While the holiday season is a time for rest and relaxation, women who utilize the services at CRP took this meaning to a whole new level. For one week in December, community members were trained on the benefits of acupressure and acupuncture.

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So, what exactly are acupressure and acupuncture and how did they benefit the women in our community? Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine which involves thin needles being inserted into the body at acupuncture points. Acupuncture points are energy points throughout the body. It is believed that there are literally hundreds of acupuncture points on the body. Acupressure, on the other hand, is a joining of the two words acupuncture and pressure. Literally, pressure is applied to acupuncture points either by the hand, elbow, or other various devices. By learning to do acupressure and acupuncture, one can begin to heal oneself from stress, headaches, backaches, insomnia, chronic fatigue, and pain.

Since a majority of the members of our community suffer from trauma, PTSD, and other forms of stress due to fleeing violent conflict and war coupled with added stress from their current situations as refugees, this was a perfect opportunity to utilize professional trainers to gain knowledge of self-help techniques.

At first the women seemed unsure about the new stress release techniques, but once they started performing them on themselves, they became very comfortable and confident in their own abilities to heal themselves. One participant said, “I”m learning acupressure at CRP to help a very dear friend of mine with the anxiety and stress she’s going through. This workshop has such positive energy. I feel calm–it’s like magic. The teacher gives us an incredible warmth through her hands that’s just magical.”

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The trainers also gained a lot of experience and growth from this session. One of the trainers, Crystal Kaplan, said, “My experience teaching biodynamic craniosacral therapy to a small group of Iraqi refugee women at CRP was phenomenal.  The women demonstrated a keen interest and learned incredibly quickly.  We undertook daily meditations, followed by oral instruction and hands-on practice.  Despite their traumatic personal histories and the consequent challenges they face, these women opened themselves up to feeling the subtle rhythms of life in the body — not just physical, but also emotional and mental.  The result was deeply transformative for all of us.  I recognize a vast need for this type of programming for refugees and displaced persons.”

Liana Brooks, another trainer, added, “The women who participated in this workshop were natural healers and it was quite beautiful to see how they responded to both giving and receiving the treatment.  Breathing was slower, the energy in the room felt lighter, and participants reported that they were able to let go of some of the heavy burdens they carry on a daily basis.”

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Now that the women have a solid foundation in acupressure, they will begin to hold weekly sessions for other women at CRP’s Family and Resource Community Center. This is the true meaning of self-help and self-wellness!