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Reverend James Encinas
Feb 04, 2021
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Reverend James Encinas
Sep 28, 2020
Hurt people, hurt people - what you don't transform you transmit. content media
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Reverend James Encinas
Sep 21, 2020
In Social Justice
“If you have come here to help me you are wasting your time, but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” ~ Lilla Watson
"If you've come because your liberation is bound up with mine, let's work together."~Lila Watson content media
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Reverend James Encinas
Sep 07, 2020
In Social Justice
When we experience shame, we feel disconnected and desperate for worthiness. Full of shame or the fear of shame, we are more likely to engage in self-destructive behaviors and to attack or shame others. In fact, shame is related to violence, aggression, depression, addiction, eating disorders, and bullying. ~ Brené Brown
Dr. Thaeda Franz addresses the toxicity of shame. content media
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Reverend James Encinas
Aug 31, 2020
In Social Justice
What is your gift? content media
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Reverend James Encinas
Aug 26, 2020
What trauma looks like through the eyes of someone who has lived it.... content media
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Reverend James Encinas
Aug 19, 2020
In Social Justice
"I am reminded of a quote by Randall Robinson that has guided my life, and I am paraphrasing here – “First you gotta’ get in the room. And then once you are there, you must remember why you are there.” Indeed. As hard as it might be to get in that room when, according to white dominant culture, you are not supposed to be in that room – real leaders make it their business to be there, to represent! And socially-conscious change agents – remember their purpose and work to ensure that decisions made in that room promote equity, liberty & justice for all." ~Audrey Jordan
We need to be the change we wish to see.... content media
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Reverend James Encinas
Aug 12, 2020
In Opening the Narrative
My dear friend Kendall Evans lived the later part of her life as an openly transwoman. One of Kendall’s favorite stories was about when she decided to present herself as a woman to the men in domestic violence intervention groups she facilitated. On that day, Kendall put on one of her favorite dresses. It covered the fact she felt apprehensive, anxious, and afraid, yet she generated the courage it took to walk into a room full of men. As she stood before these men, in a sense naked and vulnerable, they rose to their feet and clapped for her. Kendall always told this story while shedding a tear or two—in gratitude. Growing up in a large family, Kendall experienced a tumultuous and traumatic childhood. “I was the oldest of what eventually added up to ten children: five adopted, three step- and a half-sister. My father was physically and emotionally abusive to my mother, my siblings, and me. My mother was distant and controlling. She did not have the skills to acknowledge or meet my emotional needs. I learned that my needs were secondary; I was expected to take care of myself after everyone else was taken care of. I did not learn that I could say, ‘This is too much for me.’ I remember doing a lot of the childcare and housework. I helped raise my sister Janelle and brother Enoch from infancy.” Kendall’s family moved constantly, which created economic chaos and poverty. He moved to 13 different housing situations and 11 schools before she entered ninth grade. Elementary school was not a place of respite from the trauma he experienced at home. “I was the class scapegoat in fifth grade,” he said. “Enduring daily mistreatment from all but one friend; it was hell.” During sixth grade, Kendall had a paper route in the mornings and delivered 100 papers. For three months, the money from his paper route was used to feed the family. After eighth grade, Kendall was sexually assaulted and harassed at the summer camp near Montreal where his father worked. When the police arrived, they did nothing. The camp was run by a con artist. Kendall’s father found out about the scams and had gone into Montreal to expose them. Following this crisis, Kendall’s father was fired and the family spent the rest of the summer “camping” (homeless) on property owned by a church. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) influenced the choices Kendall made in his adult life. “I learned before I had words to bury my needs and feelings very, very deeply into my unconscious, to bury the awareness that I did not want my mother to literally or metaphorically hug me. I learned ‘high walls’ as a way of life.” Kendall spoke of a time in his youth when he felt extraordinary privilege. “I got a full scholarship to an all-boys boarding school and as a result did not live at home, which saved me.” Kendall maintained excellent grades throughout that period and was always second in the class. Being first meant getting teased. As a result of his academic effort, he got into Harvard College on a scholarship. Kendall attended Harvard in 1967 and graduated Cum Laude in 1971. Kendall decided to continue onto graduate school and in 1981, and graduated with a master’s degree in psychology, paid for by grants from the National Institutes of Mental Health. “I was blessed with high intelligence and a good musical voice. Music has been and continues to be a nurturing ongoing hobby.” Married twice, Kendall’s first marriage was to Laurie. He said, “We were madly in love but very co-dependent/enmeshed. I tried to make everything better. Despite Laurie’s extreme anxiety, I tried to make her OK and did half or more of housework and house-care planning. I sewed a dress, and other clothes, for her.” Kendall divorced Laurie in 1978 because Laurie was physically and emotionally abusive. He credits what he studied in school for helping him to come to terms with the fact that he was in an abusive relationship. “Starting to do therapy at school as part of my training forced me to start being aware of how I actually felt, at least on the surface.” A year after his divorce from Laurie was finalized, Kendall met Beth and they married in 1979. By 1981, Kendall had questions. “I joined the L.A. Men’s Collective. That’s when studying gender kicked into high gear for me. I participated in advocacy and social change activities with the organization now known as Peace Over Violence (POV) and volunteered on the Los Angeles Domestic Violence Council. Throughout the 1980s, I helped plan three California men’s gatherings that looked at men in terms of roles and behaviors. I became very critical of stereotyped male socialization and behavior. It was during this time that I began to experiment with less conventional clothing—but not much—because Beth, was disapproving. I was not happy, but I was trying to “make it work” in my marriage by being ‘a man." When Beth and Kendall separated, he questioned his life choices. “I picked wrong twice and wanted to figure out why. It led to questioning my sexual orientation and identity. After several months, I attended a one-year ‘coming-out’ group at the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center (LAGLC). Soon after, I began attending the Transgender Perceptions group at LAGLC. A year later, I started dressing in women’s clothes. Today, after two years of attending a therapy group for male to female transgender people, I now have lived fully as a woman for two-and-a-half years. I feel happy, at one with myself. I feel more whole. Before, I would look in the mirror and see a stranger. Now, I see me.” Having learned to be aware of her feelings, Kendall said, “I had to adopt new patterns, to heal, and survive under altered environmental circumstances. Being emotionally shut down worked growing up; it did not in my adult life. I chose to be a therapist, which required me to become more self-aware.” Kendall said that in the last years of her life, she focused on self-care and accepting limits; such as the fact of only 24 hours in a day. She discovered that she’d had two divorces because she said ‘enough!’ and insisted her needs mattered. “I finally realized that I was only partly alive, and I needed to open up and change if I wanted to thrive. Ironically, I believe that surviving cancer and three other potentially fatal illnesses helped me both value life more and be less afraid of death or disaster. Also, I came to realize that life is harder than death. If you do not give up, you can work through almost anything. I had to take care of myself. I have been increasingly able to ask for help from therapy and support groups, and to be vulnerable in relationships. That change has come with a momentum of its own. Music, reading, and friendships, support my growth.” By studying the Bible, Kendall became an agnostic. She said that she’d always felt connected to other beings: “maybe to everything. Period. That has always been true, even though I have also always felt somewhat separate. Music, helping someone, painting, appreciating a sunset or a cute baby, tasting good food, or similar experiences, keep me connected and alive even when I feel otherwise disconnected and separated from life. Since transitioning to living female, I feel solidly connected even when I am down, but I still feel nurtured by these experiences.” Looking back, Kendall saw that the tools she developed while helping to raise her siblings were instrumental in learning the art of loving. She used these tools in parenting her own child. Kendall was also grateful for the way being in school expanded her talents and gifts and led to her work as a psychotherapist. Kendall shared that she was “particularly pleased at being able to start a Domestic Violence Intervention Program.” Another Way: Stopping Violence and Abuse. Kendall has worked at Another Way Counseling Center since 1987, helping sliding scale fee clients and training interns. In the final years, she spent half her time supervising and teaching trainees and interns. She said, “I feel good about my work and look forward to each day. Truly, helping others, whether siblings or students or clients, has saved my life by giving me the opportunity to connect meaningfully.” Thank you for all you have taught me Kendall. Rest In Peace dear friend.
Kendall Evans: A Transition (August 8th, 2020), A Tribute content media
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Reverend James Encinas
Aug 10, 2020
In Social Justice
"I never liked beer. But I do know beer and other substances work pretty well to numb feelings and deflect vulnerability. Overeating, over-working, and over-exercising can all provide an emotionally-numbing benefit. Asserting dominance is especially effective for deflecting vulnerability. None of those leads to healing. Shaming is tempting. It often feels momentarily empowering for someone who has been victimized to redirect it toward the person who made them feel vulnerable – or alternately, to whoever’s standing close by. Shame inevitably becomes part of the narrative when admired entertainers, executives, members of the clergy, political figures and others are accused of wrongdoing. Supporters counter allegations with endorsements about what “good” people they are, as if goodness somehow immunizes someone from the possibility of doing harm. Shame mistakenly conflates bad character and bad behavior. It demands contempt for an unchangeable, flawed, singular identity, like “murderer,” “rapist”, “liar” or “thief”. For anyone targeted by shaming, whether the accusation is true or false, defensiveness is the natural and maybe the best strategy for preserving a positive sense of self, beyond the bogeyman label. I’ve known shame from both sides: first, blaming myself for being sexually abused; and then by the urge to shift the shame to the trusted person who assaulted me. But in my own healing process, I’ve learned that shame is a dead-end street for everyone involved." Peter Pollard
Changing narratives! content media
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Reverend James Encinas
Aug 03, 2020
In Social Justice
Look forward to the conversation that I hope this series engenders! Please copying paste link in order access the episode. So look forward to receiving your feedback! https://youtu.be/u_n0einrXnY Blessings and love, Rev. James
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Reverend James Encinas
May 29, 2020
In Community Healing
A lonely feather lays down among the daisies for a child like nap
Haiku - by James Encinas  content media
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Reverend James Encinas
May 28, 2020
In Tool Box
As of Wednesday afternoon, May 27th, 2020 the United States has experienced the loss of 100,000 people due to Covid-19. Communities have lost mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings, spouses and even children. Families are shattered, and many of the dying have had to breathe their one last breath alone. Community Grief Ritual: You can do this alone or possibly through one of the virtual sites now available to us through platforms like zoom, FaceTime, Skype...... Sit in a chair or lie down. Be as comfortable as you can be. If you choose you may close your eyes or soften them, allow your body to be supported by mother earth, the more you surrender, the more support you feel. rest your hands on heart or belly, feeling your heart beating, breath moving. We’re all grieving, many grief’s at one time, layered upon each other. The loss of a beloved human or animal who died, separation from people we love and love us. We grieve the loss of freedom, innocence, justice, and sanity. We grieve our individual losses and community losses. Settle into some silence and stillness to sense how our body, mind and spirit are grieving. With compassion, feel how grief manifests in your body. Notice any constriction, fatigue, pain, sensations of emptiness or fullness, warmth, cool, soft, hard, numb. Welcome all emotion & expression (silence, sighs, moans, tears, sobbing, laughter, anger, fear, sadness) As you continue to rest, breath and reflect with compassion, notice any openings, releases or insights. Whatever you are feeling is true and may teach you something. Grief is not pathological, shameful or in need of fixing. We are practicing Honoring and Integrating Grief. Feel free to name your grief in a whisper or aloud or remain silent if you choose.
Community Grief content media
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Reverend James Encinas
May 21, 2020
In Tool Box
This exercise involves systematically tensing and relaxing different muscle groups. This is a good relaxation exercise for those who have trouble concentrating, or experience racing thoughts or other mental distractions. You may leave your eyes open or close them, as you prefer. Experiment with how much you tense your target muscles: some find tensing tightly is most helpful, while others use “threshold tensing,” just tightening enough to barely sense the tension. Start out by taking a few deep breaths into the abdomen. Just notice the breath. Do a simple check-in of your emotional state, your thoughts, and what you are feeling in your body. Just notice what is happening, without judgment or expectation. Make a fist with your right hand, and tense the muscles in your right forearm, allowing the rest of the arm to remain relaxed. Study the sensations of tension. Compare the tensed muscles to the relaxed ones in the opposite arm, and in the rest of the body. When you’re ready, take a deep breath in, and, as you exhale, slowly, gradually release all of the tension, until every last bit has left the tensed muscles. You may imagine it’s like a fire hose that was rigid and becomes more flexible as the water drains out, or a any image that works for you. Repeat this with your left fist and forearm. Raise your right shoulder, pin your right upper arm to the side of your body, and tense the muscles in the right upper arm and shoulder. Study the sensations of tension. Compare the tensed muscles to the relaxed ones in the opposite arm, and in the rest of the body. When you’re ready, take a deep breath in, and, as you exhale, slowly, gradually release all of the tension, until every last bit has left the tensed muscles. Find an image that captures this gradual release of tension for you: the sun melting ice, butter melting, releasing pressure with a valve, et cetera. Repeat this with your left upper arm and shoulder. With your leg extended, bend your right foot up at an angle, so the muscles of your right calf, shin, ankle and foot are tensed. Allow the rest of the leg to remain relaxed. Study the sensations of tension. Compare the tensed muscles to the relaxed ones in the rest of the leg, and in the rest of the body. When you’re ready, take a deep breath in, and, as you exhale, slowly, gradually release all of the tension, until every last bit has left the tensed muscles. You may imagine it’s like a fire hose that was rigid and becomes more flexible as the water drains out. Repeat this with your left foot and lower leg. Tense the muscles in the right buttock and thigh, allowing the remaining muscles in the right leg to remain as relaxed as possible. Study the sensations of tension. Compare the tensed muscles to the relaxed ones in the opposite buttock and thigh, and in the rest of the body. When you’re ready, take a deep breath in, and, as you exhale, slowly, gradually release all of the tension, until every last bit has left the tensed muscles. Repeat this on the left side. Suck in your abdominal muscles, and simultaneously push the small of your back against the chair or floor. Study the sensations of tension. Compare the tensed muscles to the relaxed ones in the rest of your body. When you’re ready, take a deep breath in, and, as you exhale, slowly, gradually release all of the tension, until every last bit has left the tensed muscles. Let your head fall forward, or, alternatively, press your head backward against a wall, to tense the muscles in the back of your neck. Study the sensations of tension. Compare the tensed muscles to the relaxed ones in the rest of your body. When you’re ready, take a deep breath in, and, as you exhale, slowly, gradually release all of the tension, until every last bit has left the tensed muscles. Push your tongue against your upper palette, purse your lips, squint your eyes, tighten your jaw and scrunch up your face. Study the sensations of tension. Compare the tensed muscles to the relaxed ones in the rest of your body. When you’re ready, take a deep breath in, and, as you exhale, slowly, gradually release all of the tension, until every last bit has left the tensed muscles. Take a few slow, deep breaths, and allow yourself to be aware of the sensations throughout your body. If there is any part that remains tense, repeat the exercise there until the tension is gone. Just allow the relaxation to move through your body in waves, allowing yourself to relax more, and more, and more deeply as you continue to take slow, deep breaths. If you like the seashore, you may want to think of gentle waves lapping at the sand, gradually washing away physical, and emotional, and mental tension, smoothing ... soothing ...relaxing. When you are done with the relaxation exercise, allow yourself a few minutes to reorient before getting up. Just enjoy the sensations of relaxation throughout your body. You may notice sensations you have never been aware of before.
Muscle Relaxation content media
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Reverend James Encinas
May 18, 2020
In Tool Box
"I find that if you walk, you start to integrate things. You might walk out with a problem, but as you walk, you come into a solution. You just get a different perspective. Walking is very powerful." Julia Cameron Set aside a half hour for yourself to go for a walk. Head out the door and walk for twenty to thirty minutes. Notice your surroundings. How are you feeling? Notice your body, are you feeling a heaviness or ease in your step today? Let yourself be inspired by what you see and feel. Journaling/writing questions to contemplate when you return: What are some of the things you wish to move toward in your life? When you think about the future, what are some things you would like to have in it? When you were a child, what did you dream about doing with your life? How about now? Write about the times you are not living out your values as fully as you would like? How does your current behavior fit within your values? How does your current behavior support your future goals?
Body of Experience - Initiation Tool: Julia Cameron content media
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Reverend James Encinas
May 15, 2020
In Tool Box
When engaged in the construction of our personal story, we are immersed in the present moment. And it’s these moments “in the now” which become some of the most pivotal building blocks of our individual life stories. When lost in the now, it’s almost as if a higher force has taken control of the pen, and we get to sit back and participate as our life story momentarily takes on a life of its own. The 3 page exercise developed by Julian Cameron shared in yesterdays post can be an effective tool for self-knowledge when practiced consistently, she recommends doing it daily. From my perspective it is a great tool through which you can give yourself permission to experience emotional healing, which can take root and keep growing. As you explore your story here are helpful questions to ponder: Where did you grow up? (describe the places you lived) How did you know your parents or caretakers loved you? Did anyone ever say, “I love you?” How did your parents or caretakers show or express their love to you and to one another. What were qualities you liked about yourself when you were a child? Who were the important people in your life? Did you have experiences of lack? Of need? Of want? Of loss? If so, describe one or all. Did you feel important in your family? Were you fearful as a child?
Your Story - Part 2 content media
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Reverend James Encinas
May 14, 2020
In Tool Box
Story-telling is an important part of self development. To construct a story of our life is to make meaning of it.To compose memory, emotion and internal experience as well as autobiographical facts into a story helps us to become who we are. Story-telling is taught in school very early: in pre-school and kindergarten and children’s stories often become autobiographical quite spontaneously. Children include details of family life without prompting. Begin - an initiation tool created by Julia Cameron author of the Artist Way Take three sheets of paper. Start at the top of page one and for three pages describe how and what you are feeling right now. Begin where you are physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Write about anything and everything that crosses your mind. This is a free form exercise. You cannot do it wrong. Be petty, critical, whining, scared. Be excited, adventures, worried, happy. Be whatever and however you are at this moment. Feel the current of your own thoughts and emotions. Keep your hand moving and simply hang out on the page. When you have finished writing three pages, stop.
Your Story content media
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Reverend James Encinas
May 13, 2020
In Tool Box
Our minds express and influence the reality of what we are and our thoughts can even influence our physical health. We are what we think but we are also far more than what we think consciously. Our thoughts are things. Words, which are crystallized thoughts, have immeasurable power, especially when we speak them with concentration. Affirmations are words that we can use to lift us from the self-enclosure of the mind into the greater reality of superconsciousness. Affirmations when repeated with deep concentration are carried into the subconscious and can change us on levels of the mind over which most of us have little conscious control. There are no hard and fast rules about timing or frequency when it comes to practicing self-affirmations. Affirmations can be repeated up to three to five times daily to reinforce a positive belief. It is also suggested that writing your affirmations down in a journal and practicing them in the mirror is a good method for making them more powerful and effective. A list of affirmations to begin with: I am worthy I am lovable I am smart I matter I am beautiful I am strong I deserve whatever it is I dream of.... I am the architect of my own life... I am a phenomenal woman I am a phenomenal man I am a phenomenal son I am a phenomenal daughter I am phenomenal
Affirmations content media
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Reverend James Encinas
May 11, 2020
In Tool Box
When your body detects a threat, your autonomic nervous system sounds like an alarm telling you something is wrong. The amygdala, an area of the brain involved with emotions, memory, and survival instincts, is activated like a gas pedal hitting the floor. Stress hormones are automatically released, triggering your body’s instinctive reaction to danger. This stress response is one of the ways the body helps mobilize us to cope with survival threats, but it’s only helpful up to a certain point. Common fight, flight, freeze (or appease) "reactionary" coping skills, include: Verbally lashing out in anger, blaming others or something else for how we feel, trying to manipulate others into doing what we think is necessary to keep the peace. Yelling, crying, physically lashing out. This is especially true for children - they're mad and don't have an understanding, let alone words, to understand/explain why so they come out fighting. (Fight)(Flight) Shutting down emotionally when in conflict or facing an angry person. The child/teen learned that not reacting or engaging or confronting an angry person kept them safe. (Freeze) Working hard to please everyone, being hyper aware of how others feel in an attempt to keep things going smoothly. (Appease) Responding in Anger is a coping skill that generally hurts us and often hurts others. If you often use anger as a coping skill here are some journaling questions to explore. In what settings am I the saddest/unsure/afraid? In what settings am I the happiest/eager/most comfortable? If I could change only one thing in my life, what would that be and why? In a typical day, what do I find myself thinking about the most? What do I feel is my greatest accomplishment to date? Was it done alone, or were others involved Presently, what major regret do I have in my life? If it is reparable, what would be required to repair it What do I need to do or be in order not to engrave “if only . . .” on my gravestone?
Fight, flight, freeze (or appease) "reactionary" coping skills: content media
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Reverend James Encinas
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