$40. If people cannot offer currency they are invited to offer barter or work exchange to help keep the Omicron thriving.

 Drop-in Self-Care Clinic, May 18th, 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm:Come in, have some tea, and receive self-care coaching and consultation on issues such as stress management, pain management, better sleep and medical advocacy.

Requested donation is $20-$40. If people cannot offer currency they are invited to offer barter or work exchange to help keep the Omicron thriving.

 Healing Arts Lab!: May 24th, 1 pm – 5 pm: The Healing Arts Lab is an experiment in healing alchemy and gift economics bringing together holistic healers, somatic practitioners, body workers, and movement, visual and performance artists.  Participants will have the opportunity to have 20-30 minute sessions with any and all of the practitioners present. You can offer what you wish in return. No one will be turned away for an empty pocket. An open heart and mind hold the real value. 

Somatic Circle — Transmuting Pain to Power, May 25th, 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm

And coming in June. . . . . .

Meeting of Minds:  Transformational Economics Discussion, June 1st, 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm: Join us for a ground-breaking, in-depth conversation on gift economies, barter and trade economics, open sourcing, and how to creatively hybridize them in our communities to form liberated zones that challenge and displace our current economic system.

About the host:  Mordecai Cohen Ettinger, MA, is adjunct faculty at CIIS where he teaches Science, Technology and Society Studies. He has over 20 years experience as a holistic healer, educator and social justice activist. Trained as a somatic, Reiki, and Cranial Sacral practitioner, Mordecai’s Masters research explores the social nervous system and the neurobiology of trauma and its transformation — particularly trauma stemming from injustice — as it relates to collective and individual resilience, healing and social change. Learn more at www.bodyeclectic.net or email Mordecai: mordecai@bodyeclectic.net 

About the Omicron:

The Omicron is a residential healing arts center on a peaceful block in the Lower Dimond District of East Oakland.  It’s a place where the doors of our hearts are always open and our minds are aligned in the aspiration to transform our inner worlds as a crucial path to the transformation of society.  The Omicron aims to return the care to healthcare and strengthen individual and community resilience through healing innovation, the implementation of transformational economics, and kindness.

To respect the health of our bodies and the planet, the Omicron is a scent-free and substance free space.

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Image by Richie Rhombus

 

 

Somatic Circle — Transmuting Pain to Power

Alchemy symbol -- gif

 

A BodyEclectic Event at the Omicron, Monday May 11th, 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm!

BodyEclectic’s Somatic Circles use the social nervous system to support participants to connect deeply and develop practices to alleviate and transform the symptoms stemming from trauma. Participants will also experience the magic and alchemy of which we are all capable: transmuting pain to power.

While the cause of much suffering, trauma can be an amazing teacher and guide, leading us through the labyrinth of our deepest distress to vast possibility, grace, serenity and an expanded capacity for vitality. Trauma can also act as a bell of mindfulness to awaken us to our true gifts and most authentic, powerful selves.

Somatic Circles hold trauma as a sacred opportunity for transformation, both of ourselves and the world. It is a safe and nurturing space structured as a facilitated group providing:

1) Somatic education and experiential techniques grounded in neuroscience such as: the neurobiology of the social nervous system and of affect states, otherwise known as emotions, to facilitate grounding, mastery of boundaries, connection, empathy and new capacities
2) An approach to healing which situates trauma as a self-evident consequence of oppression and injustice

The requested donation is $20-$40. If people cannot offer currency they are invited to offer barter or work exchange to help keep the Omicron thriving. Please RSVP at: mordecai@bodyeclectic.net for the Omicron’s address!

About the facilitator:
Mordecai Cohen Ettinger, MA, is adjunct faculty at CIIS and has over 20 years experience as a holistic healer, educator and social justice activist. Trained as a somatic, Reiki, and Cranial Sacral practitioner, Mordecai’s Masters research explores the social nervous system and the neurobiology of trauma and its transformation — particularly trauma stemming from injustice — as it relates to collective and individual resilience, healing and social change. Learn more at www.bodyeclectic.net or email Mordecai: mordecai@bodyeclectic.net

What’s Somatics:
Grounded in the belief that the body in its wholeness is the foundation for healing, somatic practices combine body awareness techniques with findings in neurobiology and neurophysiology. These practices support & enhance the body’s innate self-regulatory and resilience-building capacities. Used with focused intention, these practices can lead to symptom reduction and deeper insight about who we are, the world as a whole, and how we wish to inhabit it.

On Trauma:
Trauma first became a popular concept when World War I survivors returned home with ‘shell shock’. A diagnostic criteria for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was developed over time. After World War II, a body of theory and treatments for intergenerational trauma was developed. Most of this work has occurred in the confines of western psychology and psychiatry, and while these disciplines offer some helpful explanatory tools to understand and treat trauma, they are limited and all too often stigmatize the people they are trying to help.

UnWinding the Social Nervous System: 4 Week Learning Lab in Motion

Dance Event Photo 1Exploring social change and personal healing through somatics and contact improvisation.


In this 4 week learning lab we will use contact improvisation, somatic techniques, and lessons in neurobiology to create a vibrant lab for learning. We will use this container to explore how oppression resides in our bodies, how it manifests in our interactions with one another and how our society manipulates the social nervous system to maintain control. We will also explore the social nervous system’s power as a resource for authentic expression and creation, both for the self and community. 

Participants will be guided in a supportive space to understand the complicated dance of internalizing or enacting oppression and to play, explore and discover how to transform these patterns and co-create justice and healing.

During this 4 week lab we will:

> Co-create a safe, nourishing and non-judgmental space to play, explore and heal

> Develop proficiency in somatic techniques such as grounding, tracking bodily sensations and split attention tracking

> ‘Hack’ our neurobiology by learning about the body’s fight/flight/freeze responses, parasympathetic nervous system engagement/disengagement, and affect states (emotions)

> Discover how your sensations relate to neurobiological shifts in your body, how your neurobiology relates to how you feel, and how you feel affects how you can connect to others

> Learn about the neurobiology of touch

> Learn how to shift the body’s neurobiology individually and in a group through tricks, shifts in attention, and state-based work with movement

> Co-create rituals which contribute to a culture of social justice and healing

To honor the health of our bodies and that of the planet, this will be a scent-free event! This venue is wheelchair accessible.

4 Thursdays, February 19th – March 26th, 7 pm -9:30 pm , Subterranean Art House,

Cost: $120-160.

Contact Jote to register. jotemahern@gmail.com

Please contact us if you are in need of a scholarship or work trade arrangement. NOTAFLOF

This is an experimental collaboration between BodyEclectic and Underneath Us 


Mordecai and Jote will be co-facilitating.
Learn more about us:

Gentle outlaw and gender transcender, Mordecai Cohen Ettinger, MA, has over 20 years experience as a healer, educator, ritualist and social justice change maker. He serves as adjunct faculty at the California Institute of Integral Studies. His academic research focuses on the neurobiology of the social nervous system, collective trauma and healing. Trained in Somatic Experiencing, Reiki, and Cranial Sacral therapy, he has studied with Peter Levine, Bessel van der Kolk and Raja Selvam.

For Jote Mahern of Underneath Us dance and touch have been imperative to grounding myself in community with folks where I feel I can risk being my fullest self. The practice of dance and touch have also allowed me to grow into a person who can stand to bear witness and engage with the vastness of injustice in the world without collapsing under the weight of it all. For the past ten years, I have been exploring the flow of subtle energies in partner dance through contact improvisation and more traditional upright forms like tango, blues, contra, and swing. I think a lot about impulse, desire, and action- where our emotions begin, end, and what is happening in between- how the subtle shifts in attention and nervous system functioning can lead to vastly different possibilities for connection and collaboration.

Embodying Justice

Butterflies with chrysalis

 

Exploring social change and personal healing through contact improvisation and somatics.

 

This afternoon intensive will use contact improv, somatic techniques, lessons in neurobiology and ritual to explore how oppression resides in our bodies and how it manifests in our interactions with one another, our communities, and the planet.  Using the practices above, participants will be guided in a supportive space to understand the complicated dance of internalizing or enacting oppression and to play, explore and discover how to transform these patterns and co-create justice and healing.

 

During this BodyEclectic workshop we will:

  • Co-create a safe, nourishing and non-judgmental space to play, explore and heal
  • Develop proficiency in somatic techniques such as grounding, tracking bodily sensations and split attention tracking
  • ‘Hack’ our neurobiology by learning about the body’s fight/flight/freeze responses, parasympathetic nervous system engagement/disengagement, and affect states (emotions)
  • Discover how your sensations relate to neurobiological shifts in your body, how your neurobiology relates to how you feel, and how you feel affects how you can connect to others
  • Learn about the neurobiology of touch
  • Learn how to shift the body’s neurobiology individually and in a group through tricks, shifts in attention, and state-based work with movement
  • Create rituals which contribute to a culture of social justice and healing

Saturday, January 24th, 1-5pm, Subterranean Art House, $40-$60

Facilitated by Mordecai Cohen Ettinger, MA and Jote Mahern

Enroll at Embodying Justice on Facebook! Or Village Craft

No prior dance or somatics experience necessary!

 

Somatics for Social Justice: Embody the Change!

Butterflies with chrysalis

About the Workshop

The Somatics and Social Justice Workshop provides participants with an overview of: 1) somatic practices, how they ‘work,’ and what they are good for, and 2) the neurobiology and neurophysiology of stress responses and also of empathy, connection solidarity, and the social nervous system. Spoiler alert — the same neuro-anatomy and processes control all of these aspects of being, wow!

Through discussion and experiential exercises participants will learn somatic techniques for being and becoming the embryos of the better world we dream of creating. Participants will be invited to carry these practices into their lives however they wish to help to align with their personal goals for healing and social justice values.

This Workshop’s for you if:

  • You are interested in learning practices to embody the change you want to see in the world
  • You love science and want to geek out
  • You hate science and want to re-claim it as a tool for healing and justice
  • You want to build community in which to co-create transformative healing practices
  • If you want to feel better!

All are welcome, especially beginners!!

When: Thursday, December, 4th, 7- 9 pm at Take 5 Cafe’ and Gallery

Thursday, December, 18th, 7 -9 pm, at the Orange Castle in South Berkeley (address provided to those who enroll)

Cost: $20, No one turned away!

Enroll: at Village Craft

Questions: Contact me at: mordecai@bodyeclectic.net

What’s Somatics

Grounded in the belief that the body in its wholeness is the foundation for healing, somatic practices combine body awareness techniques with cutting-edge findings in neurobiology and neurophysiology. These practices work to support and enhance the body’s innate self-regulatory and resilience-building capacities. Used with focused intention, these practices can also lead to deeper insight about who we are, the world as a whole, and how we wish to inhabit it.