Dear Global Somatic Experiencing Community,
With everything happening in the world right now, I am always looking for moments and areas of connection and positivity as a way to pendulate. Last month, that occurred at the SEI board meeting. Nearly the entire board and all of SEI’s Director Team met together in Boulder, Colorado, March 25-27. My first thought was just how much we have grown and how much more connected we are to the staff and the community.
When I joined the board less than four years ago, SEI was a different organization (and not only because we had a different name). It was half the size and was focused almost exclusively on the three-year training program. This meeting had almost 20 people in-person and one on Zoom, and others who switched to Zoom because hybrid meetings work now! We had some wonderful conversations about what SEI can do as an organization as we grow, and how it can support SE professionals and SE to benefit more people in the world. One example, as I mentioned last month, the SE Ukraine Task Force, which is a collaboration between SEI and the European Association of Somatic Experiencing, is working hard to help the helpers who are supporting Ukrainian refugees. The SE Ukraine Task Force is a huge step and a great example of what is possible. We spent our weekend, therefore, thinking about how to keep being a better support to the larger community and how to get the word out about SE.
New to this meeting were our two newest directors – our Director of Strategic Communications, Sarah McAfee, and our Director of Business Development and Fundraising, Paul Beverly. They both bring incredible heart and depth to their roles and are setting SEI up to spread SE further into the world. They are both quickly learning about SE, our language, and our community. Both have helped me, and I know others, speak about SE in new ways, ways that engage people who have never heard about SE before!
Beyond helping all of us individually, good messaging and good fundraising can help us all do more good in the world. The big questions we have are: how do we message SE as something that can benefit anyone? How do we make SE trainings accessible to more people to become practitioners? How do we make SE more accessible to folks who can benefit as clients? It all begins with getting the word out and having the financial means to do it. What does it look like to get the word out and to increase fundraising? We did not answer these questions at the board meeting. First, these questions cannot be answered in a weekend, and second, a small group of people is not who should be answering them. Instead, we thought about how to ask the questions that impact everyone and where we can get more input from the community with answers.
As a board, we are fiduciaries to the organization. We must look at the big picture and think about how that big picture impacts everyone in the community, including students, assistants, faculty, staff, our international partners, and the public. In order to make visionary decisions about the organization, we have to ask big questions. We must ensure we are asking enough people, and a diverse group of people, to help guide our decision-making. Those two days together generated a lot of thoughtful conversation and helped the team coalesce even more. This organization is set to take big steps and to support SE professionals and the public with more education and trauma support than ever before. And we are going to be reaching out to the community for ideas!
Finally, what I have found most incredible over the past four years watching us grow is how we are learning every day to integrate more SE into everything we do. This time we very consciously took very short (one minute or so), slightly longer (five minutes), and even longer breaks. Sometimes the breaks were opportunities to leave the room, and sometimes they were a chance to do a very short SE practice. We started on Friday with a check-in asking everyone what was important to them procedurally during the weekend, and we stuck to it. We collaboratively created a container that held us through our meeting. We started each day with SE and navigated long conversations through titration and pendulation. I am a firm believer that SE can guide us through so much in life and that it gives us the tools to hold bigger and bigger containers. As an organization, we have had some bumpy roads, but this past meeting brought us together in true SE fashion, and we all left invigorated about the future. There are really big things happening in the world, and SE can offer support for so much of what is happening. Our goal as an organization is to make SEI a place that emulates SE and makes it more accessible to everyone.
As always, you can reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.