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Fostering Resilience in Reentry

The Los Angeles Reentry Collaborative hosted a wellness and resiliency event on March 6th that provided nourishment and community to over 100 reentry service providers and recently released individuals and loved ones navigating the challenging reentry process.

This event was the latest quarterly convening of this dynamic network and featured an interactive presentation on wellness from Dr. Ann Seide, MD, an internal medicine physician who emphasizes integrative care, followed by small group councils, a Grand Spiral Council to weave the gathering and a healthy and delicious Mediterranean lunch!

​Dr. Seide spoke about what an integrative approach to health looks like – and how we can pay better attention to our mind, body and spirit. She explained how our autonomic nervous system is impacted by our relationship to stress – something the reentry community experiences every day. While stress never ends, our relationship with stress can improve! The presentation provided concrete perspectives and resources to help us better understand how our bodies respond to stress, how breathing can interrupt “sympathetic activation” (or the “fight/flight/freeze” response) and how best to take care of our gut biome by choosing healthy foods.

Some ways Dr. Seide described to improve our relationship with stress include:

  • Noticing our surroundings and developing more mindfulness about our environment and its impact on us, in real time

  • Understanding the importance of breath and learning ways to regulate stress by intentionally shifting our breathing (like the “5-5” and “4-7-8” techniques)

  • Making deliberate choices about our nutrition, understanding that unhealthy eating can cause stress, while an anti-inflammatory diet can support gut-health and wellbeing

  • Cultivating community through authentic connection with others in practices like council

After the presentation, which included opportunities to practice some of the breathing techniques Dr. Seide presented, the group was split up and invited to gather in smaller council circles led by veteran trainers from Center for Council. Each intimate gathering presented an opportunity to reflect on our individual experiences of health and our relationship to healthy habits throughout our lives. Deceptively simple, the council prompts offered an opportunity for participants to share real stories of the struggles, frustrations, triumphs and joys that seemed to echo through the community. The stories often started out as one person’s experience, but soon reverberated with many others resonating and nodding in recognition. While most participants began the groups as strangers, community emerged in remarkable and beautiful ways.

After the small council circles, participants regrouped and created a Grand Spiral Council that gave all who felt called the opportunity to weave into the center to share some of what was coming up. The small center circle offered a precious space, surrounded and supported by the care and regard of the full group. The gathering gave all participants an authentic experience of the power of Beloved Community and how practices like council can provide a path forward.

Feedback from participants included comments like:

  • The meeting was unlike any meeting I've attended in this space!

  • Truly one of a kind and great collaboration

  • I loved the focus on healthy foods and how that affects our mood

  • I loved the breathing exercises and the council circles

  • I felt like the council circles were so needed!

  • It was delightful to be a part of the community and meet new folks working in the space

  • I appreciated being able to be in community with everyone in a way that removed titles, roles and "professional outlook"

This event was a unique opportunity for organizations, community leaders, and healthcare providers, as well as recently released individuals, to come together in community to explore how we can resource ourselves and each other to enhance health outcomes and foster wellbeing, as well as decrease unhealthy behavior and recidivism. After the presentation, the small councils and Grand Spiral, participants were treated to a delicious and healthy meal – an example of the anti-inflammatory Mediterranean diet– that’s as tasty as it is good for us! Most lingered throughout lunch to share stories, informally network and connect with fellow attendees, speakers and community leaders.

Watch a brief video about the event:

The Los Angeles Reentry Collaborative is a multi-sector network of organizations and community leaders working together to decrease recidivism and improve health outcomes amongst the reentry population while supporting and resourcing healthcare providers who serve this community. Burnout is rampant amongst reentry service providers and the stressors of the job tend to extend beyond normal business hours.

Events like this one occur quarterly and offer an opportunity for collaboration, knowledge exchange, and resource-sharing, fostering a holistic approach to reentry support.

​For more information and to view the schedule of upcoming events click here.

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