As Buddhist and Hindu Yoga lineages take root outside of Asia, their insights into human nature, the causes of suffering, and the paths to joy and liberation are finding fertile soil in sincere seekers and dedicated spiritual practitioners worldwide. As many of us find our personal and collective journeys deeply served by contact with these ancient teachings, we are also finding that the particular conditions of our postmodern lives require care and in many cases real healing if the yogic practices of introspection and embodied inquiry are to bear fruit. The collective traumas of racism, sexism, economic precarity, and environmental crisis affect us all, and despite our various privileges many of us suffer in addition the painful symptoms of attachment rupture, physical and emotional abuse, injury of many kinds, and the stresses of busy, unstable lives.
Organic Intelligence (OI) is an elegant approach to healing and the cultivation of resilience rooted in principles of mindfulness and kindness for ourselves and others. Developed by Steve Hoskinson, OI is rooted in the brilliant trauma resolution work of Dr. Peter Levine known as Somatic Experiencing (SE), the Polyvagal Theory of Dr. Stephen Porges, Buddhist mindfulness practice, and complex Systems Theory. Restoring healthy self-regulation in the nervous system through a gentle, relational process, it is an approach to counseling, a beautiful map for healing and personal growth, and a model for supporting systemic change in organizations and communities.
You can get a sense of OI and explore some free intro videos here.
OI, trauma, Buddhism & Yoga
Central to the Buddhist path is a profound inquiry into suffering (Pāli: dukkha) and its cause: habitual contraction around both pleasant and unpleasant experience. The medicine for this suffering lies in our ability, with training, to remain alert and vibrant through both ease and difficulty. In Buddhist meditation, the practices of Mindfulness (sati), Skillful Attention (yoniso manasikāra), and Loving-Kindness (mettā) depend in large part on the practitioner being able to settle the mind and heart in the present moment, focused on experiences as they arise. Many modern practitioners, however, find even this most basic aspect of meditation very difficult, and may spend years wrestling with anxiety, self-doubt, regret, and overwhelming emotions in meditation. Organic Intelligence, by restoring healthy nervous system function, builds the ability to be relaxed, embodied, and present, deeply supporting meditation and other spiritual practices.
More than just being supportive, OI is also an application of Buddhist and Hindu Yoga teachings around energy, attachment, and the sense of self and other. The process works to restore natural rhythmic oscillation to the nervous system, which expresses itself as both expansion-contraction (energy) and liking-disliking (preference/feeling). As natural oscillation is allowed to return, long-held patterns of fight, flight, and freeze are completed, unbinding the heart from habitual resistance to experience. As resistance melts, experience becomes vibrant, less rigid, more free.
In the Insight Meditation community, my primary Buddhist lineage, there is growing recognition of the value of therapeutic modalities that address the nervous system, and training in trauma resolution is now part of the teacher training programs. My own dedication to this work started with my teacher Jack Kornfield’s suggestion that I study SE, and receiving the work has made a noticeable and very positive difference in both my meditation practice and my overall well-being.
studying OI: Human Empowerment And Resilience Training (HEART)
I have been studying SE and OI with Steve for many years, and have assisted him in the SE professional training program. I’m excited to now help develop and present the OI body of work. In 2016 we started the first Bay Area OI training program, called Human Empowerment And Resilience Training (HEART).
HEART San Francisco began in 2016. As that first cohort progresses beautifully through the training, we are beginning the second Bay Area course this fall, in Berkeley. I will teach the first two years of HEART Berkeley, and participants will study with Steve Hoskinson for the 3rd year, in San Diego.
For info on OI sessions with me, see Individual Sessions.