Lisa Danylchuk – Book Journeys Author Interview Transcript – Aug. 25, 2016

Book Journeys Author Interview – Aug. 25, 2016

 

Dr. Angela Lauria with Lisa Danylchuk, author of Embodied Healing: Using Yoga to Recover from Trauma and Extreme Stress.

 

We try to do it alone, but … we don’t really work that way. We’re social beings.” ~Lisa Danylchuk

 

Angela:

Well, hey, everybody! We did make it on today’s show, I wasn’t sure we were gonna get here today! Technical difficulties, but we have made it, and I am super excited to be here. On Book Journeys Radio, every week, as you know, we feature another author, and their journey to make a difference with their message. This week’s show is no exception, we have a psychotherapist, a yoga teacher-trainer and an author, Lisa Danylchuk. She is the author of Embodied Healing: Using Yoga to Recover from Trauma and Extreme Stress. Lisa, welcome to the show!

 

Lisa:

Thanks, Angela, thanks for having me!

 

Angela:

It’s great to have you here. So, as we get started, let’s give people a sense of Embodied Healing, what is your book about and who did you write it for?

 

Lisa:

I wrote my book primarily for people who are in yoga or mental health work, who are really struggling to try to connect to the dots. So, what – what I’d seen happen, being in both fields, is, there are yoga teachers who are learning … by fire about trauma by seeing it happen in their classrooms, and there are mental health professionals who are recognizing that they are really need to use the body, and it – between those two worlds, there’s a way to … bring these two together, so I wrote a book to try to build those bridges for people, so they could understand how these two fit and how to really use them and apply the tools we know in both fields in an integrated way, so that we’re actually addressing the things that are showing up in yoga rooms, and are showing up when people are getting stuck in therapy and – and moving forward and helping to heal.

 

Angela:

What I love so much about this – and I’m so glad we’re talking about it this week – is, when I first read your book, I thought that was really good for other people –

 

Lisa:

Mm-hm.

 

Angela:

– … I bet yoga teachers need this. And even helping people to write their book – just recently, over the weekend – I think I may have talked about this to you a little bit – but, over this weekend, I had an author who was writing about trauma and had a very emotionally triggered response and – and actually couldn’t finish writing.

 

Lisa:

Mm, mm-hm.

 

Angela:

So, I think it’s so interesting that your tools, while they’re for people who have trauma, it’s really about helping teachers be able to show up more, … I’ve realized how ill-equipped I was, and I think, maybe I’m – I’m speaking out of ignorance, but … I always felt … – I mean, therapists I went to would know how to deal with that, or even … a nurse should know how to deal with it, or any life coach should know how to deal with it. But sometimes, when it comes to trau – to trauma, all of our tools that are in our heads, all the questions I might ask them …, ‘cause I tried to ask really good questions – it seemed … the more I – I thought I was … asking really good questions –

 

Lisa:

Hmm.

 

Angela:

– … I don’t think that the trauma is showing up in a way that logic could … deal with.

 

Lisa:

Right.

 

Angela:

… “You’re not in danger right now.” Can we just tell them that? … I can write it down. Just write down, five times, “You’re not in danger.” Can that solve it?

 

Lisa:

Rrr – yeah, no. No, because people are really in – they’re really reliving something, so – a – and that, I think, is one of the bridges, right? Is – is – people talk, in yoga, about being fully present moment aware, but we all know our minds are all jumping different places all the time, like, “What am I gonna have for lunch?” or “What am I gonna do about this problem?” or “Lots of things that happened yesterday,” or – we – we’re … all over the place. As a norm, the more intense something is, the more we’re pulled into those different emotional times and places and feelings that – as you saw, it can be really strong, where people – they can’t write down, they’re not in danger, they don’t feel like that’s true, and – and – so, yeah, it can be really challenging.

 

Angela:

I can’t convince them harder. So, I wanna talk about this idea of “the body,” … where does the body come in, because I think we, as a culture, spend so much time in our heads … what we learn in school, we … learn – if we’re having problems in relationships, you should communicate better –

 

Lisa:

Mmm.

 

Angela:

So, how does the body play into this, and also, how did you figure this out? ‘Cause you were trained as a therapist, so is this something you learned when you were learning therapy, or – how did you make this connection?

 

Lisa:

Yeah, the interesting thing is, for me, yoga, psychotherapy and my – my experience and my training in both have really been side-by-side, and so, as I’ve learned, the connections have been really clear, but one of the interesting things is, I decided to study, early on, in our personal communication – and I really didn’t know why I was … that, other than, “Oh! This is interesting to me,” and now, I go back to conferences that you feel they were studying, and they’re all about interpersonal neurobiology and therapy and mindfulness, it’s … a whole … come together –

 

Angela:

Mm.

 

Lisa:

– whereas, twenty years ago, we really didn’t have that as a field. So, for me, it’s just organically evolved, it’s what I’m interested in, and – and then, it – it makes more and more sense. But – the first part of your question, I skipped over that.

 

Angela:

… where does – where does the body come … –

 

Lisa:

Where does the body come in?

 

Angela:

– why – why – yeah.

 

Lisa:

So –

 

Angela:

… you call it “embodied healing,” so … I wanted to know … why – why yoga, or why do you have to get into our bodies to solve this? Why do you think that just – talk therapy doesn’t work?

 

Lisa:

It can, to a degree, and like you said about relationships, communication is really helpful and really essential, but think about when you’re communicating with someone. Are you – are you just going on their words? No! You’re listening to the inflection in their voice, you’re trying to get a sense of their vibe, of how they’re feeling, you’re watching their body language, consciously or unconsciously, so – especially when we talk about relationships, and so much of healing is done in relationships, ‘cause so much of not healing is done in relationships, when so much … happens between people, right? So, there is a way that that … sixth sense, or that attunement or that .. .empathy, connection to other people, can be just a huge part of healing, and even if you try to take that out, which, for most situations, it’s really hard to pick out the relational …, but it is, if … a car accident or something. If you play the slow-mo tape of their body as they went through that experience, and you look at what happens, … there’s so much adrenaline and there’s such a deep-seated, deep-within-the-brain response to something overwhelming. We can’t ignore that, right? So, you just talk to someone and tell me about your car accident, some people will just start stuttering, because the second you bring it up, they’re there again, and they’re saying, “Well, I was at the light, and then, this thing, and – oh,” and they’re there and they’re living it. So, that’s actually one of the ways to see h – if someone’s crossed the … is there, recovering, you can – you can watch their body, and you can see it, … if you’re doing a course of … – even a ten-week yoga session, and you could listen to someone even talk about their symptoms, the first day, and then talk about their symptoms the last day, their voices change, their posture is different, they’re connecting differently with people, there’s not … a one blanket, you have to look this way, but you see the changes in the person.

 

Angela:

Mmm.

 

Lisa:

So, if you’re not looking at that level, if you’re not looking at – is this per – if you’re not looking at the level of activation in the person, then – you … really tell the story, and there are types of therapy that do that. There’s a …therapy called “prolonged exposure” that – I have a lot of clients who come to me, who had … early childhood trauma, … interpersonal stuff that happens in relationships. “Prolonged exposure” is the type of therapy that basically re-exposes you to the trigger over and over again, with the hopes that you move through it. So, it’s … – the approach is … if you’re afraid of heights, go stand by the edge of a cliff until you get used to it.

 

Angela:

Right.

 

Lisa:

But if you’re afraid of heights because someone threw you off that cliff, sitting at the edge of it is just gonna make you more and more and more and more terrified. ….

 

Angela:

Mm.

 

Lisa:

And so – so, doing body work, doing relational work – that kind of work actually settles the system.

 

Angela:

Mm.

 

Lisa:

And there’s a missing piece that I talk a little bit about in this book that – it’s – it’s for a future book as well, and – the missing piece is dissociation, right? So, if someone is standing on the edge of a cliff, and it’s really triggering – at a certain point – you’ve probably seen this – they get a glazed look in their eye and they’re somewhere else, and … “No, I’m fine. I can stand at the edge cliff all day.”

 

Angela:

Mm-hm. Yup.

 

Lisa:

But they’re not really there, right?

 

Angela:

Mm-hm.

 

Lisa:

So, again, that connects to that yoga aspect of … being present, or being engaged, or being connected in the moment. So, that piece is dissociation, which is something that’s, unfortunately, not really in all therapy training, and only for people who really work with extreme trauma and learn about dissociation or a colleague that teaches them about it, it’s – it’s a piece that’s … missing in mainstream therapy, I think. Some people think, “Oh, I can just keep on … this person, and now, look, they’re not upset anymore, their bodies are holding still,” it’s … “Yeah, but they’re not there” ….

 

Angela:

Right. ….

 

Lisa:

– completely checked out, and so, that’s not a healing experience, that’s a retriggering, even re-traumatizing experience, right? So, … –

 

Angela:

So, is this how you – is this how you came up with the idea for your book, have you seen stuff like this in the past, … what – what inspired you to pick this book topic?

 

Lisa:

… I … felt – it felt like this is where my career and my life have evolved, … I was taught yoga in juvenile halls and done a lot of work in centers and specialty schools and recovery programs and community programs, and it’s always been … in a therapeutic world and the yoga lady, right? … yoga, and I’ll talk about yoga, and everyone’s … “Are you gonna eat a … turkey at Thanksgiving?” No. A – a – and – and – so, it just naturally evolved for me to be really interested because I … had a foot in this therapy training, and a foot in yoga training the whole time, and these connections were so clear to me, and so, I was all excited about it and wanted to teach about it. So, the topic, it felt that it was obvious, I’ve been teaching workshops about this for years, I will blab about it to anyone who will listen. I love talking people who are doing it and helping them solve … the really hard problems that come up with this work, ‘cause this – it’s really triggering for providers, too.

 

Angela:

Yeah.

 

Lisa:

So, the book is really … – I have to write about this, and I have to get this out there, and … there – there’s very little research, there’s very few – I think there’s more and more people starting to do this work, it’s … a – a cutting edge, just … becoming a field, but it’s a young – very young field, there’s not a lot for people to look to in terms of resources. So, that was a big motivation for me to write the book, was just … “Lemme get this out there,” … I know i’m still learning, and then, it’s all evolving, ‘cause all of this stuff is new, but there’s so much there. I just had someone finish my online course, she just … this morning. She just … “I didn’t know – I had no idea what I didn’t know until I went into this course,” … – and she’s been a yoga teacher for … twenty years! It’s … “I had no idea, but you -” and she … just touch it, tell myself, “Of course! You don’t know what you don’t know.”

 

Angela:

Right.

 

Lisa:

But there’s no reason for some younger teachers,for many other teachers, no reason for them to be exposed to this unless they’re actively seeking trauma training, which is what this – this … was doing, she’s actively seeking it, ….

 

Angela:

Well that – … really, that’s – that’s what I felt … happened to me, it’s … I was …. “This is important work that other people should learn,” and then, all of a sudden, it was in my face, and I was … “I am totally unprepared for this.” And I think, as a service provider for a workplace, … – I don’t know, writing a book, in general, doesn’t seem that traumatic to me, but I do hear a lot of people who write about traumatic experiences in their life, and I suddenly found myself with no tools. … I’m somebody who’s always got a big tool bag –

 

Lisa:

Right. Right.

 

Angela:

– and I can just reach back in the tool bag and pull something out, and I really didn’t have anything there! I was … “I got nothin’! Let’s ch – let’s do – … let’s do the work, let’s do talk therapy,” but … I really didn’t have anything, so I think there’s also a level of professional responsibility, I know I’ve started to feel that … if I’m gonna take on a client who has trauma in their past – in my case, to write a book, but it could be due therapy, it could be the business coaching, it could be to do yoga with, … you’re just thinking, “Hey, I’m gonna teach them how to do better inversion.”

 

Lisa:

Mm-hm.

 

Angela:

But, really, what’s – what’s the level of responsibility that you think providers have, or is it … “Okay, if you run into somebody with trauma, … just send them away,” you don’t need to have tools if this isn’t your area of expertise?

 

Lisa:

Ideally, I – I wish everyone knew this information, I wish everyone went through the kind of training. I’d also … – a – another person who took my course last year was saying, “This just makes so much sense for all the people in my life -”

 

Angela:

Mm-hm.

 

Lisa:

“- … now, I understand my family better, and I relate to them differently, and I’m … a better daughter, and I’m a better mom and -” I think … whether you’re helping people write books, or you’re working at a science lab … it’s about human beings and about – and about what they do when they’re overwhelmed, and so, that’s applicable to pretty much anyone, … maybe there’s really isolated positions out there, where you never talk to a person that – even that, … I wish everyone got this training, and I know that’s not … a realistic life goal for me to make that happen. But … your point about –

 

Angela:

Right. … a little bit – yeah, go ahead.

 

Lisa:

Yeah, I wonder, it’s funny, about your point about … overwhelmed, … if you’re around someone who gets triggered and is overwhelmed, and you don’t have any tools, you’re gonna get overwhelmed too, right? You’re gonna get, “Oh, my God! What do I do? I don’t know what to do.” And then you’re gonna start going, “Aaah, how ‘bout this? How ‘bout that?” But if you don’t feel … w – just knowing the process and – and just knowing that you have some tools helps regulate you –

 

Angela:

Mmmmm.

 

Lisa:

– which then can help that person, right? So, even for me, if I’m working with someone, and they’re being triggered in a way that’s different from other people I’ve worked with before, I know I have – I know I have a lot of tools, and the tools that I … can reach for, and I’m not gonna go with them, right? And I think that’s one of the value – really understand trauma and really getting some training in it, of how to deal, because then you’re sitting with that person and you know how to work with yourself, and – and then you can share that. And then, you can offer, “Okay, how about this? Okay, how about that?” And then, you can also know what to look for, in terms of what’s working, ‘cause they’re not gonna say, necessarily, “Ah! Thanks so much, Angela, I feel so much better now,” right?

 

Angela:

….

 

Lisa:

But you’re looking for signals from their bodies, you’re looking for signals in their voice or in their experience or in their eyes that something’s helping, and if you know – if you – if you regulate yourself, and you have a tool bag to dip into, and you can know what to look for in their stance, then you can be more of service, and then everyone feels better, right? Because then, you’re … “Oh, my God, that was intense, but you’re back,” right?

 

Angela:

Right.

 

Lisa:

Instead of … just – just that feeling that’s so unsettling when anyone you know, … in your presence is – is totally overwhelmed, … and people just end up feeling helpless.

 

Angela:

Yeah. Absolutely. So, let’s hear a little bit the practice of creating this book. For you, what were some of the biggest challenges you faced? You obviously have a body of expertise, you knew what you wanted to write about, where did you run into challenges in getting your book written, and how did you face them, how did you deal with them?

 

Lisa:

I knew I wanted to write a book for a couple of years, and I think – one of the biggest challenges for me, even – once we were working together, was just putting it out there and letting it be enough for now, because I’m always learning and because I’m always adding new stuff and .. learning – learning more conferences and integrating more stuff, I – I wanted to be … a – a finished product, and I have to know that i – it – it’s not, it’s always gonna be, “This is what we know now,” and then, five years later, “This is what we know now.” So, it was hard for me to just get everything together and organized, but I think the biggest thing was, it was hard for me to feel like it was enough.

 

Angela:

Mmm.

 

Lisa:

So, that was a big shift for me, learning … this – this information, if I hand it off to someone today, could really help a lot of people. Or, I could hold on to it for five years and it could not help people for five years, and it can be a totally different book then, and I can put it out. So, I can either put this out now and put out another book in five years, or two, or one, or next week, next month, right? But –

 

Angela:

Right.

 

Lisa:

But there was something in that, that really clicked for me, of, I gotta let go of being … a perfectionist, or of – o – I’ve got to just … set this information free and share it and – and then keep going from there. That was really huge for me.

 

Angela:

So, I actually remember talking to your – talking to your editor about this –

 

Lisa:

Mm-hm!

 

Angela:

– ‘cause I know this was a challenge for you, and you had a pretty great relationship with your editor, at least from my – as your publisher, from my angle. What were some of the things that having an editor, in general, did for you, and was there any advice that … helped you overcome that? ‘Cause I think wanting to be perfect is the reason why a lot of people don’t ever end up publishing.

 

Lisa:

Yeah, Grace is great, and I really felt like she could respond to me and let me know, “Ooh, this chapter really resonated with me, I really felt … connected to you, and this chapter felt … a little technical, or -” so I could get her fresh read on it, because I’m so steeped in these things that it’s hard for me to see it from a distance.

 

Angela:

Mm-hm.

 

Lisa:

And she was really helpful in giving that feedback so that I could rework things, and she was really helpful in the – the pivotal moments of … should I hold on to this, or should I wrap it up and – and set it free, so to speak, and I think her not being in the field was really helpful, if you’re not being … a yoga teacher or a trauma therapist, because she would give me that feedback of, “Wow! … People need to know this,” and “Wow! This is so applicable, and I’m learning.” So, for her to say those things helped me … recognize, again, this is really worth sharing now.

 

Angela:

Yeah. So – I think it’s so powerful to have that objective eye on your work, because we can be so self-critical, … we’re so trained at that –

 

Lisa:

Mm-hm!

 

Angela:

– that you miss what’s actually working and what is important.

 

Lisa:

I’m so … –

 

Angela:

For you, whether this is – whether this is personal, or whether it’s a business accomplishment, but for you, personally, what’s the best thing to come out healing – o – out of finishing your book?

 

Lisa:

There is definitely a sense of just accomplishment of this as something that … – I wanted, in my soul, to write a book, and so, to feel … – there are … two sides to it. One was … “Oh, I did it! I can do it!” And the next was … “There’s more!” So –

 

Angela:

Mm-hm!

 

Lisa:

– so, it’s – those are both there, but the biggest – I think the most rewarding thing for me is when people reach out from all over the world, actually, and say, “Hey, I read your book, it’s really helpful,” and usually these are people who have experienced yoga or some kind of therapeutic movement and they wanna share it with other people who’ve experienced trauma, or they wanna share it with people who are struggling in their community, but they don’t – they haven’t had all of this exposure to … how to think about doing that, or to – what to consider, in terms of the trauma, or in terms of how you’re teaching yoga, so they’ll reach out and say, “Thank you so much, this is so helpful, and I’m bringing this to -” And someone wrote me, right after we published it, from India, is … “Oh, I’m teaching in a children’s home and thank you so much, this is gonna help me to help them,” and so, I – I feel like I’m – … you’re talking about being in front of the author, I feel like I’m … coaching and helping and supporting those people who are out there, doing this workset, to help them, and I know is really overwhelming and really challenging.

 

Angela:

Yes.

 

Lisa:

So, hearing from them, … that just … brightens my day, every time it happens, it’s not the biggest gift of it, by far.

 

Angela:

So, Lisa Danylchuk’s website is howwecanheal.com, her book, Embodied Healing: Using Yoga to Recover from Trauma and Extreme Stress is available on Amazon, check that out. Lisa, in our final minutes, I really wanna get a little more information from you about how you workwith people beyond the book, so, somebody loves the book and they wanna take it to next level with you, can you share a little bit about what you do, and as you’re listening, think of – for yourself, about your book, what’s the way that you can support people beyond the book.

 

Lisa:

Yeah, I created an online training so that people who are anywhere in the world can go deeper into this information and get personal support from me, so that’s all through my website, howwecanheal, and that’s the primary way I’ve decided I’ve – i’ve had to get really focused and think of, “Hey, how can I best support people moving forward,” so creating that online program has been really fulfilling for me in the same way the book has, just hearing people spreading out this work and learning and spreading that … inspiration and – and knowledge out there, too.

 

Angela:

Yeah. Okay, any final – any final advice that you would give to somebody who wants to write a book, but hasn’t been able to accomplish that goal?

 

Lisa:

I think getting support is huge, just having – having structure, having support, when you hit those hard moments, ‘cause it’s possible for those hard moments to take three months or three minutes, right? A – and if you’re alone, it’s a lot – much more like … that’s gonna be three months or three years that you just push … decide and say, “Ah, too much,” and “Can’t do it today.” And then, “I can’t do it tomorrow, I can’t do it the next day.” Right? And so, that! … it actually … connects back to trauma, it’s avoidance, right?

 

Angela:

Mmm.

 

Lisa:

So, if you have someone there with you, and … “All this stuff connects and it could go on forever,” … if you have someone there with you, you’re much more likely to take a deep breath and … literally or figuratively reach out a hand to say, “Okay, I need help with this piece,” and then you work through it, and then it’s not … consistently nagging you –

 

Angela:

Exactly.

 

Lisa:

– or there, in the back of your mind, on the way far back burner for six weeks, three months, nine years of your life, right?

 

Angela;

Right. Totally.

 

Lisa:

You can … through those challenges and we try to … such an independent culture, we try to do it alone, but it doesn’t – we don’t really work that way. We’re social beings, so I really feel … get support, whether you’re looking for help because –

 

Angela:

Absolutely.

 

Lisa:

– … trauma, or you wanna write a book or both, or you wanna teach yoga people, … just reach out to someone who knows this stuff and get their help.

 

Angela:

Love it. Love it. Well, Lisa Danylchuk, thank you so much for being our guest today.

 

Lisa:

Thanks for having me, Angela!

 

Lisa:

Awesome. We’ll be back next week with another episode of Book Journeys Radio.

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