The Liberation Institute Community Mental Health Fri, 26 Jun 2020 18:27:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Liberation Institute 32 32 Fri, 26 Jun 2020 18:27:15 +0000
Supervision provided by Steven Tierney LPCC 493

🌱 Black-Indigenous-People-Of-Color (BIPOC) Telehealth Groups 🌱 Fri, 26 Jun 2020 16:28:45 +0000 Calling In:

📣 Clients who may be served


Group Descriptions: 1 session/week, 90-minutes, 10 sessions, via video chat,

pay-what-you-may, starting week of 6/23 and ending week of 8/24

👋🏿 Black-Identified Adult Closed Group – 21+, 8-10 people, Tuesday 8:30-10 PM, centering Black adulthood, covid, and community; co-facilitated*

👋🏾 Black Identified Teen Open Group – Ages 14-19, Tuesday 2-3:30 PM, centering being a Black teen, covid, and community; co-facilitated*

👋🏽 Asian Pacific American (APA)-Identified Closed Group – ages 21+, Tuesday 6-7:30 PM, 8-10 members, centering restorative justice, covid, and the APA experience; co-facilitated**

👋🏼 BIPOC 7th & 8th Grade Open Group – 7th and 8th graders, Thursday 2-3:30PM, centering Black adulthood, covid, and community, co-facilitated*

👋🏻 BIPOC Law Enforcement Closed Group – 8-10 members, centering restorative justice, covid, and being BIPOC while working pandemic & protests; co-facilitated***

👋🏿 BIPOC Adult Closed Group – 8-10 members, ages 21+, centering covid, restorative justice, and the BIPOC experience

*About James (he/him or they/them): 

James Green is a Queer, Gay, Black and Mexican Associate registered Marriage and Family Therapist, a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional, and a Humanistic therapist. Their experience is in complex trauma, domestic and community violence, and toxic stress, and they bring a anti-racist, feminist, and queer lens to their work with others. James works primarily in urban schools with black and brown youth and with queer, trans, and non-binary people of color. AMFT #101225 supervised by Monica Provence LMFT #87245

**About Lai (pronouns she/her/hers):

Lai Chien is a 0-generation Hong Kong born cisgender Chinese-Vietnamese American by way of North Carolina, Georgia, and finally landing in the east bay of Oakland/Alameda.

She is a harm-reduction focused, strength-based, and change-oriented therapist utilizing narrative psychology, motivational interviewing and DBT concepts such as radical acceptance to empower growth and promote well-being. She can be found tending to her aquariums, cooking and/or eating, days at the beach and planning the next camping trip.  

AMFT #98435 supervised by Sandra Stultz, LMFT #43047 of Sankofa Holistic Counseling Services 

***About Annie (she/her pronouns):

Annie Chen is a marriage family therapist who has been helping people have better relationships with one another and themselves for over ten years. She is the author of a book on attachment theory and uses tools that are informed by neuroscience, trauma, and somatic psychology. She worked as a therapist for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office Youth and Family Services Bureau from 2011-2014 and is interested in supporting those at the forefront of reforming law enforcement culture for the benefit of all. CA License# 80025

About Christhmus (pronoun them at your pleasure):

Christhmus Presence will be facilitating all groups above. They are a 3.5-generation Muwekma Ohlone (San Francisco) land-settler and Chinese-American Queer. Pillars that guide them are liberation psychology, narrative psychology, somatic psychology, spirituality, and expressive arts. Tools held are meditation, Tapping, and (later this month) EMDR-Brainspotting. They enjoy plants, creative expression, the power of community, and being in water. MFT Trainee through Liberation Institute, supervised by Adina Morguelan Ascher, MSW, PhD LCSW 28900

Featured Therapist: Nicholas. Thu, 21 May 2020 02:19:52 +0000 Nicholas Seibel is one of our amazing therapist trainees.  He has had a wide variety of therapeutic experience ranging from being a text message peer counselor, to a residential counselor for kids, teenagers and adults with severe emotional disorders, to a group facilitator at a dual diagnosis facility, to working as a phone-line counselor for the elderly.  Nicholas decided to become a therapist after healing from his own trauma. He realized that helping others, who have been through similar experiences, was rewarding and transformative. He explains “nothing makes me happier than when a client says that what we have been doing has helped them become a stronger individual.” 

Nicholas specializes in working with the LGBTQ community, especially people in the age range of 15-35.  He believes that the transitional age from teen to adult is such a crucial time for life-skills building and he wants to be there to support them.   Nicholas says “I want to know that my own lived experience has helped me connect with individuals who are still facing traumatic experiences, so that I can help them see that they do have the strength to move past the pain and build a life all on their own. I pride myself in being a therapist who people look forward to seeing because the sessions are sometimes fun and provide transformation and growth.  Liberation has offered me the chance to learn and practice my calling as a therapist and it has been the most fulfilling job I have had so far in my life.”

Featured Therapist: Shannon. Tue, 12 May 2020 19:29:13 +0000 Shannon Frank-Richter, MA, AMFT, APCC began with Liberation Institute in March 2019 and became the agency’s first full-time associate teletherapist in July 2019. Before joining Liberation Institute, she gained experience working with clients at the Bill Wilson Center in Santa Clara.

Shannon believes that therapy accesses a fundamental need everyone has as humans: a desire to be understood. She helps clients understand that their strengths are their road map to wellness, and their therapeutic journey is most successful once they can access and believe in their own personal talents. She believes all individuals’ path to vitality and happiness are unique and feels blessed for the opportunity to work with clients. Shannon has been a vital part of Liberation Institute, helping us continue our mission in providing affordable access to mental health services.

Although she recently moved to Portland, Oregon, she says her heart belongs to the Bay Area where she was married and raised her family. Any chance she gets, she ventures to the Pacific coastline to indulge in the crisp sea air, or hikes among the redwoods that beautifully grace the West Coast. Connecting with nature is Shannon’s most treasured way to regain balance and restore energy so she can be the best therapist she can be.

Shannon is supervised by Lynndal Daniels, LMFT.

A Note from Our Founder. Thu, 16 Apr 2020 17:53:52 +0000 When I first opened the doors of Liberation Institute in 2008 the country was in a financial crisis and, worse, many of the people I met on the street were in mental and emotional crisis. But little did I imagine the global situation we face today.

When the external structure and support in our lives get’s weird and wobbly, our internal self – mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual – can be thrown way off balance. I am so grateful that the organization, we as a community have created over the last 12 years, is here today to effectively and compassionately help those who need it. 

As soon as the virus crisis began to emerge, our management team and huge volunteer staff sprung into action. We were one of the first grassroots community mental health clinics to get all our therapists and clients online. While many public and government mental health services closed down or floundered, we continued to serve people non-stop.

I am writing today to say Thank You. 

Thank You to the amazing staff at Liberation for being so caring, dedicated and determined to serve. 

Thank You to the amazing community that has supported us all these years, and especially now. 

And above all, Thank You to each and every client we serve for their inspiring courage to be vulnerable and share themselves. 

It is clear to me, now more than ever, that when we each endeavor to nurture our own individual Healing, Growth and Freedom, we create a rippling effect of change that vibrates through our loved ones, families, communities, and the planet. 

In these times of deep global and personal challenge, we can all tap into that positive current and strive to Love – as much as we can, from where we are, with what we’ve got.

We are, indeed, in this together.

With deep gratitude,

Stever Dallmann. PhD

Founding Director, Liberation Institute

corona (or something like it) Tue, 31 Mar 2020 15:54:25 +0000 Alright friends. Time for some real talk on corona virus (or something like it.) Consider this my virtual coming out of the “maybe I had COVID-19” closet. I might never know for sure because there was no test made available to me, but here is what I do know. I have been terrifyingly ill for the past two and a half weeks, and if you aren’t taking this seriously, you should be! I’m writing this in hopes it will provide help and insight in responding to this awful illness.

I’ve divided this blog into sections: Questions Everyone Asks; Suggested Ways to Respond to a Person who is Sick; My Experience with COVID-19 (or Something Like it); My Home Care Practices; and Supporting Your Friends and Family if They Become Sick.

Throughout, I will reflect on places where I think we can learn to be more mindful of our own judgement biases and the impact they can have. Having a background in mental health and somatic psychology-and personal experience with illness in this time—I’ll be sharing best practices for crafting our interactions with those dealing with illness or COVID-19 from a trauma-informed perspective. These practices embody the goal of minimizing projections of shame, fault, and criticism. I encourage everyone to reflect on what judgements you might be holding about COVID-19 and how they might come out subconsciously. It also goes without saying that the “isms” (racism, classism, ableism, heteronormativity, etc.) are at play on the global stage (“Hello racist president, who insisted for weeks on calling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus.”) As an able-bodied cisgender white woman, I am not personally confronted with these types of dynamics in an ongoing way, but that does not mean they are not at play, so keep that in mind.

I expect that at some point in your time reading this, you will feel uncomfortable, particularly if I mention a behavior that is harmful to COVID-19 patients and it is something you have done with the best of intentions. These things aren’t easy to sit with, and most of us are just doing the best we can! If you are interested in being the best friend and ally you can be to those in your communities dealing with COVID-19, I encourage you to try and stay in your body, sit with the discomfort, and keep reading. Take breaks if you need to pause. It can help me to feel my feet and notice my breath when I’m triggered.

The Questions Everyone Asks

1.Do you know where you got it from?

I have no idea, and I’m willing to bet most people who are sick right now don’t know either. COVID-19 is highly contagious and we still don’t fully understand the route of contagion. At the end of the day, without this understanding I expect more and more people are just going to “get” sick.

For some, this question might feel a little offensive. I don’t think there is anything wrong per se with asking this question, but context is everything. Without a close relationship, a question like this might reflect shame and fault. Consider how you are asking this question and why. Could there be an implied subconscious reflection that a COVID-19 patient did something they shouldn’t? Went somewhere they shouldn’t? Didn’t wash their hands enough? Exposed you to COVID-19? Be mindful of how you ask these questions, what you are implying, and how a simple question like this may be heard.

2. Did you get tested?

I did not get tested and it’s my impression that aside from Tom Hanks (rest up buddy!) and a slew of wealthy politicians with no symptoms, no one’s getting tested. That doesn’t not mean I haven’t been dealing with serious illness. If your friend did not get tested, emphasize rather than minimize.

The last I heard from Kaiser is that due to the insufficient supply of tests, I did not qualify for testing because I do not have diabetes, a heart condition, obesity (please note I do not agree with the medicalized use of this term), asthma, or recent travel. I was also told that I would not be x-rayed for pneumonia because the risk of “exposing me to radiology staff and equipment wasn’t worth it as I could infect medical staff and contaminate equipment.” To digress for a moment, I’m bringing this up to illustrate the shaming language your friends might be experiencing from even the best-intentioned doctors. People aren’t risky, viruses are. Just because this language is normalized, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have impact. I felt my heart drop when my doctor told me this. Please be careful how you talk to your friends around issues of exposure.

With that, there are new test centers popping up everywhere, and tests are becoming more accessible. This is great. However, unless you are willing to risk exposure and drive a sick friend to Hayward and wait with them through apocalyptic lines, please don’t pressure a friend to get tested. They might not have the means to bring themselves to a site if they don’t have a car (remember these people are under quarantine and can’t use public transportation). Or, if their symptoms are anything like mine were, they might be unable get themselves to a test without complete assistance (which is hard to find while limiting risk of exposure and maintaining 6 feet of distance). If for whatever reason your friend chooses not to get tested, don’t discredit them. Accessibility is more than what meets they eye and many sick people still do not have access given their symptoms and limitations.

3. I went to your classes before you got sick! Could you have gotten me sick, Emma?

I really hope fear does not lead to any stigmatizing of me or my studios. Whether or not you came to my classes over the past few weeks you should already be taking precautions, just the same as everyone else who should be taking shelter in place. With that, unless we had physical contact, your risk of being infected by me is probably the same as being exposed from a BART seat. If you’re still wondering however, I feel confident that I took every precaution I could with hygiene and hand washing, no touching, and even bringing my own props from home to the studios. For your peace of mind, my boyfriend, who was staying with me until the first day I felt sick, is still healthy two weeks later.

It’s natural when you learn someone close is sick to become concerned about your own exposure. This doesn’t make you a bad person nor does not it make you selfish or self-centered. This is how we are wired. We only know our personal experience and perspective, so our train of thought will go there. With this, we already know that if we are exposed to someone with Corona-like symptoms we need to quarantine, so why ask? People with COVID-19 are feeling enough guilt and shame, and if their illness is anything like mine was, they already feel all sorts of shitty. Ask your doctor these questions. 

4. Are you sure it’s not just a cold?

Ironically, for some people COVID-19 actually does manifest more like a cold. For me, my illness was more like severe bronchial pneumonia. With that, doubt doesn’t make anyone feel good. If you’re friend tells you they are sick just listen.

So, to recap:

Suggested Ways to Respond to a Person who is Sick

Suggested best practices on how to respond if a friend tells you they are sick:

  • Trust their wisdom
  • Remember that tests are not a hallmark of validation
  • Don’t doubt or minimize
  • Reflect before you act and ask questions
  • Talk to a different friend, a therapist, or a doctor about your concern around exposure and not your sick friend. Your sick friend is dealing with enough!
  • Remember your friend isn’t the problem, the virus is. Be very aware of language that is shaming or places them as responsible.

Here are some further responses I would encourage:

  • Emphasize rather than minimize
  • Just listen without trying to change, fix or offer solutions
  • Do not look for the bright side
  • Check in briefly and frequently (along the lines of ‘hey thinking of you”, “hope you’re feeling better”). Don’t take it personally if you don’t get a response. Your friend might be very sick.
  • Be mindful of language that labels someone’s experience “you must be feeling like this”. Instead let them tell you how they feel and honor what they tell you
  • Be aware of your own reaction, language, and body language
  • Work to notice your own implicit layers of judgement and shame around COVID-19
  • Reflect on race/gender/social economic status/etc. and how these identities affect your access to care in ways that are different from others
  • Offer concrete favors if you know you have the capacity to do

My Experience with What May Have Been COVID-19 (or Something Like It)

There’s a lot of different accounts out there about COVID-19. Some are rather mild, some people show no symptoms at all. With that, most accounts I’ve found read about are more in line with my experience, which was quite scary.  For me, symptoms set in for me over the course of a few days. I noticed on a Sunday night that I was feeling a little run down and had a cough and a bit of a sore throat. When I woke up on Monday morning, I felt pretty sick, but was at a point where it could have been a bad cold. At this point I had a low fever, sore throat and cough. I took a bunch of Tylenol and tried to carry on my quarantine business as usual. Tuesday morning was when I knew I had something serious. I woke up at around 5 am with a fever around 102 and was wheezing. The wheezing was horrifying and like no sound that ever came out of my body before. It sounded almost metallic, like someone was running their nails on a chalk board or forcing a rusty wheel to move. At this point, I knew whatever I had was serious. I was lucky to be able to talk to a nurse and get booked for remote doctor’s appointment within a few hours. I was prescribed an inhaler – something I have never used or needed before—which became my saving grace and one of the main reasons I was able to stay out of the ER.

Over the course of the next four days, my symptoms got worse. My fevers were consistently around 100 (or 102 if I was even a few minutes late taking Tylenol). There were many points when I could feel my lungs convulse and had to act in the moment to use my inhaler, take hot baths, steam hot tea, stick my head in hot bowls of water filled with essential oils, or doing anything else that would immediately clear my breath. During the height of my fevers and breathlessness, I felt as though I could feel every cell in my body fighting. It was absolutely terrifying and if you feel this way, you’ll know. I called loved ones crying in complete fear, just needing someone to stay with me on the other line. In reflection, I probably should have gone to the emergency room, but like many other sick patients I was told to try to manage symptoms at home and not to go to the hospital unless my fever got past 103 or I couldn’t breathe at all. In any other circumstance, I would have taken myself to the ER. Being sick on quarantine with a new virus no one knows anything about is terrifying.

As I became more vigilant about my self-care, I was reassured that I was going to be okay. My scarier symptoms only lasted four days. I’ve heard that 4 days tends to be the turning point in one direction or another. I still spent another week and a half unable to do anything because of severe bronchial pneumonia symptoms and severe stomach pain (which is now understood as a COVID-19 symptom). I did get better though and am now at about 60-70%, which feels HUGE. In true reflection, I feel like I literally needed to put my life into my own hands. It sounds dramatic but this is what it felt like, being in a place where I was responsible for managing an illness this severe with only home care. So, with that, let’s talk about what worked for me.

My Home Care Practices

Things that kept me out of the ER

  • Alarms for Tylenol. If I was even a few minutes late on a dose of Tylenol, my fever would get to scary levels. During the height of my illness, I used alarms every 4 hours even in the middle of the night to make sure I didn’t miss doses of Tylenol.
  • Alarms for inhaler use. Same, same.
  • Timed dosage of Mucinex and Robitussin for chest congestion
  • Drinking a shit ton of water
  • Calling my doctor at the first sign of illness. I can only imagine the infection in my lungs would have been so much worse if I didn’t get an inhaler at the first sign of respiratory infection.
  • Advocating for myself fiercely even when it got uncomfortable (anyone else have Kaiser?)
  • Letting people help me! (I struggle accepting help and favors but there is no way I could have gotten through this if I didn’t let others help!)

Things that helped:

  • Hot baths! And freezing baths when my fever got high.
  • Steam
  • Hot showers
  • A humidifier
  • Eucalyptus essential oil
  • Vitamins and zinc supplements
  • Gatorade
  • Hot liquids (tea, soup, ect.)

Supporting Your Friends and Family if They Become Sick

  • Go to the pharmacy and pick up prescriptions
    • For Kaiser members, make sure to have your friend’s id and medical record card before going to the pharmacy. Also, be prepared that getting through the Kaiser pharmacy has become much like going through airport security. Wear a mask, bring a book, etc. 
  • Picking up their groceries
    • Extra points if you throw in something small and thoughtful. My grocery requests were solely about what I needed to sustain myself. One friend threw in a nice lip balm and crystal. I actually cried when I put on the lip balm because it hit me—I was in such survival mode I didn’t realize I wasn’t doing anything for the sake of feeling good. 
  • Make them soup
    • When I’m sick, I don’t eat dairy. My two soup deliveries were perfect for me! Vegan lentil and miso ginger.
  • If cooking isn’t your thing, venmo your friend the cost of a tom yum.
    • This one’s great. When people ask me if I need money, I usually say no just because of my own stuff around accepting money/help. When people just sent me money however, I couldn’t say no, and I was sure grateful to not worry about cooking.
  • Bring them cold supplies and tissues!
    • My choices were Robitussin, Mucinex, Tylenol, Tissues, Zinc Tablets, Vitamin C, Throat Coat Tea, Peppermint Tea, Ginger Tea.
    • In some cases, friends brought me things they had at home because many stores were sold out. This was huge!
  • If you don’t live nearby to your sick friend, you may be able to offer tons of help by sending supplies that are sold out in metropolitan areas.
    • My mom in Oregon sent me lots of cold medicines and personal care supplies that were totally out of stock in the Bay. This was HUGE since it was impossible to find Mucinex and Tylenol anywhere near me.
  • If you’re a doctor and feel comfortable, let your friends reach out to you.
    • Waits were ludicrous to reach my actual doctor. It was amazing that I had a doctor friend, a friend whose partner is a doctor, and a doctor friend of my dad’s whom I could reach out to directly. All three gave me permission to call any time night or day. That gave me so much relief and reassurance that I was going to be safe because even if I had an emergency because I could reach doctors in real time.
  • Brief and frequent check ins
    • Being sick, I didn’t have energy for long phone calls or texts. Check ins along the line of “hey friend, how you doing?” or “thinking of you” were wonderful.
    • If you do check in, keep in mind that your friend might be very preoccupied with their current state and it isn’t personal if they don’t respond. It was hard to keep up with all my texts especially during the peak four days of my illness.
  • Take their medical phone calls
    • Of course, this is only for people you are VERY close with and have lots of established trust. One night when my fever was so bad that I was nearly delirious. My boyfriend volunteered to wait on the phone for a Kaiser advice nurse so I could sleep.  For someone who is seriously sick, waiting on hold and staying alert and awake until a nurse picks up is may feel impossible. He was on hold with Kaiser for 5 hours and there is no way I could have stayed cognizant for that duration.
    • For Kaiser patients, you will need to give your advocate your medical record number and of course any pertinent information.
    • Kaiser requires you to be someone’s “Civil Partner” to talk to an advice nurse on their behalf. Hint, hint. ?

To Conclude

Thanks for taking the time to read about my experience and what I learned. This experience is mine and mine only. I am happy to have conversations about anything I’ve written here, but that doesn’t mean everyone who is sick wants to. I am also not a doctor and you should talk to one, not me, if you are concerned about symptoms or getting sick and need medical support.

Emma Stern

Movement and Somatics

Tips for Staying Healthy in Your Golden Years. Fri, 27 Dec 2019 23:31:31 +0000
Image Credit: Photo via

Taking care of our bodies is our personal responsibility. This becomes more necessary as we enter our golden years because this is the time when medical conditions can start rearing their ugly heads and mobility challenges surface. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to pay closer attention to overall health and wellness at this juncture, not just to fend off diseases and other risks, but also to maintain quality of life. Here are some of the best ways you can stay strong and healthy throughout your senior years.

Move with purpose.

Physical activity is well-known for its many benefits, especially for seniors. MedlinePlus explains that through exercise you can control weight, manage blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and stave off heart disease and cancer. It also helps strengthen bones and muscles, which, in turn, reduces the risk of falls among older adults. As a bonus, it also improves mood and mental
health, as well as keeps your brain sharp as you age. Needless to say, incorporating movement and physical activity into your everyday routine is
highly recommended. Go for exercises that focus on balance, cardio, strength training, and flexibility, such as yoga, tai chi, water aerobics, and even walking. As a rule of thumb, seniors should get medical clearance before getting on an exercise program. From there, you can start slow and work your way up.

Eat with care.

No doubt, it may seem like as you grow older, the more restrictive your diet becomes. This is actually for good reason, considering the many changes that occur in your body as you progress in age. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy your food. It just means that you need to be more mindful of what you eat. There’s more than one way to eat healthy. Consider putting a healthier spin on the comfort foods that you love. It’s also good practice to start paying attention to nutrition labels, so make this a habit. Most importantly, be aware of what a healthy plate should look like and focus on getting the nutrients that you need.

Reap your benefits.

Of course, you can only do so much for your body. It’s nice to get some help, too. It’s undoubtedly a welcome perk of being 65 (or older) to have a multitude of benefits available to you, many of which are designed with your health and wellness in mind. From the federal government alone, Investopedia explains seniors are eligible for assistance through Medicare and/or Medicaid. Both have benefits that range from hospitalization to medical tests to even prescription medication. However, as these vary based on coverage, it’s important to find out what you qualify for and research on the different coverage options to get the benefits you’re entitled to.

Prioritize your welfare.

Ultimately, your overall health and wellness depend on your comfort and peace of mind, which is why it’s important to make sure that you receive the right amount of care and assistance in your twilight years. As you get older, fully caring for yourself might become increasingly difficult,
so it may be more prudent to consider alternative living arrangements for the long term. Assisted living is undoubtedly one of the better options available for seniors, especially those who need assistance in certain daily living tasks but still wish to maintain a modicum of independence and privacy. Thankfully, you can easily find assisted living facilities in your area, based on your needs and preferences. There is a huge variety, and to illustrate, A Place for Mom partners with 50 facilities in the San Francisco area alone. Do some research and then visit facilities in person to find the right match for your lifestyle and price point. It may seem like staying healthy in your senior years is a tall order, but truth be told, it’s mostly
nothing that you haven’t already been doing most of your life. So make it a point to always make mindful and wholesome choices. You’ll be grateful for the health and happiness you retain throughout to future.

Karen Weeks

medical conditions – – – chi – aerobics – mindful – plate – – facilities – –

Fitness and Self-care Enhance Addiction Recovery Mon, 18 Nov 2019 18:46:55 +0000 For many recovering from addiction, fitness has become a vital aspect of their recovery. There has been a lot written about the benefits of exercise for those trying to abstain from drugs and alcohol. Exercising can be a great motivational force that brings structure and discipline into lives that were previously trapped in the unpredictable whir of addiction. Physical health can also reward us in a manner similar to drugs and alcohol. When the body undergoes sustained exertion, a chemical is released in the brain. These endorphins spread through our neuro-receptors and create a pleasant experience known to many as a runner’s high.

However,  great exercise can be for our minds, bodies and our recovery, it should be mentioned that too much exercise can start to be a bad thing. Sometimes our routines can become so intensive and time consuming that we put ourselves at risk for overexerting our energy. This can possibly lead to injury, or even more troublesome, ending up forming a responsive habit that ends up doing us more harm than good. Here are a couple things to keep in mind when balancing a fitness routine with recovery so that we never lose sight of our own self-care.

Knowing Your Limits

A lot of times, exercise is a way for us to push ourselves to achieve more. We want to jump higher, run faster, lift heavier weights, but how do we know where to draw the line? The answer is easier than you might think: do what’s safe. If you decided to start lifting weights, you wouldn’t begin with a 500-pound bench press. When pushing yourself, you need to build up to your goals incrementally. 

As a recovering addict, there may be a temptation for us to go harder and faster than we usually would. We equate our progression in fitness as our escape from the past, but if we’re not careful we can end up making the same mistakes in a different way. Pushing ourselves over what we can physically handle can lead to injury, which in many cases leaves us broken and defeated for a while. When we’re broken, it’s easier to fall back into bad habits such as turning to drugs to relieve pain. If we really want to recover from our addiction through fitness, we need to do it the right way with time, patience, dedication and discipline.

Focusing on Self-Care

When we work so hard to make our minds and bodies better, we sometimes neglect to give ourselves the kind of self-care we so desperately need. Self-care means that we are mindful enough to pull the brakes from time to time and let ourselves relax, enjoy and appreciate our bodies. If exercise is about pushing our bodies to achieve more, then self-care is about loving our bodies for what we have already achieved. Activities such as meditation, spa days, acupuncture and good old-fashioned sleep are just a few ways we can say thank you to our bodies and really evaluate how far we’ve come from our past addictive behaviors.

Self-care also means eating well. Nutrition plays an important role in making your workouts more effective by aiding in improved muscle mass. The right diet can also contribute to a healthier gut, which affects how you feel throughout the day. The connection between gut health and mood is becoming more apparent, as more research is indicating that most of the hormone called serotonin—which contributes to happiness—is produced in the gut. Eating more probiotics from foods like yogurt and supplements will help to restore the balance of your body’s microbiome, which in turn can improve your mood, digestive system, and immune system.

Finding the Right Balance 

While having a fitness routine is a great motivating tool, it cannot help us achieve our big-picture recovery goals alone. On the other hand, we cannot simply accept and appreciate who we are without ever working to overcome our negative actions and behaviors. We need to find a balance between the two, a way to love and care for ourselves, but also pushing to always achieve more and be better. We do this by dedicating time to both. If you’re already working within a workout regimen, then you already have the structure and organizational know-how to schedule a weekly massage, or to set aside some time to do some reflective reading. 

So, as we push our bodies and minds to be better, we have to take time to treat ourselves. By keeping a balance between fitness and self-care, we nurture our own ability to grow and learn. We can’t keep moving forward unless we take time to evaluate how far we’ve come.

June Lawerence

Photo Credit:Pixabay

The Mental Health Benefits of CBD Tue, 12 Nov 2019 19:13:45 +0000

Everyone feels unwell sometimes, and that includes not just physical health, but mental health as well. It’s common for people to struggle with stress, anxiety, depression, or other mental health challenges.

In fact, according to a world health report from the World Health Organization, one in four people worldwide are affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. About 450 million people currently suffering from such conditions. And unfortunately, nearly two thirds of people with a known mental disorder don’t seek help from a mental health professional.

Many treatments exist for mental health disorders, ranging from therapy to medication. One treatment is CBD. Short for cannabidiol, CBD is a cannabinoid that has shown promise as a therapy for a variety of conditions, including mental health disorders.

What is CBD?

CBD is a cannabinoid, one of more than 100 sourced from the cannabis plant. It is generally extracted from industrial hemp, so it has at most trace amounts of THC. That means CBD doesn’t come with the psychoactive high of THC, and for some people, offers therapy without the high.

CBD is used to alleviate the symptoms of many conditions. These range from chronic pain to epilepsy. It offers an overall calming effect on the mind and body, and can offer mental health support for some patients.

What’s Known About CBD and Mental Health 

CBD is believed to be supportive of mental health, with the potential to treat mental health conditions including depression and anxiety. CBD has a positive effect on serotonin receptors in the brain. And serotonin supports emotional state and feelings of well being.

Research from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine indicates there is limited evidence cannabidiol can improve anxiety symptoms. A critical review of CBD from the World Health Organization indicates CBD can help with anxiety, as it can reduce muscular tension, restlessness, fatigue, and problems in concentration. It can also help with social anxiety and social interactions. Additionally, CBD can have an anti depressant effect.

CBD As An Alternative to Traditional Medication

For some people, CBD can offer a low risk alternative to anti depressants and other medication commonly prescribed for mental health conditions. The World Health Organization reports CBD has a good safety profile, with little risk of addiction or side effects, so it can be a good choice for patients who are considering more serious medications that could come with unwanted side effects. 

Some of the side effects of mental health medication can include mood swings, sleeplessness, and sexual dysfunction, but CBD does not come with the same potential side effects. Rather, CBD side effects are rare and typically mild, such as diarrhea or fatigue.

Using CBD for Mental Health

CBD can be an effective treatment for mental health. However, it’s always best to talk to your doctor about where it fits in with mental health treatment. It’s also important to consider which CBD products to use, as they can vary in potency, quality, and effectiveness. Generally, it’s best to stick with CBD products that carry third party testing with reports for quality, and look for products that can offer direct benefits for the condition treated. Patients who are already on mental health medications, but want to try CBD as an alternative, should discuss the transition with medical professionals.

Amelia Noble is a researcher with the CBD Awareness Project. When she’s not working, you can find her playing board games. 

Liberation Yoga for All Mon, 01 Jul 2019 19:55:42 +0000

Kai Shanti is a new addition to Liberation Institute and will teaching the Tuesday evening yoga class through July and August. She began her journey with yoga in 2009, when a friend invited her to a drop in class in Berkeley, CA. It didn’t take long for her to realize that yoga would become an integral part of her life.  In 2017, she attended her first 200 hour YTT in Guatemala at Mahadevi Ashram, learning the techniques and philosophies of Hatha yoga. In October of 2018 she traveled to the birthplace of yoga, India, to further expand her knowledge and deepen her practice, this time exploring the styles of Vinyasa and Ashtanga.  Her hope as a yoga instructor is to gently guide her students, not only into the physical asanas, but to help them explore their own relationship between the body, mind, and soul.   

Liberation Yoga is a holistic practice of Yoga that offers an alternative for anyone hoping to explore the relationship between body, mind, and spirit.  Our gentle 90-minute class is accessible to all people with a desire to practice yoga in a more conscious way, supported by teachers and a community who understand how the journey into presence can bring both challenge and benefit. We will often take the slower path, following a series of postures that engage the body and mind energetically from the ground up.

All are welcomed to this donation-based class. No one is one turned away for lack of funds. To RSVP, email