Project Haiti
Collaborative Effort to Bring Therapeutic Yoga to Haiti

If the soil is crappy the garden won’t grow

Years ago I picked up a book about gardening. I had just moved to Maine from NYC and figured it was time for this former city gal to make the internal change from town to country, and what better way to do it but starting a garden! In this book I discovered (much to my indolent surprise) that in order to have a healthy garden, you first had to have healthy soil! Well, I didn’t care to firmly understand this concept back in my early 20’s but the years have taught me a thing or two and being a mother and teacher (among other things) has taught me that if you’re not healthy you can’t really care for others or help them become healthy.  Enter: Mark Lilly of Street Yoga. Mark knows this principle well and has been working with secondary trauma victims for a good long while now. His mindful caregivers program is helping the people who care for victims of trauma have a profound, real and long lasting effect on their clients, students, and patients simply because they are first caring for themselves. If we are truly to help the people of Haiti, in not just this year, but for years and years and years to come, we must focus focus first on the folks that will and are the caregivers to the Haitian people.  Patience is not one of my strongest qualities but I understand the tremendous value of the ripple effect. One drop in a large body of water will ripple out for miles and miles (that’s a big drop) and that’s our frame of thinking for this project. In 6 months, 8 months, 10 months, the people of Haiti will still be suffering from the emotional effects of trauma and these effects don’t end once their houses are rebuilt and they have food to eat and water to drink. I work with women and men who are judges, lawyers, social workers, and all kinds of high muckity-mucks and still I see how trauma effects them. It’s real, it’s lasting and mind body programming (yoga, meditation) is proving to be one of the only things that makes a lasting change. (see It has the capacity to create new neural pathways in the brain. If that doesn’t get you all excited then I’m not sure what will!

Now for the really good news! JRI Health has committed as a sponsor for this project. Bessel Van der Kolk is in with two enthusiastic feet. This means that once we’re on the ground in Haiti and our programs are running, there will be some long term studies being conducted. This is fantastic news for the growing acceptance of the notion that conventional trauma treatment (and trauma is the root cause of many acute symptoms from eating disorders to substance abusers) could be much more effective with a mind body component as and addendum therapy.

Finally, thank you for reading this blog. This is a way for us to share the progress and the process of this project with all of you who care. One of the most asked questions of all of us is “how do I do this in my town, city, state, country” etc.  There is no clear and concise answer but this blog may give some insight into “how” to do anything that you passionately believe in. The most important step is the first one, and the will be many “first steps” along the way. Just as the garden gets planted after the soil is full of nutrients, there are other variables that contribute to the health of the plant (sun, water etc.) and you need to stay flexible enough to make some changes; move some plants and find the right balance so the garden will thrive. In your effort to assure that all components are strong and healthy, the bounty you receive is glorious!

Peace and Blessings



3 Responses to “If the soil is crappy the garden won’t grow”

  1. Sue,

    I wrote a few days back but had to write again. There’s so much value in you taking the time to write this process down and I really appreciate that you’re doing it. Thank you!

    Stacey in Brooklyn

  2. Thanks Stacey. I think it will have far reaching benefits! Keep sending the blog to anyone you know 🙂


  3. Hello, good site. I look forward to your next topic. Thanks, Jane

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