Gravitating Towards Wholeness: An Interview with HoloBeing
Gravitating Towards Wholeness: An Interview with HoloBeing
Introduction by Molly Boeder Harris
It is impossible to quantify the myriad ways in which sexual violence impacts all survivors since we respond uniquely to trauma based on our life experiences, our identities, and other factors specific to the event(s) itself that might influence our response. However, we can be certain that sexual violence changes a survivor on some, if not, many levels, both subtle and overt. These impacts or changes may manifest in the physical body, impact the mind, or influence the survivor’s spiritual path over the course of their lifetime.
Instead of pressuring survivors to simply “get over it”, survivors’ and their journey to heal, would be far better served by being empowered within their community, family and support people to find and connect with holistic healing systems that are meaningful to them so that they might actually go into their pain and begin to heal themselves on a core level. Sexual violence can splinter the connection between the body, mind and spirit, and holistic healing arts can facilitate the survivor’s return to, or discovery of, an innate sense of wholeness. In fact, the holistic healing arts allow us to recognize that we are actually gravitating towards wholeness.
Many people wonder why does healing or recovering from sexual violence present such an ongoing challenge? We may have a baseline understanding of trauma, or have read about PTSD before, but many of us have not really heard or been able to tolerate hearing the uncut version of a survivor’s story. Nor are we there with them at all times to witness when a trigger erupts in a busy shopping center or a nightmare unravels weeks of their feeling “better”. While we are seeing an increase in survivors telling their story, detailing their roller coaster journey to pull themselves and their lives back together, there is so much we still do not share or do not know how to share about the imprint of sexual violence on our lives.
The intense physical, emotional, energetic and spiritual boundary violation of sexual violence makes it unique, not necessarily worse, from other forms of trauma. Traumatic events occur along a spectrum and it is the individual’s perception of the experience that matters, the way they felt prior to, during and after the event, as well as their ability to access resources that will influence the toll of the trauma. Yet, the way in which sexual trauma specifically invokes a survivor’s sexuality and sensuality – which are such precious aspects of one’s identity, as well as spaces from which elements of our creativity and our connection to others and ourselves often emerge from – leaves a weight that may be felt down in our bones, into the core of our heart, hanging onto the breath that travels throughout our shape.
In addition, many survivors report feeling a very real risk that their lives may also be taken during the assault, which can, in an instant, dramatically change their world view and their sense of their own existence. Standing on the edge of life and death, however real or perceived that experience may be, leaves a unique residue on our psyche and spirit that cannot always be healed through language alone. The existential questions that arise in that space, “Why me? What did I do to deserve this?” and questions related to the purpose of life, karma, sin – concepts that may have been casually introduced, oversimplified, or used to manipulate – may begin to take up space in the survivor’s conscious and unconscious mind. Since it is not the solely the mind, nor the body, or the spirit alone that suffers the experience of sexual trauma and its aftermath, healing often requires therapies or activities that are able to holistically address and re-integrate all aspects of the self.
While the ways in which the impacts of sexual violence manifest are vast and varied, it is essential to remember that all of these impacts, changes and shifts that survivors experience are valid, normal and healthy responses to the very intense experience of living through sexual violence. Our bodies, minds and spirits are designed to help support us in continually re-establishing balance. When the systems of our body, mind and spirit can be collectively engaged through a holistic healing process, they can help us uncover where, within the dark depths of our own experience, we may gain insight, recognize our resilience and connect with our power to transcend the unfathomable. It is useful to examine our symptoms – physical, emotional, mental, energetic and spiritual, like messages helping us to identify where we may need to work with the trauma and what our organisms are asking us to pay closer attention to as we begin healing. In a way, our symptoms can serve as a map to lead us inward towards the depths of our experience – into tenderness and resistance, anger and sorrow, loss and love. It is here we can witness the rawness of our wounds and also tap a sense of awe for the body’s immediate response to begin its own self-repair. We are healing from the inside moving out.
Creating dedicated spaces for healing, whether that is achieved through conversations with a therapist that can artfully connect thought to feeling, sensation, tension and respiration, in receiving the energetic support and vital flow of acupuncture, or through the stretching, aligning and coordinating of tissues, tendons, fluids and breath on our yoga mat – provides us with many options for entry points into both the pit of our despair and the wellspring of our recovery. With skillful support, tremendous courage and a willingness to face our most feared memories, we can intimately befriend the full range of feeling, sensation, tension and anything else that may be attached to the trauma(s). In knowing the depth of trauma’s impact on our beings, we can develop a system of support for our bodies, minds and spirits that will allows us to cultivate compassion for our own experience, endurance for the journey ahead, and a deeply embodied belief in our innate ability to transform our experience and create a life that we love.
By diving deep into ourselves, we may end up healing not just the trauma of sexual violence, but many other wounds we have accumulated since childhood. When we emerge from that retreat to the center of our own core, however long it might take, there can be a new sense of steadiness inside and a fluidity between all aspects of ourselves. Having been willing and able to both listen and respond to the signals our beings send us, we are better equipped to sense and attune our bodies, minds and spirits to each other so that their synchronistic relationship might bolster our confidence in our capacity to heal.
Working holistically with trauma offers the possibility for sustainability in our healing. We learn through our exploration of various modalities to identify what best serves our healing at any given time – Is it telling our story? Making art? Practicing qigong? Receiving therapeutic massage? Are we gravitating towards physical, intellectual or energetic healing? We recognize imbalances as they start to arise and can adapt or intervene with additional support. Are the nightmares returning? Increased anxiety? What can we change in our schedule? Can we carve out more time for self-care? Should we explore a new healing modality?
In Bouder, Colorado, one such space exists in which survivors of sexual violence (and anyone navigating their journey towards balance and integration) can receive care for their bodies, minds and spirits within the single space of HoloBeing. HoloBeing was founded by Lesley Glenner with a clear mission “to assist individuals in the journey towards authentic Selfhood.” Lesley chose the name HoloBeing for her center because the Greek word “holos” means “whole” and her belief is that we as Beings are “intrinsically tending toward our own health.” HoloBeing offers individual, couples, and group psychotherapy services, as well as Rolfing, private yoga instruction, Five-Element Acupuncture and nutritional counseling, among other services. The holistic care that HoloBeing affords survivors of sexual violence is in many ways a bricks and mortar version of what we seek to create through The Breathe Network – a diverse team of healing arts practitioners who can support and facilitate healing in a way that is most meaningful and accessible to each unique survivor, whether through the body, mind, spirit or all of it, together.
We are honored that HoloBeing is one of our organizational partners. The model that Lesley and her team have created is exemplary in the healing arts, mental health and wellness field. I hope you enjoy this opportunity to learn more about their work and how HoloBeing supports survivors of sexual violence along their journey towards wholeness in our interview below!
The Breathe Network: Can you tell me about your training prior to opening HoloBeing?
Lesley Glenner: I studied Psychology as an undergraduate and received my Masters degree in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology from Naropa University in 2011. I come from generations of entrepreneurs and was very excited to create a business that is holistic and of benefit to a variety of other people.
TBN: I am so inspired by the way in which HoloBeing offers a vast diversity of healing arts modalities, that is something that The Breathe Network clearly identifies with in order to make healing accessible to a variety of personalities, comfort levels, etc. Can you tell me about why you decided to create a “multidisciplinary” healing arts space?
LG: I wholly believe that an integrative healing model is best for all involved, healer and client alike, to co-create wellness plans that are customized, and nuanced for each individual or couple. Support systems are not linear, they are organic and just as seasons change, so too does our need for support – sometimes we need more body work, at other times we need to hear ourselves speaking our truth, sometimes we need movement and sometimes we need to grieve. A multidisciplinary healing concept offers the space and freedom for clients to ebb and flow in their healing and in their life, life is not static so why should our healing be?
TBN: It seems you have an incredible team of practitioners, how did you go about building your team and what is the connection like among your colleagues in the space?
LG: The consortium of Practitioners at HoloBeing is an incredible crew. These healers are truly committed to being of benefit to their clients and the world. They all are committed to the healing path themselves; they walk the walk. I have found these practitioners in various ways; either they have sought me out or me them, but for the most part it’s been happenstance. The connections between the practitioners is very dear, there is a lot of skillful communication occurring and bonds that form as we join ventures, support each other and create a shared vision of what a healing space looks like, feels like and acts like.
TBN: Can you share with us more about HoloBeing’s commitment to supporting survivors of sexual violence along their healing journey?
LG: HoloBeing’s commitment to supporting survivors of sexual violence along their healing journey is similar to the commitment we bring every clients’ healing journey. We hold the belief that as individuals we are all inherently good and tending toward wholeness. Often things happen in life that are beyond our control and we do the best we can given our choices and circumstances. Our commitment is a commitment to growth and personal responsibility and the deeper belief that living our life, truly living it is not only our responsibility but our birthright.
TBN: I know that you personally specialize in depression, anxiety, grief among other areas, can you speak about your approach to these issues since they can commonly manifest in survivors of sexual violence?
LG: As individuals we all come with a personal and particular set of circumstances and experiences. No two experiences are exactly alike and they all have certain elements in common. Sexual violence definitely has some unique qualities that differ from other experiences and yet, in the end we are always working with basic human emotions of fear, love, trust, belonging while exploring how this feelings and believes impact our ability to feel healthy, happy and have the life we want and deserve. I help clients to explore their experience in the world, to bring implicit thoughts, beliefs and feelings out in the open so that shame and blame can diminish and meaning-making and healing can come in and soothe relational wounding.
TBN: Your bio states that you work with out of state clients, is that over the phone, Skype, email? Do you have to have a pre-existing local relationship to work that way, or can you take on new clients “at a distance”?
LG: I prefer to work with clients in-person because that way our mirror neurons get to interact and bounce off each other which creates the experience of feeling seen/ met on a much deeper level. In person sessions are more intimate and therefore yield great results. But every now and then a client will contact me and it happens that we are just a really good fit and we work via Skype and phone. Due to the differing laws in each state take these requests on a case-by-case basis and make sure that person is resourced in their area. The phone or Skype consulting I do is technically coaching although I still bring my wealth of therapeutic knowledge to the relationship.
TBN: Do you practitioners speak with other about clients they share in order to enhance or collaborate around treatments? Is this offered as an option to your clients? Can you talk about the benefits of that “team” approach?
LG: When it is in the best interest of the client, my team has the ability to collaborate around treatments. Typically the biggest obstacle to a collaborative approach is the financial cost to the client. But when its possible, it is amazing how to see how collaboration seems to create the sort of effect where the outcome is far greater than the sum of its parts. An alchemy can occur when many healing lenses converge and a client can be seen in real time in 360 degrees allowing practitioners to generate far more perspectives and precision.
TBN: Do you have any plans or dreams for the future of HoloBeing in the coming years/decades?
LG: Yes! I am constantly learning and growing so that I can offer the same to my clients. I hope to create more spaces like HoloBeing in other States. Another part of this vision is to create more space for community. I feel that when we feel held in a loving community where we feel known and seen and accepted, this creates a recipe for massive amounts of healing, contact and growth.
TBN: Thank you Lesley for taking the time to share your insights and vision for HoloBeing and healing for survivors of sexual violence. To learn more about services, groups and the practitioners at HoloBeing, please visit their organization’s page here and check out their website. HoloBeing also offers space in their Center for healing arts practitioners to utilize and to be connected to this multidisciplinary team of healers, learn more here.