Thursday, June 19, 2014

The 12 Embodied Practices of the Yogic and Mindful Self (Cook-Cottone, 2014)

The 12 Embodied Practices of the Yogic and Mindful Self 
Cook-Cottone, 2014   

These are the 12 practices detailed in my forthcoming book, "Mindfulness and Yoga for Self-Regulation: A  Primer for Mental Health Professionals." I have compiled all of the practices detailed in no less than 30 books. These- are- the- things- if you do these 12 things- you will experience attunement and contentment. I have the word of many mindful and yogic scholars and practitioners as well as a bunch of  established and emerging research. I am so excited about this list. If you'd like to re-print please cite. The book should be out 2015. 

Practice 1: Be Mindfully Aware

Practice 2: Honor Your Breath and Physical Experience

Practice 3: Live in Inquiry

Practice 4: Accept Impermanence

Practice 5: Cultivate Non-attachment 

Practice 6: Discern What is Not Self

Practice 7: Allow What Is with Non-judgement

Practice 8: Prioritize Self-Care

Practice 9: Be of Your Values

Practice 10:  Observe Compassion for Self and Others

Practice 11: Maintain Equanimity

Practice 12: Cultivate Joy and Loving Kindness

Figure 2.1 Twelve Embodied Practices of the Yogic and Mindful Self

To Cite words and image:

Cook-Cottone, C. P. (in press). Mindfulness and Yoga for Self-Regulation: A Primer for Mental Health Professionals. New York, NY: Springer. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Trauma Informed Mind Body Yoga: TIMBo Training- Foundations

Trauma Informed Mind Body Yoga:
TIMBo Training- Foundations

I just finished the Foundations section of the TIMBo Training.

What is TIMBo?

This is what is says on their web page:

“The Trauma Informed Mind Body (TIMBo) program is designed to help women understand how and why their bodies feel the way they do, notice their emotion sensations non-judgmentally, and helps them take effective action in regulating the difficult sensations, making them less likely to turn to drugs, alcohol and destructive behaviors to cope.
The TIMBo program addresses three primary objectives:
1. Give women simple, effective and accessible tools to utilize as active coping strategies for self-regulation. These tools can be used anywhere, anytime and take just minutes to utilize.
2. Help women gain awareness of their bodies and their body sensations. Emotional traumatic memory becomes lodged in the body and is triggered in an endless feedback loop that becomes chronic and debilitating in many.
3. The long-term objective is to help women renegotiate their self-belief through an awareness of their inner experience, and begin the process of transformation.
Women begin using self-regulation and mindfulness tools after the very first class and their sense of empowerment is felt right away. Each session builds on the previous one, giving women the opportunity to notice the effectiveness of these tools on the spot. Group sharing allows women to share their discoveries and validate one another in making empowering choices.
TIMBo has been designed with the specific needs of women in mind and more strategically addresses the effect that early childhood stress and trauma have on the body and the mind. The TIMBo program provides teachers with a structured curriculum of 16 sessions that leaves students with tools to address their habituated patterns and symptoms that lead to recidivism, relapse, and entrapment in the cycle of trauma, addiction, incarceration and other health risk behaviors.”

This is what it meant for me-

The Process:

"Between stimulus and response there is a space.
In that space is our
power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our
Viktor Frankl

That- is my favorite quote. Why? Because I lived in the existence between stimulus and response for ages. No. let me say that clearly. I was only stimulus response. It has taken me years to cultivate the space between the two-- and yoga has been a huge part of that shift.

On my mat, I have been able to construct the space between what was going on in two places: (a) my head, and (b) my body--- and then the critical space between those two places and my choices. Both my mind and body were experienced as stressful and bad. There was little positive input- unless there was a substance, self-destructive behavior, or avoidance involved and then- well then- things were fine- 

-and they were not fine, they were not okay and I was not okay.

Yeah, if you asked me I would say, “I am fine, good really, yeah good. Its just that……” What followed-- it is just that … [fill in the blank- with what everyone else was doing to make me miserable].  And IF ONLY, if only, if only THEY would…. “Yeah, I am fine.”

Enter yoga. And I start to get it. I start to get it that there are more options. There is something else, something more than stimulus and reaction. Something more than stimulus- substance/symptoms- reaction.

What was it?

Presence. Beautiful, huge, fragile, strong, crazy presence.

I practiced yoga. I practiced presence.

Nan Herron, a dear friend and pursuer of all that is good and world changing, told me about TIMBo. She said, “This stuff is great. You will love it. This is the thing. You need…. NO, REALLY.. YOU NEED TO DO THIS.” So, I did.

And, so I did.

I am sitting here in the airport. Raw, renewed, deconstructed, and reconstructed, and wiped clear, from four days of pure, distilled presence.

Potent shit. Raw with truth and abundant with unconditional positive regard. A crucible for change- a human crucible for change.

I don’t want to share too much, so much that I dilute it.

Know that if you choose to go there- to your true self- you will leave transformed. Transformed into you as you were intended to be- no cookie cutter, no pretense, no expectations-

-just you and your true nature.

Zuri’s Story (See this blog for more about Zuri and who she is)

Zuri is sitting on her bed. It’s June. School is practically over.

This is bad.

Summer is bad. No structure. No teachers. Just Jasmine’s cancer and Zuri’s mom- and for her mom- drinking is worse in the summer- way worse. And for Zuri’s brother- Eric- risks, real risks, are worse in the summer- way worse.

When the sun starts shining, Zuri’s worries escalate. Her shoulders move toward her ears. Her jaw clenches. Her breath gets shallow. Her back tightens. For as long as she can remember, she curls into her defensive self because you never really know what will happen.

She is also sad because there won’t be any yoga. Miss Amanda takes the summer off and goes to yoga training and sees her family. Zuri will miss her horribly. Miss Amanda and Yoga have taught her these three things that no one seems to know in her family (see for more on these three things):

1.  Active coping tools for self-regulation.
2. Awareness of her body and body sensations.
3. A belief in herself as a strong and competent young woman-- a self-belief through an awareness of her inner experience.
When Zuri goes to yoga, she is reminded to be present and breathe. She practices connections with Miss Amanda and the other kids who are practicing. When Zuri goes to yoga she feels what she is feeling- the physical, the emotional, and the longing- pure and clear for what it is—and then she breathes into it- not meeting it with drugs, clinging to boys, or drinking—she meets her longing with breath and acceptance. And the miracle of that- is a growing belief in herself as someone who can handle stuff- she can handle her fears about her mom’s drinking and driving, her brother’s drug use and scary behavior- she can handle missing Miss Amanda- she doesn’t like it- no. Shit no. But she is strong enough.

Laying on her bed with her journal- she starts to sketch out some plans for the summer. She was thinking that maybe she might ask the minister at the church if she could teach a little yoga at the church to the kids in day camp. Miss Amanda has been telling her that she would be an inspiring teacher, maybe it would be okay if she shared what she knows with some of the little ones at camp?

She suddenly felt safe. It was the strangest thing. When she started thinking about summer, about yoga, and Miss Amanda- and not being connected all summer, she was scared. As she thought about teaching yoga, it felt like Miss Amanda’s sureness and support moved from outside of her heart, right into her chest. The yoga shifted too. It felt like it wasn’t something at school, or after school, but something in her body- something that was part of her that she could share. Ah- this feels good!

Image from 

And so it would be. Zuri’s summer job was to teach yoga to the beautiful little souls at summer school. And with a heart full of yoga and hope she will share these three things
(see for more on these three things):

1.  Active coping tools for self-regulation.
2. Awareness of body and body sensations.
3. A belief in the self as a strong and competent being-- a self-belief through an awareness of inner experience.
There are going to be some happy kids at camp this summer….


Catherine Cook-Cottone

If you want to learn more about TIMBo, YogaHope, and the founder- Sue Jones click here:

* Note* It has been a while since I posted. It will be this way for some time (Until early Fall, 2014). I have an approaching deadline for my embodied self-regulation book. It is my plan to post once a month or so, until the book is submitted. OR If feel really compelled to post- which is the case today. Send me lots of book writing energy!