Jennifer Boileau is a trauma-centered yoga and meditation teacher, reiki master, and sound healing facilitator. Through these methods, she has helped veterans and first responders get better sleep, conquer their anxiety, and move beyond the intrusive thoughts that overwhelm and exhaust them. She does this all while using non-pharmaceutical methods.
Links & Resources
- Learn why you feel like you do (YouTube)
- Jennifer Boileau’s Soundcloud with free guided meditations
- Jennifer Boileau on Instagram
- Jennifer Boileau on Facebook
- Jennifer Boileau on Twitter
Scott DeLuzio 00:00:00 Thanks for tuning into the Drive On Podcast where we’re focused on giving hope and strength to the entire military community. Whether you’re a veteran, active duty, guard, reserve, or family member, this podcast will share inspirational stories and resources that are useful to you. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio, and now let’s get on with the show. Hey everybody. Welcome back to the Drive On Podcast. Today, my guest is Jennifer Boileau. Jennifer is a trauma-centered yoga and meditation teacher, a Reiki Master, and a sound healing facilitator. Through these methods. She has helped others to get better sleep, conquer their anxiety and move beyond the intrusive thoughts that overwhelm and exhaust them. And she does this all while using non-pharmaceutical methods. I’m happy to have her on the show where she can share some of these techniques and the things that she does to hopefully help some of the listeners out there, reap some of the benefits of it. Welcome to the show, Jennifer.
Jennifer Boileau 00:01:06 Well, thanks so much for having me. I really appreciate you and all the work you’re doing. Thank you so much.
Scott DeLuzio 00:01:12 Yeah, absolutely. I’m glad you’re able to come on the show. A former guest of mine on this show introduced us and got us together. And I’m really grateful for this opportunity to have you on to be able to share, what you do and everything. But before we dive into that, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
Jennifer Boileau 00:01:38 Yeah, sure. Everything that I share now, all these research-based methods all are the kinds of things that I wish I had when I was younger. Basically, we say we teach what we need. I’m definitely teaching what I need. I kind of grew up with a lot of anxiety. I was a swimmer at a decent level where there were some pretty high intensity, meets and stuff I was going to, and I was having horrific chest pains and after so many, doctors and everything else, they kept saying there’s nothing wrong. And we realized I was having panic attacks, literally in the water, in these major races, which is really not a good thing. That kind of anxiety throughout my high school and college career really kind of took a toll.
Jennifer Boileau 00:02:37 I wasn’t really sure where to turn. I did try some medications along the way through my doctor and I just never felt like anything landed right with me. And then if you kind of fast forward a little bit to when I was expecting my first daughter, I started getting into yoga, like prenatal yoga, and I know I’m dating myself, but they were on VHS tapes back in the day. And I really found that I was drawn to the meditative aspect of the practice. I was drawn to the physical aspect and I really didn’t understand what made me feel so good. I just knew that I felt a lot better. And at the same time, my husband, who now is retired from the police department, was on the police department on the SWAT team, all this high-intensity high-stress stuff.
Jennifer Boileau 00:03:33 That was also giving me a lot of anxiety at the same time. And it was like, wow , these practices of meditation, yoga, this kind of centeredness that I was feeling really made a huge difference in how well I was sleeping. It makes a huge difference when you lay down at night and you have these racing thoughts. it’s like, wow, I really wish I could shut this off. Right? I mean, it’s, and that’s, that’s a tough thing to deal with when you’re not getting enough sleep already, then you’re having all these racing or intrusive thoughts. And it was just something that I noticed all of a sudden the edge came off. The more I practiced, the more the edge came off. That’s kind of how I got started into being interested in these practices.
Jennifer Boileau 00:04:27 It wasn’t until about 10 years ago that I really dove into my Reiki training. At first, I was very drawn to energy work. That was very interesting to me, especially because medications never seem to help me in a way that I wanted them to either. It made me feel like I was running a marathon and I was sitting still, or it made me want to go to sleep. Like it didn’t actually help solve the problem. It just created a new one. And I’m not saying medications are bad, but for me, I was having a really hard time finding relief from the symptoms. I was started to be really drawn to these non-pharmaceutical methods, to help myself and then realized, wow, this is really helping me. I think this could be really helpful for other people if I dive into the training aspect.
Jennifer Boileau 00:05:20 That’s where the Reiki started. And then that led into yoga, which led into rest meditation. And now I’m a fully certified integrative restoration teacher. And my primary focus really is on supporting our first responders, veteran, and military communities because over my husband’s 20 some year career. I certainly know a lot of other wives and have met a lot of people on the job. And, it’s like these practices. We need them because whether you’re being treated by a doctor for something very specific or whether you’re just kind of feeling like I was back in the day where it was like, I’m overwhelmed by this anxiety and this restlessness and the medications really just aren’t supporting me, what else can I do? So the more relief I found, the more I wanted to share it. That’s kind of where I am now trying to share it with as many people as I can because it’s such a great augmentative piece to whatever you’re using right now to help heal yourself.
Scott DeLuzio 00:06:39 And that’s one of the things that I like to do on this podcast is share these other types of treatments that people maybe just aren’t aware of. They may have never heard of some of these techniques and other things that you use. A lot of people have heard of, of yoga and, and probably are at least vaguely familiar with some of the benefits, but they may not know the specifics of, how does that help? How does it produce a sort of meditative quality in somebody? I’d like to kind of dive into some of these different techniques and talk about the benefits of them, what symptoms they can relieve, what it’s like to go through some of these things and what’s involved in all of it.
Scott DeLuzio 00:07:37 The way we can kind of have a better understanding and hopefully, one or more of these things will resonate with someone who’s listening maybe feels like they have tried everything. Maybe it’s the medications, maybe it’s different therapies, whatever. And, they’re like, I’m at my wit’s end here. I’ve tried everything. And, then maybe one of these things will kind of ring a bell with them and maybe it’ll give them just that little bit of hope that says, I haven’t tried everything here. Here’s something else that I haven’t tried yet.
Jennifer Boileau 00:08:11 Absolutely. Well, it’s interesting. I saw an interview that you did where you talked about some of your coping strategies that maybe you wouldn’t choose again. This time around you were saying that you hope people would learn from your experience and sometimes when we’re dealing with trauma we go toward the kind of things that take us out of an experience. Help remove us from an experience. And all of these practices do just the opposite, which I know can sound a little bit scary. If you don’t want to sit with this really difficult thing, but what yoga and meditation and breathwork do is take you inside. So it’s taking you into the trauma and that’s the way you move through. So, detaching yourself from it might help that night, but the next night we’re right back at square one.
Jennifer Boileau 00:09:13 While I’m trained in a few different types of yoga, my biggest piece. I am not a super flexible person. I never have been. Okay. Right off the bat, if people are listening and they’re like yoga, eye roll. If you have a picture of some chick on a mountain top, like in a pose, like a pretzel wearing a sponsored outfit, like this is not my yoga. What I’m going to talk about has nothing to do with people in pretzel shapes.. Know that now. The kind of yoga I’m interested in is something that helps bring you into your body to help you move through whatever experience is happening. It’s kind of this wonderful side effect that happens. So I was really committed to sharing these practices, as I was moving through my main training with law enforcement, with my husband, being a police officer, I really felt like that was a piece that was missing, to help them process trauma.
Jennifer Boileau 00:10:21 You’re moving from critical incident to critical incident. I’m sure you can relate to that in the military as well. And let me just say upfront, I am a civilian, I have never worn the uniform. I always said, I’ve never put on the gun belt and the body armor like my husband did, but I have felt its weight. I know the weight of that. I had a front-row seat, so, these practices are meant to help you move through. So I was really committed to honing in my training specifically for the law enforcement military population, which led me to warriors at ease and warriors at ease is an organization that trains civilians, and also people in uniform to be teaching all over the world, specifically addressing the concerns of the military community and first responder community.
Jennifer Boileau 00:11:21 Military sexual trauma, PTSD, moral injury, I’ve had fantastic conversations with people who were one guy was a drone pilot and the difficulty of a particular situation he was sharing, did I do the right thing on that long call? I’ve just got chills, remembering the conversation. Those are some really big aspects that are addressed through this type of yoga. It’s the kind of yoga that doesn’t care. If you can touch your toes.. You don’t have to wear a cute outfit. You don’t have to be, like a really super skinny girl with a latteJust take that out of your mind. This is for guys too. I had a guy in class the other night who was a Marine or is a Marine, excuse me, he’s just retired, always a Marine.
Jennifer Boileau 00:12:24 I was like, well, I better correct myself. And he said this was his first time coming to one of my classes. And he shared that he had been to something before. And he said, I thought it was a bunch of baloney. One of my buddies that I served with took me to this class and I was like, you’re right. This is a mess. This sounds crazy. This is like some like woo whatever. And he said it changed my life. And that’s the thing. When you allow yourself to be in the presence of someone who is trained to be a guide. Like I’m not the one doing the healing for you. You’re doing it for yourself. I’m just your trained guide. When you allow yourself to work with someone who is trained in this way, you might be really surprised how helpful it can be for everything that you’ve experienced and what you need to move through.
Jennifer Boileau 00:13:27 I kind of loved hearing that from him the other night. And then after class was over, he talked for quite a while about his experience. Tonight was amazing. You took me right back to this fantastic experience. I had that place where I had ease when I was deployed in the middle of something that was really hostile. And that’s important. That’s a life-changing piece. And that’s what warriors did he really wants it to do was to create practices that no matter where you are if you’re deployed, if you’re back home after being deployed, if you are in a job, that’s moving through critical incident after critical incident that yes, you have this high-stress side of your job, of your life, all the adrenaline that you love. But in your moments of downtime, what are you doing for yourself to help regulate your nervous system?
Jennifer Boileau 00:14:24 Because that’s what this all comes down to. I think a lot of people that are in these high-stress situations for prolonged periods of time. There’s a lot of things happening. There’s a lot of major changes happening in the brain. And a lot of changes are happening through your nervous system, where you’re constantly in this fight, flight, freeze all the time, and you never get to dip into that rest and digest side of the nervous system. for that, that heavy go, go, go, sympathetic nervous system, hypervigilance to this parasympathetic side of rest and digest, suddenly there’s more saliva production. Your digestion gets better. Elimination is better. All these things, all this like wonderful domino effect happens, when you are regulating your nervous system. hrough this type of yoga, we’re trying to help you get more grounded, meaning it’s not this hardcore Vinyasa running you into the ground.
Jennifer Boileau 00:15:30 If I say Vinyasa and you’re like, “what?” It’s kind of that up dog down dog, the typical, fast-moving or faster moving yoga that you might see on, I don’t know, TV or something, or have a picture in your mind. It’s a little more restorative. You might like starting out in something we call constructive rest where you’re, lying down on your back and your knees are bent and your feet are pressed into the floor, giving you that sense of ground, letting you feel connected to the ground, supporting you. And then from there moving through some movements where we’re going to use some cross-lateral movement to help engage both hemispheres of the brain, some mismatched movements to kind of confuse the brain a little bit and make it talk to each other a little bit more on both sides.
Jennifer Boileau 00:16:24 There’s a lot of things that might seem like, okay, sure, we’ll do these movements, but there’s so many things behind the scenes happening, especially in the brain and in the nervous system, that’s helping to kind of restore you back to this homeostasis, getting you back to center and allowing you to have that downtime. Because when you give yourself that time to come down when you’re not in that hypervigilant, on patrol kind of mindset and your body’s in that high sense of alert you’re creating for yourself. This wonderful heart rate variability, meaning your heart rates are actually able to come down. If you’re hypervigilant and you are just ready to go all the time and your brain never shuts off and you just don’t stop even when you’re off, you’re going, going, going, going.
Jennifer Boileau 00:17:25 And it’s like, oh my gosh. It’s exhausting thinking about that. You might even have someone in your mind. T I know exactly who’s doing that. You’re putting yourself at higher risk for a cardiovascular event, quite honestly, because you’re keeping your heart rates so elevated. And then also at the same time you’re reducing your ability to focus. I used to get so worried with my husband on SWAT, especially if he was out for prolonged periods of time for a standoff or something that was some big event. And I would get so worried, like, oh my gosh, how is he going to be able to focus this long? And, and, and to be this exhausted, but still be able to operate a weapon if he needs to appropriate, like quickly and fast enough then and I know you guys all rely on your training and I had to trust his training too, and all that good stuff, but it, that kind of thing, it just, it always just gave me anxiety.
Jennifer Boileau 00:18:34 And then I ended up meeting to come down a little bit too, but that’s the thing when you give yourself that downtime, suddenly that heart rate variability comes into play and your focus becomes a lot better when you’re in those kinds of situations. It doesn’t even have to be yoga, but if you have something that you do, when you’re outside of those high-intense events, something that brings your heart rate down. You need something that gives yourself a chance to kind of hit the reset button, know that you’re doing something really, really good for yourself and that you are increasing your ability to focus and, and to be able to operate under really tough, really difficult conditions. And, maybe when you are super exhausted and everything else, but you have that ability to hone in focus and operate the way you want to, the way you want the person who’s your cover to be operating.
Scott DeLuzio 00:19:33 Yeah, for sure. And you said a couple of things that I just want to circle back to real quick, maybe an analogy that might make some more sense to someone who might be listening. Not that what you said didn’t make sense. Because it’s certainly good, but just the way my mind works. And the other thing, you were saying some of the stuff where if you’re operating at super high intensity, always on the go kind of operation at some point you’re gonna have some problems, whether mental or cardiovascular or some other kind of problems are probably going to happen. But to me when you said that it was kind of like thinking about a car constantly running on like the redline, like full max power all the time.
Scott DeLuzio 00:20:28 That car is going to probably break down pretty soon, much sooner than it would if you drove it kind of more normally where it’s not constantly redlining and everything. It’s almost the same thing because it’s running at an intensity level that it wasn’t designed to run at all the time. It could get that high every once in a while, but the car is not designed to be constantly, max power all the time. It’s just not what it’s designed to do. And I think that an analogy might, hopefully, hit home with somebody. Well that does make sense. I have been running at max power or max intensity, whatever you wanna call it, in my job or, or whatever, after even after coming home from a deployment or if you’re law enforcement or whatever, after a shift, you come home and you’re still at that max intensity, you’re going to crash at some point you might be able to do it for a short period of time, but you’re gonna crash at some point.
Scott DeLuzio 00:21:39 It is important to be able to bring yourself back down and relax and find that kind of centered calm place where you can, you can just kind of stop that high-intensity newness. But then you’re also talking about how what you do is you don’t make these people. You don’t make them get to that point, but you coach them to get there. And what popped in my head was just thinking of an athlete in any sport, whether it’s baseball, or golf, or football, or whatever it is, you have a coach who teaches you how to swing a bat or hit a golf ball or throw a football. But on game day, the coaches and out there swinging the bat for you, you’re still the one who’s out there. the coaches there who’s doing that for you and showing you the proper technique, the proper grip, the stance that, all the things that you need to know, and then it’s up to you to implement those things. So, while all of this stuff is great,it’s still up to the individual to implement some of this stuff.
Jennifer Boileau 00:23:01 Absolutely. That makes perfect sense. I always tell people, if you are in a, whether you go to a yoga class or any kind of class, whatever, it might be a meditation class, whatever, and the person is like, I’m going to heal you, please leave. Okay. Please leave. Because I’m not like some magical person going to wave a wand and everything’s going to get fixed. No, I’m trained to be your guide. You are the one that has to really open yourself up to the practice and what it can do for you. And honestly, a lot of times I see people come, especially now. I know, all my vets, I love all my vets okay. That I work with. But I love when a gnarly older guy is like, yeah, right. And then I come in and say, we’re going to do this integrative restoration meditation.
Jennifer Boileau 00:24:00 And he’s like, right. And then I watched him just melt, like for the first time just being guided through this protocol, this very particular protocol, which iRest has, and all of a sudden, they just softened just a little bit. And it’s like, I don’t know what you just did, but I know I want more of that. When are you coming back? And that’s the best thing because you discover yourself, right. A teacher in this kind of work, our job is to help you peel back these layers. Right. Because truly, I think what people need to know is that you’re not broken. Right. If you’ve had extreme trauma, if you’ve been through the worst of the worst, if you have just walked through hell and you feel like it’s just all over you, like part of you, like you’re fused with it.
Jennifer Boileau 00:24:57 That doesn’t have to be the case. We can’t change the past, but know that you are completely whole, and there is nothing to fix. There is nothing to change. You are not broken, but there are maybe some harder layers on the outside. We need to just peel back. My job is to help you remember. Remember what it felt like to feel into your body, remember what it felt like to be able to use your breath. I mean, you’re breathing, breathing right now. Like some people are like really breathing work, really I’m breathing. Thanks, Jen. It’s no different kind of breathwork to help you activate your nervous system in a particular way to kind of bring in that relaxation response. It might seem really simple, but sometimes the simplest things are all we need, right. So I always just say, we need our brain, our breath, and our body.
Jennifer Boileau 00:26:01 And it’s my job to help you remember how to use the tools. You already have to give yourself that rest, to be able to bring yourself back down when you’re stepping away from that critical incident. And while your body might remember trauma, and while you may have some, a flashback that arrives and it, it doesn’t arrive just like a memory on its own, right? It might come back as a full-body event. Trauma gets remembered by being in life and in the body. And it might make you feel like you’re standing right back in that same situation. It comes back as this full-body event. I teach you how to, not just run from that or shut down from that, but just peel back a little bit of those layers and how to touch the edges of that trauma and how to trust yourself and connect with that felt sense of safety that you have within you, in iRest, we call it your inner resource and connect with that time and place when you felt the most at ease. that when you feel that deep trauma, when that shows up and really just takes over trusting that how to lean back into this inner resource that you have and that when you’re ready, maybe you’ll come back to touch the edges of that trauma again until you’re like, this is enough. And then you back off and that’s a whole other, that’s a whole other discussion, which I’m happy to talk about. But yeah.
Scott DeLuzio 00:27:41 And there are, there are really good points there that you made where you don’t want to just run away from that trailer because then it becomes this thing that’s, basically almost paralyzing you where you can’t continue doing whatever it was that you were doing when those intrusive thoughts or memories or whatever, come back up. It’s almost like this thing happened to you and you have to learn now how to continue living with it. It’s there. It’s not going away necessarily, but it’s going to take some practice and some work in order to figure out how to continue on with it. that you’re not paralyzed whenever these things pop back up. Right?
Jennifer Boileau 00:28:49 Absolutely. And that is probably what I love about iRest the most. And I don’t know if you and I chatted about it prior to, I can’t remember, but iRest started because of people coming back from deployments, they were coming into Walter Reed. And instead of just being handed a bag of meds and saying, all right, let’s see how that goes. And you probably know it doesn’t go well. Because here’s one pill for this. Here’s a pill to mask this. And then you’re going to have more crazy side effects than this one. So take this to cover those. I’m not an anti-medication person, but they were noticing that people arriving back from deployments were struggling heavily with PTSD. Dr. Richard Miller is the founder of iRest and he started using iRest practices and developing this protocol at Walter Reed.
Jennifer Boileau 00:29:50 And that’s where it was born to help process this. Basically we just step-by-step or teach you how to develop how to live from a space of intention. And that might not be a word that we all grew up with. What’s my intention today? Sometimes when we’ve gone through something really traumatic, this kind of framework can be extremely helpful. Helping to move you through something that we call your heartfelt mission, what do you want more than anything how’s life living itself through you. What’s your reason why right now? Maybe it’s living life with your family or your kids, or maybe it’s you having this desire to do something in the community, something like helping to take that focus.
Jennifer Boileau 00:30:51 You’ve had this pain and difficulty, but can I bring you back into the present moment and help you develop some key pieces of self so that you learn to kind of feel into all of that. Again, you learn to trust yourself a little bit recognizing this sense of safety from within that inner resource that we talked about. The one gentleman in class who had been deployed was saying, there was this beautiful spot, this beach with this high mountain. And he said you took me right back there. And that’s the cool thing. I was speaking to a room full of people, and everyone had a very, very different experience. And that’s a key piece of if you are dealing with PTSD, if you are dealing with these really intrusive thoughts or military sexual trauma, or sexual trauma outside of the military, it’s important that your teacher is a trauma trained or trauma-informed teacher that they are careful.
Jennifer Boileau 00:32:01 I want to hold the space so that people are able to have an experience and not feel out of control or not feel uncomfortable by that. While I’m talking to everybody in the room, I’m just kind of giving you guidance. For instance, think about a time that you felt the most at ease, does a memory start to arise, Now in class, I wouldn’t give examples, but, for here, I’ll give an example. Is it like being at your grandmother’s house? And she was making you breakfast? Is it being with your family, a pet, or is it a person or maybe a vacation or a place you would love to go and you just envision like, oh God, I feel so good when I’m in this place where there’s, there’s not a care in the world.
Jennifer Boileau 00:32:57 There’s nothing to do. There’s nowhere, no place to be. What does that feel like? So it’s not the memory, that’s the resource, right? It’s the felt sense. And holding onto that. And then maybe throughout the day, maybe, I don’t know, when a commercial comes on TV, you tap back in for a second to that inner resource, let really connect to it. Let yourself feel it, maybe you feel it in your chest, maybe you feel it in your face or your hands, or maybe you’re like, well, I don’t feel it at all. If you don’t feel anything, that’s okay. That’s something too. Right. Noticing this, not feeling, that’s also a feeling so letting yourself develop this sense of safety so that when you are back on patrol, or maybe you are experiencing retraumatization, something’s coming back in a breakthrough memory, something like that. Yes, you experience it.
Jennifer Boileau 00:34:04 And then you tell yourself, okay, let me just tap back into my inner resource for a minute. And when you give yourself that chance to come down, because when you get that felt sense back in the body and remembering like, wow, this memory came back, this trauma came back, that was really upsetting and kind of flooded my body. Well, guess what? You also have the ability to say, that’s enough. I’m going to lean back into my inner resource now and give yourself the time, let that fade, and see if you can’t live in that felt sense of safety again, because that’s coming from within too. And that’s a really powerful thing to get a hold of to recognize like, wow, that’s within me too, and it’s always here and you don’t have to go to a store and buy it. You didn’t have to go do anything special. It’s like here all the time, your breath is here all the time. Extending your exhale just a little bit when you’re feeling that that uncomfortable memory arises, just maybe extend your exhale for a count or two longer lean into your inner resource. And suddenly you’ve created a neuro-biological shift. You’ve created a big change and now your nervous system is thanking God, I’ve been waiting.
Scott DeLuzio 00:35:38 You mentioned the breathing and just that small shift in exhaling, just a slight bit more few counts more than you normally do. And not that people usually sit around counting how long they’re exhaling. What a normal breath is sort of like not one where you’re running and you’re exercising, and you’re almost out of breath and just a normal breath and then just breathe out a little bit more than you usually do. And it’s amazing just how much something small, like that, could really have an effect on calming yourself down and just whatever the effect is that it has, it is just incredible. When I first started doing that, yeah, right, whatever breathing, I do this, like you said before I’m breathing all the time, whatever this doesn’t make any sense.
Scott DeLuzio 00:36:40 But then as I started doing it, focusing on it and really paying attention to what I was doing, it was like, oh my God, where has this been? All my life, so it’s really helpful. All of these, these methods, these things that you use between the yoga and, the iRest and everything else that you practice, are the things that are able to be used in conjunction with each other? Or is it something that, if you’re more experiencing PTSD type symptoms, use one versus the other, or is it something that they all can kind of work together?
Jennifer Boileau 00:37:31 Well, they can all definitely work together. I will say that when I’m working with people, I’m working with someone individually, I really try to get to know what’s their biggest issue and what’s coming up with the most for them. And maybe they’re saying like, oh my gosh, like my hips are killing me. If I’m talking to a police officer, hands down, their hips are a mess because they’ve been sitting in a patrol car, right. Because that sitting in a sitting position, and that stress over time shortens the hip flexors and then I know if we’re going to do some yoga or maybe I recommend. We’ll do some yoga, which is all about releasing the fascia that surrounds the muscle to give you some greater flexibility. It is a seated practice for people that have never heard of it before.
Jennifer Boileau 00:38:24 It’s very slow, very calming. And we hold a position for a particular length of time. Think of it as, and I know young people are going to be like, called it deep stretching. Well, it CA sorry, for this description, yes. It is really like some serious deep stretching where you’re working with the breath. Like you said,, I’ve been breathing all the time, because that’s the thing, it’s this unconscious breath versus a very conscious breath, when you think about how different that is, right. And we’re not thinking about it, it’s like, Hmm, whatever. But all of a sudden, you place your attention on the breath, and wow. You’ve just created a really big shift. You’re lowering your blood pressure. You’re doing all these wonderful things for your body. It seems so simple, but that’s the case.
Jennifer Boileau 00:39:18 When I’m working, one-on-one, I do try and figure out for that person kind of what the prescription, so to speak, is for them. Is it a little bit more of a physical practice, or are we going to work with a specific trauma and, and how to meet that and how to meet it. Right? Where it is, because I think that’s the most difficult thing when you’re experiencing a deep trauma and maybe you are so fused with it, that you feel that you are this trauma. And I think you can think, you probably know somebody right off the top of your head of like, as soon as you meet them, the first thing they tell you is their trauma. The very first thing they say, oh, oh, I was in such and such company. I had this happen.
Jennifer Boileau 00:40:07 That’s the first thing when you meet them. And that is a big sign that you’re just superfused with your trauma and that there’s nothing wrong with that. But when you’re experiencing that learning to create just a little bit of space to eventually get to the point where you can disidentify with that trauma. You recognize that you are not the event that happened. And sometimes that can be a really difficult thing to do, but through some of these practices, you are able to, just get just enough space. And then we breathe, and then maybe we’re working through iRest or some aspects of iRest meditation. The other night I did a class on pain and it was finding the edges of the pain and staying when you find when you touch that edge and you realize you’re kind of getting close to it. How long do you want to stay with that?
Jennifer Boileau 00:41:21 And it’s okay to back off. And again, lean back into that sense of safety and that trust in yourself that you’re not going to fall down the rabbit hole here. You’re able to have a choice on your end. And that can be a big thing too because when you are overwhelmed with trauma, you feel like you’re stuck with it. It’s everything. And it’s like, when you get that space, you realize I am not this trauma. I am whole, complete, perfect, nothing to be fixed, but there is an issue and I’m going to touch it in times when it feels safe to me. When I teach, public classes or a group class people come with all kinds of things. I don’t know, usually ahead of time, what people are experiencing, unless someone comes up and specifically talks to me before class or something.
Jennifer Boileau 00:42:15 But, typically like the other night, my class was an iRest class. And I had the singing bowls. You said you’ve heard some of my stuff on SoundCloud, or if you’re on iTunes or something. I do use singing bowls. I like to, when I’m in my group classes, they’re very calming. They’re pure courts and there’s cool science behind them too. I am a big science nerd. So now that everything that I do is research-based, there is nothing like, I don’t know, the tree just told me to tell you to do this now there’s none of that. I am a former special education teacher. I love data. And so, I love research-based methods that kind of come back to the why. The singing bowls that I use are pure courts and in the studies that have been done with them, in particular used in an oncology hospital setting, they like in 30 minutes of the quartz bowls, as if they gave the patient, 10 milligrams of Valium, that’s the pain relief that they felt from it.
Jennifer Boileau 00:43:28 I always joke that if, when I teach an hour class, I’m like, this is 20 milligrams, but don’t be telling people that I’m pushing drugs. Because I’m not, they know, I like let’s be clear. It’s just the same type of pain relief on when, when patients were queried about, their pain scale. Again, another non-pharmaceutical method for helping to relieve some pain. And so in a group class, that’s what you might expect where it’s an iRest session based on maybe what’s going on in the group. Although the other night I did it in pain. And, that Marine sat up afterward and said, that was for me because I’ve had spinal surgery and from many injuries in the over his time served. And, he’s like, I feel amazing. I don’t even know what just happened. And I’m like, don’t ask questions. That’s okay. Just take, yeah.
Scott DeLuzio 00:44:32 Except it, I mean, if it’s working, it’s working now, that was another question that I had is, is this something that tends to have pretty quick results in terms of the benefits that people see or, or is this something that they need to practice, time and time again, in order to start seeing these, these types of results? Or, or does it depend? I mean, I suppose it could depend on the individual as well.
Jennifer Boileau 00:44:59 I think it’s a little bit of both. Sometimes people have a mind-blowing like they come up to me and say, how’d that look on their face, like, what just happened? I don’t know what you just did, but I feel amazing. So, there, you might have a moment like that you might have an experience like that, or you might say, well, I mean, just from the other night as an example, I had people say, oh my gosh, I came in here with, in so much pain. I feel amazing right now. And it was all from just going into a sensation in the body. Remember, I’m just guiding you into sensation. That’s really what I rest is doing, taking you in when normally you want to go out, right? You want, when you want to escape the pain, I’m just taking you in, but I’m taking you in, in a really nice way.
Jennifer Boileau 00:45:50 You can experience it in a way that’s tolerable. I’ve had a couple of people. Heck yeah, this was amazing. I thought, unbelievable. I had someone else share. That was amazing. But I thought I would go a little, I thought I would go deeper. I thought I would relax more instead. I wanted to run. And I said, okay, well, let’s stay with that for a minute. You felt like you were not feeling, but really you felt you wanted to run. Let’s kind of touch on that. it’s kind of that squirrel on the box feeling, right? Like, get me outta here. Oh my God, I’m getting too close. And I said, do you think we were getting too close? Because remember we were touching into the pain to the point where you felt like, okay, this is enough.
Jennifer Boileau 00:46:45 And then back off, I said, remember you were getting really close to a really deep pain that she did share. And I said that was a very big trauma that you’re sharing with me. And I’m not surprised at all. It’s I think, I think you’d be crazy if you didn’t want to run from it. Right. I mean like that’s a human thing. It’s like a hot stove. You don’t want to touch it. Tonight you experienced, touching into that trauma a little longer than maybe you want it to next time when you start to feel that creeping in of that, I have to, I have to get out of here. I don’t know if I can experience this. Maybe just allow yourself to take off for a second, notice your breath, let my voice fade into the background and just notice your breathing, extend your exhale.
Jennifer Boileau 00:47:39 And give yourself that, that grace to say,what? It’s okay. I don’t have to lean into this hard tonight. There’s no striving here in iRest. There’s no pushing. There’s no forcing. It’s just noticing what is and being with what is, and I said, so think about that. Can we just be with the fact that you want it to run the hell out of here and that’s okay? I’ve had that happen to me. And I’m the teacher.. We’re human. And she’s like, man, I knew you were going to say that, say that. I said, what, what does that tell you? It tells you that next time, I want you to notice when you’re getting too close and then I want you to back off and it’s okay to have that dance of touching into something that’s really difficult.
Jennifer Boileau 00:48:39 And allowing yourself to back off, it’s just reminding yourself that you have this choice that you’re not fused. You are separate. How quickly you move through something is going to depend. Everyone’s going to experience a difference. I think I need to lean into this a few more times, but I do recommend yes. Practice little and often you don’t need to go find a cave and sit with your legs crossed and hum or something. No, none of that. I mean, I’m talking like a minute here and there literally minutes just, you decide. I’m going to spend one minute, a few times a day. Just noticing my breath. And that might sound really silly. But it’s the truth. If you actually give yourself one minute and just notice your breathing, maybe notice the temperature of the air on your skin.
Jennifer Boileau 00:49:46 I mean, even right now, sitting in the room you’re in and it’s like, Hmm, never really thought about that before. Noticing the sensation of the breath as it passes through the nostrils. Like, have you ever thought about or felt into what that feels like? And it’s like these little things add up to two big moments of awareness in the body. You’ll start to become aware when you’re getting a little too close to the trauma during your day. You’ll become aware when that starts to creep in and you need a moment. And one thing you mentioned earlier about the breath that is really important. When I was a teacher, I loved accommodations for my students that like no one knew about, I loved kind of like I’d make a bracelet so that they didn’t have to. It looked just like a bracelet and that they didn’t have to know there was a number on there for them or something, just something that was kind of looked very normal and no one would know they were getting like, quote.. I love breathwork as an invisible accommodation when it comes to our lives. Whether you’re having a hard day or you’re sitting in a meeting and you’re really overwhelmed because intrusive thoughts don’t come at opportune times.
Scott DeLuzio 00:51:06 No, they never do. That’s why they’re intrusive.
Jennifer Boileau 00:51:10 Exactly. And They are triggered sometimes by things that you just wouldn’t expect. I mean, maybe it’s a car door that you’ve shut a thousand times, but that car door, this one time, brings something right back that just overwhelms you. And maybe you’re in a car full of people and you don’t want to have a total breakdown in the car. What are you going to do? You can move through a very simple breathing exercise. No one’s going to know what you’re doing. It’s not going to look anything grand. That’s going to draw attention to yourself. So, but yet you’re soothing yourself. You’re bringing your nervous system down and you’re sending me signals to your brain of like, wait a minute. I am safe. Your amygdala, that’s going off. This alarm center suddenly is, can just settle down for a minute.
Jennifer Boileau 00:52:00 Right. And you’re retraining your brain. Like it’s okay, I’m safe. We don’t need to activate the fight, flight right now. Thank you. And make doula in the brain. We can just take a seat for a minute. Suddenly everything gets regulated again. These invisible accommodations can be a life-changing gift when you are dealing with things like that. And you don’t have time to just say, I know we’re in the middle of a briefing, but I need to freak out in the hallway. There’s no time for that, getting a hold of your breath, right? Maybe even some simple grounding down into the seat you’re in pressing your feet into the floor, sensing into the body, noticing that again, that temperature of the air on your skin, these things sound kind of simple, but trust me, you can be like a bad-ass all day, but these little things that might seem too simple are definitely ways to just strengthen your inner self. What I refer to as your inner warrior, and give you that strength in times when you really, really need it.
Scott DeLuzio 00:53:14 Yeah, for sure. When you were talking about breathing, one of the things that I have noticed, and even the other sensations, like the temperature of the air on your skin and, and other things like that I’ve done some breathing exercises where it’s just focused on feeling the air, filling up your lungs. And like you said before, you don’t think about that normally when you’re breathing normally, it’s just like, okay, I’m just doing it. And I’m not even thinking that I’m doing it, but there is air going into your lungs. Every time you take a breath that happens. And every time you exhale, it comes out and it happens every single time, but you just don’t think about it. It’s one of those things that you’ve probably just become desensitized to because it happens all the time, every second of the day, every single day that you’ve been alive, that’s been happening.
Scott DeLuzio 00:54:18 And so you just haven’t really paid too much attention to it because it’s, it’s kind of just noise now in your life. But when you take that deep breath and feel the lungs actually filling up, it does something. And I can’t quite even explain it, but it does something and you kind of relax and calm down a little bit more the longer you do it, the longer you practice. I know you said, just do it for a minute,do it for two minutes or whatever. But I felt the longer that you do it and actually pay attention to those little things. It actually has a bigger effect, the longer that you’re doing. I’m not saying go out and do it for six hours or anything like that. That’s a long time, but, even if you’re able to before you go to sleep, if you’re able to just lay there in bed for 10 minutes, you’ll probably fall asleep before the 10 minutes are up. But, you’ll relax yourself enough that you’re able to actually fall asleep.
Jennifer Boileau 00:55:30 Yeah, absolutely. You might, even when you’re going to sleep, find that falling asleep is a difficult thing. You could even move through progressive muscle relaxation where you’re taking a breath in and tightening, maybe the fist, as hard as you can and really noticing the tension. And then as you exhale, just slowly unfurling the fingers and noticing the ease there. And then maybe you do it a few times with the hands that you’re tensing up. And then maybe after a few more, you tense up through the arms completely like through the biceps and triceps, the forearms you’re just tightening everything up, breathing in, noticing the tension and really feeling the tension. So we spend all of our time up in our heads all the time. We’re just thinking, we’re thinking, thinking, thinking, it’s like popcorn going off in your head all the time.
Jennifer Boileau 00:56:29 And especially when you’re trying to go to sleep, all of a sudden the popcorn starts going crazy. When you can shift from thinking into feeling, you can create tremendous change rather quickly, So, you move through the tensing of the arms, you move through the tensing of the toes and the feet, the legs all with using your breath. And then all of a sudden it’s like, okay, now maybe you’re just noticing the sensation of the breath. Maybe your hands are on your chest. And you feel that rise and fall of that hand on the belly, that rise and fall of the body. Just staying with that. I promise you if you stay with sensation, the thoughts, there’s no time for the thoughts. There’s no time for thinking when you’re deeply immersed in feeling. And even if at first you have to start out with just doing the hands.
Jennifer Boileau 00:57:28 If it’s going through everything, it’s going to be too much. And you’re just doing a little bit in iRest. We always say little and often that is so much more important than going to find a class for an hour. Because I know some of you aren’t going to do that. You’re going to be like, I’m too busy. I don’t have time, blah, blah, blah. But you have a minute. You have a minute when you’re sitting at a red light that you can just notice your breath, notice the sensation of your hands wrapped on the steering wheel. You might even rub your hands together just like you were trying to start a fire or something. And then just let your palms be face up for a moment and just notice the sensation across the top of your palms. There’s a lot happening right now because of course I just sat here and did it. There’s a lot happening across my poems. Let yourself feel those little things that can help you in times when things feel so overwhelming that you can’t see straight.
Scott DeLuzio 00:58:45 Yeah. And, and you’re right. We, we do have a minute even if you’re sitting in a meeting at work or driving in the car and like you said, a stoplight, you can find a little bit of time, even in that meeting, just focusing on your breathing while your boss drones on about whatever,
Jennifer Boileau 00:59:11 It’s not like you’re listening anyway. You might as well do something for yourself.
Scott DeLuzio 00:59:21 I mean, it really is.these techniques I think are incredibly beneficial to the people who try them out and use them. But like you said, it’s one of those things where it’s not a one and done where you just go to an hour session, get the benefits, and then forget about it and be like, okay, I’m cured. And everything’s great and dandy. And now I don’t have to even think about this anymore because the whole point of it is to continue to think about these practices ongoing. So you may not necessarily
Scott DeLuzio 00:59:59 Be constantly going to a class or training on this type of thing, but it’s important to have, someone to guide you kind of like I was talking about before with a baseball coach or something like, we’ll teach you how to do that, but you don’t need to necessarily continue going to back to that coach every single day in order to be able to use what they’ve taught you. But you may need to, I would imagine at some point go back and fine-tune some of that as well over time. Exactly. I say that to my students all the time. Like, I don’t want you to need me. Okay. Like I have three kids, they need me. I don’t even want them to need me. I want to be, I want you to glean.
Jennifer Boileau 01:00:51 What, what skills make the most sense to you? While I’ll share iRest practice with you and try to guide you through something that’s going to help you specifically, I want you to take the aspects that speak to you the most. And then take them into your life. That’s my biggest thing. I tell people all the time, I don’t want you to just feel great in class. I want you to feel great in class and take that breath, work into your regular life, because if you’re not taking it back into your life and finding ways to just weave it in seamlessly, then I’m just not doing a very good job, because I want you to be able to take this and use it, on your own. And then quite frankly when I think about the suicide rates and the veteran population in law enforcement right now, it, it, it just breaks my heart and above all else.
Jennifer Boileau 01:01:47 I always say to my students, when, when you’re experiencing something that is working for you, I need you to be my new spokesperson, right? Not for me, but for the practice, for the aspects that are speaking to you, because there is someone that you’re sitting beside at work, there is someone that you served with or someone in your life who could really benefit from this and who was like, yeah, right. Like you’re going to write, you’re going to go to meditation class with me really. I mean, like, I’m not kidding. I know the expression that I see on the faces of guys who were dragged into my class and then they leave and they’re like, I’m going to tell my friends. I’m like, I know, I know that’s what I want you to do. I want you to tell them about how this helped you because it might not be something that you typically hear about, but now I have to tell you, it’s the fact that, especially with, with warriors at ease and with iRest, being at Walter Reed and, and doing so much through the VA, they’re really trying to make these strategies not be something so out of the ordinary, right?
Jennifer Boileau 01:02:56 These practices are not just something froofy,, out there. It’s something that has been specifically designed to support you and the kind of experiences you’ve gone through. So, when you experience something that is working for you, I always say, please share it with the people around you, because you just don’t know who you’re going to help. I mean, truly you don’t know that the person that has the biggest smile on their face next to you might be struggling in a way behind closed doors that we just can’t imagine. And that just gives me chills thinking about it, but I truly like to share it with someone you just don’t know the impact if it could have.
Scott DeLuzio 01:03:44 Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And, and again, going back to what I was saying earlier in this episode, that’s why I like having people like yourself on the show to share these different techniques and, kind of wash away some of that stigma around stuff like this, where, where people might think it’s, oh, that’s a froufrou thing. And, that’s not for me because I’m this bad-ass and I’m not going to go and sit there and meditate or whatever, but it does work. And so if, if you are this bad-ass who has tried everything and nothing else has worked for you, why not give it a try? Like, what do you seriously have to lose? There’s no side effects. It’s not like you’re going to try this. And then you’re gonna grow a third arm or something.
Scott DeLuzio 01:04:40 It’s, you’re, you’re going to, you’re going to do it. And worst-case scenario, it doesn’t work for you and you try something else. And at least you’ve given it a try. And, best case scenario is it does work and, and it leads you to a happier, more, relaxed life that maybe you wouldn’t have had had you not just given it a tryI think it’s definitely worth it for everyone to give it a try for all this stuff. You mentioned Warriors At Ease, was an organization that you work with, but, I know there might be some people who also want to reach out to you directly and find out more about the types of training and things that you do. Where can people go to get in touch with you and find out about all of that stuff?
Jennifer Boileau 01:05:33 You can connect with me on my website. It’s just my name, JenniferBoileau.com, which we already talked about how tricky my last name, but yes, JenniferBoileau.com or if you’re on social media, on Instagram and Facebook, Twitter, Jennifer Boileau, or J E N N B O I L E A U is my Instagram handle. And, you can find my email on my website as well. I’m happy to talk with people anytime I do free consultations all the time. And I always try to have at least one donated project or event going on each month. And I also work with people over the phone. I do Zoom, Skype. I’ve worked with people all over the country. I have some clients around the world as well. And it’s great to be in person for these practices, but I have worked with people all over the country, doing this just over the phone. And, there’s an aspect to that. That can be really nice, especially if you’ve experienced a significant trauma that you are able to be in your own space and you can feel completely comfortable, safe, and your surroundings, and be able to maybe let go a little bit more than if you were in an unfamiliar space. There is something kind of nice about that. So that’s something too.
Scott DeLuzio 01:07:08 Yeah. And for anyone who’s looking to get in touch, maybe a book, a session, or, or find some time with Jennifer, I’ll have links to all of her websites and the social media links and everything in the show notes. Definitely take a look at that and, and find out where to get in touch with her there. And Jennifer, it’s been a pleasure speaking with you today and, and finding out about all the things that you do and how you’ve been working to, to help out the veterans and first responders, military, to really live better lives, and help them work through the trauma that they’ve they’ve experienced. I thank you for the work that you’re doing. I really do encourage people to reach out if any of this kind of stuff resonated with them, or even if it didn’t resonate with them, but they feel like they’ve tried everything and they want to, they want to give this a try because maybe they don’t know what else to do.
Scott DeLuzio 01:08:13 I think that’s a great place to turn to it. And like you said, it’s one of those things where you can do these things without anyone knowing it’s kind of an invisible thing that people can do while you’re sitting in your car while you’re, while you’re at work while you’re, whatever it is that you find yourself doing, wherever the stressors come into your life, you can, you can jump into this stuff. I think it’s a great option for people. And, again, thank you for coming on and sharing it with us today.
Jennifer Boileau 01:08:51 Yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much for having me thank you to your listeners for listening to a podcast episode about meditation and yoga. I’m sure this might not be the norm, but I appreciate your openness to learning more about it. And I’ll say this for people that want to reach out and, and you’re thinking, well, I want to ask for something, but I don’t even know. You can just say, Hey, I heard them, I heard you talking and I don’t know what I need to ask you, but I know, I feel like I need to connect. That’s good enough. We can take it from there. So there’s no silly questions, absolutely reach out and I’ll share as many more of my free meditations as well. I have a SoundCloud account that I’ll make sure I connect to, or you already know about. And I’ll add to that over time and I do have a progressive muscle relaxation, listed there presently. If that’s something that sparked your interest during the podcasts, it’s something that they can access immediately.
Scott DeLuzio 01:09:56 Yeah. And I’ll have a link to the SoundCloud account there as well, so that people can listen to that because there’s actually one last night, there was a one about asleep and I was listening to that as I was trying to fall asleep. And, it helped me fall asleep. So, , there’s, there’s one testimonial that says, Hey, what? It’s worth a shot if you’re having trouble with sleep, there’s one. And I’m sure there’s plenty of other things on there. I know you have a lot of tracks on there that help with various things. And, if you’re having trouble with any of those areas, give it a try. It’s worth trying it to see how that works for you. So, thanks again.
Jennifer Boileau 01:10:42 Yeah. Thank you.
Scott DeLuzio 01:10:45 Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to check out more episodes or learn more about the show, you can visit our website driveonpodcast.com. We’re also on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube at driveonpodcast.