Depth & Embodiment Work: My Story
Re-embodying the ancient practice of Red Tent work with this fusion of applied intersectionalism is my Calling, and a true passion.
In early January, 1999, I was hospitalized for a psychotic break. I had been abusing drugs and alcohol and was mostly sleepless for several weeks at that point, enjoying the cocktail of high dose sedative a psychiatrist had temporarily prescribed with a daily mix of edible cannabis, vodka, wine, beer, and champagne.
I was 21 years old and had been a daily drinker since 16. After a solid three year run with drugs, at age 19 I had begun to struggle with managing my drug use. By then, I knew that I didn’t know where even a hit of a joint might lead me, so I’d stay off everything but booze as long as I could. If the wind blew right though my bravado might just kick in, and next I’d find myself striving towards my favorite combo. The garbage head in me would awaken, eager to take whatever I could get my hands on for as long as I could, with the blind hope of no consequences.
I landed in the hospital after Codeine cough syrup for bronchitis led me to add bong hits to my daily jug of wine intake. It took four weeks from starting with drugs again to landing at crazy in the mental ward.
At the time, I was also on birth control pills, and experiencing an over 30-day period. This emotional and hormonal complexity amidst so much self-imposed destruction would become the initial seed of my calling towards Women’s Embodiment.
After discharge from the hospital, it wasn’t long before my re-entry to the party and drug scene. In my eyes, newly prescribed psych meds meant I had more means to safely manage my street drug use. During mid-2000, I was arrested again, this time hearing my wake-up Call, and beginning my true journey of recovery.
Through recovery, I became regularly exposed to a solid, earth-based spiritual community. At the time I was also living with a young woman whose mom’s girlfriend was a yogini. Yoga was exotic to me, but I was opened, and before long as a practice it validated my own mind-body-emotional fusion in a way I had never believed enough to honor until then.
Then came the Winter Solstice in 2001. Over this seasonal tide I discovered and absorbed depth guidance from the book Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom. For the next several months, with the support of a well-rounded and informed psychiatrist, I started daily monitoring of things like my sleep, diet, caffeine, emotions, yoga, breath, meditation and prayer, and especially, my period cycle.
Personal advocacy and strengthening my ability to take loving, gentle care of my body translates now as the cornerstone of embodiment work with my members. Beginning over the Winter Solstice in 2001, I began the discovery of my own, unique inner guidance system, which I now call sovereignty among the sacred bodies of my body. This is an approach I believe in both deeply and practically. I have had ample moments, both physical and metaphysically synchronous, based on this at-one-with, or embodied way of being between me, and the multiverse both within me and surrounding us all.
Clinical and Other Experience and Trainings
I have walked an explorative path of the Wheel of the Year for 23 years now, honoring seasonal and lunar passings through ritual and community fellowship. I received Usui Reiki attunements level 1 and 2, and have worked with these healing modalities for two decades. Beginning in 2005, I began hosting or leading women’s sacred circles, honoring the Wheel of the Year. In 2008, I began attending multi-day, silent Vipassana meditation and mindfulness trainings and retreats. In 2012, I completed an in-person, two week course of study with Starhawk. We worked on practical and metaphysical levels, studying and embodying the natural rhythms of the Sacred Feminine, or Mother Nature, through Magic and Permaculture. I have curated Wild Women Wisdom, with meditations and wild meanderings on lunar and seasonal passings and other embodied examples of the Sacred Feminine, since 2013.
In 2015, I received a Masters in Counseling Psychology with Depth Emphasis from Pacifica Graduate Institute. Depth work applies archetypal, Jungian, and psychodynamic concepts. Psychodynamic means psychological dynamics, like those in the family and culture of origin, and how they inform us. My specialized research at PGI was applied, intersectional feminism and liberation-based. It focused on tracking one’s personal menstrual cycle as a means of healing generational or ancestral complex, developmental trauma. Specifically, I considered the gender self-wound for female identifying folks fundamental to dominant culture narrative, and the understanding of factors like heritage, sexuality, race, ability, etc., as essential dynamics to consider regarding developmental self-fragmentation. Re-embodying the ancient practice of Red Tent work with this fusion of applied intersectionalism is my Calling, and a true passion!
My clinical training during my years at PGI occurred at a residential treatment center for dual diagnosis and addiction recovery. Our treatment was family systems and group therapy oriented; mindfulness-based; and CBT, DBT, and trauma-informed.
Upon licensure for mental health counseling, I began to craft my own modality of embodiment treatment based in Women’s Mystery’s and liberation-based or intersectional Sacred Depth Development. This treatment fuses my life path and clinical schooling and training with my continuing education; having received sanctioned training in Native practices for mental health from the White Earth Reservation of the Ojibwe people; in Somatic Experiencing under Peter Levine; Embodied Trauma Recovery under Bessel Van Der Kolk; and Relational EMDR through Deany Laliotis. Presently, I am enrolled in Shawna Murray-Browne’s training Decolonizing Therapy for Black Folks, with a continued emphasis on liberation-based, intersectional healing. In 2016, I created the non-profit mental health and wellness co-op The Delmarva Free School to bring this work to the public.
Women’s Embodiment can include mindfulness; deconstruction of old-world stories that exist in our mind and heart-bodies; exploration of and healing our ancestral, archetypal, and generational bodies and legacies; sacred ritual; sacred circles; experiencing lunar and menstrual mysteries and the Wheel of the Year; journey work and soul retrieval; Reiki, chord cutting and other energy work; and initiation rites.
Virtual, in-person, and group work is available. Contact me for more information, or to find out if we’d be a good fit to work together! Kelly@TheDelmarvaFreeSchool.com