Today I attended the first of a two-day Phoenix-based EMDR conference with Columbian born Ana Gomez. Ana is reputed to be a leader in EMDR implementation, research, and development of protocols for children and adolescents.
Her presentation today began with a liturgy on the importance of metaphors (Thanks, Jim Nolan!) in reaching the right brain and in creating a safe place for the psyche to unwind and ignite the healing process. Ana went on to ask if any of us were familiar with Porges’ Polyvagal Theory. Three hands went up (out of close to 100) and thanks to Miss Connie Buck, I was a proud hand raiser! She mentioned that she hadn’t planned for the PDF slide of Polyvagal Theory to be a part of her presentation, but that must be “synchronistic.” Ana feels that the Polyvagal Theory is most important for those of us employing EMDR techniques! Ana went on to describe the sympathetic, parasympathetic ventral vagal and dorsal vagal neurological states. I was transported back to Southwestern, watching Connie Buck raise her brown ankles boots up and then thrust them forcefully to the ground, the exercise that brought most of us into our bodies and into her class!
Ana continued by asking if anyone had worked with Native Americans. Again, a handful of therapists raised their hands. Mine was included (after all, I co-facilitated a suicide prevention group at the Indian School as a part of my internship). She went on to share the virtue of the medicine wheel (a la Carol Parker’s and Katherine Ninos’ fabulous vision quests) — its use of metaphors and animals, the Hero’s journey, archetypes, Carl Jung (Consciousness I and II) and the value of nature’s very own metaphors.
Finally, Ana reiterated the importance of meditation, breathing, and the importance of setting intention as any good treatment plan should! She demonstrated breathing in from the head, the heart, and the body, breathing in each place…………and I was back in the mountains of Peru with Carol Parker sitting cross legged on tundra tufts of grass under the gaze of glacier-covered mountains, dallying alpaca……… and we were doing just that. We were breathing into the three energy centers of the head, the heart, and the abdomen. This is ancient Incan wisdom!!! She continued to talk about the importance of looking at the narratives of the mind, the heart, and the somatic nervous system. Ana advised us to look for the congruency or lack thereof between these varied narratives. She spoke of how she incorporated HeartMath into resourcing with EMDR, particularly with adolescents. (Webb, I was back in my lengthy diatribe of a research paper today!)
I just wanted to share this with you all who have been on a part of my journey, and have provided me with such magnificent preparation –preparation that goes well beyond those who have worked in the field far longer than I.