The Insidious Trauma of Mistrust

The great thing about being a therapist and holding space for people to clear their old shit is that I get to see my own shit right before my eyes.

We are ALL each other’s mirrors in this Life, but my line of work is designed to bring the mirror into the forefront of awareness. It’s one of the things I love best about doing what I do. I get to clear myself by holding space for others to clear too.

So many of my mirrors lately have been working with mistrust. 

And it’s been a powerful awakening to my own issues of mistrust. 

I can contextualize it: my parents grew up on the streets of Brooklyn. Every day they were exposed to the Fears of inner-city life. 

Every turn they thought someone was out to rob them, get one of over on them, take from fact, they finally moved to the suburbs of New Jersey when both their car was broken into (with a note attached to saying thanks for all the great 8-tracks!) and their apartment was robbed.

I was born in the Jersey suburbs and spared the perils of City life...until I consciously chose to move there after college. 

This past summer in NYC I ended up letting go of City life that much more, and I got clear on just how much “heart hardening” there was in my own 12 years of Brooklyn life as a young adult.

Now I can’t walk by a sick stray kitty without getting incredibly upset. 

How I would ride the subway with homeless people dirty and smelling up the entire car and beginning for money and not even look at beyond me. 

How could that not harden the heart and create mistrust in this world?

I see how I still carry that mistrust in my cells.

We all do in some way, shape or form.

We all grew up with some kind of trauma — whether it was ours or passed down from our lineage.

Most of us are caught in some kind of cycle of violence or abuse just by being Alive in this world. 

Some of it is so deeply hidden in the unconscious that it’s easy to miss.

The trauma of mistrust. Insidious and sneaky as the perception of it actually is. 

The beautiful thing though, is that the more we become aware of the ways our own mistrust has taken form, the more we shed Light, the looser the grip becomes on us. 

And I DO believe with 110% of my heart that we can clear this mistrust...clear it for ourselves and clear it for the collective. 


Post-Vipassana Musings: THIS WILL ALSO CHANGE

Sometimes I get the oddest downloads...

On the last day of the 10-day silent meditation course I just took, I saw an image of THIS: cut out letters taped above my couch of one of the main teachings of Vipassana. 

It’s such a beautiful reminder of the impermanence of Life, and the practice of remaining equanimous amidst all of Life’s changes. 

This is how the Buddha achieved enlightenment — by ceasing to react with cravings or resistance to anything and everything that occurs on the outside, as well as within. 

He discovered a meditation technique whereby focusing on the sensations of the body, you can release all of the old reactions (saṃskāra) until there is no more accumulation. 

No more house to hold the Soul.
Just pure Light.

I am so grateful for this meditation technique and all the Vipassana courses I’ve taken.

I always experience transformation afterwards...and I can already feel my own being CHANGING.

You are never stuck or stagnant. In fact, your body and this reality are simply particles of energy that arise and pass away at a rate that is so rapid it actually makes you believe that everything is solid and real.

It is not. 

So allow yourself to change. 


LOVE Doesn't Look a Certain Way

This upcoming weekend is the 5 year anniversary that my ex-boyfriend Marc decided to take his own life. 

Marc left me in the relationship and got a new girlfriend who had the great displeasure of finding him hanging in his Brooklyn apartment during one of the coldest, darkest and bleakest winters in NYC that I could certainly remember.

Even though we were apart, Mark sent me some messages before he left reminding me of how he truly felt about me and how much he still loved me. 

I was still so angry and sad he left our relationship that I wasn’t able to receive his communication. In fact, I was so angry at him for leaving, that I missed a very big red flag that he was planning to kill himself. 

And I was holding onto my anger so much that I didn’t get to let Marc know how much he meant to me before he died...

Marc taught me that Love doesn’t have to look a certain way. He’s been teaching lately me to let go of anger and control, to trust in who I really am and that I am loved by the people in my life.

His death has taught me how important it is to let the people that you truly care about, know it. 

I love you, Marc. 

I’m sad that you’re not here anymore, but I get more clear with each year that passes why it was destined for you to go.

Photo by Marc. RIP

Photo by Marc. RIP

You've Come a Long Way, Baby.

Many people don’t know that I had a whole other past life in THIS life working in New York City government and politics. 

This first pic is of me sitting on the steps of City Hall, where I could often be found smoking cigarettes.

The other encapsulates what I was doing the other couple of hours when I wasn’t working 65+ hours a week — drinking at a local pub!

Past life, indeed. 

It’s interesting that Spirit has been giving me lots reminders of this old life lately...presumably for some healing.

I hated the government in college, but I wanted to move from New Jersey to NYC with the rest of my friends when I graduated school and somehow by the time June of my senior year came along I was offered a job for a State Assembly Member in Manhattan (because even then I was a powerful manifestor ;).

When I first started working in government at the ripe old age of 22 I was so naive (and still VERY much unconscious and asleep). I actually thought that maybe I would be able to create the change that I wanted to see in the world from the inside, instead of using the protest and resistance tactics that I had been accustomed to.

For a while I really did. I was a part of making some cool shit happen in New York City — like the emergency contraception pill being offered over-the-counter in City pharmacies, legalizing gay marriage in New York State, increasing transgender rights, etc.
I also saw the shadow side of government. As I worked my way to “senior staff” of the New York City Council I saw up close and personal all of the ugly of politics — the hidden agendas, the insatiable egoic desire for power, the political favoring and posturing, lies, deceit, etc.

Fortunately, I started to practice yoga at the end of my tenure in City Hall...and I began to wake up. 

I’ll never forget the moment when I first experienced a glimpse of transformation and spiritual awakening:

I am in the basement of City Hall, finishing up a conference call at some obscene hour and out of nowhere I have my first known moment of being able to step outside and observe myself. I hang up my office phone and experience a stillness like I never have before. And I think, “I don’t belong here. This is not what I want to do with my life.”

And thus, the transformation began. A couple months later I quit my job to become the therapist I had dreamed of becoming, but always wondered if I was too crazy to pull off. ;)

So here I am, ten years later. And I have declared a moratorium on anything government-related or political from my life because of the bad taste that was left in my mouth from my experiences...but maybe it’s time for a breakthrough. Maybe it’s time to reclaim the baby that I dumped out with the bathwater...

An astrologer in India told me that in the future I would teach meditation and spiritual principles in government. It would be so wonderful to contribute to the system in that way, given where I was and what I have learned since.

I am grateful for all the skills, knowledge and expertise that my previous life awarded me. It’s definitely assisted me in creating the structures and organization required to build and grow the business I have now.

And upon further reflection, I’m so grateful for how far I’ve come over the past ten years. I’m grateful for yoga which catalyzed my life transformation. I acknowledge myself for having the bravery, balls and courage to leave something that was no longer in integrity for me...and for continuing to leap and jump into different versions of myself, as I move forward to unlock who I really am.


New Year Blessings from the Dead Dove

This morning when I was practicing yoga a beautiful Hawaiian dove made a suicide mission right into the roof of my townhouse.

I heard a pretty loud “smack” and then watched as the bird plopped on my lanai and  instantly died.
I could feel the energy of trauma and shock from the impact and then could feel the bird’s soul leave it’s little body.

The City girl in me almost started to have a fit at the idea of removing the bird, but my mind quickly transitioned into a calm inquisition with Spirit.

What does this mean? Why did the bird die on my lanai, and why did I have to watch it?

After my yoga practice I gathered my dustpan and gently scooped the bird up. I blessed it and wished its’ soul a beautiful transition into a next incarnation that would bring a most auspicious life.

As I released it to the Earth, the point became clear to me: Death is beautiful, Keri. And it’s okay. That bird’s soul was ready to move on.

How perfect for the first few days of this new year. As I’m letting go and allowing things to die in my own life — relationships that have expired their shelf life, old fears, stories, and thought patterns that don’t serve me, all of the struggle of the past — and that beautiful bird was a wonderful reminder that it is indeed time to move on.


Your High Expectations of Others is About You Loving Yourself Even More

I’m getting super present to the high expectations I have for others in my Life.

And I’m ever so clear that those expectations are merely a projection of the high expectations that I have for myself.

I haven’t been willing to look at this area of my Life because somewhere along my journey I decided that if I had high expectations of myself, I would always push myself to make shit happen and be productive with my life.

So in a way, the expectations I’ve had of myself have really served me...

The dark side, though is that I end up putting a lot of pressure on myself and on others. 

My self-compassion becomes limited.

I saw that this Thanksgiving with this infected abscess on my face.

I was really hard on myself during the whole thing: mad at myself for trying to pop it like a pimple, mad at myself for going into the Ocean which made it more infected, mad at myself for not being more educated about antibiotics versus more natural medicine...etc, etc.

So it all becomes even MORE of a blessing. 

Isn’t it amazing how every thing that happens in our lives is part of a larger web that’s being woven surrounding our personal evolution? 

The gratitude extends *beyond*  Thanksgiving.

I am so grateful, and I’m so in love with Life in all of the mysterious and fantastic ways it supports us.

It is truly magical. 

P.s. SO grateful to have this mug back to its original form. I am healing really quickly, so thank you to all for your thoughts and prayers. I’ve been receiving so much care and concern and it’s really touching. Thank you. XO

#sharinforthegreatergood #compassion #poliahu #gratitude


Full Moon Thanksgiving at the ER

The last place I expected to be on this Full Moon Thanksgiving was at the ER treating an infected abscess on my face, the but the lessons of gratitude and perspective is worth it.

I feel SO blessed to have my health today. SO blessed that I don’t normally have a piece of my face sliced open. I feel SO blessed for family and friends and ohana who love me and care for me.

And I am forever grateful for Sherry Brown Guillermo — not only for bringing me over vegan tofurky when I told her that I wouldn’t go to a party with my face looking like this, but also for urging me to go the ER and get checked out. YOU are an Earth Angel, Sherry and I love you. 

I could have done some serious damage to my brain or face or bloodstream if I left this untreated. 

So I’m grateful for taking care of my body...and my body knew what to do. 

My mind was resisting driving to the hospital, but my body knew it was the best thing to do.

The body always knows...

And I’m grateful for my yoga practice. I took it off the mat tonight and used my breathe to move through the pain of the procedure I had.

I often judge technology, but tonight Im also so grateful to be able to FaceTime with my parents and to be able to talk and communicate with loved ones while I was here in the hospital tonight. 

The Truth is that even though we are ultimately ONE, we are also alone. 

We will die alone. 

It was hard to be in the ER alone on Thanksgiving. It felt like a Spiritual lesson for my life right now...and at the same time, my phone kept me connected, and soothed the harshness of that Truth.

Life is a gift. This body is a gift. 

Good health is a gift. 

Love your loved ones and be generous with them. Be kind and loving always, be mindful and manage where you are directing your energy.



My First Vipassana Experience: Fresno, California 8/17-8/28 2011

To get right to it, the Vipassana course was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done and it was a huge accomplishment to complete it. It was basically meditation boot camp.  About 100 of us, varying in age, size, ethnicity and all those identity politics, joined two teachers and about fifteen volunteers to meditate every day for about ten hours a day, for ten days.  The first bell rung for morning meditation at 4am followed by meditation in 1 hour, 1.5 hours and 2 hour increments throughout the day until 9pm.  We rested only for a few hours each day for meal breaks and listened to a one hour discourse each night from the head teacher, S.N. Goenka, who is responsible for bringing this Vipassana technique from Burma into the West.

Gobi, the Hindu doctor from Fresno who was kind enough to drive me to pick up my rental car when the course ended, told me all about Indian politics and the history of conflict between the Hindus and the Buddhists.  He was pleased that the teachings of the course were not Buddhism and told me that I was fortunate to receive the teachings void of any prior knowledge of the religious controversy.  It seemed obvious to me from the first time the teacher gave his discourse that this wasn’t a religious experience. 

Instead of learning about Buddhism, we were taught the Buddha’s (Siddhartha and his friend Gotama’s) meditation technique from over 25 centuries ago.  Goenka told us that Siddhartha discovered this technique at age 5, while sitting under a tree.  He sat under that tree for 30 years and meditated until he reached enlightenment and died peacefully in his 80s and under the same tree, teaching the technique to anyone who was open to learning it.

The technique makes perfect sense to me.  In fact, I find it to be brilliant.  Just as Freud theorized in the constancy principle that the way to keep the mind in a state of peaceful Zen (Freud also called this space ‘zero’) was to expel all negative affect and thoughts, this technique works to bring an awareness to the negativity that gets contained in the body as well as the mind.  The technique creates the space for someone to realize that they are often generating sankara - a craving reaction to a pleasant sensation or an abhorrent reaction to something that the mind/body does not want. 

The idea of the Vipassana is to learn through the meditation practice not to react to either pleasant or unpleasant situations and to remain unattached or equanimous to whatever sensations arises within the body (and by extension of course, the mind).  Since everything in life is Annica, or impermanent, if you remain unattached in each moment you can always find comfort in what IS, because what is will forever be changing.  

Think about how much peace and love there could be in this world if we could truly accept what is and never generate disappointment or anger towards others, and towards ourselves…  

I digress.  The Vipassana technique brings awareness to the sankara. With practice and the awareness that comes with it, one can be mindful to stop generating negative sankara (and not cling to positive sankara).  Furthermore, to keep practicing is to eradicate old sankara until the old pain that has manifested throughout one’s body gets resolved.  This takes dedication, commitment, persistence and will ultimately lead to enlightenment.  During enlightenment, the body will be felt as the pure energy source that it is, one with the Universe and all that is.

It was amazing to feel the technique working.  I was able to witness a thought and the way that thought affected my breath or my heartbeat (negative thoughts speed up the heart and make the breath shallow). 

The longer I sat, the deeper I went into the body to work through old negative sankara.  The longest discomfort I felt was in my shoulders, where anxiety is stored (not to mention too many years of carrying a heavy bag throughout the streets of New York City) and in my lungs (with 12 years of smoking sadly under my belt).  With my lungs in particular, it was incredible to feel myself work through the discomfort from the top of my lungs down to the bottom.  I could almost feel the smoke releasing my body.

At one point during the course, I felt discomfort inside my nose only to revisit the trauma I experienced when I had rhinoplastic surgery at age 16.  I cried from the memory’s emersion and then moved on with the psychical discomfort dissipating in tandem.  Thus, this past experience became complete in both body and mind. It was amazing.

While I practiced the Vipassana technique, I became more and more excited as my mind connected the experience to my professional interests.  In my world, it was not a coincidence that right before the course Somatic Experience re-emerged as a therapeutic practice that I am interested in (for those of you who were with me in Costa Rica, this is the type of therapy Barbara’s sister travels all over the world to practice). 

Somatic Experience is used with survivors of trauma. It is a form of talk therapy where the therapist helps the client to become aware of the bodily sensations they experience while they share about their trauma.  Just like the Vipassana technique, the idea of Somatic Experience is that the trauma will be released from being stored inside the body, thus helping to provide closure  both  within the body and the mind.  An infusion of the constancy principle and Vipassana, if you will!

            As I will soon begin to work with survivors of trauma at Safe Horizons in NYC (yep, not time to leave NYC yet!), I look forward to deepening and implementing my experience, knowledge and understanding of the mind/body connection into the mental health field to help others heal.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

With Never Ending Love,


Therapy: A Space to Remind you: YOU MATTER!

I’ve been receiving energy-work for as long as I’ve been giving it...but I recently started working weekly with a therapist for the first time in years.

I’ve chosen to make a living holding space for others...but I haven’t given myself the same time and space to be witnessed.

Every session I’ve had so far, I’ve cried. And I don’t mean an occasional tear here and there, I mean I am letting it RIP. And not because I’m going through any major loss or depression or fact, my life is changing and transforming in the most amazing of ways right now.

I cry because someone is holding the space for me to be witnessed. I cry because someone else truly wants to SEE me and has a real interest in knowing my deepest thoughts and feelings, along with watching every move I make in the time we have together.

I cry because I feel like I MATTER again and I’ve spent way too long feeling like I didn’t. I spent way to much time putting everyone else’s needs and desires before my own. 

And it’s different then sharing with a friend...for me there’s always some place inside where I feel like I need to reciprocate or keep the sharing balanced when I’m being that intimate with a friend. It’s such a relief to have 50-minutes every week where I can just make it 110% about me.

It’s also so beautiful to remember that I get to do this for people for a living. Lots of times I’m so focused on what energy needs to be cleared with someone that I forgotten how valuable it is to just hold space and give someone else 110% of my attention and willingness to see them. That in of itself is transformative.

And I’m grateful now that I’m finding the balance between the two. It feels like starting therapy is just one of the ways in which I’m beginning (again) to own the “Receiver” in Keri Sender-Receiver.

City of Refuge.jpg

The Divine Masculine

I’m getting very present to my masculine side and taking a look at how evolved it is.

We hear so much talk nowadays in conscious communities about women embodying the Divine Feminine...but what about the Goddess embodying the Divine Masculine as well? 

How can we take action without our old constructs of force, manipulation, and competition? How can we generate from our hearts instead of our heads?

And what about men embodying the Divine Feminine inside of them, too. We all have aspects and energies of both genders. We all harness the Sun and the Moon, the yin and the yang. How can we move towards a reality where Love prevails and the dichotomy dissolves without us even looking deeply at the dichotomy within ourselves?