A Conversation with Elizabeth Astor, GSN Presenter

Headshot - Elizabeth AstorElizabeth Astor is an acupuncturist, Chinese herbalist, medical intuitive and classical homeopath with a private practice in Boulder, Colorado. She has been studying meditation for 11 years with teachers such as HH the Dalai Lama, HH the Karmapa, Adyashanti, and Dr. Reggie Ray. Elizabeth has been teaching meditation through the Dharma Ocean Foundation since 2010.  Her work as a meditation instructor focuses on somatic meditation, which offers a way to relate to our experience in a direct, clear, and healing way.

Meet Elizabeth in-person at our upcoming Moving Through Grief… Together meeting on Wednesday, May 14 at 1925 Glenwood Drive, Boulder, CO. 

Tell us more about your upcoming presentation for GSN’s Moving Through Grief… Together meeting:

I will be teaching people how to work with their emotions, thoughts, and physical sensations as they experience grief in a way that is embodied and compassionate. Mindfulness and meditation taught in a somatic way can help us to be able to stay present with what is happening in our hearts and in our lives so that we can truly find a way to receive the gifts and healing within every experience.

We will do a 50 minute meditation session, with about half of the time lying down, followed by a period of sitting up. Afterwards we will circle up for questions and for people to share their experience.

What do you hope that others take away from your presentation?

My intention is that people will get an experience of how to work with themselves and their emotions in a way that helps them stay integrated and present, and how to not have to shut down or feel overwhelmed by grief.  These meditation practices are a way to help  us become our own best friend, and to be able to live a more full and embodied life.  I hope that people will learn a tool to help them fully feel what is happening within them and to not be afraid of those feelings.

Why is your topic important for healing from grief and loss?

In the intensity of our experience, we often feel the need to shut down or run away from ourselves.  If we can learn to stay present with our experience, be kind to ourselves, and feel what we are feeling directly without the overlay of story or resistance then our grief and the challenges of life can become a gift, a healing journey, and very powerful.

Share one way that YOU practice personal self-care:

I practice meditation and mindfulness daily.  This practice allows me to stay connected to myself, my life, and to others around me. When intense experience arises, this daily practice gives me the foundation from which I can stay grounded, more clear, and relate to my life and others from a heart-centered, kinder place.

Lake-pukaiki1Provide a few focus questions for our community to meditate on and discuss in our group sharing after your presentation:

  • How can the practice of body-based meditation be a resource for each of us in the process of facing loss and grief? 
  • How does staying in our bodies when we are in emotional pain help us to heal more quickly?
  • How can the practice of meditation help us heal our pain from losses from our pasts, as well as our current experiences of grief?

A Conversation with Katie Asmus, GSN Presenter

Katie AsmusFor Katie Asmus, life is an unending journey and adventure. Throughout her life, she has had an enduring interest in psychology and spirituality, as well as a profound love for people and the natural world. Katie is constantly in awe of the strength of the human spirit and the inherent wisdom of our body-minds. She draws on this inherent wisdom of the body-mind to facilitate healing and growth in those whom she serves. Her extensive path of service has taken her on a journey through work with underserved rural populations, departments of corrections, community mental health centers, domestic violence shelters, homeless shelters, wilderness programs, institutions of higher learning, and private psychotherapy practice.

Meet Katie in-person at our upcoming Moving Through Grief… Together meeting on Sunday, May 4 at 1925 Glenwood Drive, Boulder, CO. 

Tell us more about your upcoming presentation for GSN’s Moving Through Grief… Together meeting:

In this experiential presentation, I will discuss how grief and trauma often times go hand in hand.  I will inform you, through a somatic (body-centered) perspective, how grief and trauma affect the body. I will support you in identifying your internal and external resources to work with your grief. 

What do you hope that others take away from your presentation?

I hope to share how grief can be viewed as a rite of passage, considering the perspective of post-grief or post-traumatic growth. Viewing the grief process as a rite of passage can shed new light and life into your experience.

imagesWhy is your topic important for healing from grief and loss?

By identifying these aspects of yourself, you will increase your capacity to navigate your path through the multi-layered grief process. 

Mourning Fog


Photo credit: James DeWalt

This is a guest post by Lonnie Howell, a mentor to young men and a musician, who lives in Rollinsville, CO with his wife and three children.

The first few months after a loss are most difficult to deal with, and sometimes even harder to describe. Time seems to lack any sort of consistency. Awaking from a night’s sleep is a challenge in itself as dreams might be the only break from insistent, incessant grief. We must face another long day in this alternate reality without our loved one, which sinks in immediately upon waking. Bodies ache and the once routine act of getting out of bed feels like climbing a steep hill. Thankfully we are creatures of routine and can autopilot our way to maybe make a hot morning beverage and care for our partners, children, or pets. Most days I did not have an appetite but coffee had a comforting effect and provided a small burst of motivation for necessary chores. But the days and the weeks seemed to swirl together like cream in my cup…

On this particular day, the sky was gray and fog blanketed the mountains in ever-changing layers. Vapor spiraled up from the trees like apparitions. I remember drinking my coffee and staring out the window wondering if any of this was real. I would begin to daydream about the life I once knew, the person I once was, then slip back into my battered body which always hurt worse in the morning. The gloomy scene that played like a black and white movie through the window perfectly reflected my mood. I remember walking to the bathroom and briefly looking in the mirror before returning to my depressing seat at the window. I decided to grab my journal and a pencil and attempted to capture the moment…

mourning fog

morning coffee, feed the dogs as
thick fog hangs in grayish tones
dampness creeps into the house
and further chills my aching bones
misty vapor full of ghosts
haunting hills, blinding perspective
visitors that need no host
obscuring present day’s objective
clouded thoughts and silent words
whispering unwanted feelings
hunger leaves as mugs are stirred
another day that grief is stealing…
weak eyes rest on bags of black
tangled hair and mangled features
mirror’s image holds a strange,
pathetic yet familiar creature
the last exhale of Winter’s breath
the longest one I’ve ever known
waiting for Spring to spread it’s wings
and migrate back into it’s home
without a sound, mope around
slipping in and out of dreams
of sunny days on higher ground
before life’s fabric split it’s seams…

As painful and uncomfortable it was to be present with grief on those seemingly impossible days, I know now that deep growth and realizations were happening. I can reflect on those disorienting weeks and months and know this: I survived and I am OK. There’s much of that time period that I don’t remember, but looking back I am grateful for the ability to capture some of these moments of despair. It’s empowering to know that I survived those dark days. If you are in those days now, or can relate to similar times, know that you will be alright and you are doing tremendous work…

Lonnie Howell is a mentor to young men, as well as a musician. He tragically lost his father who was 49 years young, and more recently his son who died unexpectedly 10 days after his first birthday. Lonnie writes poems and songs as a creative outlet to cope with his grief, and frequently spends time discovering the healing powers of nature in the forests of the front range. He lives in Rollinsville, CO with his wife and three children. He can be contacted at lonnie.howell@gmail.com.

A Conversation with Melissa Michaels – GSN Presenter

Melissa MichaelsMelissa Michaels, Ed.D., is the Founder and Director of SomaSource® Educational Programs, Surfing The Creative® International Rites Of Passage Programs, and Golden Bridge, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving and empowering the lives of young people through rites of passage, mentoring, and community support.

She creates movement based cross-cultural educational opportunities focusing on the potential that is available at major life thresholds. Mapping the journey from trauma to dynamic well-being, her work utilizes the expressive and social arts to establish body and heart as resources authentic expression. Rooted in rhythm and fueled by breath, this work inspires the sacred union between Spirit, flesh, psyche, and deed. You can learn more about Melissa and her work at bdanced.com.

Meet Melissa in-person at our upcoming Moving Through Grief… Together meeting on Wednesday, April 30 at 1925 Glenwood Drive, Boulder, CO. 

Tell us more about your upcoming presentation for GSN’s Moving Through Grief… Together meeting:

I will share with the community what I have learned both through my own significant journeys through loss and grief and from my work with thousands of people who have faced complex losses and deep processes of grief. The teachings will be shared through both story and through experiential activities that are gentle and comforting to anyone on the path of living and loving. We will explore basic ways for being present in our bodies with the sensations of aliveness ranging from our deepest grief to our most expansive joy. We will also learn universal ways to express the pain and beauty of our heart’s truths. 

Share an experience or story about grief and transformation:

Over a decade ago, I navigated my way through the death of a fiancé who drowned in the ocean in front of me and my children. I will sensitively share the powerful story of this gentleman’s tragic death and the thorough journey of loss and return that I faced along with our family and community. This story is a powerful teaching in resilience, a community’s journey through shock into great creativity and profound healing. It is a beautiful love story.

Share one way that YOU practice personal self-care:

I practice self care through the ongoing practice of sounding and moving emotions as they arise in my body and heart, prior to communicating with the “other” about my feelings and needs.

Melissa Michaels - DanceProvide a few focus questions for our community to meditate on and discuss in our group sharing after your presentation:

  • What are grief’s gifts? 
  • How can the body be a resource for each of us in the process of facing loss and grief? 
  • What are the resources that we can call upon to help us when in a cycle of grieving? 
  • How can we assist ourselves in completing losses from our pasts along with addressing current experiences of grief?