Hello. My name is erin christine bell.
I have worked in many countries and cultures. I currently live in Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes’ land (near Flathead lake in MT, USA). My earliest training was a decade in natural horsemanship. I worked as an artist in performance for over a decade. I studied at ISLO’s Education in Dance and Somatics in Finland. I’m certified in somatic sexuality work. I’ve worked with many styles of practice. Along with my embodied and creative work, I regularly read science studies dealing with neuroscience, behavior and cognition, and I am on a path towards a Biology degree.
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My strongest, earliest influence comes from working with horses. I was able to ride, free of any bridle, rope or restraint; the communication between my horse and I was such that he would gallop, stop, or do fancy ‘footwork’ on request, all through the subtlest of communication. I developed a particular and keen awareness of non-verbal communication. Most importantly, as opposed to ‘breaking,’ forcing one creature’s desire upon another, I learned to find calmness before delving into further conversation.
Along with learning from horses in this way, I also taught youth and adults to work with horses. Teaching in this experiential learning setting fostered my ability to teach others how to listen and communicate in nonverbal ways.
My degree in Cultural Anthropology worked as a doorway through which I entered a world of art making. In my mid-twenties I began independently studying music, learning to compose and play in brass bands under the guidance of my expert friends. I began to paint, make puppetry and work in theater. Through theater, particularly my time working with Bread and Puppet Theater, I fell deeply in love with movement and dance. This love, combined with a longstanding interest in healing work, led me to ISLO’s Education in Dance and Somatics, in Finland.
I come from a family which struggles with many mental health difficulties including depression, addiction, anorexia, schizophrenia, alcoholism, compulsive eating/shopping, childhood sexual abuse, and other difficulties which evade DSM diagnosis. Through this, I have had experience as a patient, and as a first line of support, within the structure of psychiatry and psychotherapy.
As well, I’m neuro-atypical, recently diagnosed autistic. I am not a huge fan of diagnostic categories, though I find them a bit helpful at times. When I work with people I continually try to find, with them, how much and which sorts of practices fit them, exactly where they are at; how I work and relate with others is informed by these aspects of myself.
In terms of what support/therapy styles have helped me, I find that the being-ness or the vibe of a practitioner/therapist/teacher is far more important than what modality they offer. That is – whether body based practices, talk therapy styles, or any other type of teacher/healer – the presence, life experience, world view, compassion, and whether or not I feel ‘seen’ by a practitioner – all of this feels more impacting than whatever particular style they might offer.
I have found the greatest support – the most useful tools for my daily life – via body-based and/or awareness practices, as well as via studying about biology behavior and cognition sciences (learning more about how all the parts of me/my body are in relationship, and in relation to my environment, others around me.) These have been some of the greatest sources of my healing and continual learning – that is why they are the tools I offer.
I grew up in now called San Juan Capistrano, California. My ancestors are mostly a mix of Gaelic Irish, Anglo, with some Flemish, and a wide variety of other white-skinned colonizer-settlers. Most of my ancestors arrived to Turtle Island (USA) about four generations ago.
I predominately identify as a ciswoman but dont feel strongly tied to gender. I don’t mind what pronouns you use in relation to me – so long as your words are not rooted in misogyny.
In terms of sensing, feeling mindful body work, I teach about it with my particular flavor of elbow grease, seasoned by my life experiences. I find that teachers all arrive with their personal strengths and weaknesses, sharing the knowledge of their own experience as humans. I come from a perspective that one’s personal life experiences influence how a practitioner thinks, works, relates. If you are looking for a practitioner with a related approach but different life experience, please do write for a recommendation. If my words and experience speak to you, I hope to meet soon!
A small pile of resources I have found/find to be especially helpful – a mixture of some of my early-learning-lineage and newer-to-me people who I love how they say: All My Relations, Dr Ginger Campbell’s Brain Science, Prentis Hemphill, Re-Rooted Podcast, Queer Nature, Pema Chodron, Gabor Mate, Michael Yellow Bird, Tara Brach, James Baldwin, Madness Radio, Paulo Freire, Francisco Varela, Maxine Sheets-Johnstone, Peter Levine, Robert Sapolsky, and – especially – Art, Movement and Nature.
“To be sensual, I think, is to respect and rejoice in the force of life, of life itself, and to be present in all that one does, from the effort of loving to the making of bread.” – Baldwin