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A Year (2021) in Reflection for Healing Circles

I’ve held this metaphor in mind about how to try to find balance in my life: that I’m a table with only so many legs: one for family, one for work, one for myself, and one for community. I need each of these aspects in my life to feel balanced inside. Shakey tables don’t hold up well! 

When our Healing Circles Committee would get more requests from outside groups to conduct Healing Circles or training facilitators, it was an exciting time, but it also forced our committee to reckon with each of our own personal demands and limitations as volunteers. 

Our thoughtful committee members lead us through a retreat. Where we articulated our guiding values: practice with our hearts open, assess for sustainability, embrace equity, and act with integrity. 

Growing up, hard work with little breaks and time off was the mark of resiliency and value in my family, where my father came from a generation of farmers. Self-care was sometimes seen as an alien term that could smack of individualistic needs against the collective. However, it can come with emotional and relational costs. 

Articulating a value of assessing sustainability in each of us made our committee giddy. We could celebrate it when someone said that they couldn’t do a task because we appreciated how much cultural baggage they had to overcome to state their needs. I’ve been incredibly proud to work with such a thoughtful committee and a larger dedicated community of facilitators. 

Self-care did not slow down our work. Among our highlights, our committee provided Healing Circles to nonprofit agency in San Francisco to help their community process a recent sexual harassment incident. A group of facilitators flew to Ft. Bliss to provide Healing Circles to local community groups including undocumented Latinx immigrants and newly released Haitian refugees as well as local organizers. The Healing Circles and the Crane Committee converged, giving origami cranes to participants who brightened upon receiving them. We also provided Healing Circles to survivors and their descendants for the virtual Tule Lake Pilgrimage. 

The work strengthened our commitment to these respective communities, whose painful stories are still held with great care in our hearts. We plan for future Healing Circles and trainings to support these allied organizations. 

At the same time, we also highlighted self-care for our dedicated facilitators. Our committee provided a self-care training followed by a Healing Circles for facilitators to reflect on their work as well. We need circles of support for each part of our team to sustain ourselves in the long-term work of fighting systematic oppression. A team of therapists and somatic practitioners have offered their support and wisdom. 

As a clinical psychologist, I’ve often felt that my training was too individualistic, too Western, and too far from community. In these spaces, I can feel the convergence of my values both as a practitioner and an activist, like many others do. I am excited about another year to help sustain our greater social justice movement. Wishing everyone joy and justice this season!

~ Lisa Nakamura, Psy.D., Tsuru Healing Circle Committee