Male Announcer: You’re listening to From Pain to Possibility with Susi Hately. You will hear Susi’s best ideas on how to reduce or even eradicate your pain and learn how to listen to your body when it whispers so you don’t have to hear it scream. And now here’s your host, Susi Hately.
Before we get into this episode, I quickly want to say that you'll notice that this episode is longer than normal. The reason for it is I have three great guests and we dig into the heady topic of unconscious bias and inclusivity, or the lack thereof in the world of healing and recovery.
And I put myself out there in terms of things that happened this year that these three women brought my attention to. And as a result, all of us have grown. All of us had some incredible experiences as hard of the work as it was. So you are going to want to listen to this. You are going to enjoy every single minute. Let's get going.
Susi: Welcome back to From Pain to Possibility, and with this episode we're going to go in a direction which for some listeners may be surprising. Maybe not, but may be surprising. And it's into the realm of inclusivity.
This year has been a very revealing year for me. I really take a lot of pride in myself for one of what I actually figure is my secret sauce, or part of my secret sauce, which I'm very, very good at meeting people where they're at.
And I have used the journey of, whether it's running my business or the various programs that I run and some of the oopses and the mistakes that I've made, I really take a lot of pride in my ability to see myself, to see where I've goofed up, to learn from it, to grow from it. Which only enables me to meet people that much better because the more I do the work of myself, the more effective I feel I can be as a practitioner.
This year has been a really interesting year because I've had my eyes opened. Not in like that my eyes were closed, I mean, I've been aware of the growing disharmony and societal conflicts that have been going on around the world.
But in terms of the world of healing, revealing, recovery, rehabilitation I had my eyes opened up in a remarkable way where it really dawned on me that in this pool, this societal pool of political, gender, and patriarchal stuff I’ll call it in a less technical sort of way, or maybe less eloquent way. But in the sort of soup we all swim in there are judgments that can really cloud ourselves both from the perspective as being a professional working with a client, but also with a client.
I've had conversations this year with my clients where, and I can think of two specifically, where they actually uncovered how their own beliefs about themselves being female and their role in the world is impacting their recovery process, I.e. slowing it down. And that tied with a couple of scenarios that occurred within our programs, really began to push me to dig deeper and delve deeper into what my biases are.
And it's been a really fascinating exploration. An exploration that has not been easy but has been one of the most worthwhile journeys. And it seems like I say that every time I go through something very challenging because the more that I see then the more that I can be and the more I can be present to the people that I'm working with.
So with this episode I want to share a little bit about this process because anyone watching the news, anyone in, I mean, really in many of our angles of life we have been brought to bear witness to where there is marginalization. And there have been some amazing examples of how things have changed in a positive way.
So I want to be a voice in terms of what has happened within my world. And to help voice that I've brought on three people who've been really key in terms of bringing my eye to this. And in a way the roles got a little reversed where I wasn't so much the trainer but I was the trainee in a sense of the process.
So who I've got on the podcast today, you will have heard the names Rachel Ishiguro and Lory Newmyer before because they've been on the podcast before. And then I also welcome Misty Kuefler.
And I think what I’ll just start off with is, Rachel, you have some experience in this world. And when you first looked at the program, you knew that there were some limiting factors. But you chose the program anyway. So I think it's really useful because I'd like you to tell people listening, like what is your background in social justice and in all of this work, and why functional synergy?
Rachel: Yeah, so I am a somewhat white passing woman of color. And so as such I think when I come into a space I tend to take a look at who is in the space. And I think I can slide fairly easily into white spaces, and at the same time sometimes they get very uncomfortable for me. So just from a personal perspective, I do tend to evaluate spaces that I come into for who is present.
And then over the last several years I've just become more and more aware that I experience relatively so much safety within the spaces of the world compared to many, many other people. And I've come to that understanding by hearing the stories and experiences of people I love and also people who are speaking in public spaces on social media and other spaces.
And I just learned a lot about how people might be not just excluded, but also really harmed in so many areas of our society. And so when I took, I think it was fundamentals of yoga therapy over the summer of 2020, one of the first things I did in that Zoom room was scroll through and look at whose video was on and see who was there.
Yoga spaces tend to be white, thin, able-bodied, affluent, often straight cis females by and large. And there are some exceptions, and there were some exceptions in that room. But I was really aware of who was in that space.
And I think when you look at who is in a space it tells you who's been invited, who's welcome, and who's safe. And I draw a distinction between those three intentionally. I think what I felt with Functional Synergy is that there was a sense of being welcome, but maybe that not necessarily everyone was being invited, and not necessarily everyone would feel safe with some of the teaching at all times.
And when I made a decision to join the program, for me personally creating that safety is really, really important. And at the time that I made the decision, I made the decision that what I was going to get out of the program was most important for me, and that I would figure out when I design my own programs how to invite more people to the table. So that was where I was at, at the time that I started with you, Susi.
Susi: So fascinating. It's so fascinating to hear that and to see how unconsciously, what an invitation is. Because we do a lot of things to invite people where a lot of people don't know we actually do them.
And we do that on purpose in some cases because it's not something that we want to publicize from a marketing perspective. That's not the reason, we're not doing it to make ourselves look good. You know what I mean? So it's interesting and it just opens the gates a little bit. That's so fascinating.
So Misty, now you're hearing that and then you come into this program, right? And so then what's your take on it?
Misty: The first program I took was the module one, and I did the same as Rachel. I looked at the Zoom room and I was like, “Oh, I'm definitely the biggest person by far, and do I turn my camera on?” Although you didn't really give us an option. And I was terribly uncomfortable with my size, although I'm pretty comfortable with my size in general. But I did realize that I stuck out like a sore thumb.
And so when I decided to register for module three for cert, again, first day, scan the camera. Like oh my. I thought, “Oh my, I really am the biggest at the table.” And I'm not going to lie, I was a little bit not– As Rachel said so well, I didn't feel completely safe. And it's not because of anything anybody did. It was just a lack of representation. It wasn't anybody's doing.
Susi: Yeah, and that's so interesting. So then what happened, Misty joins our final module in July. And then in approximately, I don't know, was it October I think, Misty? I received this email and the email is this beautifully written email saying, hey, you might not know this but– This is me interpreting some of it because I don't have the email in front of me.
But it was like I don't think you realize that some of your instructions are marginalizing to people who live in bigger bodies. And I'm reading this email and my jaw is dropping and tears are starting to well up in my eyes. And I’m thinking, “My God, this is so not what it is that I want to have happen.” Right?
Because, again, as I started off this podcast, it's like I really pride myself in meeting people where they're at. And so to hear that was like, or to read that was like holy smokes. And the email was one of those emails that, much like the communication I received from Rachel and Lory, we'll talk about more of that later, was so welcoming and so inviting.
So it's like tables were flipped. And it was so easy for me to respond of like, “Yeah, let's do something. Actually, let's take care of that because I am clueless in this regard.”
And so what's actually arisen out of this is I opened up the doors to the other programs that I run in certification and said, “Hey, would this be a topic of interest?” And it was like people were like, “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. We want more information on how to work with people who live in bigger bodies.”
We ran a class and then this has now starting to morph into something where we can take these concepts which are incredibly powerful and so effective, but with something as nuanced as language cannot land effectively. And just like that, just like that can shut someone down. And really, really interesting around how the impact of being clueless can be. Right?
And so the reason I share this, I'm being a little bit vulnerable on this. I mean, being vulnerable on this podcast is not something uncommon for me, or just being vulnerable in my work is not uncommon. But I share this partly to be an example of how one can do this, of someone who leads an organization and training programs. But also for somebody in the position of Misty who's like, this isn't working.
I'm putting words into your mouth, Misty. So you can actually refute them. But it's like I'm just going to say this is not working. I think she needs to know something that's missing, and wrote it in a way that I could hear it. So basically, she was doing what she wanted me to do back, like being that example.
Susi: Which has had a profound impact, right?
Misty: Exactly. That's exactly it. Yeah, that I needed to meet you where you're at in your language, right? I needed to meet where you're at and I had to put myself out there and lead by example so that you could turn around and lead by example. Yeah, it's not necessarily comfortable work, really, is it?
Susi: No. I’ll laugh at that one and like burp that no out. Yeah, absolutely. It is some of the most uncomfortable work that you can do. Yeah, absolutely. And it's the most rewarding work in terms of what can actually happen if you're someone who's on a mission to make a difference in the world.
And for me, it's not work that has to be done, it's work that is necessary. And I use those terms very specifically and just where this can then lead to. And so I'm just going to circle back to Rachel. Let me actually come back to you, Misty, first. When you sent that letter and when I then responded, did the experience of how safe you felt in the room change?
Misty: Yes and no. Yes because you responded quickly, and now I know honestly. And you certainly used very nice, kind language to me. So that made me feel safe.
What didn't make me feel safe has nothing to do with you. It has to do with feeling platitudes of being given platitudes my whole life. Like, “Oh, sure, sure.” I at first took it as like you were patting me on the head, “Okay, I hear you. Sure, sure. I hear you.”
But then you came back to me and said, “Okay, Misty, where are we on this? When are we going to work together? I've been waiting to hear from you.” And I was like, “Oh, she actually meant it. She is actually interested in what I have to bring to the table.” So, yes I felt safe. And no, I didn't feel safe, but no had nothing to do with you.
Susi: So I want to circle back to Rachel. Because, Rachel, you've actually mentioned that there has been a shift in the way that you feel and the way that you process emotion based off of your standing up and speaking up with me. Do you mind sharing a little bit about that?
Rachel: Yeah, 100%. So I wrote to you twice about things that came up as part of the program. And the first time that I wrote to you it took me about a week to write that email. And that whole week I just felt terrible. I felt sick in my body, I was really anxious, I was upset, I was grumbling, I was complaining to my husband.
And I finally came around to realizing that my whole system was asking me to actually speak. And that has been something that I have not done in the past. And I did feel safe enough to speak up. But I think I sent the email at a Friday, because it took me the whole week to get to that point. And then it sat there all weekend and I suffered. It was really, really hard to send that and to not know what the response was going to be.
And similar to what Misty just said, it had nothing to do with Susi necessarily. But there were all kinds of ways that an email criticizing something that you said could have gone.
And when you wrote back and then actually brought that issue to a call immediately and took action on it, that was really meaningful to me. And also I was able to experience in my body what it was like to speak up and then to be heard, and then to have meaningful change. And it was really, really powerful for me.
And so the second time that I brought an issue up, it was much easier for me to do. And I knew right away when I felt it in my body that that was what my body was asking me to do. And I was able to say what needed to be said and I didn't go through all of that struggle that I went through the first time. And I knew it would be heard and I knew that action would be taken.
And so that's made a huge difference. I've come to realize that a lot of what I was experiencing as anxiety, and stress, and being disgruntled I guess, whatever that emotional quality is that leads to just complaining and general dissatisfaction, that there's actually action that I could take. That there were words that could be spoken. And that made a huge difference to how I feel.
Susi: Now one question I also have for you from that is, I first want to make clear to people who are listening, did you notice the distinction of how she felt her body? And how her system, like the waves of feeling inside of her were really pushing her to say something?
And so in the first scenario, it was like, I don't know. It was almost like, I'll put words to it, like I don't know, I don't know, I don't know, I don't know, whatever. Maybe there's a danger, maybe there's a threat. Who knows what was going on, but you're not in your head as I'm saying this. So there was something of that quality.
Rachel: And I would even say the first scenario, I at first didn't even know that saying something was an option. It was just like that seemed like such a wild, unsafe idea to me. That was just not something that occurred to me for several days.
Susi: And you followed your body, nonetheless. Your body said something, the feelings of your body were pushing at you enough to say, okay, this is something I need to do.
Now, it's one thing to do this inside of an environment where, I'm not going to say that you experimented. You took a risk to do this on the first time. The second time it sounded like it was a bit more straightforward because you already had the evidence of what my response would be probably.
What I'm curious about is how has that changed outside? Because part of this reason for me doing this is, A, to be an example of here as someone who runs an organization and training programs, like I'm putting it out on the line here. Things happened, things were said, people felt what they were feeling, expressed what they were feeling, and we're making this process collectively together. Because I could use the help, obviously, that's pretty clear.
And this is also a healing. This is also about our own recovery process. And, Misty, you insinuated it a little bit in terms of the response, that unsafe experience you had was not directly related to me. And then with you, Rachel, I'm wondering how has this changed things in how you are and how you express and how you advocate? Or anything else that you kind of get listening to that feeling.
Can you hear that voice more clearly? And has that changed anything for you on that level of sort of healing and recovery?
Rachel: I absolutely can hear it more clearly. And in some situations I might make the decision not to take action, but I'm much clearer on why I'm doing that. We do so much work around awareness. And Susi, you always say that when someone has pain, there's something outside of their awareness that's contributing, because if we were aware of it, we would do something about it.
And I think where I came around to that first time, after suffering for several days was the realization that there was something outside of your awareness, Susi. And the work that we do with our clients is facilitating awareness so that healing can take place. And when I realized that, it became very clear that was what my system was asking me to do with you.
And a part of meeting people where they're at is sometimes you might write an email and sometimes that might not be the right thing to do. But I think am now much clearer on what my system needs to have said. And then I can make the decision about what I do about that.
But it seems like for me to be able to acknowledge that what I'm feeling in my body or whatever pattern of thought or behavior is starting to come up for me, that that is a messenger of something. Just that acknowledgment makes a huge difference for me. And then when I choose not to act on it, I know why.
Susi: Yeah, so it's not you're not acting on it because you should shove it aside, either because it won't be listened to or it's dangerous, or what the implications of speaking out would be. You're actually making a real choice.
Rachel: Right, not doing something is an action.
Rachel: As opposed to a default pattern of behavior.
Susi: So what's so fascinating about this is in Healing and Revealing Human Potential we are running a program on working with people who live in bigger bodies. And sort of the foundational course inside of Healing and Revealing is recognizing that your feelings are sacred. And how do you actually get to that place to feel those feelings?
Because it's been clear throughout my entire career that where people really struggle in their recovery is feeling. There's a lot of times we are thinking our way to feeling or we're thinking about something we should do to get better. And then maybe for like a moment we feel, but it's like that feels really awful, or I don't want to feel, or there's all sorts of different iterations of that.
And so when you can actually come into the space that is your body and listen to the variety of different pulses and sensations and experiences that really are messengers. I like what I heard recently, which is a symptom is something to solve. But it's also a sign.
And we can use that as a sensation too. Like there's a problem to solve, but there's also a message behind it. And so what Rachel really described lovely is listening to that push, that movement of saying something in some form. Now, how does that relate back for you, Misty? Does that resonate?
Misty: Yes, 100% it does. I could have easily chosen not to say anything. I could have easily taken the route of protecting myself rather than putting myself out there. But something in me was saying you're strong enough to do this. You are strong enough to stand up for yourself and for those people who maybe are not.
Because I can put words to it, I should put words to it. And like Rachel said, if I choose not to, that's a choice. But my soul was telling me that I needed to talk to you about what I was feeling for myself and for others.
Susi: Mm-hmm and look what’s happened.
Misty: And so much has happened. And I'm so proud of myself and I am proud of you, which is weird for me to say. But I'm so happy that the situation has gone the way that it has, because like you said, I mean, I could have not done anything, but so much has come of it.
Susi: Yes. Yeah, and it's just opened up a whole arena of how and who we can work with and then another way of understanding blind spots.
So where I want to bring Lory into this mix is, Lory, you've got lots of experience navigating these types of worlds. And you really kind of borne witness to the transformation, really, throughout the year.
And sometimes we can't see our own selves in process and so I wanted to bring Lory in just to kind of tie it all together from what you've heard from Misty and Rachel. And how would you describe the evolution of what you've seen?
Lory: I think Misty and Rachel have both touched on a lot of what I've observed. Which it's very, very scary to speak your truth sometimes, right? And that fear is so exhausting. That fear, that energy of pushing down and holding in. But as we know, when you push something down and hold it in, it's going to show up somewhere else.
And part of your genius, Susi, as I've been saying to you I think since we met, is your ability to listen is really out of this world extraordinary. I mean, I don't know anyone who listens like you do.
And so when I think each of us has come to you with something that was scary for us to say in that sort of speaking truth to power kind of model, the fact of the way you heard us, and I think I was struck by similar things to Rachel and Misty. The sense of urgency with which you listen to us, there was a speed of your response, a thoroughness of your response, and then an action that you took based on what you took in from us.
The most important action being, wow, I didn't know this and thank you for telling me this. Thank you for giving me this thing to chew on, to think about, to understand better in myself. And that whole sense of what we're unconscious of, we're unconscious of. And the idea that when something comes to light we each have a choice to either reject that as other that knowledge and push it away and feel threatened by it.
And you have modeled for us this amazing lack of threat from the issues that we've brought forth this year. But really, rather than feeling threatened, have felt like I really want to grow into this. And your eagerness to hear from us and to grow with us, I think has encouraged this amazing kind of synergy of just kind of growth and courage all around that's been really extraordinary to be part of and to watch and to feel in myself as well.
But I think that that really comes down in its kernel to me is I know when I wrote to you following up on something that Rachel had brought forward, and sort of faced my own fear about, oh, I don't want to be critical of Susi. I want to be a cheerleader, et cetera. Knowing that you would hear, even in my imperfect expression of what I wanted to say that you would hear me because you would see me in the words that I was bringing forth and the feelings I was sharing with you.
So I think that comes back, I think, in terms of being a healer or a yoga therapist, to being present to yourself and to others. And the more that we, you know, what you were modeling for us was that clarity about who you were invited us to have more clarity about who we were and what we wanted to share with you.
Susi: And I love how you summed it up there, because as Rachel put it is another line that I like to share a lot is that a lot of the people who come to see me as clients are people who've made some gains in terms of reducing pain or reducing anxiety or things of that sort. And yet, it kind of comes back and it kind of comes back. And they're just not satisfied with it.
And so what we typically find is that where the pain is, is not the problem. Where the issue is, is it's under the level of awareness. And so in order to be able to grow and to evolve you have to be willing to look at that which you're not aware of.
And so I mean, I say I was clueless because I'm quite comfortable, I don't think I'm being self-deprecating. I think I'm just be true to the fact that yeah, I was clueless. And there is an awareness piece that it's like all right, then I became clued in. So then the responsibility, now I take responsibility. But I have to get to that place.
So I think one thing I'd like to– And you guys could add in pieces, I'll come around to each of you. But I think how I want to sum this up to bring it kind of full circle is when I hear stories or when I read stories in the media about something of this sort and then I hear the response of the person who's been questioned, they'll say, well, that wasn't my intent or that is false.
And there are certainly times where I can understand why someone might say that is false. But when that when the thing is, is that's not my intent, it's like, okay, that's great. And it landed in a way. And I understand fully that the way that something lands is on the other side.
However I say something, really how Misty interprets it, how Rachel interprets, how Lory, that's their world. And there is a responsibility that I have in terms of the influence and the impact that those words are into the soup that we all swim in.
We all swim in this soup of patriarchy, of ageism, of gender, of race, of fill in every other piece of it, right? We all swim in judgment. And I'd like to think that that doesn't impact me. And the reality is, is it does.
And I think when I stepped into that real uncomfortable place of like, “Holy shit, it does.” Then it felt gross, but it also gave me a certain place of like why argue with reality? Why brace against reality? And now just let's start to play in it, let's start to really start to kind of strip off some of that which I am seeing.
So what I hope that this episode has been helpful for is to know that it's going to be gross and uncomfortable at times. Sometimes just a little bit, sometimes it just pokes a bit. Other times it will be downright horrible and awful and worthy of tears and palm to head kind of moments. It's kind of the gambit.
But if you're a person who is interested in really revealing and living a life with just a touch more mastery, then it's yours for the taking. And will it have an impact on a lot more people in the world? Absolutely. And is that a great message of healing to offer?
What about you, Lory? What other inputs or words of– I don't want to say words of advice, but I'll just say words of advice would you offer anyone who's kind of waddling down this path?
Lory: Last week, you had a guest on Healing and Revealing, Gregg Levoy, and I've been thinking a lot about some of the stuff that we learned from him. And one of the things that really landed for me is this idea of things that we take responsibility for and sort of the weight of that. I'm responsible for myself and for my language and for the injury I do other people, et cetera.
But then we can change that construct also to being responsible to other things. And when I think in terms of being responsible to things and people, I think about willingness to have dialogue and how imperative that relationship is. When I'm responsible to myself and to other people, I'm much more active. I'm pushed into action, as opposed to kind of pushed back by the weight. It feels like an invitation to engagement.
And that's a place that I've been kind of dancing around in my thoughts around this topic of inclusivity. And also about my own trajectory, as a person who's healing and as a person who wants to heal other people.
Susi: How about you, Rachel, what would you add?
Rachel: So just thinking about the idea, this piggybacks on what Lory said a little bit about responsibility. But the idea of really being responsible for what you bring to an interaction. It's not just about like, Susi, when you talk about intent, intent really has the idea that what you're responsible for is the impetus behind your words, then it kind of ends.
But really, Susi, what I think you modeled for us so well is that you're also responsible for how the relationship continues and what you continue to put out into that relationship. So there's this piece of listening, and then being aware of your own thoughts and your own reactions.
And then really listening and being present with the person who's talking to you that allows that kind of continued evolution to happen for everyone who's involved. And I think we've really seen that in action this year in a few different ways in our program.
When we're in relationship with somebody else, what we say doesn't end when it leaves our mouth because it lands in our system however it lands. And sometimes that continues to have lasting impact. And so the piece of being able to continue to show up in relationship with that person in full awareness of ourselves is what really allows, I think, for more healing and growth to happen for everyone who's involved. And it definitely is not a one way street, as we've seen.
Susi: Mm-hmm. Love it, great. How about you, Misty, what would you like to finish off with?
Misty: You know, before I had sent the email to you, before I did anything I thought to myself, well, who am I? Why would she listen to me? I'm just another person. Who am I to speak up on behalf of a population?
And it reminds me of that very famous quote that Nelson Mandela had used, he didn't write it, but he used it when he said, “Who are you not to?” And when you– I'm going to use these words rather than the quote, when I show up for myself and I put myself not first, but I put myself out there, it gives other people permission to do the same.
And so when Rachel came to you at the beginning of last year and had her things to say to you, she allowed it, she made it safer for me too. And that's partly because she did that work. But it's partly because of the way you listened, Susi, and the way that you handled it.
I could have come to you and you could have said, you're one in 100, I'm not going to put any weight on this right now. That's not what this program is about. But you didn't. And so it took me standing up and being strong. And it took you standing up and being strong and recognizing the humaneness in each other, I think.
So yeah, it's ugly and it's difficult to stand up and say what needs to be said. And I wish every situation in the world would end up as lovely as this one has. But this was a really great experience for me to be able to learn to stand up for myself and for other people. It was lovely.
Susi: So I hope that what the listener here is getting from this is this is one example of how it can be done and how it can be done well. And the spin off that is arising out of that is this spring, Misty and I will be running inside of Healing and Revealing Human Potential, a program for people living in bigger bodies and those people who are teaching folks living in bigger bodies and how to utilize the Functional Synergy principles in a way that really lands. And then lo and behold, we'll probably get way better results.
And Rachel will be involved in a program in February around depression and anxiety that will really address an arena that I think as you begin to tap into feeling and then so much more can arise out of that. So I'll leave it with that.
So if this is something that you want to be a part of, if this is something you're feeling welcomed to join, then this is your invitation. This is me inviting you to be a part of a group where you can be heard. And I mean, who knows? There's now a program being created out of this desire and this need of reaching more people who could really benefit from these principles.
So I encourage you, if this is something that is resonate with you to send us a note at [email protected]
and you can connect with Kia there and she can talk more about this. And if you want to talk with me more about this I am also available too.
But I think even more importantly is if what you're hearing from Misty, and from Rachel, and from Lory, if what they're saying resonates, I highly recommend you reach out to them. And their contact information is going to be in the show notes. But do you just want to say it out loud so the listeners can grab it if they want to connect with you?
So Misty, how can people find you? What's the best way?
Misty: They can email me or they can find me on my website, it is enrich, so E-N-R-I-C-H, yogaandwellness.com. And it would be [email protected]
That would be a great way to get in touch with me.
Susi: Okay, perfect. That will be in the show notes. And then Rachel?
Rachel: I'm Rachel Ishiguro Yoga on Facebook and Instagram. And www.rachelishiguroyoga.com.
Susi: And then Lory?
Lory: Yeah, people can reach me through my website, lorynewmyeryoga.com.
Susi: That's brilliant. And I really encourage you because these guys were the ones who really helped push it forward, little did they know. And so if they resonate, then do reach out to them. Thank you so much, you guys, for being on this episode. We'll see you next time.