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Qigong Meditation for Caregivers

with Melissa Smith-Wilkinson &
Daven Lee
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Need a quick way to feel calm? Daven shares a simple, calming downregulating tool from qigong. We talk about self-care and so much more. Daven was a guest speaker at our Instant Access Caregiver Wellness Retreat and she shared techniques from qigong to calm the nervous system while nourishing your kidney qi, or your life-force energy.

 

Find out more about Daven at her website www.davenlee.com

Melissa Smith

Welcome to Caregiver Wellness podcast. Today, we have Daven Lee with myself and a fantastic conversation and one thing that will really surprise you when you do the practice. So don't miss the practice. We're so glad that you tuned in and that we hope you will join us for two days they're, half days, October 2nd and 3rd for the Caregiver Wellness Retreat. It's free and we hope that you'll share it with everyone that you know. It's fantastic for anyone. And especially we focus on caregiving for dementia and other Alzheimer's and other dementia, rather. And we're really excited about this because there it's virtually as if you're taking a retreat to Santa Fe, New Mexico. So it's just a respite within your own home. And we really are excited to have you join us if you'd like to sign up for that. It’s CaregiverWellnessRetreat.com. And stay tuned to join us for Daven Lee.

 

Melissa Smith

So I would love to, first of all, introduce to you. Daven Lee, who is in Santa Fe, New Mexico, has the power of Yin, which is a beautiful women's program where she does a practice of Qigong. And from what I see, this is my interpretation, a really beautiful gathering of women to do a practice that is slow and meaningful and, and, and rich, in terms of looking at the practice of movement and also how it goes into the deeper layers of really being a woman, from what I can tell, that's my interpretation. I would love for you to tell me just briefly. What what is this practice for you and maybe also a brief description of what Qigong is.

 

Daven Lee

Yes, thank you. Well, I like that description. So my practice brings together Qigong, sacred Dao sexuality understandings. I'm a biodynamic cranio psychotherapist. So sensitivity to energy, the understanding of how we heal and the nervous system and grounding. So Qigong itself. And then I'll back into the rest of your question. Qigong is a meditative movement practice that was practiced by ancient shamans. It was connected to nature, inspired by nature, and it moves energy in our bodies. So it's a healing modality. It's associated often with China and Chinese medicine. Now, the practices that I do and the programs that I offer, the power of the yin is really about increasing our sensitivity, allowing us to tune into our deeper, our deep inner voice and our inner truth. It's about being able to be a channel for energy that is grounded and can manifest effectively. So we can really be powerful in the world with what we came here to bring.

 

Melissa Smith

So that sounds like you are, you know, not lofty, but like, wow, so, so, so I want to put it into context in terms of I'm so honored you were you are a part of our on-demand caregiver retreat right now that we have on our website. And you offer a segment which is really, really beautiful with a lot of water calming the waters in the water. But you call it a form. Yes. Yeah. You come my practice. I love learning about it. So. And I love that what we've done online is like 10 minutes, you go in and you practice and you can feel the effects of it. You can go back and re practice it. For those listening, watching, it's free for anyone. So whether you're a caregiver or not or a caregiver of Alzheimer's or just a caregiver, I don't know if you saw the statistics, but there is a really. A profound quote by Roslyn Carter, she has the Rosalynn Carter Institute former. Former president’s wife Carter, so and she's in a super caregiving and she states, if you have not already been, if you are currently not, you certainly will be a caregiver at some point in your life. Now, because I just got goosebumps to it, is it is not something that we are prepared for. I think it's not like you you go to school to get a profession or you go to get it. And, you know, we just saw my son walk past. He was dusting. Right. So we equip or we were equipped. Right. To do the stuff of life, but I think never of caregiving. And I think that is such a radical thing for us to start thinking about and what I love about your practice. And so that kind of brings me to I'd love for you to share a couple of minutes of just maybe a sampling so we can get a feel for maybe what we can do right now.

 

Daven Lee

Absolutely. I would love to do that. So the first thing is to make sure you're comfortable with how you're sitting. If you're in a chair, have your feet on the floor, on the floor, on the ground. So you begin to feel that connection to the earth, whatever surface you're sitting on, pull the buttocks out to either side. This is a yoga trick so that you can feel the contact of the bones. So the sit bones are also your contact with the earth. And just in this moment, with the soles of the feet connected to the earth, the sit bones rooting down towards and into the soil of the earth. Just feel how that allows your energy to drop. And the energy dropping, this is literally a downregulating of the happening and just take a breath. I already feel that sigh, which is a release of tension, another sign of the dam regulation of the nervous system. And then we're going to bring our hands to what we call to give a little while back so you can see me. So the left hand is going to be on your belly between the belly button and the pubic crest and the right hand covering. And just relax your shoulders and breathe into your belly and feel. How the inhale expands the belly. And the exhale allows the belly to draw in and you're softening in the belly to allow this freedom of movement. Let's take a few breaths, the bones, the feet are still grounded. And then we're going to gently circle the belly with the hands, so you're going to be moving clockwise up on the right, coming across the belly button down on the left. Across the pubic crest and pubic bone. Just a gentle warming and caressing, softening with the hands. So in Qigong Practice and Daoist. Anatomy. Not the lower dungeon is part of the belly is actually our center. And this is where we want our energy to we want to cultivate our energy, to be strong and to be alive, to be dynamic in the belly, and this is where we want to move from in the world. And the other beautiful thing about lower Dongtan, about the belly that we know from Western medicine, is that this is known as the enteric nervous system. There are. There's an interlacing of nerves in the viscera here. That actually communicate with our mind, it's the belly brain, it's our gut. So this is a source of our intuition. So we want to soften the tension that's here so that our intelligence in the belly is available. And also, this is just very grounding and soothing. And of course, as caregivers, one of the biggest challenges is being depleted, having our energy be depleted. And so this also helps us to coalesce our energy, to reconnect with our energy. To renew our energy. And then you can just set the hands come to stillness. Take another breath. More complete that some of you may even feel warmth in the hands, yeah, you can build a tree, that's your energy.

 

Melissa Smith

Oh my gosh, my hands were almost sweating. I mean, there was so much heat coming off. Now, what's really interesting, the other interesting thing is, and you said

 

Daven Lee

It's good for your digestion, this is also the direction of digestion. That's also good for you.

 

Melissa Smith

All right. You know, I think that's fantastic. I love that you explained about the enteric nervous system. I think so much so much is talked about. About. How stress is bad. There's a lot of negative talk about stress is bad, and also there's, you know, when when you're in the caregiving world, people talk about compassion fatigue and we talk about burnout, caregiver burnout. And those are really big, big things. And also that not all stress is bad. And then when the good stress is working and I mean, maybe you want to explain a little I can talk about the nervous system all day, but right now the nervous system. But I love how you explain the enteric. And I don't know if you want to recap that a little bit in terms of what I was just talking about. How. Right, that the stress actually helps us balance. Balance our nervous system, right, between regulation and deregulation. Do you want to speak to that a little bit?

 

Daven Lee

You know, what I'm tempted to speak to is why what this has to do with the power of the Yin and what the Yin is, which I haven't explained and not everybody may know, and why it's important when you're in a situation that is it is that is potentially taking so much from you. So just to say for a moment that the Yin is often known as the feminine principle versus the young, which is the masculine, but the Yin is the quiet, the internal. It's the it's the intuition. It's the inner knowing. It's the inner quiet place and it's where we go to renew so that we can move into the young and do all the outward things that we need to do. And so if you think about the belly brain, I want to keep referencing my own belly. If you think about the belly brain. This is the Yin and this is the Yang, and this cannot function from here up without a connection to the belly, and when we're exhausted, when we're depleted and we don't take the time to drop in, we end up functioning up here. And it really drains our energy. It's exhausting. And also, we might not make the clearest, best decisions. So when we move into our intuition, our inner knowing, the subtle things that we're picking up that we may not have processed in our minds yet, it's really important to stay in touch with this. I often think about this area as a well of water and which is an element, the yin element. We want our well to be full and you can check-in and see how low is that water level in my. Well, I want it to be full so. And yes. So. The need for good stress, I think that can be confusing for people because what is good stress, I think of it like sports or when you're you're doing something exciting and you need to make a decision or you're on your edge in a creative way, you know, the energy rises and that's a yang moment and that is thrilling and that totally balances out, you know, the deep, meditative, calm, quiet. So that's how I think about those two expressions of the nervous system and how much we need them both.

 

Melissa Smith

Absolutely, I love the visualization of yen being like a wall of water, and I think so much, you know, even though we're talking about the feminine here, I notice that Ron Freckleton, who is one of our caregivers in Calgary during the conversation. So hi, Ron and I, and I remember actually a comment that he made at the last minute calling out Ron and our last love when we were able to be in person. It was a year ago that we were in Calgary and someone encouraged him to come and do the charity event. And I've done it before and did some movement. And I think sometimes there is a little bit of a stigma about quieter practices or if you're especially if you're a go, go, go person or a doer. But maybe that isn't really for you. And I what I'm finding in fact, we're just having a conversation in an in a in another little group on Facebook about. You know, one thing we don't know, first of all, till we try right until we did this quiet movement like the reactions that my body had, I was surprised with, you know, the belt and then the heat, but also like. We don't you know, and maybe that might not be for me, but maybe I can just take that little nugget, write that little piece of that, that knowing the touching and the first thing that you did, which was you had us feel our phones and our phones connected to our feet for deregulation. That is powerful and that is powerful. And so what I where I'm going with this is I think I think it's important to know that whatever your contemplative practices, whatever your own like practices, is powerful. And maybe people watching already have one. And I would be really curious to know what those but those things are. But it's the things that bring us. Right. Like you said, that fill the well that bring us back to ourselves. Are there other things that you do? I'm really curious. You only just do Qigong

 

Daven Lee

Being in nature. Yeah. Real goats future your future. I had goats for years, I don't anymore, although I miss them. But really, you know, can I say something else like another, not just a metaphor, but a reality about how to think about the Yin as a foundation, because there are people who are more expressive and more comfortable being out there and doing. And if we don't tap into our roots at some point, we will get burned out no matter. I mean, I'm a very yang person. I'm very expressive. I love to be in the world. And over time, before I discovered these practices, I started to be exhausted. I started to have that adrenal depletion, which is another aspect of the nervous system. So another image to add to that feeling of the deep well is the roots of a tree. The trees don't grow on the surface. They can't get very high and very far if they're not rooting deep into the earth. So we talked about the water as an element of the yin. The earth is also an element of the yin, if you think about it, is dark, deep, the nutrients, the compost, the even the thickness and the heaviness. That's the anchor that then allows a healthy, fully supported expression in the world. So and I, we all know that we're living in a culture that honors young expression, but a lot of times it's false. It doesn't have a root. It's not grounded. In other words, is another way to think of it. We have to be grounded. Or you could imagine yourself like a mountain. You know, the peak is this expression of the arm. But we have to have this wide base. It's just solid. And that I mean, it makes me feel my belly. That's where the power of the expression I call it manifesting. I love that we're bringing things out into the world comes from. So know your practice doesn't have to look like meditation. And of course, I'm an advocate for listening to that quiet voice. No matter what your personality is like, there is incredible knowledge there. And I think of that and the yin that's really the engine that's behind all expression to me. Everything that happens outwardly, it starts deep inside.

 

Melissa Smith

That's why visualizations of the well and feeling like a root and then another analogy to go along with that or maybe when you're thinking about. And especially in caregiving, so where the tip happens and burnout and compassion fatigue is when we take on the other person's pain. Oh, yeah.

 

 

And then that dampens because the science actually behind compassion and the research that I've been studying is that. Compassion causes us to act, which is exactly what caregivers do, they love that like that's where they that's why they keep caregiving, because there is a sense of fulfillment and that that's also chemical and part of your nervous system and the hormonal system, which is so fascinating. How do we not get burnout? How do we keep going back into. And I think I think the key is, knowing that your roots are your roots. In other words, these things are going to pass these feelings, these whatever, and that you have to go into your own roots and that what you're experiencing, if I'm taking care of you, I don't have to take on your pain or I don't have to take on. Right. But I can be there with you and I can do things for you and with you. But I don't have to, like, wear it like a big heavy coat, you know. And I think these practices, especially what you said, remembering where your roots are, remembering that base of support. Yeah. So alleviate that.

 

Daven Lee

Yeah. That brings up two really important things. I mean, one is that. There's a way which we need to honor the integrity of what the other person is going through by not taking it on an. Like that doesn't actually help somebody, I don't want somebody to suffer the way I am, I want them to see me completely. I want them to witness me to be present. But if they take it on, it's almost like they're co-opting my experience. So we have to take it a step deeper, like compassion is not taking on somebody else's wounds. And if we want to show up for somebody, what is the most healing thing? Somebody who's grounded and healthy and available and spacious. Not somebody who's equally as burdened as we are or who's taking on our stuff, and so and we're also a model of health, we're bringing health into the environment, like that's the gift that we can bring to everything we do, whether we're caregivers or in this moment or not. So it's tricky that idea that to be compassionate means we need to suffer like those we want to be in compassion with, you know, and it's not we think that there is either that or we're unfeeling to the to what's happening. And those are not the only options. So, yeah, and so, you know, you mentioned these practices, I mean, they're just they really are about the caring for yourself and feeling the wholeness, like connecting with who you are more and more fully so that you can embody that and be that presence, because that's what you're that's the gift that you're bringing. That's the compassionate gift that you're offering.

 

Melissa Smith

And not and not easy to to do that, I think. One thing I really appreciate about the practice that you did is that it was short and simple and everyone can. Remember that in terms of just holding your belly feeling, even when you're seated, you can feel the earth from the roots and tree.

 

Daven Lee

Yeah, and this is why we call it a practice, because we have to practice, practice, practice, and the practice never ends, you're never done practicing.

 

Melissa Smith

One of my teachers as well. The reason we practice that are for days like this. So that's why it's so that we can unfold for us sometimes. I'm like No one today, but OK, I'll take it. Is there anything else you'd like to share with us before we go?

 

Daven Lee

Well, the nuggets of wisdom, I don't know, we just hit on some good stuff, I just I think we're all working with the conditioning that to care for ourselves is selfish and takes away from caring for others. And we know more and more. Oh, we have this. Oh, I've been told that caring for myself first is the most important thing. But it really is. And again, it's we're also setting an example. We're being that which we want to see in the world. We're being that which we want to bring to those that we're caring for. And it isn't easy. I don't want to say let's just do this. It is something that I have to come to every day. I am challenged in it every day, just like you said. I don't want to do it today and. Yeah, to start with five minutes and to not you don't have to be an expert, you don't have to be perfect. Don't judge yourself. Just allow yourself that time. It's so powerful. And as you step into that, you might find you want more and more and it becomes it will it can start to become a larger part of your life. But it's not another should it should just you know, it's just a gift to give yourself.

 

Melissa Smith

I feel like you talk to you all there. Well, I was just thinking about that and I think, oh, if someone thinks I should, is that I need to sit in my belly. That's not true, because that's what we were just talking about. There are so many contemplative and, again, like practices that deregulate. And I think I think that's what I've taken away most from our conversation today is, is that we need to have this balance of regulation, deregulation, so that our well is full, so that we can connect back to a part of us that maybe that we're not experiencing all the time.

 

Daven Lee

Yeah. Yeah.

 

Melissa Smith

I'm so excited to have you a part of our we are almost ready to go live. So so the site is complete and by the end of the week we'll be putting it out into the world for people to sign up. It is completely free and you and everyone else are professionals and experts in their field. And everyone every part of this people have donated their time and energy for caregivers. And I could not be more proud to have someone of your caliber and the rest of our presenters. I mean, it's pretty incredible. So super excited to have you a part of that. And it's October 2nd and 3rd and I believe do you remember which day you are? Should have had that already. I think I'm drawing a blank. I'm good for a second. So if folks can't make it, see if you sign up, then you just get on the links and things like, yes, yeah, that'll be fantastic.

 

Daven Lee

And this is the online caregivers retreat.

 

Melissa Smith

Yeah, online caregivers retreat. And as I mentioned, the beginning, daven is a part of the one we already have right now. So whether you're a caregiver or not, you're just needing some wellness. That's on our website right now, which is caregiver wellness retreat dot com. And then this one coming out in October. You're also a part of so really honored that we're going to be featuring a lot of folks from Santa Fe so super excited about that. And I would love for you just to mention your website so people know where to find you.

 

Daven Lee

Yes, it's under my name DavenLee.com D-A-V-E-N-L-E-E.com. You can also find it under ThePowerOfTheYin.com

 

Melissa Smith

Well, we'll put on we're live on Facebook, so we'll put that there. And for the podcast, we'll put it in the show notes as well. Right. It is wonderful to spend time with you. It always is. What I love about you actually is your contagious smile. Do you like the very beginning of covid and your you were driving and I didn't recognize you at all and you stopped your car and wave-like, you know, like and it was like you were the first person I knew that I'd seen since I've been sheltering. I was like, oh, someone I know because I'm just waving at random strangers. Like because I was hungry for contact really. So I'm so good to always see your smile, just to hear that joy in your voice for your practice. So thank you for sharing.

 

Daven Lee

Well, Melissa, I just want to honor this incredible gift that you give to the world with these retreats and practices and the passion you're bringing to that and how much that needs to be supported in the world. So I hope you're getting a lot of support, financial and otherwise, and a lot of it really powerful. Thank you. And we are you know, I feel I do feel really supported in terms of people's time, energy, talents.

 

Melissa Smith

And it's just, you know, how you know you're doing the right thing. Like, yes, I do feel like that's the river. Yeah, of course. Yeah. Yeah. I love it. Well, thank you so much. And I will say is I'm just going to take a quick peek at the comments. No question. Yeah, but Paula King said the visualizations seem very grounding for me, whether meditation, slow or somatic movement, it's all enhanced. And Jackie said, right, thank you. Says offering something which can bring benefits in five minutes is pretty fantastic. So good. Right. Well, thank you for joining us today. And I look forward to just so much more detail. Thank you, Melissa Banks statements by everyone.

Melissa Smith

Thank you for joining us for this podcast. We hope that you'll go back to the archive and listen to some of the great conversations that we've had. OK, we've only had one other since is our second episode, but we know that you'll get Dillion and then also check out some other conversations that will continue to have on our Facebook page, Facebook Live, its Caregiver Wellness Retreats on Facebook. If you do a little Google search for that, it'll pop up. And most importantly, we hope that you will continue to support and spread the word. We have a couple of ways you can do that. You can go on our website and you can click donate. Of course, everything we offer is completely free. There is no catch at all. This is all for the love of caregivers. And of course, if you would like, you can also buy us a cup of coffee. And there's a link there in our bio under our podcast on INCR and all of the other many ways that you probably found this podcast and you click buy us a cup of coffee and donate five bucks. We hope that you will also enjoy our Caregiver Wellness Retreat, October 2nd and 3rd, live or watch it on replay of the Fabulous and the Mindful Day.