A Month-long course facilitated by Avalon Gulley, BCST, PLC
3 Hours Weekly * June - July 2022
Joyful ~ Creative ~ Connected ~ Loving ~ Peaceful
So often in our modern world these & other qualities of our Whole Self are covered up. We may experience life as dull, monotonous, frustrating & anxiety-producing. In this lively & fun experiential course, we create deep resource (safety & connection), heal wounded parts of ourselves and uncover our joy, creativity, connection and authentic life purpose.
This month-long course includes:
I draw from Craniosacral Therapy, Polarity Therapy, Somatic Experiencing, Pre and Perinatal Psychology, Polyvagal Theory and other cutting-edge modalities to bring you fun exercises, trauma-informed processes and meditations that create safety, gently unwind stress, unhealthy habits and trauma & bring you back to connection and the present.
We will get to know our Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) including its 3 branches, their unique stress responses and how these responses often create daily havoc. Then we learn how to re-wire our nervous system to recover full health, resilience and wellness.
Who this course is for:
Who this course is NOT for:
Location: We will meet in person at my office: 11 North Beech St, Cortez CO 81321. For the last class we will meet outside at Canyon of the Ancients trailhead on Road G, Cortez CO 81321.
Time Commitment: We will meet weekly for 2.5 hours. In between classes, you will check in with your buddy (see below) for 15-30 minutes. The one-on-one session in Week 2 is 90 minutes.
Check-in Buddies: Each participant will pair with another for weekly phone (or in person if you wish!) check-ins. Aim for 15-30 minutes for each phone call. This allows you to engage the Social Nervous System to maintain regulation, practice the weekly exercises and check in with each other on your process, progress & inevitable stumbling blocks.
Bring to each class: Things for a cozy nest (cushion/backjack/chair, blanket, pillow), journal, colored markers if you like, water bottle, snack for yourself if needed. Tea will always be available. Bathroom is in the office. The building is handicapped accessible. Let me know if there are other personal needs I should be aware of.
Investment: $500 total. $100 deposit to hold your spot, and $400 paid at the beginning of the course.
Payment methods: Cash, check made out to Avalon Gulley, PayPal to Avalon.Gulley@gmail.com, Credit Card (+3% processing fee for credit/debit cards).
Week 1: Meeting each other, and Meeting your Whole Self
Guiding Questions: How do I orient to my Whole/Core/Blueprint/Essential Self? What practices can I use to assist me? How does my Whole Self feel/what qualities are inherent? How do I relate with (feel/sense/experience) my Self?
Creating safety in the group field; Introduction to Co-regulation and Blueprint movements.
Practices: Goal/Intention Setting. Mother Earth/Father Sky. Resourcing Exercises.
Week 2: An ANS Overview & Social Nervous System
What is the Social Nervous System and Polyvagal Theory? How does connection and mindfulness override our threat response?
Practices: Social Nervous System Group Resonance. Co-regulation with others and Nature.
One-on-One Session: 90-minute somatic therapy session with Avalon (scheduled separately from group class)
Week 3: Exploring Hyper, Freeze & Hypo States
What does Hyper Activation feel like? How do we know when we get moving too fast and spin out? What does Freeze and Hypo activation feel like? How do we regulate when we drop too low, freeze or dissociate? What are tools we can use to self-regulate and co-regulate?
Practices: Regulating Hyper, Freeze & Hypo States, The Big 5 Process
Week 4: Nervous System Re-patterning
From threat response, we practice finding our way back to our Whole Self using individual and group regulation. We will also check back in with our original goals and intentions. Where are you now? How would you like to be supported? Questions/confusions?
End of Month: A Land-Based Welcome Home
An outdoor gathering at Canyon of the Ancients. We experience mindfulness and connection on the land, and create a completion ceremony to welcome home an aspect of our Whole Selves.
I am available to answer questions: Avalon.Gulley@gmail.com or (720) 560-5938. I look forward to sharing this journey with you!
About Avalon and Somatic Therapy
This class is birthed out of 10 years of intensive somatic (body-based) study and mentorship, personal healing and professional one-on-one client work. It is a unique combination of left- and right-brain; head, heart, body; and spiritual and physical. Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy, Polarity Therapy, Somatic Experiencing (Trauma Resolution), Meditation and Movement practices, Pre- and Perinatal Psychology, Attachment Theory, and Nature-based Ceremony have most deeply informed my work.
This is the first in a series about the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). The ANS stress response (or threat response) goes through sequential stages: Social Nervous System, Sympathetic Nervous System (Fight/Flight), Sympathetic with Parasympathetic (Freeze), and finally Parasympathetic Nervous System (Hypo/Collapse).
This article addresses the very common "Hyper" or Sympathetic Fight/Flight phase. We all experience Hyper states throughout our day, and many of us chronically. The energy of Hyper is UP, OUT and FAST. Our society runs on this Hyper energy. We need to get things done, faster. Rushing, mind racing, anxiety, and tension are typical of the Hyper state.
All of us living in these Hyper times need tools to bring us back into presence, back to ourselves, and back to regulation. To counter the Hyper tendency, we need practices to help us TAKE A PAUSE, SLOW DOWN, MOVE INWARDS into our bodies and DOWNWARDS towards the ground. The ground of being in our bodies is where we find the rest and revitalization we need to fully engage with life and to feel fully human.
For deeper support in finding regulation for your Hyper States, schedule a session.
This information has been adapted from "Window of Presence, Functional Range" by Anna Chitty with Ray Castellino, from the Colorado School of Energy Studies.
HYPER States (Fight-or-Flight)
What is Hyper?
The Hyper state is sympathetic arousal. It means the fight-or-flight response has been activated by a real or perceived threat. In most cases, we experienced the original danger long ago, but at the time we did not have the resources to fully complete our threat response. Therefore part of us remains reactive to current similar triggers. Cortisol and Adrenaline are the hormones running our system in a Hyper state. All the sympathetic “gas” is turned on in the body, with no parasympathetic “brakes”. Chronic hyper states may express as sleep issues, gut issues, addictions, compulsive and risk-taking behaviors and relationship problems.
What is it like to be in a Hyper state?
Tools for Regulating Hyper States:
Key concepts: SLOW, DOWN & IN, HERE & NOW, CONTAINMENT
Signs the Hyper State is returning to Regulation (The Window of Presence)
Girls growing up in Western society are immersed in a culture that does not recognize the importance of the threshold at which a girl becomes a woman. This transition is given the sterile label of “puberty” and is often discussed briefly in middle school health classes by mentioning anatomical changes, how to insert a tampon, and the emotional changes triggered by that dreaded onslaught of hormones. A girl is expected to navigate this confusing and tumultuous time in her life perhaps with brief counsel and hurried answers from Mom or adult friends, perhaps by exchanging hushed giggles with other girls at school, or perhaps completely in her own psycho-emotional world. Girls at this (most commonly) pre-teen stage of life often struggle with embarrassment, shame, anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts or tendencies. This is due to the lack of true understanding, respect and honoring that our society gives a girl becoming a woman.
Many cultures throughout the world have honored and continue to honor girls stepping into womanhood with festivities, rituals, and ceremonies involving either just other women or the entire community including men, children and elders. Sometimes these ceremonies last many days, as in the Navajo or Diné ritual that lasts four days. The girl completes special initiations, food is prepared and shared, blessings and prayers are offered, and she is welcomed as an adult woman into her community.
From my conversations with many other Western women about their experiences receiving their menstruation, common themes emerged: Instead of pausing normal daily activities to celebrate the birth of a new woman, usually her family and community rushed onward, making her feel as if her changes were insignificant. Instead of communicating openly and asking her about the changes she was experiencing, her family and community had little to say, and often the subject was altogether taboo. Instead of honoring her changing body, her family and community saw her body as “in that awkward phase,” and she often developed deep-seated body image impressions that were difficult to heal.
It is time to bring back the wisdom, knowledge and healing power of age-old rite-of-passage ceremonies to modern society. First we must pause to honor and celebrate a girl as she receives the gift and power to create new life. She is transitioning out of the innocence and playfulness of her girlhood into the greater responsibility, interconnectedness with her community, and fulfillment of the creative potential of her womanhood. Even if she does not physically give birth to a child, a woman will use her creative power for many purposes: working, healing, artistic expression, leadership, teaching, and nourishing and sustaining her community in many ways.
For some inspiration, here are 7 Simple Ways to Honor a Girl-Becoming-Woman:
1) Share with her what your experience was when you received your moon, the challenges as well as the gifts! What do you wish you would have known at her age?
2) Ask her how she is navigating these changes and what support she needs (even if she says she is fine and does not need anything, it will likely feel supportive to her to be asked!)
3) Get together one or more of your adult women friends. Light a candle next to a bowl of water, sing her a song, and offer your prayers and blessings for her life.
4) Present her with a special gift representing this sacred passage, such as a red necklace, bracelet, hair ribbon, medicine pouch, or other wearable item.
5) Do a craft project together: Create fabric menstrual pads (there are simple patterns online).
6) Share with her one simple thing you do to honor your own menstruation such as: Taking a candle-lit bath, setting aside time to draw or paint, resting more, offering your blood to a tree or the earth, writing down dreams and visions, gathering with other women…?
7) Set aside an entire day or weekend to spend with her in celebration. Prepare her favorite food together, go on a hike together, honor her connection with nature, read stories about womanhood ceremonies from other cultures…Be creative and have fun!
For a more in-depth honoring of a girl stepping into womanhood, you can create a Womanhood Ceremony with guidance and inspiration from other cultures (contact me!).