The Healing Circle

Debra Mulnick, RN Mind-Body Medicine 0 Comments

Boise, Idaho has become a busy resettlement community for refugees from all over the world. To thrive in our country is a significant challenge for these new arrivals. Two colleagues and I designed and implemented a mind-body skills program as part of the International Rescue Committee Life Skills Class for refugee women, with a focus on language acquisition for basic daily activities such as shopping, cooking, and going to the doctor.

At the center of the program are self-care practices that strengthen an individual’s ability to care for themselves, based on the model established by The Center for Mind-Body Medicine. We hoped the shared experience of the women would also contribute to a sense of community support.

Approximately twenty women refugees from Burma, Bhutan, Congo, Burundi, Nepal, Somalia and Iraq attended. Initially there were numerous translators all speaking at once! So we decided to model the practices as the primary method of instruction, while sitting in a circle.

We created a non-verbal sequence that consisted of soft-belly breathing, meditation, gentle yoga movement, self-massage, tapping, shaking, dancing, verbalizing sounds and singing. The one hour program combined seated practices with standing activities, followed by quiet reflection, and was conducted twice weekly for five weeks.

Initially there was very little eye contact among the different group members, and a reluctance to fully engage in practices. Over the course of the sessions, however, we observed participants smiling, laughing and making eye contact within and among the different ethnic groups. Additionally, individuals became more comfortable with the practices, laughing and smiling while dancing and doing yoga.

The transformation amazed IRC staff. A visitor from the Idaho Office of Refugees was blown away at the joy and energy that everyone demonstrated. A colleague commented, “This program is working miracles!”

As facilitators, we all felt our moods and spirits lift over the course of each session. This
was truly one of the most rewarding professional experiences I’ve had.

About the Author

Debra Mulnick, RN

Debra Mulnick, RN is a holistic nurse and yoga therapist who has been exploring yoga, self-care and complementary medicine for nearly 30 years. She started the first Integrative Medicine Program in Boise, ID in 1998. She is a founder and board member of The Cancer Connection Idaho.

Related Posts

Gratitude and Wellbeing Gratitude defies easy classification. It can serve as an emotion, a moral virtue and even a coping response. It is the overwhelming feeling of appreci...
Art Therapy – A Tool For Healing The act of creating and making art is a unique phenomenon amongst human species. We use this skill to recreate the world we perceive externally and in...
5 Ways of Coping with Stressors We all know that stress is a part of life, with perceived challenges or threats, both real and imaginary, creating stress. However, we have control in...
Spreading CMBM’s work through scholarships "We are committed to sharing our program of self-care and group support with everyone who wants and needs it. For 25 years, we have been offering scho...