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Move With Deb the Podcast

May 14, 2021

You ever have that friend/colleague you love to talk shop with?
That's me and @larissa_parson

She's a pelvic floor movement coach/teacher who in her words "I help you restore your core, without the shame, oppression, and misogyny that turns women's bodies into a problem." In this video we discuss her own insights as a movement teacher as well as a person with a body that has reoccurring pain.

We discuss the impacts of language on the nervous system and why the format of the program was perfect for her as a mom of two 10 year olds with no childcare while running a full-time business. I love that she's able to take the work that we created back to her clients and help them quickly shift into curiosity and neural pathway repatterning.

Curious how this work can benefit you? - click this link above in my profile and book at 45 minute consultation.


Welcome to Move With Deb. I'm Deb your friendly neuroplastician. And this is a podcast that explores the relationship between the body and the mind from a health at every size, judgment, free perspective. I teach you how developing a new internal conversation based on curiosity, self friendship and simple neuro-plasticity techniques can rewire your bodymind out of pain and emotional overwhelm to help you build the rich full life that you want to live. Disclaimer, this is not a replacement for medical care.

[00:00:50] Deb: Welcome to Move With Deb the podcast. This is episode number 14.  I'm hanging out and chatting with my movement pal Larissa. It's that kind of behind the scenes we're talking shop experience on this podcast, you can see the interview that we did together on YouTube. There's a way in which we just get each other. A lot of overlapping parts of our individual Venn diagrams. And it's been really fun, to teach her what I know and learn together this kind of embodiment work so we can help our clients feel better in their bodies, whatever bodies they have. I hope you enjoy. 

[00:01:40] Larissa: My name's Larissa Parson. I'm a movement teacher specializing in core and pelvic floor health. And, um, let's see, I live in North Carolina. I like to hula hoop. Now. I like to paddle board. These are all things that are relatively new to my body this year or last year. Um, and I am on a mission to bring more joy and justice into the world by helping people connect to their bodies. 

[00:02:06]Deb: I love that. Yay. Um, so what inspired you, like, why did you sign up for this chronic pain program? 

[00:02:15]Larissa: I was really, um, taken by the combination of curiosity and joy in the way that you approach it. When a lot of. You know, like as a movement teacher, I read a lot of stuff and I study a lot of stuff and I'm really, you know, following lots of people.

[00:02:32] And I follow some people who talk about pain science, and it's always come across as this very kind of like heady, often lots of white men talking about this stuff in a very jargony way. And I just don't groove with that. Like, that's just not my thing. And so when I heard you talking about it, I was like, oh, now I can understand this in a way that really appeals to me.

[00:02:59] And like, I can see how this would be really useful. Not only in dealing with my own body and its sensations of occasional pain and some and chronic reinjury. Um, And I can see how this would be the way that you present it and the way that you model exploring it is how I've like. I have a lot of clients, you have pain that people come to me as a movement teacher because I can help them.

[00:03:28] Here's some exercises that might help your body feel better, but it's really hard to get to feel better if we're still blocked by chronic pain or emotional discomfort, that's restricting how we feel embodied. So that's why I wanted to take this. 

[00:03:44]Deb: You are also not just being a teacher. You are also a person with a body and a movement practice. So on a personal level, tell me a little bit about what the experience has been like for you in terms of even just, right, like you're not just learning it to teach other people, that you've learned things that you've experienced yourself. Cause it's an experiential program. It's even though there's a psychoeducation component of it, which is very important because we cannot understand pain and a new possibility of it without these ideas.

[00:04:25] Larissa: Right. 

[00:04:26]Deb: But then there's the feeling it in your body part. So tell me about that part for you. 

[00:04:33] Larissa: So when we started working together, and when I started working through the course material, I was at about a year and nine months out from a pretty intense knee injury, um, for which I did, you know, six months of physical therapy and kept working on my own and did a whole bunch of other exercise programs.

[00:04:53] And I was finding that I periodically would have a flare up of the pain and the symptoms, in my knee. I had a story about my knee, which was, if I do this, then it hurts. Or sometimes I accidentally do this and then it hurts. And, um while I  was working through the course material. I discovered that in my own movement practice, I was able to do movements that I had been avoiding and that I had been afraid of. And that I had been just feeling really hesitant about and modifying and just like not, not really wanting to try them because I was afraid of pain basically. Um, and I've found that, you know, this, this, whatever it is, the thing that comes up with my knee, not really chronic, but kind of recurring occasional pain in my knees.

[00:05:45] Um, even when I've had little moments where it flares up since we started the course. I can get back to doing the movements, I want to do the same day as opposed to two days later or the next day or whatever. Even if the pain is very intense in the moment I just sit with it. I notice it, there it is. I tune into the sensation, maybe do like a little gentle somatic tracking with it. And then I asked myself later, do I want to exercise? How does that feel? And then sometimes it feels really, really good. And that's really been a tremendous gift, um, to my body. And then there have also been a couple other places where I've had more kind of chronic ongoing discomfort where, um, practicing again, probably somatic tracking, but practicing, just reading and thinking and learning all of this stuff has made a difference in my experience of those areas of discomfort has made a difference in instead of thinking, oh, I need to go do this, this, this, and this, because I can jump right into a list of things I can do to make it stop or make it change because that's what I do. Um, yeah. Being able to, to stop trying to fix it all the time and just notice it, has been a tremendous gift in terms of feeling more at home in my body, even than I was before. 

[00:07:03] Deb: What's your experience like going through this material? 

[00:07:08] Larissa: I found the material to be really easy to manage. And that's saying a lot, considering that I'm, you know, running my own business, seeing clients parenting two now ten-year-olds in a pandemic with no childcare. Uh, getting through online courses is always really, really hard for me, especially when there isn't a whole lot of, especially if there is not a whole lot of like actual interaction. And that's one of the things that I really love about this course was that it wasn't just go do this stuff on your own and read this stuff and listen to this stuff and do these videos.

[00:07:41] But it was really like go to just this stuff and then let's talk it through so that we really, you really have a deeper understanding of the material. And I found that the material was broken up into such nice small chunks that I could put on my headset and listen to a little while I was cooking dinner or take 10 minutes and sit down and do an exercise or, um, folding laundry I went through a lot of the material while holding laundry, because it was like I could still watch and listen and kind of be present to the moment, um, while also getting household tasks done. And I find that a lot of online courses don't necessarily necessarily allow for that, including some of the ones that we've taken where, you know, like I don't necessarily have an hour to block out to do an exercise video right now in these conditions. So I really appreciated the way things were broken up. 

[00:08:33] Deb: What I think is funny is that even when I created this course, I thought that I would be doing more movement with people and. I haven't been. Occasionally I'll get on the floor. I'll teach somebody a few things with like a foam roller, just kind of about kind of like helping them shift or create some opening in terms of like being able to attend to the sensations in their bodies. But I honestly thought that I would be doing a lot more movement teaching and  that's not where this program is at this moment. And it may evolve into like having this other piece. So, um, I think why I mentioned that is I think it's so interesting that we can affect such, um, drastic physical change without applying like a physical technique.

[00:09:31]Larissa: Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, I don't think we did have we done a single physical thing together? I think mostly I just get on and then cry. It's  totally a physical thing. Totally feeling the feelings in my body. Yeah. Like that's what I feel like that has been one of the most surprising things is just like really having the way that you create, a sense of safety for me to feel all of the feelings that are coming up as I'm experiencing them and talking about them and talking about this embodied experience or talking about even just like, I can't believe that I did that thing and it didn't hurt, you know, like all of those things.

[00:10:16] Um, it's, it's been really phenomenal to have space held in that way and to have, um, your thoughtful support and really gentle, but also very clear guidance. Like when you're telling a story, Deb's going to call you out on that. Right. And like, the kindest possible way. And I love that. I love that. Like, you're so good at taking, listening to what someone has to say and then seeing where we're still like falling into the pattern that we are really familiar with. When we're shaking up the pattern, we're trying to like make a shift in the way that we're going to talk about our body and make a shift in the way that we're going to talk about this experience of being human in a body with feelings and stuff. Um, and you do that in such a kind way that also really sticks. Like it, it just gives me a lot to think about between sessions as well. 

[00:11:20]Deb: And I want to bring it back, especially with you too, that this is biology, creating safety with our emotions, changes our physical experience, of , and like interpretation of what is really at like a neutral nociceptive input and, you know, nociception just means kind of like changes in pressure, temperature and, and chemicals. Right? This is why talking ,this is why the coaching part is important, right. Because we learn  through dialogue. Right. Um, why the biology of the nervous system. And I think like everything people are learning about polyvagal theory, like, you know, we have all these aha moments is that the nervous system is not psychology, right?

[00:12:13] Like there's this weird disconnect in this country. And maybe, I don't know, wherever places where mental health and physical health are like seen as separate things. But they're not. And that sensations and thoughts and feelings, all interplay with the nervous system, the nervous system is the body. Right? And, and, and so in the first week I show like how, you know, our autonomic nervous system connects to all the organs in the, you know, and it's in this like cute little, two minute animated video, because we don't actually have to become neurobiologists to understand how this works. And then I lead people through the experience of it because it's one thing to understand it intellectually. But then if you are still just having, like having sensations and reacting to them, that's the part that we get to do one-on-one.

[00:13:14]Larissa:  Uh, from a professional perspective, really like, oh, this is what my magic is in my work. Like, let's take that. Let's take all of that and make space for your human experience and your emotional experience in your body. In addition to just like your, your muscles, like they aren't separate. I mean, that's the thing, right? Like that the physical experience and the human emotional experience, they're not separate. That's what you just said, but, but like, it was really powerful to think and feel it in my body, like, oh, having a session with you talking about something complicated and mind mindblowing, feeling how that the effect of working on this in my own body has been amazing. And noticing also that this is something that works really, that like, this is why people come to work with me is because that's something that I also like to do and play with.  

[00:14:19] Deb: This is why this is your, your, the one driving your program, right? Yeah. I'm not here telling you what you're supposed to get out of it. 

[00:14:32] Larissa: And that's really amazing. I think that a lot of the time we, we jump into some sort of online course and we're like, I am going to learn this, this, and this here are the learning objectives. And they're laid out for me and this is what I'm going to get out of it. And this is what, um, this is how it happens and it's very linear and it's very top down. And this feels like, wow, here's a whole bunch of interesting information broken down into digestible bites. It's like a, it's like you're at the sushi bar and the boats are coming around and you're like, I want some of that. And I got a little bit of this. Oh, I get a little of this too. Oh, that's really interesting. Oh, my mind is blown by how delicious that is. That is some wasabi in there. You know, you have this whole little smorgasbord and then you're like, uh, you're like the sushi chef is like, what makes, what else might be interesting for you? Not for that person over there, but for you as a, as an individual human. And that is. It's amazing. 

[00:15:30]Deb: So you probably also hear from your clients what their medical providers have told them about what is happening on the inside of their body. So I just want to get your take because in my program I talk about like the nocebo of language, right. I talk about, and we do a lot of playing with language, um, because. What we're trying to do is get a different belief like into the body about what's happening. So maybe share with me either stuff that you're going to take to your work from this, or just what you've noticed with your clients in terms of what they bring into the room.

[00:16:15]Larissa: There's a wide range of experiences that come into the room, um, from people whose pain has been disregarded by their medical providers, because they're told things like if you just lose weight, you will feel better. Um, they're told, or there are times when they feel like they haven't had, they feel pretty good in some ways, but there's something that's always kind of nagging. I get a lot of always, I always have this weird thing in my hip or whatever. Um, And sometimes they see in medical providers about it, or sometimes they've done physical therapy about something and they just haven't quite been able to complete whatever it is or they've done it and they still don't feel good.

[00:16:59] Um, and what I see a lot of and hear from my clients and that I think has gotten even better and more clear while I've taken this course with you is that people just want to be heard and listened to and like, and validated. And when we start validating the experience of being in your body, your body starts to actually feel better. It's not like I have a magic potion I'm pouring through the zoom screen, but every time that I've played around with something like somatic tracking, I had a client the other day, we did some tracking and she was like, I don't feel anything, you know, where she was used to scanning for pain. And then I was like, well, scan for not pain. And let's like, so changing my language and like looking for things like let's scan for not pain, let's look for sensation. Let's change. Like, so that's some of the stuff that's come in, you know, more recently is like, I've always talked about sensation, but to really kind of refine how we talk about those experiences. And those sensations has been amazing because people are able to say I'm not feeling that thing, that is always, a thing. 

[00:18:20] Deb: I love what you just said, which was asking them to, to scan for no pain, right. 

[00:18:26] Larissa: Or not. Okay. We said, I wrote down, not pain, but yeah. Like what are we, what are we looking for when we're looking at everybody? We're, we're thinking about our bodies, what are we looking for? Why are we right. This isn't that week one where we talk about just kind of always looking for danger signs. Right. And what if we just didn't and we looked for the not danger signs and then took that into our scanning, our bodies. It's like, it's such a fun tool.

[00:18:51] It's such a fun tool to say, you know, or not even the tool. It's just like, it's like, it feels like a toy, right? It's not a tool. It's more like, oh, that's interesting. But that one hip feels more of this or that. And the other one, how does the other one feel? What does it feel like when the other one is doing stuff and. And then like, can you see if you can feel that on the other side too, is really an interesting place to play with how our mind body is working. 

[00:19:20] Deb: One of the things that you just said was so important, fearing pain that is very, uh, normal. Right. It makes a lot of sense to always be on alert for like, cause we don't want to be in more pain where we're trying to manage the pain that we're having. Right. And like the pain is  really felt is a felt experience in your body. It's not made up. The experience of scanning is what trains our brain to pay attention to what it's supposed to pay attention to and make that very important. 

[00:19:54] Larissa: Yeah. 

[00:19:55]Deb: And it's so interesting and still mind blowing to me that that is what  turns the volume up or down in terms of our pain experience. How has that been in terms of integration for you in terms of your commitment to the tools that you use to help people and your like, relationship to, to your work and kind of integrating this. 

[00:20:22] Larissa: I think it's still evolving right now, but I feel like a lot, a lot of my movement sessions have gotten more talky. I've gotten much more talky. There's a lot more there. You know, there's a lot more pep talk for the nervous system, right. In my movement sessions now, um, a lot of my homework now has been more like, uh, go write about what it might feel like if this pain wasn't happening. You know, it's been kind of more like let's, let's like play with some of these ideas a little bit, um, do some somatic tracking that kind of thing.

[00:20:58] Um, at the same time as like, if I am trying to help their core  muscles get stronger and more coordinated then they still have exercises that are going to reinforce the new pattern that we want to establish. So doing the nervous system brain work. Is part of helping reestablish a new pat or establish a new pattern. And it's part of just breaking down the other patterns that we don't necessarily want, or that we want available to us, but we want to have more options. And I'm really trying to, I've been working on my language around this a lot in the last couple of years, really, that, that what I'm teaching people is here are some different ways you can move so that your body has more options for everything.

[00:21:45] Um, and that. Combined with let's take a minute and do some scanning for not pain, let's do this, let's try this really. I think gives people this a felt sense of, I, for some reason, the phrase somatic safety is coming to mind, but like they were giving their nervous system a chance to say that these exercises are okay for you to try. These are okay for you to play with it's. Okay. Like that, that sense that your body is safe and that your mind understands that it's safe. So it's like, none of these words are adequate. I'm just gonna say, so  this felt sense of safety gives people the freedom to play with trying different patterns on for size. And then those patterns we reinforce the ones that seem to be creating more possibilities for movement and play and joy and doing the things you want to do in your body. And so having more toys to play with gives us, like makes it easier to get there.

[00:22:57]Deb: How do we create safety for our clients who are impacted by multiple, um, experiences in the world that are unsafe for them? 

[00:23:09] Larissa: Um, I think that, uh, validation, consent, checking in. Um, and then there's another thing that was popping into my head. Oh, right. Like. I can't give anybody agency, but I can affirm their agency. And, and that's important too that, right? Like, how does this work for you? It, how does it feel like that kind of, you're in charge of your own experience of being in your body? I can give you all of the things I know, but ultimately you're in charge of that experience and you're in charge of what we do together. Like it's not, it's not a, um, I think a lot of systems or a lot, not systems, a lot of people, uh, want to come across as more authoritative, like here's how, the only way you can do this, this is how you fix this. This is the solution to the problem, right? This is, this is how we do this and making a space safe for people, it means you have to like, let go of a little bit of that and be, or actually a whole lot of that. Like most of it, you have to be open to like adjusting your approach and that's fine. Um, and the idea, I feel like there's also the idea that for the idea of nociception as this kind of, that, um, perception of sensation as opposed to like, uh, a nocebo right. Like that, that was, that was interesting because I feel like, um, getting that language more clear was really useful. I don't know that that's kind of ramble, like in my head, it makes sense. 

[00:24:50]Deb: And what it means for one person to be in pain, is a different experience for somebody else to be in pain, the access to resources, the support systems that they have, the communities that they live in. You know, even if you can take off time from work, like all of these things that, you know, go into the experience of pain and, and nociception as a pain signal from the body, doesn't leave any room for those other elements that go into the interpretation of sensations. 

[00:25:31]Larissa:  Yeah, the, yeah. And the, I mean, I think, especially when you say the bio-psycho-social aspects of it, the cultural conditioning that we have vis-a-vis pain and how we're supposed to uh, react to it, the ways that we're supposed to seek help for it, the ways that we're or not the way that we know we won't get help. If we do seek help for it, the way that we will get labeled, if we go to different places for help, you know, like all of those things, um, affect the way that we interpret that signal and, and we do it so fast, you know?

[00:26:04]Deb: I was like, oh, here I am also a person in a larger body who has pain. I have all of my stories about being in pain, besides the physical experience of being in pain and all the stories I have about then being an educator and a helper and a teacher being in pain and all of these things, which then led me to this work, and then I was like what?!? And then, you know, to, to me radically changing my knee pain overnight because I learned a new idea. Didn't make any sense to the like bodyworker issues in the tissues person and all of that bio mechanics training and all of that work. And it unearthed, a lot of thoughts I had about myself. And, you know, they're not like awesome thoughts I had about myself. 

[00:27:04] Larissa: I would say that is also true of my experience working through this material with you. And I don't think you would disagree. 

[00:27:11] Deb: So it's taken me kind of a long time, but also, so then doing this process of like noticing, right, because a lot of this is about making room, separating the reaction from the awareness. 

[00:27:28] Larissa: Yes. 

[00:27:29] Deb: And becoming aware of our reactions, like seeing this somatic experience, like feeling this somatic experience of reacting to these thoughts that flow by our brains. Um, That we also just think of ours as like mental health or something else or trauma or that stupid shit that my mother said to me 30 years ago, that's like still lodged somewhere in my head. It all comes together. And so yeah, this piece about me, like I'm maybe yes, I am vulnerable on the internet on purpose. And also when I see that I want to hide now, my curiosity is like turned on and it's like, I don't see that impulse as shameful and you know, and that's what I love because I'm, I'm literally, that is neural reprocessing. I am rewriting my habitual patterns to now have curiosity instead of shame. 

[00:28:47] Larissa: Yeah. Oh my God. Can we just replace shame with curiosity everywhere? Like, wouldn't that I just, I'm just sitting here thinking about pelvic floors for one, but, you know, because that's my thing, but can we just replace so much shame with curiosity, like on so many levels and so many different contexts, I would so much rather be curious than feel shame. I would so much, like it's just so much more, it leads to a more joyful embodied experience. It leads to, and it, but it's also, you know, it's, um, our culture is, is wired towards shame. And so for us to make a better culture, we have to rewire it from ourselves. 

[00:29:35] Deb: And I often now talk about peace instead of safety. 

[00:29:38] Larissa: I like that.

[00:29:41]Deb: I don't know why, but that seems to be working for me as a word. Um, because peace, if I think about like, my nervous system, I want to calm it's like reactivity, right. To anything that it perceives as negative. Um, even if it's that I have felt shame or that I, whatever it is then. Yeah. Like the awareness, like being peace in the awareness. Right. Cause sometimes as we're going, like if you're going through a growth process, sometime it makes a lot of sense to be rejecting of what you're trying to grow away from. 

[00:30:26]Larissa:  Yeah. Right. Yeah. Yeah. 

[00:30:28]Deb: And I think this is that next level of me, like making it a more peaceful embodied experience of growth, which then changes our pain experience.

[00:30:40] Larissa: Yes, I'm more peaceful. So I just listening to you riff on peace and safety, I keep thinking the thing that is tricky about safety is that we associate safety with danger and in opposition to danger. And there's absolutely danger in life. There's absolutely danger and being in a body that society marginalizes right. In many, in many myriad ways we can all be marginalized. But, um, but if we look at our, like you were saying, if we look at it as finding peace with the process of experiencing things, um, that feels really good when I hear that. It makes me feel, or I feel like peace and curiosity go hand in hand for me. But I, but curiosity for me is a very peaceful thing. It's not like a, it's not like, you know, dig it, you know, it's not like that. It's, it's not a tunneling kind of curiosity. It's kind of like a cool, that's curious, but not that might not be everybody, you know. 

[00:31:46] Deb: I think I needed to add in peace because my, I can get very obsessive. And I find learning, very pleasurable, but then I want like, I want to immerse myself and then it, it has its own intensity quality, like obsessive quality that I finally noticed is kind of also a part of my, like, um, Like self rejection story in some way. That's kind of why I always have people check in with language in their own body because my language doesn't necessarily resonate. Like some people love the word surrender. I, I really do not doesn't work for me. And maybe at some point it will, but I like to. You know, talk about like inviting and welcoming. 

[00:32:34] Larissa: Love and invitation. Yes. 

[00:32:36]Deb:  But I think that somebody can claim that that word surrender would kind of have the same meaning. And I'm just like, yeah, I though the idea of surrender makes me want to be like, fuck you like immediately rebellious. 

[00:32:52] Larissa: So I actually find for like, listening to you talking about peace, I'm like, cool. I love peace, but listening to other people talk about peace. I'm like, fuck you. So it just depends on the context and, and what's the intention and what's going on. I mean, I think that's, that's the cool thing about having a lot of people learn this stuff and start to bring it into the world is that we're all going to say it in our own ways. And some of it's going to resonate and some of it's not going to resonate. And as long as we're sharing this biological information like we are, as we are sharing this way of playing with being embodied, um, and feeling the feelings, then some of our words are gonna hit home for the right people in the right way. And it's going to blow their minds and change their worlds. And for some people. Maybe somebody else's words are going to do that. That's fine. 

[00:33:44]Deb: I think that's a great place to leave it. I think you're awesome. Thank you so much for doing this with me. I really, really appreciate that. 

[00:33:51] Larissa: I think you are awesome. I'm so grateful to be doing this with you and I'm like, I want all of my learning experiences to be like this. So,

[00:34:07]Deb:  I don't know. I think it comes from really being , like unable to learn in a lot of environments, not unable, but like having a lot of difficulty. I have a lot of difficulty in a lot of environments. 

[00:34:21]Larissa: Yeah. 

[00:34:21] Deb: Um, I'm not a good classroom student, even though I got a master's degree, like whatever. So, but there's a way I think this is, this is that whole part of it is like I've stopped trying to be somebody else. 

[00:34:36] Larissa: Yeah, yeah, yeah. 

[00:34:38] Deb: Then all of a sudden I'm like, oh wait, the way that I'm sharing this really helping people, that's awesome. Looking into the future thinking I have something that I want to share and I kept thinking I needed to be somebody else, do something else, know more things, know how to be a teacher, know all these things.  There's so much suffering wrapped up in that for me, that I literally would just like. I could feel it in my body. And then like, that was a lot of my anxiety experiences were also, um, my like embodied anxiety and experiences were very intense because of that. And then I was like, what if I just do it the way I'm going to do it and then that is good enough? 

[00:35:27] Larissa: Yeah. 

[00:35:27] Deb: That permission that I gave myself changed my entire embodied experience. And that's kind of where now that's kind of what informs everything. I was like, I, I went through the work of being the program and then making it, in the way that was going to work for me. And there may be people who would be like, I mean, there's also, I'm not the only person teaching this. Like I come from a lineage. And, um, you know, there's a lot of different people who are getting to share it. So I'm excited to now feel like, oh, I have given, I have not only had permission from them, but I'm giving myself permission to then just kind of work in the way that I work. 

[00:36:13]Larissa:  I feel like, yeah, it's wonderful. I feel like giving yourself permission is a lot of the heart of some of this. Also you have permission to feel. You have permission to move, you have permission to exist. You have permission to want to change things. And a lot of the time we don't give ourselves that permission. You have permission to share what you know.