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Podcast Ep. 16: Become a Better Parent by Mastering Your Emotions with Alexandra Tataryn, Bio-Emotive Coach

In this episode

For Alexandra Tataryn, parenting isn't about tips, tricks, and hacks. It's about doing the hard inner work of understanding, processing, and expressing our deepest emotions so that we can become more present and connected to our family. Alexandra is a bio-emotive coach, a mother, and a movement artist. She works 1 on 1 with clients, and leads in-person and online classes in emotional health, healing movement, and a relationship practice called circling. In this episode, we learn what emotions really are, why they’re so important, how we can use them for healing and connection, the unique emotional experiences of mothers and fathers, and so much more.

If you want to learn more about your own emotions and the emotions of your kids and your partner, then buckle up—you’re definitely going to want to hear this! 


Listen here

https://open.spotify.com/episode/7gEuMZ9FgT09nABNLuotSz?si=a55c2ab42cd54faf

About our guest

Alexandra Tataryn is a coach for the Bio-Emotive Framework, a resonance-based emotional process that teaches people how to understand, process, and express emotions in the body so that we can become more present and connected to those around us. This synthesis was developed by her father, Dr. Douglas J. Tataryn, a psychologist who has been a practicing psychotherapist for the past 20 years.

Aside from being a bio-emotive coach, Alexandra is also a mother, a movement artist, and leads classes in emotional health healing movement and a relationship practice called circling. Find out more about her work here.

Alexandra will be leading a bio-emotive training (much like the one Justin did and discusses in the podcast) in October. Sign up here and TFT members can get $100 off the course with the promo code: Familythrive100

Show notes

  • 04:32 - "Focusing...is a practice of allowing our bodies to guide us to deeper self-knowledge and healing..." It is a meditative technique developed by Eugene T. Gendlin, PhD.
  • 36:35 - Gabrielle Roth’s 5Rhythms explore a Wave, which is comprised of an hour dance going through the Flowing, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical, and Stillness stages.
  • 42:50 - To check out our Parent-Teen Communication Workshop, click here
  • 48:39 - Alexandra’s practice of circling is “an art of creating safe spaces for meaningful and needed conversations. It's a lot of weaving together of multi-level communication, meditative awareness, and even intuition.”

Justin: Hey, friend, this podcast is brought to you by The Family Thrive, an expert-led science-backed online community for busy parents who are looking to thrive. Join us at thefamilythrivecom.

Alexandra: If we do our work as parents, it just starts to shift the kids as we calm our nervous system and we get more clarity in our mind that transmits. And the kids start to co-regulate. If you're speaking in this way, the child just starts speaking in that way. It just happens. It's monkey see monkey do on such a primal level, they start to come down and it's like a transmission.

Justin: I met Alexandra Tataryn a year and a half ago when she led an online workshop on something called the Bio-Emotive Framework. It was all about learning how to understand the process and express emotions in the body so that we can become more present and connected to those around us. These practices and the ideas behind them were developed by her father, Douglas Tataryn, who was a psychologist and researcher at the University of Arizona—go Wildcats—and has been a practicing psychotherapist for the past 20 years. I'll just say here at the beginning that the bio emotive framework and Ali’s coaching has had a huge impact on me, on our marriage, and my parenting. And I believe that it can do the same for every parent. This is why we just had to reach out and bring Ali on the podcast. 

She's not just a bio-emotive coach, but she's also a mother and a movement artist. She leads in-person and online classes in emotional health healing movement and a relationship practice called circling. 

In this episode, we learn about emotions, why they're so important, how we can use them for healing and connection, the unique emotional experiences of mothers and fathers and so much more. If you want to learn more about your own emotions and the emotions of your kids and your partner, then buckle up. Without further ado, here's the wonderful and wise Alexandra Tataryn. 

You are, of course, a mother. You are a bio-emotive coach. You are a movement artist. And I want to talk about all of these and I want to talk about how they intersect. But I think before we begin, we should just talk about bio emotive real quick. Like what is this word? I'm sure listeners are already feeling lost and confused. So maybe we can just start with bio-emotive motive. What does that mean?

Alexandra: The bio-emotive framework or bio-emotive processing; bio like biological, emotive, like emotion. And we should probably stick in there rational. 

It's a form of therapy that my father came up with and what he was doing over the last 20 years when absolutely no one was doing it. It's a lot more acknowledged now, was he was saying that when you're doing therapy with people, when you're working with people, with mental illness, when you're working with people that are facing all sorts of issues, it's not just about controlling their behavior. It's actually acknowledging that they have an inner world and that inner world involves emotions and feelings. 

So our motto has been we kind of have two messages. One, that emotions exist. So just do whatever you need to do. Go study whatever you need to study. Go discover whatever you need to discover. You have emotions. They're valid, they're real. Acknowledge them, give them space. Go do what you've got to do to have that. And this is kind of where we start specializing a little bit more. Not only do emotions exist, they can be worked with, harnessed and released in a way that you're not swimming in them endlessly, so that by actually consciously understanding your emotional system, you're not being unconsciously controlled by your emotional system, which means you're able to take way more conscious action and choices in your life. 

Our particular angle, which I do, I'm really careful, really careful to acknowledge like all of the amazing emotional things out there. But we work really a lot on making sure that people are integrating the intellectual, emotional and physical aspects of their being. 

And it really rooted in Gendlin’s Focusing where you spend a lot of time, you tune into a different part of your body. You're being you just say, “Ok, what's the story that's happening here? What's hidden?” Like what's what's the wounding that's hidden in this pain right here? And as you follow that process, you keep asking yourself, “does that capture the essence of your pain or do you need to clarify it a little bit more?” 

Justin: Yes. 

Alexandra: And so what you end up doing is you are getting more and more refined and articulate. So it's like, “Oh, it's not just that that person is really mean and I hate them.” And they're this and that. It's like, “Oh, when she spoke to me in this way, I felt really dismissed. Oh, when I felt dismissed, it felt like she wasn't acknowledging that my perspective was meaningful.” When I'm not having my perspective acknowledged as meaningful, it goes even more deep. Right. And so you keep following that thread until you basically find the aha moment.

Justin: That is a beautiful explanation, because as you described that I recognize that's exactly what we did together. 

Like you helped me clarify a lot of just these emotions that felt just big and kind of just like a wave. Like so much of, I think, mental health and also the mindfulness, kind of mainstream mindfulness, at least as I had experienced it before bio-emotive, at least for me, came across as let the wave pass. You know, is there a way just to let the wave pass or can you just bring your attention back to the breath while the wave, you know, comes and goes? And what I loved about the bio-emotive approach was like, oh, no, no, no. The wave is like, that's where the gold is, like that's where I keep following that. And then you're going to come across treasure.

Alexandra: Yeah. And it's a good capacity to be able to let the wave pass. Like I will say like develop that capacity for sure. But there is treasure in those waves. Exactly. And like I'm, you know, I'm talking about this is as like broad strokes as I can, like not getting into theory, not getting into nuances. But it's like what's the true essence? And yeah, inside those waves, you can take the time and you can discover it goes back to a little pin root. And if you can find that, you can pluck it out and suddenly you're like, whoa. 

And what I'll also comment is so there's an element of this work that is unique to kind of like what my dad figured out and blah, blah, blah. But there's another side of it where it was like he just sort of started to notice, oh, there's a pattern that when you're doing deep healing work that everyone's going through, they're just going through it haphazardly. The body knows how to heal if you actually just let it. 

And what is the most natural thing in the world to do? Get really annoyed. Start talking about it incessantly, going on about it until you randomly say the thing that makes you burst into tears and someone hugs you with that and you're like, well, I just feel so much better. Thank you so much for listening to me. Right. And so it's like that really silly, easy cycle. Well, it's like that's it. Notice you have something going on. Give space for it. Don't ignore it. Say it out loud. Cry it until your body gets rid of what it needs to get rid of and feel the release. Any other healing modality you do, you're going to realize. Oh, we've just been skipping a step or oh, we've just been bypassing one little area, so it's really brilliant. It's really beautiful.

Justin: Absolutely. Oh, yes. Yes. This all feels very familiar. And I've attempted to weave this into my own daily mindfulness practices. Like right now I'm feeling activated or can I now take these steps to talk about it. Can I let these emotions come up? Can I kind of get more precise around them? And then can I physically express them like this is, that was a huge key for me, is like, oh, I've been living my life in my head so much that I just assumed all emotions were just these mental products. And then to really have this awareness of like, oh, no, these emotions are physical like these. 

These are absolutely in my body. And they need to be expressed physically as well, whether it's, you know, something as small as just a deep breath and a sigh or something as big as sobbing like these emotions need to be processed physically. They need to be expressed. And that was a big game-changer for me. So I am curious now how this has or if anything new has come up around the process of motherhood or, you know, during pregnancy, around the birth. Maybe we can start there. Did anything new in your emotional or personal growth work come up?

Alexandra: Yeah. So I think for myself, I've been doing emotional clearing work. Like it's been built into me, right, from a young age.

Justin: Oh, can I pause there? Because I've heard you say that before and I've had a lot of curiosity around this. And so, like, how young were you when you started to learn these emotional processing tools?

Alexandra: I think I was about seven years old when I was crying and my dad came down and asked me, “Well, if it had a color, what color would your sadness be right now?” And I remember contemplating no, it's blue, not yellow. And I remember that. So that was the beginning. I was about seven years old.

Justin: And so then not just in childhood, but through your adolescence as well, when I'm sure emotions got really big. You already had these tools.

Alexandra: Yeah. And I mean, it was like we just had space. We just had space to express ourselves. And like appropriately, there was boundaries where it was like, no, in this moment you need to just go put your toys away and you need to just go do this and then you can go cry about it later. Right?

Justin: Yeah. 

Alexandra: You can go get that out of your system after. But right now you have to do what I'm asking you to do. And that was really beautiful because it still taught regulation. Right? It was like I could honor the intensity that was moving through my body, but I still had to honor the group space of the family and go do what needed to be done. And so I've appreciated that because I think honoring emotions, like I said before, honoring emotions allows emotions not to run your life. 

And so even when I've been working with different children and different youth with behavior challenges or neurological challenges, we just give a lot of space for them to honor what's going on inside their system so that we can bring them back and get them to actually do the task at hand.

Justin: How did your emotional processing work or your personal growth change during pregnancy?

Alexandra: The shift that I had in emotional processing was recognizing the importance of community. So in the beginning, the partnership that I had with the father, we weren't sure what was going to happen. And that's a real thing for some of us is having to navigate that. And so recognizing how important it is to not just be able to do emotional processing on your own, but when you need to be able to reach out to others that can hold space for you, but then also others that can hold space for you and help you find the things. 

So it's not just, you know, crying and expressing and releasing, which is really good, but it was like I'm going into a perception loop here, and it's creating an issue between how I'm handling this dynamic. You know, I'm a really intelligent woman. I'm not acting so intelligent in this situation. Let me really do some emotional processing and really figure out what it is that I'm getting triggered into. And so, yeah, this is what I do for a living. And I need to keep doing this work as a human being. Right. 

And I'm so grateful because I'm telling you, there's also a certain fierceness where it's like I have to really look at what core feeling is getting activated in me that I don't want to feel, that is pushing me into all of these like strength behaviors that is not helping this dynamic. And so I had to get myself out of a few little fear responses, because as soon as you're a mom. Wow. Your survival instincts are just heightened, which means you have to also become a little more eloquent. So I don't know. I mean, you can dig into that if you want.

Justin: Audra has described that as like the mother bear, you know, and this like mother bear, you know, survival response. And then you said you have to become more eloquent. Can you unpack that a little bit?

Alexandra: Well, yeah. So like with great power, my mother bearness comes great responsibility, which is like now that I've got all of this like primal energy moving through my system and like precision with perception. What is the future hold? What needs need to get met? How are we going to implement that? Who's the community coming together? That's a lot of energy moving through a woman's body. 

And so recognizing, especially in this time where women are getting much more respect, it's like how do we flow? How do we flow those energetics? So if I'm seeing something really precisely and really important, how do I communicate that in a way that's uplifting and landing in those around me?

Justin: Ali, what's coming up for me is that hearing that you had to navigate all of this as someone who has been doing this work since age seven. I hear what's coming up is what hope is there for us who have never done this or, you know, for somebody like me who, you know, came across as a little over a year ago. Were there any lessons that you might be able to share for a new mom who doesn't have these tools but might be experiencing some of these same challenges?

Alexandra: Yeah. And I'll say kind of like the intensity that I'm going to like. I just kind of go to like this bigger intensities. It's just sort of me. It's just my personality. I mean, the advice for the new moms is, is that we're all human. And it doesn't really matter how much experience you have or don't have. We're all extremely valid in the emotional experience that we're having. And what you can do as a new mom is honor in you. 

Yeah, if I could find people to talk to in a safe space, whether it's my best friends, whether it's my family members, whether it's an online community, if you can take that one step of self-empowerment to say this is meaningful enough that I have to somehow prioritize it, that's it. Because once you have that friend or that group or whatever where you're able to just say this is a safe space to talk, this is a safe space to share. This is a safe space to cry. And then you makeup back on and go back out into the world. That is empowering. And it really doesn't matter if you're brand new to emotional processing or if you're a therapist. We're all in that humanity position together.

Justin: So the birth comes. Were there any experiences around the birth where you had to draw on your emotional processing tools, or was it more of a like instinctual thing where you just kind of went with the flow?

Alexandra: I wouldn't say I had any specific, like emotional processing experiences during the birth, but in the communities that I'm part of, there is a lot of emphasis on natural and at-home birthing. And that wasn't a process that I went through. I went to the hospital and I was taken care of very, very well in the hospital. And I could feel myself almost feeling a little bit quietly shamed by all of the women that I knew that had done their wild mob births in their living room. 

And I just said, you know, I'm here at this hospital and I have got like seven nurses, these amazing women who have all gathered here to make sure that me and my baby come through this together. And I am going to give all of that over, like I'm going to trust these women. I'm in their turf. I'm in their territory. They were all really kind and loving to me. And so, again, it was sort of that attitude of community. But it was, there was an emotional ache that I had to say, no, I'm not going to let that get under my skin. And so I had an amazing birth experience.

Justin: So this is an aspect of parenting that is unique, I think, for moms, as I remember Audra experiencing some of this around having to have a C-section and it was planned. And so like it, because of medical necessity, it just had to happen. And there was a feeling it was like this subtle, like you are not doing it the natural way. And then around breastfeeding and then and then adding in formula. 

And so there were all these things that as a dad, it was like it didn't register at all, was like, who cares? I mean, we have a healthy kid and like, you know, and if we supplement, you know, the breastfeeding with the formula, like, who cares? And but it was this whole now, in retrospect, you know, with Max is now 14 years old, this was a long time ago. But there was this whole emotional world that Andre was experiencing that I had very little awareness of. What I'm hearing for you as you were able to not just shake off some of those judgments that you might be perceiving, but then you also were able to look at your current situation with these nurses and this community that was there to care for you in the hospital as well. I wonder if there's been any other experiences like that where you've been able to navigate those social judgments around motherhood.

Alexandra: It's like there's this interesting balance between it's like I mean, there's you know, there's research, of course, right. Like if you do it this way, then this is proven to show this and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And so this is why it's ideal to do all of these sort of things. But the way that I see it, like for the breastfeeding example, is we know so much that if you're one of the families where circumstances happened, whatever it is, whether it's, you know, pressure on the mother or whether it's biological issues with feeding, whatever it is, we have enough knowledge now that we can say because there was this thing that we had to overcome at this time, we can recognize the impact and so we can use all of our resources and understanding to kind of make up for it in a future way. 

So if there is some sort of I mean, I'm kind of thinking about that a little bit more behaviorally, but there's like this dual all women should be empowered to do as they want to do as mothers. But if you don't follow it the right way, we are steadily going to have an issue like this. And so it's like you're getting these mixed messages. But then again, this kind of goes back to if you can recognize in yourself, “Oh, the way that that woman or the way that that worker said that to me, it's triggering some of my own insecurities around this, this, this and this. I can acknowledge that I've got, you know, these little wounds where I want to be seen as the perfect mom, because I want to be seen as significant in all of this stuff.” You can just kind of quickly jump past it and say, “and I'm not perfect and I'm ok. I don't have to be perfect.” 

And I think you do kind of have to be tough as a mom. And that toughness hopefully doesn't translate into like inflexibility, right? Where you feel safe enough to still learn. But there is a certain. “Yeah, I'm doing it this way. And maybe no one here agrees and maybe I'll change my mind tomorrow or I'll educate myself and I'll do it differently tomorrow. But like in this moment, this is who I am. This is what's happening. And my kid is going to be ok in the long run” and really kind of keeping that larger, that long-term view, because like otherwise, you're just going to start obsessing over every little thing and you're not... This is the essence. Oftentimes, we're not actually caring about what the kid needs. We're caring about what people are thinking about us as parents.

Justin: So it starts in the womb and then throughout the rest of their lives, because it's, I mean, all the way up through what college did your kid get into? You know, so. Absolutely. Absolutely. Oh, so there's a lot of emotional processing and self-awareness work that parents can do all the way through that can pay dividends. So now we talked about pregnancy. So now in infancy or early childhood, what has been coming up for you again in this around emotional processing or personal growth, or all of this work that you do?

Alexandra: I think what I just said, they're like one the kind of personal thing I've been contemplating is making sure that I'm making choices for my child. I'm not making choices because of me getting pulled into other people's perceptions and their views.

Justin: Yeah. So how do you do that work? Because I can imagine that it's not always easy to pull out. Like what is the social judgment piece that I have? And then what is the inner knowing piece that I have? How do you do that work?

Alexanda: Well, for me, it's like the inner knowing is my kid is going to I'm going to somehow screw make it up no matter what I do. So give her the tools to be able to feel empowered and strong enough and love herself enough and love me enough that when she needs to go get therapy and figure out whatever, that she can, that she'll just be like, yeah, this is a part of life. 

And what I have been thinking a lot about is I'm that kid that liked going to school. I liked having the consistency I liked having, now we take a break. Now we go to recess. Now we come back. Everyone stands in line. There's a beauty to like, let's all walk single-file down the hallway. And even as an actor, theater performer, sports player, you start to love like let me surrender my own will for the greater of the group. Right. Let me play my role really effectively so that the larger whole can accomplish something. So I love that. 

But what I'm recognizing is the way we were raised was, you know, you kind of did what you were told. You just, you did what you were told and you would override. Doesn't matter if you have a passion about this, this is what needs to get done. And this was I mean, I grew up in a small, small town here in Manitoba, Canada. So I don't know what it's like in other places, but there was a bit of a strictness. But what I'm seeing is we are moving into a different world where children need to be strong enough to say no. When kids start saying no to their parents, it's terrifying. Kids have a lot of power. Right. And as parents, we have to somehow direct that energy for them to stay empowered, be able to say no. Right. As a young girl, no, this is my body, not yours. No, you can't. You know, no, you can't do that. Like somehow we have to bring in that no, without egocentric-ness. 

And so what I'm really exploring is there were things that I valued growing up as a child, but with my daughter. I'm like, I'm going to have to give her more freedom than I had because she's going to be living in a world where she has to take charge and she has to take the lead and she has to be able to negotiate. So when I grew up, it was like, don't negotiate with me. Just do as you're told. This is what you're going to have. With my daughter, I'm like, no, she's going to have to learn how to negotiate. She's going to have to learn how to like say, well, mom, maybe if you did this and this, then I'll do this and this. And that's a very big mindset shift for me to say. That's actually a life skill that she could be having.

Justin: Wow, that's powerful. I remember taking a sociological theory class over 20 years ago, and we were reading this book by this sociologist who argued that one of the key differences for kids growing up is, he used the term in modernity. But we can just say, you know, these days as opposed to a hundred years ago or almost any time in the past, is that our ancestors had identities and roles that were just given to them. It was like, “Hey, man, your dad was a, you know, cobbler. You're going to be a cobbler. And your dad went to this particular church and that's what you're doing.” And it wasn't even a question. 

And then he says, but today, it's not just that, you know, we have choices or we get to have choices. You know, we're forced to have choices and that landed on me like no, no, no. Like you don't have a choice. You have to choose because your role, your identity is not given to you. And so that. Yeah, yeah. I really like what you're saying. But it feels. Oh, man, it feels like such a rocky parenting path.

Alexandra: Well, it just it's keeping me humble. It's humble because I have been that person that's kind of like been like, well, this is not how I would do it. And over the years, I've gone you know, I've kind of watched some of these kids grow up and they're like really confident, self-empowered kids. And so, like, maybe it wasn't so bad that they had, that they were like this when they were younger, because that kind of started to work out as they got older.

Justin: So you do have experience in foster care. And so you do have experience with children, as you said, it was primarily ages seven to 12. So what did you learn in that experience that you are anticipating that you're going to be able to put to use?

Alexandra: The main things I've learned as I, I was also often working with very intense children. And so that sometimes I'll go into like a regular school and I'll be like, oh, this is so easy. What? Yeah, I think I just learned a lot about behavior in the mind, working with these kids and so much of what's going on in the kids. If we do our work as parents, it just starts to shift the kids as we come our nervous system and we get more clarity in our mind that transmits and the kids start to co-regulate. They start to come down. And it's like a transmission. If you're speaking in this way, the child just starts speaking in that way. It's just like, it just happens. It's monkey see monkey do on such a primal level, like if you're doing your work. I mean, that's such a luxury oftentimes to be able to do personal work and self-reflection. 

So I don't want to throw that out there lightly. But if you are the chaos that's kind of going on inside of our systems is the chaos that's manifesting around us. And then that's and that's beautiful. That's not something to be ashamed about. That's just something to recognize and dance with and play with. And the more that we can just come back to our own, this is that breath. This is the chaos. This is my next step. And I don't have to know what my next step after that next step is. That just is what calms a kid right down.

Justin: So, Ali, one thing that I experienced after doing work with you in the Bio-Emotive Framework. Is well, actually, the interesting thing, I think on the first session that we had in that workshop, I well, I remember it. I described being triggered by Max like the day before. There was some dispute around video games in the morning before school. And I was triggered and I got upset at him. 

And so I kind of have that as a marker for me. And what happened over the course of several months after that was or my experience and I now have the reflection of Audra and the kids, that this is what they experienced as well. Being able to get closer to my own challenging emotions and to dig in and to really feel them and to process them. And then what felt like, you know, a wave that was just going to crush me eventually it's see, oh, it's not going to crush me. 

Like I can't actually, you know, go through it and actually learn more. And be even fuller on the other side that I was then able to hold space or just be comfortable with my kids, difficult or challenging emotions. And so I was no longer trying to shut their difficult emotions down. I was able to actually sit with them or like you described with your dad, you know, instead of, like I can imagine a dad, just a typical dad who isn't a psychologist, who doesn't have a PhD, who would say to the kids, stop crying over the blocks or just, you know, calm, calm down. 

And instead he came and was like, no, let's explore these feelings. And so I really recognize what you're saying about this was a monkey-see monkey-do of like if I'm more regulated and this calmness is going to kind of percolate outward. But there was this other piece that just totally surprised me, that the more I'm comfortable with my own challenging emotions and my own triggers and my own internal junk, like the more comfortable I am with that than the more comfortable I am just being with my kids’ internal junk and just letting it be and letting it express itself and just being here for it instead of trying to squash it.

Alexandra: Behind every crazy behavior, there's a feeling.

Justin: Yeah. And so instead of squashing it, can we like let that feeling come forth and can we? Yeah. Can we hold space for it? And can we talk about it? So one thing I want to make sure that we talk about so we've mentioned your work as a bio-emotive coach or for listeners who might have just like skipped ahead an emotional processing coach and then a mother, somebody who has worked in the foster care system in Canada. But then there is this other identity that you have as a movement artist. And so I want to know, first of all, what is a movement artist?

Alexandra: I work teaching and performing movement, expressive movement, healing movement and also performative movement. Kind of the other life that I've had has been as a performer, but as a performer I've always seen how powerful expressing myself through my body has been, so through dance. But I would never call myself a dancer because that's just like a whole other, it's just a whole other world is to go into that. It's more of a performance artist. 

During my years training in theater, I basically got to get exposed to all sorts of just wacky modalities through movement. So what I sort of discover as a performer was that the time that I would take to do all of these like performance practices, this was the difference between me being able to have a space to safely express really, really, really deep emotional states that didn't have a place anywhere else. So I was getting to have really powerful, cathartic releases through these trainings. And I started to recognize, oh, other people need to be able to do this. 

When you're working as a performer, your body is your instrument and you need to clean out your body. So you need to get rid of the blocks. And that means learning how to like unlock where the tension is and release it in a really, really effective way. So now a lot of, the other side of the work that I do is how do we take the heaviness of your day? And how do we let that go on the stage? How do we perform it through our bodies?

Justin: So this work is done on a stage?

Alexandra: On a stage or in a room. It just depends on what we've got rented.

Justin: Yeah, I was wondering like, is this yeah. Is this only on a stage or is this something that can be done just in a room? Is it done with multiple people?

Alexandra: Yeah. So this can be done anywhere. You can do it on your bed. I've had a movement practice where I don't leave my bed and I just I oh, well, I'll explain what that practice is. But basically for. So, for example, there's a woman named Gabrielle Roth. She's wrote something called 5Rhythms. 5Rhythms is saying that we all have five different basic rhythms that exist in our bodies. And we all have biases towards one rhythm, over another rhythm. And you can use this. Oh, flowing. I like to be in a flowing state versus staccato-like these hard, soft versus lyrical, versus chaos, which is like ahhhhh, versus stillness, and if you take the time to allow your body to explore each one of those rhythms, you're going to discover that there is some part of you that finds deep peace and flow, but also is afraid of flow and it's afraid of slowing down. It’s afraid of being gentle. It’s afraid. And now you get to work with that. Right. 

And usually there can be an emotional release through that and then you dance that release out of your system. So it's bypassing the intellect. It's helping unlock what's locked in your system. And it's also helping you kind of, you get these little insights of like, oh, I always have to be strong and pushing. What happens if I came to my partner with a little bit more gentleness? Now that I'm a little less afraid of gentleness or she's gentle. And I don't know how to handle gentle, right or, oh, I've been mistaking how she's behaving for being angry. He's not being angry. She's just being direct. I like to be indirect all the time, but I've been confusing anger for directness. 

So you start to discover through your own movement patterns, your psychological kind of tendencies. So a practice that I can just offer to people. Yeah. So I mean, one go look up, 5Rhythms. They're awesome. I mean, I tend to make everything much more therapeutic. So, you know, but go look at 5Rhythms, they’re great. 

A practice that I can offer is, yeah. If you're waking up in the morning and in particular, if you're feeling kind of depressed or like low energy, contract your whole body and then release out, do that a couple of times. You're focusing on your gut contraction, expansion, contraction, expansion, and then allow your body to just start moving how it wants to move. Follow the impulse. You're going to feel like a funny tingle in your shoulder or like a funny little feeling in your toe. And if you follow that, within eight to 15 minutes, your body will have naturally wrung out whatever depressive state that it has. 

And you may find yourself making funny noises like roaring or like prrr prr prrr prr prr, like making ridiculous sounds. It doesn't matter. It's going to activate a state of play which activates a state of all, which is going to activate a really good chemical in your brain, and you're going to wake up feeling happy. But you have to allow your body to go through what it wants to go through. So 10 minutes, less.

Justin: So I imagine there are some people who, you know, live in their heads like me and are saying, like, how do I even get there? So. Are there some preparatory pieces of advice that you can give people who are like trapped in their head? And it might sound strange to try to get into their bodies like that?

Alexandra: For sure. How about you hop out of bed, stand beside your bed and you play with the three planes, you reach up. But not only do you reach up, you reach beyond how you can reach. You pull out of your realm. You go up, up, up, up, up, and then explore the side, reach as far as you can behind you, and then go to the ground and explore the lower plane. And if you move between all three of those planes and then to each side, that's a very, very simple way to wake you up.

Justin: I love that. That feels like it is also something or this whole movement piece is also something that can be done between parents and kids too. Have you seen that? I mean, because I've heard of this work and also in my work with you over bio-emotive. There was a lot of movement pieces to it that I've been able to incorporate and absolutely love. But I'm not aware of bringing this into maybe like a parent-child practice.

Alexandra: Yeah. I mean, like I—you know, stuff off the top of my head is just a good mirroring game. But so sit with your child, make eye contact, kind of be with the like giggles that are there. And as you're present and you just wave one hand and have your child follow, and as you do this mirroring game together, then you say, “Ok, now you lead.” Right. And you try to get them to slow down enough. 

But what happens is it's getting the two of you guys in sync. And it's giving a shared experience of how to be a follower with respect to someone else leading, but also how to be a leader. And then if you really, really want to play, you say, “Ok, now neither of us is following and neither of us is leading.” And there becomes this very beautiful dance of who is leading, who isn't. And it creates such a state of peace. 

You know, and it can be silly. You can go really, really fast. ok, now go so fast. And then everyone just falls apart. But it's the simplest thing you can do. It can be your shared meditation experience in the mornings. It's great.

Justin: All right. So I want to wrap up this part by asking you about teens. Now, I know you have a five-month-old, but you do have siblings and they either have been teenagers or might still be teenagers. I don't know. But we're doing a workshop right now on parent-teen communication for The Family Thrive. Working with several therapists on this and just really getting into the idea that it's, it’s a really new space because I mean, it is this like transition between childhood and adulthood and so much is happening. 

Do any of these practices change? Is there anything special to bring into the teen-parent relationship?

Alexandra: So I'm definitely not a teen expert. I will definitely say that. And what's happening in the teenage years is youth are developing a relationship to their own authority. And so what's happening is they're having to, you guys are, we're all having to navigate my authority versus your authority? How do I keep my authority while you are still developing your own inner authority? And so there's a negotiation that's taking place. When you have kind of like the super rebellious aspect of teenage life. That's them learning their own authority. 

And sometimes they're having to push up against really serious extremes for them to know where they end and the world begins. And so, yeah, I mean, you're not going to get everything right and perfect, but you can push back, hold that strong boundary and give a space for negotiation. How can they get further next time? So because what's happening is they still have to honor and respect the whole and the collective. 

And what we as parents are is we are representing the whole and the collective. So we’re having to say, yes, you're an amazing individual. Yes, you're stepping into your power. And you somehow have to hold some sort of regard for the larger group, because it's not just about you. And that's you're just going to be in a constant back and forth and that, it's a negotiation. Right. And depending on if you want your kid to be an entrepreneur and in all of these crazy leadership positions, well, like it or not, you probably want them to learn how to lead. Right? A

nd give them that space, if that's what their disposition is, even if it's really uncomfortable for us. Right. So this is part of that. You know, we're living in a new era and we want to give space for our kids to step into those capacities.

Justin: Are there any important differences in emotional health, emotional health practices for moms versus dads. I mean, are we basically working off the same template or is there something special that moms need to be aware of versus dads in taking care of their own emotional health, growing emotionally, emotional processing the whole thing?

Alexandra: I wouldn't state moms versus dads. What I would state is we have some of us are more insight-oriented and some of us are more deep-expression-oriented. So maybe women are more deep expression and maybe men are more in their head and insight. But of course, it can be vice versa. 

So if you are someone that already has access to your emotional system and you're already big and you already cry and you're already, you know, yelling and you're already in that kind of like big way, well, then you do your emotional processing in such a way that helps calm those intensities. Right. You're learning how to kind of self-regulate. Bring it down. You're figuring out. “I'm in this activation, which is causing me to act like this. Give me a minute. Let me go work it out.” So that's important. If you find yourself always repeating the same sentence, there's something that you haven't resolved in yourself or there's a dynamic between you and your partner, you and your kid that you have to look at. It just says that there's something there. 

But on the flip side, if you tend to be more insight-oriented. Then you want to be able to open up more of that emotional expression, and the advice for that is go for a long drive. Maybe you're on the freeway and let it out. Yell at the top of your lungs. Yell at the top of your lungs until your body feels at peace, once your body feels at peace, you're like, oh, ok, glad I got that let out, or you do that sports thing that you're doing, but when you're doing it consciously, take the emotion from the day that you've kind of locked off and put it into that run, channel that emotion. 

So some of us are more cut off from our emotions and we need to learn how to shake it up and open it up. Some of us already have a lot of access to it, and it's more about refining, refining those intense spaces. And both are great.

Justin: I love it, Love it, love it. Thank you. All right, so before we get to the final three questions that we ask every single guest on the show, I want to make sure that listeners know how to find out more about what you're doing and all the new stuff that's going to be coming for you.

Alexandra: Yeah, please. My website is hojialexandra.ca. And that's where you'll get my movement stuff, my circling stuff, my communication stuff, just all of the things that I do. I also go through bioemotiveframework.com where I do my coaching and run my classes. We have a six-week intensive coming up in Fall. 

Justin: When does that start? 

Alexandra: Mid-September. Get hojialexandra.ca and then bioemotiveframework.com. And yeah, reach out to me whether it's for coaching or questions. I'm always happy to send an email where I can or refer you to people if there's something that I'm not able to give the highest and best advice for.

Justin: Awesome. Perfect. All right. So our final three questions first. If you could put a Post-it note on every parent's refrigerator tomorrow morning, what would that Post-it note say?

Alexandra: Find the feeling. Behind every intense behavior there's a feeling. Remember that, it will save you so much.

Justin: Beautiful. All right. And the second question is, is there a quote that you've seen lately that has changed the way you think or that has really moved you?

Alexandra: This is Gabrielle Roth’s book. “To cast off the world's spell, our inner rhythm takes over and we begin to sense who we really are and how great our potential is.”

Justin: Back to movement, the rhythms. Beautiful. All right. So then our final question is, what do you love about kids?

Alexandra: Their playfulness and the fact that if you actually take the time to enter into their reality, you will discover how big reality is. that play is very serious to them. And when we as adults are able to take that playfulness into our day-to-day life, we start becoming actual masters of our existence. It's very, very amazing. Yeah. 

Justin: Ali, thank you so much for taking time out of your day to join us on The Family Thrive Podcast. And we can't wait to do it again.

Alexandra: This time was fun. Thank you so much.

Justin: Hey, thanks for listening to the Family Thrive Podcast. If you like what you heard, please subscribe, tell two friends and head on over to Apple Podcasts or anywhere you listen to podcasts and give us a review. We're so grateful you've chosen to join us on this Family Thrive journey.

Podcast Ep. 16: Become a Better Parent by Mastering Your Emotions with Alexandra Tataryn, Bio-Emotive Coach

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Podcast Ep. 16: Become a Better Parent by Mastering Your Emotions with Alexandra Tataryn, Bio-Emotive Coach

Bio-emotive coach and movement artist Alexandra Tataryn joins us to talk about what emotions really are, why they’re so important, how parents can use them for healing and connection, and so much more.

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In this episode

For Alexandra Tataryn, parenting isn't about tips, tricks, and hacks. It's about doing the hard inner work of understanding, processing, and expressing our deepest emotions so that we can become more present and connected to our family. Alexandra is a bio-emotive coach, a mother, and a movement artist. She works 1 on 1 with clients, and leads in-person and online classes in emotional health, healing movement, and a relationship practice called circling. In this episode, we learn what emotions really are, why they’re so important, how we can use them for healing and connection, the unique emotional experiences of mothers and fathers, and so much more.

If you want to learn more about your own emotions and the emotions of your kids and your partner, then buckle up—you’re definitely going to want to hear this! 


Listen here

https://open.spotify.com/episode/7gEuMZ9FgT09nABNLuotSz?si=a55c2ab42cd54faf

About our guest

Alexandra Tataryn is a coach for the Bio-Emotive Framework, a resonance-based emotional process that teaches people how to understand, process, and express emotions in the body so that we can become more present and connected to those around us. This synthesis was developed by her father, Dr. Douglas J. Tataryn, a psychologist who has been a practicing psychotherapist for the past 20 years.

Aside from being a bio-emotive coach, Alexandra is also a mother, a movement artist, and leads classes in emotional health healing movement and a relationship practice called circling. Find out more about her work here.

Alexandra will be leading a bio-emotive training (much like the one Justin did and discusses in the podcast) in October. Sign up here and TFT members can get $100 off the course with the promo code: Familythrive100

Show notes

  • 04:32 - "Focusing...is a practice of allowing our bodies to guide us to deeper self-knowledge and healing..." It is a meditative technique developed by Eugene T. Gendlin, PhD.
  • 36:35 - Gabrielle Roth’s 5Rhythms explore a Wave, which is comprised of an hour dance going through the Flowing, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical, and Stillness stages.
  • 42:50 - To check out our Parent-Teen Communication Workshop, click here
  • 48:39 - Alexandra’s practice of circling is “an art of creating safe spaces for meaningful and needed conversations. It's a lot of weaving together of multi-level communication, meditative awareness, and even intuition.”

In this episode

For Alexandra Tataryn, parenting isn't about tips, tricks, and hacks. It's about doing the hard inner work of understanding, processing, and expressing our deepest emotions so that we can become more present and connected to our family. Alexandra is a bio-emotive coach, a mother, and a movement artist. She works 1 on 1 with clients, and leads in-person and online classes in emotional health, healing movement, and a relationship practice called circling. In this episode, we learn what emotions really are, why they’re so important, how we can use them for healing and connection, the unique emotional experiences of mothers and fathers, and so much more.

If you want to learn more about your own emotions and the emotions of your kids and your partner, then buckle up—you’re definitely going to want to hear this! 


Listen here

https://open.spotify.com/episode/7gEuMZ9FgT09nABNLuotSz?si=a55c2ab42cd54faf

About our guest

Alexandra Tataryn is a coach for the Bio-Emotive Framework, a resonance-based emotional process that teaches people how to understand, process, and express emotions in the body so that we can become more present and connected to those around us. This synthesis was developed by her father, Dr. Douglas J. Tataryn, a psychologist who has been a practicing psychotherapist for the past 20 years.

Aside from being a bio-emotive coach, Alexandra is also a mother, a movement artist, and leads classes in emotional health healing movement and a relationship practice called circling. Find out more about her work here.

Alexandra will be leading a bio-emotive training (much like the one Justin did and discusses in the podcast) in October. Sign up here and TFT members can get $100 off the course with the promo code: Familythrive100

Show notes

  • 04:32 - "Focusing...is a practice of allowing our bodies to guide us to deeper self-knowledge and healing..." It is a meditative technique developed by Eugene T. Gendlin, PhD.
  • 36:35 - Gabrielle Roth’s 5Rhythms explore a Wave, which is comprised of an hour dance going through the Flowing, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical, and Stillness stages.
  • 42:50 - To check out our Parent-Teen Communication Workshop, click here
  • 48:39 - Alexandra’s practice of circling is “an art of creating safe spaces for meaningful and needed conversations. It's a lot of weaving together of multi-level communication, meditative awareness, and even intuition.”

In this episode

For Alexandra Tataryn, parenting isn't about tips, tricks, and hacks. It's about doing the hard inner work of understanding, processing, and expressing our deepest emotions so that we can become more present and connected to our family. Alexandra is a bio-emotive coach, a mother, and a movement artist. She works 1 on 1 with clients, and leads in-person and online classes in emotional health, healing movement, and a relationship practice called circling. In this episode, we learn what emotions really are, why they’re so important, how we can use them for healing and connection, the unique emotional experiences of mothers and fathers, and so much more.

If you want to learn more about your own emotions and the emotions of your kids and your partner, then buckle up—you’re definitely going to want to hear this! 


Listen here

https://open.spotify.com/episode/7gEuMZ9FgT09nABNLuotSz?si=a55c2ab42cd54faf

About our guest

Alexandra Tataryn is a coach for the Bio-Emotive Framework, a resonance-based emotional process that teaches people how to understand, process, and express emotions in the body so that we can become more present and connected to those around us. This synthesis was developed by her father, Dr. Douglas J. Tataryn, a psychologist who has been a practicing psychotherapist for the past 20 years.

Aside from being a bio-emotive coach, Alexandra is also a mother, a movement artist, and leads classes in emotional health healing movement and a relationship practice called circling. Find out more about her work here.

Alexandra will be leading a bio-emotive training (much like the one Justin did and discusses in the podcast) in October. Sign up here and TFT members can get $100 off the course with the promo code: Familythrive100

Show notes

  • 04:32 - "Focusing...is a practice of allowing our bodies to guide us to deeper self-knowledge and healing..." It is a meditative technique developed by Eugene T. Gendlin, PhD.
  • 36:35 - Gabrielle Roth’s 5Rhythms explore a Wave, which is comprised of an hour dance going through the Flowing, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical, and Stillness stages.
  • 42:50 - To check out our Parent-Teen Communication Workshop, click here
  • 48:39 - Alexandra’s practice of circling is “an art of creating safe spaces for meaningful and needed conversations. It's a lot of weaving together of multi-level communication, meditative awareness, and even intuition.”

Enjoying this? Subscribe to The Family Thrive for more healthy recipes, video classes, and more.

Justin: Hey, friend, this podcast is brought to you by The Family Thrive, an expert-led science-backed online community for busy parents who are looking to thrive. Join us at thefamilythrivecom.

Alexandra: If we do our work as parents, it just starts to shift the kids as we calm our nervous system and we get more clarity in our mind that transmits. And the kids start to co-regulate. If you're speaking in this way, the child just starts speaking in that way. It just happens. It's monkey see monkey do on such a primal level, they start to come down and it's like a transmission.

Justin: I met Alexandra Tataryn a year and a half ago when she led an online workshop on something called the Bio-Emotive Framework. It was all about learning how to understand the process and express emotions in the body so that we can become more present and connected to those around us. These practices and the ideas behind them were developed by her father, Douglas Tataryn, who was a psychologist and researcher at the University of Arizona—go Wildcats—and has been a practicing psychotherapist for the past 20 years. I'll just say here at the beginning that the bio emotive framework and Ali’s coaching has had a huge impact on me, on our marriage, and my parenting. And I believe that it can do the same for every parent. This is why we just had to reach out and bring Ali on the podcast. 

She's not just a bio-emotive coach, but she's also a mother and a movement artist. She leads in-person and online classes in emotional health healing movement and a relationship practice called circling. 

In this episode, we learn about emotions, why they're so important, how we can use them for healing and connection, the unique emotional experiences of mothers and fathers and so much more. If you want to learn more about your own emotions and the emotions of your kids and your partner, then buckle up. Without further ado, here's the wonderful and wise Alexandra Tataryn. 

You are, of course, a mother. You are a bio-emotive coach. You are a movement artist. And I want to talk about all of these and I want to talk about how they intersect. But I think before we begin, we should just talk about bio emotive real quick. Like what is this word? I'm sure listeners are already feeling lost and confused. So maybe we can just start with bio-emotive motive. What does that mean?

Alexandra: The bio-emotive framework or bio-emotive processing; bio like biological, emotive, like emotion. And we should probably stick in there rational. 

It's a form of therapy that my father came up with and what he was doing over the last 20 years when absolutely no one was doing it. It's a lot more acknowledged now, was he was saying that when you're doing therapy with people, when you're working with people, with mental illness, when you're working with people that are facing all sorts of issues, it's not just about controlling their behavior. It's actually acknowledging that they have an inner world and that inner world involves emotions and feelings. 

So our motto has been we kind of have two messages. One, that emotions exist. So just do whatever you need to do. Go study whatever you need to study. Go discover whatever you need to discover. You have emotions. They're valid, they're real. Acknowledge them, give them space. Go do what you've got to do to have that. And this is kind of where we start specializing a little bit more. Not only do emotions exist, they can be worked with, harnessed and released in a way that you're not swimming in them endlessly, so that by actually consciously understanding your emotional system, you're not being unconsciously controlled by your emotional system, which means you're able to take way more conscious action and choices in your life. 

Our particular angle, which I do, I'm really careful, really careful to acknowledge like all of the amazing emotional things out there. But we work really a lot on making sure that people are integrating the intellectual, emotional and physical aspects of their being. 

And it really rooted in Gendlin’s Focusing where you spend a lot of time, you tune into a different part of your body. You're being you just say, “Ok, what's the story that's happening here? What's hidden?” Like what's what's the wounding that's hidden in this pain right here? And as you follow that process, you keep asking yourself, “does that capture the essence of your pain or do you need to clarify it a little bit more?” 

Justin: Yes. 

Alexandra: And so what you end up doing is you are getting more and more refined and articulate. So it's like, “Oh, it's not just that that person is really mean and I hate them.” And they're this and that. It's like, “Oh, when she spoke to me in this way, I felt really dismissed. Oh, when I felt dismissed, it felt like she wasn't acknowledging that my perspective was meaningful.” When I'm not having my perspective acknowledged as meaningful, it goes even more deep. Right. And so you keep following that thread until you basically find the aha moment.

Justin: That is a beautiful explanation, because as you described that I recognize that's exactly what we did together. 

Like you helped me clarify a lot of just these emotions that felt just big and kind of just like a wave. Like so much of, I think, mental health and also the mindfulness, kind of mainstream mindfulness, at least as I had experienced it before bio-emotive, at least for me, came across as let the wave pass. You know, is there a way just to let the wave pass or can you just bring your attention back to the breath while the wave, you know, comes and goes? And what I loved about the bio-emotive approach was like, oh, no, no, no. The wave is like, that's where the gold is, like that's where I keep following that. And then you're going to come across treasure.

Alexandra: Yeah. And it's a good capacity to be able to let the wave pass. Like I will say like develop that capacity for sure. But there is treasure in those waves. Exactly. And like I'm, you know, I'm talking about this is as like broad strokes as I can, like not getting into theory, not getting into nuances. But it's like what's the true essence? And yeah, inside those waves, you can take the time and you can discover it goes back to a little pin root. And if you can find that, you can pluck it out and suddenly you're like, whoa. 

And what I'll also comment is so there's an element of this work that is unique to kind of like what my dad figured out and blah, blah, blah. But there's another side of it where it was like he just sort of started to notice, oh, there's a pattern that when you're doing deep healing work that everyone's going through, they're just going through it haphazardly. The body knows how to heal if you actually just let it. 

And what is the most natural thing in the world to do? Get really annoyed. Start talking about it incessantly, going on about it until you randomly say the thing that makes you burst into tears and someone hugs you with that and you're like, well, I just feel so much better. Thank you so much for listening to me. Right. And so it's like that really silly, easy cycle. Well, it's like that's it. Notice you have something going on. Give space for it. Don't ignore it. Say it out loud. Cry it until your body gets rid of what it needs to get rid of and feel the release. Any other healing modality you do, you're going to realize. Oh, we've just been skipping a step or oh, we've just been bypassing one little area, so it's really brilliant. It's really beautiful.

Justin: Absolutely. Oh, yes. Yes. This all feels very familiar. And I've attempted to weave this into my own daily mindfulness practices. Like right now I'm feeling activated or can I now take these steps to talk about it. Can I let these emotions come up? Can I kind of get more precise around them? And then can I physically express them like this is, that was a huge key for me, is like, oh, I've been living my life in my head so much that I just assumed all emotions were just these mental products. And then to really have this awareness of like, oh, no, these emotions are physical like these. 

These are absolutely in my body. And they need to be expressed physically as well, whether it's, you know, something as small as just a deep breath and a sigh or something as big as sobbing like these emotions need to be processed physically. They need to be expressed. And that was a big game-changer for me. So I am curious now how this has or if anything new has come up around the process of motherhood or, you know, during pregnancy, around the birth. Maybe we can start there. Did anything new in your emotional or personal growth work come up?

Alexandra: Yeah. So I think for myself, I've been doing emotional clearing work. Like it's been built into me, right, from a young age.

Justin: Oh, can I pause there? Because I've heard you say that before and I've had a lot of curiosity around this. And so, like, how young were you when you started to learn these emotional processing tools?

Alexandra: I think I was about seven years old when I was crying and my dad came down and asked me, “Well, if it had a color, what color would your sadness be right now?” And I remember contemplating no, it's blue, not yellow. And I remember that. So that was the beginning. I was about seven years old.

Justin: And so then not just in childhood, but through your adolescence as well, when I'm sure emotions got really big. You already had these tools.

Alexandra: Yeah. And I mean, it was like we just had space. We just had space to express ourselves. And like appropriately, there was boundaries where it was like, no, in this moment you need to just go put your toys away and you need to just go do this and then you can go cry about it later. Right?

Justin: Yeah. 

Alexandra: You can go get that out of your system after. But right now you have to do what I'm asking you to do. And that was really beautiful because it still taught regulation. Right? It was like I could honor the intensity that was moving through my body, but I still had to honor the group space of the family and go do what needed to be done. And so I've appreciated that because I think honoring emotions, like I said before, honoring emotions allows emotions not to run your life. 

And so even when I've been working with different children and different youth with behavior challenges or neurological challenges, we just give a lot of space for them to honor what's going on inside their system so that we can bring them back and get them to actually do the task at hand.

Justin: How did your emotional processing work or your personal growth change during pregnancy?

Alexandra: The shift that I had in emotional processing was recognizing the importance of community. So in the beginning, the partnership that I had with the father, we weren't sure what was going to happen. And that's a real thing for some of us is having to navigate that. And so recognizing how important it is to not just be able to do emotional processing on your own, but when you need to be able to reach out to others that can hold space for you, but then also others that can hold space for you and help you find the things. 

So it's not just, you know, crying and expressing and releasing, which is really good, but it was like I'm going into a perception loop here, and it's creating an issue between how I'm handling this dynamic. You know, I'm a really intelligent woman. I'm not acting so intelligent in this situation. Let me really do some emotional processing and really figure out what it is that I'm getting triggered into. And so, yeah, this is what I do for a living. And I need to keep doing this work as a human being. Right. 

And I'm so grateful because I'm telling you, there's also a certain fierceness where it's like I have to really look at what core feeling is getting activated in me that I don't want to feel, that is pushing me into all of these like strength behaviors that is not helping this dynamic. And so I had to get myself out of a few little fear responses, because as soon as you're a mom. Wow. Your survival instincts are just heightened, which means you have to also become a little more eloquent. So I don't know. I mean, you can dig into that if you want.

Justin: Audra has described that as like the mother bear, you know, and this like mother bear, you know, survival response. And then you said you have to become more eloquent. Can you unpack that a little bit?

Alexandra: Well, yeah. So like with great power, my mother bearness comes great responsibility, which is like now that I've got all of this like primal energy moving through my system and like precision with perception. What is the future hold? What needs need to get met? How are we going to implement that? Who's the community coming together? That's a lot of energy moving through a woman's body. 

And so recognizing, especially in this time where women are getting much more respect, it's like how do we flow? How do we flow those energetics? So if I'm seeing something really precisely and really important, how do I communicate that in a way that's uplifting and landing in those around me?

Justin: Ali, what's coming up for me is that hearing that you had to navigate all of this as someone who has been doing this work since age seven. I hear what's coming up is what hope is there for us who have never done this or, you know, for somebody like me who, you know, came across as a little over a year ago. Were there any lessons that you might be able to share for a new mom who doesn't have these tools but might be experiencing some of these same challenges?

Alexandra: Yeah. And I'll say kind of like the intensity that I'm going to like. I just kind of go to like this bigger intensities. It's just sort of me. It's just my personality. I mean, the advice for the new moms is, is that we're all human. And it doesn't really matter how much experience you have or don't have. We're all extremely valid in the emotional experience that we're having. And what you can do as a new mom is honor in you. 

Yeah, if I could find people to talk to in a safe space, whether it's my best friends, whether it's my family members, whether it's an online community, if you can take that one step of self-empowerment to say this is meaningful enough that I have to somehow prioritize it, that's it. Because once you have that friend or that group or whatever where you're able to just say this is a safe space to talk, this is a safe space to share. This is a safe space to cry. And then you makeup back on and go back out into the world. That is empowering. And it really doesn't matter if you're brand new to emotional processing or if you're a therapist. We're all in that humanity position together.

Justin: So the birth comes. Were there any experiences around the birth where you had to draw on your emotional processing tools, or was it more of a like instinctual thing where you just kind of went with the flow?

Alexandra: I wouldn't say I had any specific, like emotional processing experiences during the birth, but in the communities that I'm part of, there is a lot of emphasis on natural and at-home birthing. And that wasn't a process that I went through. I went to the hospital and I was taken care of very, very well in the hospital. And I could feel myself almost feeling a little bit quietly shamed by all of the women that I knew that had done their wild mob births in their living room. 

And I just said, you know, I'm here at this hospital and I have got like seven nurses, these amazing women who have all gathered here to make sure that me and my baby come through this together. And I am going to give all of that over, like I'm going to trust these women. I'm in their turf. I'm in their territory. They were all really kind and loving to me. And so, again, it was sort of that attitude of community. But it was, there was an emotional ache that I had to say, no, I'm not going to let that get under my skin. And so I had an amazing birth experience.

Justin: So this is an aspect of parenting that is unique, I think, for moms, as I remember Audra experiencing some of this around having to have a C-section and it was planned. And so like it, because of medical necessity, it just had to happen. And there was a feeling it was like this subtle, like you are not doing it the natural way. And then around breastfeeding and then and then adding in formula. 

And so there were all these things that as a dad, it was like it didn't register at all, was like, who cares? I mean, we have a healthy kid and like, you know, and if we supplement, you know, the breastfeeding with the formula, like, who cares? And but it was this whole now, in retrospect, you know, with Max is now 14 years old, this was a long time ago. But there was this whole emotional world that Andre was experiencing that I had very little awareness of. What I'm hearing for you as you were able to not just shake off some of those judgments that you might be perceiving, but then you also were able to look at your current situation with these nurses and this community that was there to care for you in the hospital as well. I wonder if there's been any other experiences like that where you've been able to navigate those social judgments around motherhood.

Alexandra: It's like there's this interesting balance between it's like I mean, there's you know, there's research, of course, right. Like if you do it this way, then this is proven to show this and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And so this is why it's ideal to do all of these sort of things. But the way that I see it, like for the breastfeeding example, is we know so much that if you're one of the families where circumstances happened, whatever it is, whether it's, you know, pressure on the mother or whether it's biological issues with feeding, whatever it is, we have enough knowledge now that we can say because there was this thing that we had to overcome at this time, we can recognize the impact and so we can use all of our resources and understanding to kind of make up for it in a future way. 

So if there is some sort of I mean, I'm kind of thinking about that a little bit more behaviorally, but there's like this dual all women should be empowered to do as they want to do as mothers. But if you don't follow it the right way, we are steadily going to have an issue like this. And so it's like you're getting these mixed messages. But then again, this kind of goes back to if you can recognize in yourself, “Oh, the way that that woman or the way that that worker said that to me, it's triggering some of my own insecurities around this, this, this and this. I can acknowledge that I've got, you know, these little wounds where I want to be seen as the perfect mom, because I want to be seen as significant in all of this stuff.” You can just kind of quickly jump past it and say, “and I'm not perfect and I'm ok. I don't have to be perfect.” 

And I think you do kind of have to be tough as a mom. And that toughness hopefully doesn't translate into like inflexibility, right? Where you feel safe enough to still learn. But there is a certain. “Yeah, I'm doing it this way. And maybe no one here agrees and maybe I'll change my mind tomorrow or I'll educate myself and I'll do it differently tomorrow. But like in this moment, this is who I am. This is what's happening. And my kid is going to be ok in the long run” and really kind of keeping that larger, that long-term view, because like otherwise, you're just going to start obsessing over every little thing and you're not... This is the essence. Oftentimes, we're not actually caring about what the kid needs. We're caring about what people are thinking about us as parents.

Justin: So it starts in the womb and then throughout the rest of their lives, because it's, I mean, all the way up through what college did your kid get into? You know, so. Absolutely. Absolutely. Oh, so there's a lot of emotional processing and self-awareness work that parents can do all the way through that can pay dividends. So now we talked about pregnancy. So now in infancy or early childhood, what has been coming up for you again in this around emotional processing or personal growth, or all of this work that you do?

Alexandra: I think what I just said, they're like one the kind of personal thing I've been contemplating is making sure that I'm making choices for my child. I'm not making choices because of me getting pulled into other people's perceptions and their views.

Justin: Yeah. So how do you do that work? Because I can imagine that it's not always easy to pull out. Like what is the social judgment piece that I have? And then what is the inner knowing piece that I have? How do you do that work?

Alexanda: Well, for me, it's like the inner knowing is my kid is going to I'm going to somehow screw make it up no matter what I do. So give her the tools to be able to feel empowered and strong enough and love herself enough and love me enough that when she needs to go get therapy and figure out whatever, that she can, that she'll just be like, yeah, this is a part of life. 

And what I have been thinking a lot about is I'm that kid that liked going to school. I liked having the consistency I liked having, now we take a break. Now we go to recess. Now we come back. Everyone stands in line. There's a beauty to like, let's all walk single-file down the hallway. And even as an actor, theater performer, sports player, you start to love like let me surrender my own will for the greater of the group. Right. Let me play my role really effectively so that the larger whole can accomplish something. So I love that. 

But what I'm recognizing is the way we were raised was, you know, you kind of did what you were told. You just, you did what you were told and you would override. Doesn't matter if you have a passion about this, this is what needs to get done. And this was I mean, I grew up in a small, small town here in Manitoba, Canada. So I don't know what it's like in other places, but there was a bit of a strictness. But what I'm seeing is we are moving into a different world where children need to be strong enough to say no. When kids start saying no to their parents, it's terrifying. Kids have a lot of power. Right. And as parents, we have to somehow direct that energy for them to stay empowered, be able to say no. Right. As a young girl, no, this is my body, not yours. No, you can't. You know, no, you can't do that. Like somehow we have to bring in that no, without egocentric-ness. 

And so what I'm really exploring is there were things that I valued growing up as a child, but with my daughter. I'm like, I'm going to have to give her more freedom than I had because she's going to be living in a world where she has to take charge and she has to take the lead and she has to be able to negotiate. So when I grew up, it was like, don't negotiate with me. Just do as you're told. This is what you're going to have. With my daughter, I'm like, no, she's going to have to learn how to negotiate. She's going to have to learn how to like say, well, mom, maybe if you did this and this, then I'll do this and this. And that's a very big mindset shift for me to say. That's actually a life skill that she could be having.

Justin: Wow, that's powerful. I remember taking a sociological theory class over 20 years ago, and we were reading this book by this sociologist who argued that one of the key differences for kids growing up is, he used the term in modernity. But we can just say, you know, these days as opposed to a hundred years ago or almost any time in the past, is that our ancestors had identities and roles that were just given to them. It was like, “Hey, man, your dad was a, you know, cobbler. You're going to be a cobbler. And your dad went to this particular church and that's what you're doing.” And it wasn't even a question. 

And then he says, but today, it's not just that, you know, we have choices or we get to have choices. You know, we're forced to have choices and that landed on me like no, no, no. Like you don't have a choice. You have to choose because your role, your identity is not given to you. And so that. Yeah, yeah. I really like what you're saying. But it feels. Oh, man, it feels like such a rocky parenting path.

Alexandra: Well, it just it's keeping me humble. It's humble because I have been that person that's kind of like been like, well, this is not how I would do it. And over the years, I've gone you know, I've kind of watched some of these kids grow up and they're like really confident, self-empowered kids. And so, like, maybe it wasn't so bad that they had, that they were like this when they were younger, because that kind of started to work out as they got older.

Justin: So you do have experience in foster care. And so you do have experience with children, as you said, it was primarily ages seven to 12. So what did you learn in that experience that you are anticipating that you're going to be able to put to use?

Alexandra: The main things I've learned as I, I was also often working with very intense children. And so that sometimes I'll go into like a regular school and I'll be like, oh, this is so easy. What? Yeah, I think I just learned a lot about behavior in the mind, working with these kids and so much of what's going on in the kids. If we do our work as parents, it just starts to shift the kids as we come our nervous system and we get more clarity in our mind that transmits and the kids start to co-regulate. They start to come down. And it's like a transmission. If you're speaking in this way, the child just starts speaking in that way. It's just like, it just happens. It's monkey see monkey do on such a primal level, like if you're doing your work. I mean, that's such a luxury oftentimes to be able to do personal work and self-reflection. 

So I don't want to throw that out there lightly. But if you are the chaos that's kind of going on inside of our systems is the chaos that's manifesting around us. And then that's and that's beautiful. That's not something to be ashamed about. That's just something to recognize and dance with and play with. And the more that we can just come back to our own, this is that breath. This is the chaos. This is my next step. And I don't have to know what my next step after that next step is. That just is what calms a kid right down.

Justin: So, Ali, one thing that I experienced after doing work with you in the Bio-Emotive Framework. Is well, actually, the interesting thing, I think on the first session that we had in that workshop, I well, I remember it. I described being triggered by Max like the day before. There was some dispute around video games in the morning before school. And I was triggered and I got upset at him. 

And so I kind of have that as a marker for me. And what happened over the course of several months after that was or my experience and I now have the reflection of Audra and the kids, that this is what they experienced as well. Being able to get closer to my own challenging emotions and to dig in and to really feel them and to process them. And then what felt like, you know, a wave that was just going to crush me eventually it's see, oh, it's not going to crush me. 

Like I can't actually, you know, go through it and actually learn more. And be even fuller on the other side that I was then able to hold space or just be comfortable with my kids, difficult or challenging emotions. And so I was no longer trying to shut their difficult emotions down. I was able to actually sit with them or like you described with your dad, you know, instead of, like I can imagine a dad, just a typical dad who isn't a psychologist, who doesn't have a PhD, who would say to the kids, stop crying over the blocks or just, you know, calm, calm down. 

And instead he came and was like, no, let's explore these feelings. And so I really recognize what you're saying about this was a monkey-see monkey-do of like if I'm more regulated and this calmness is going to kind of percolate outward. But there was this other piece that just totally surprised me, that the more I'm comfortable with my own challenging emotions and my own triggers and my own internal junk, like the more comfortable I am with that than the more comfortable I am just being with my kids’ internal junk and just letting it be and letting it express itself and just being here for it instead of trying to squash it.

Alexandra: Behind every crazy behavior, there's a feeling.

Justin: Yeah. And so instead of squashing it, can we like let that feeling come forth and can we? Yeah. Can we hold space for it? And can we talk about it? So one thing I want to make sure that we talk about so we've mentioned your work as a bio-emotive coach or for listeners who might have just like skipped ahead an emotional processing coach and then a mother, somebody who has worked in the foster care system in Canada. But then there is this other identity that you have as a movement artist. And so I want to know, first of all, what is a movement artist?

Alexandra: I work teaching and performing movement, expressive movement, healing movement and also performative movement. Kind of the other life that I've had has been as a performer, but as a performer I've always seen how powerful expressing myself through my body has been, so through dance. But I would never call myself a dancer because that's just like a whole other, it's just a whole other world is to go into that. It's more of a performance artist. 

During my years training in theater, I basically got to get exposed to all sorts of just wacky modalities through movement. So what I sort of discover as a performer was that the time that I would take to do all of these like performance practices, this was the difference between me being able to have a space to safely express really, really, really deep emotional states that didn't have a place anywhere else. So I was getting to have really powerful, cathartic releases through these trainings. And I started to recognize, oh, other people need to be able to do this. 

When you're working as a performer, your body is your instrument and you need to clean out your body. So you need to get rid of the blocks. And that means learning how to like unlock where the tension is and release it in a really, really effective way. So now a lot of, the other side of the work that I do is how do we take the heaviness of your day? And how do we let that go on the stage? How do we perform it through our bodies?

Justin: So this work is done on a stage?

Alexandra: On a stage or in a room. It just depends on what we've got rented.

Justin: Yeah, I was wondering like, is this yeah. Is this only on a stage or is this something that can be done just in a room? Is it done with multiple people?

Alexandra: Yeah. So this can be done anywhere. You can do it on your bed. I've had a movement practice where I don't leave my bed and I just I oh, well, I'll explain what that practice is. But basically for. So, for example, there's a woman named Gabrielle Roth. She's wrote something called 5Rhythms. 5Rhythms is saying that we all have five different basic rhythms that exist in our bodies. And we all have biases towards one rhythm, over another rhythm. And you can use this. Oh, flowing. I like to be in a flowing state versus staccato-like these hard, soft versus lyrical, versus chaos, which is like ahhhhh, versus stillness, and if you take the time to allow your body to explore each one of those rhythms, you're going to discover that there is some part of you that finds deep peace and flow, but also is afraid of flow and it's afraid of slowing down. It’s afraid of being gentle. It’s afraid. And now you get to work with that. Right. 

And usually there can be an emotional release through that and then you dance that release out of your system. So it's bypassing the intellect. It's helping unlock what's locked in your system. And it's also helping you kind of, you get these little insights of like, oh, I always have to be strong and pushing. What happens if I came to my partner with a little bit more gentleness? Now that I'm a little less afraid of gentleness or she's gentle. And I don't know how to handle gentle, right or, oh, I've been mistaking how she's behaving for being angry. He's not being angry. She's just being direct. I like to be indirect all the time, but I've been confusing anger for directness. 

So you start to discover through your own movement patterns, your psychological kind of tendencies. So a practice that I can just offer to people. Yeah. So I mean, one go look up, 5Rhythms. They're awesome. I mean, I tend to make everything much more therapeutic. So, you know, but go look at 5Rhythms, they’re great. 

A practice that I can offer is, yeah. If you're waking up in the morning and in particular, if you're feeling kind of depressed or like low energy, contract your whole body and then release out, do that a couple of times. You're focusing on your gut contraction, expansion, contraction, expansion, and then allow your body to just start moving how it wants to move. Follow the impulse. You're going to feel like a funny tingle in your shoulder or like a funny little feeling in your toe. And if you follow that, within eight to 15 minutes, your body will have naturally wrung out whatever depressive state that it has. 

And you may find yourself making funny noises like roaring or like prrr prr prrr prr prr, like making ridiculous sounds. It doesn't matter. It's going to activate a state of play which activates a state of all, which is going to activate a really good chemical in your brain, and you're going to wake up feeling happy. But you have to allow your body to go through what it wants to go through. So 10 minutes, less.

Justin: So I imagine there are some people who, you know, live in their heads like me and are saying, like, how do I even get there? So. Are there some preparatory pieces of advice that you can give people who are like trapped in their head? And it might sound strange to try to get into their bodies like that?

Alexandra: For sure. How about you hop out of bed, stand beside your bed and you play with the three planes, you reach up. But not only do you reach up, you reach beyond how you can reach. You pull out of your realm. You go up, up, up, up, up, and then explore the side, reach as far as you can behind you, and then go to the ground and explore the lower plane. And if you move between all three of those planes and then to each side, that's a very, very simple way to wake you up.

Justin: I love that. That feels like it is also something or this whole movement piece is also something that can be done between parents and kids too. Have you seen that? I mean, because I've heard of this work and also in my work with you over bio-emotive. There was a lot of movement pieces to it that I've been able to incorporate and absolutely love. But I'm not aware of bringing this into maybe like a parent-child practice.

Alexandra: Yeah. I mean, like I—you know, stuff off the top of my head is just a good mirroring game. But so sit with your child, make eye contact, kind of be with the like giggles that are there. And as you're present and you just wave one hand and have your child follow, and as you do this mirroring game together, then you say, “Ok, now you lead.” Right. And you try to get them to slow down enough. 

But what happens is it's getting the two of you guys in sync. And it's giving a shared experience of how to be a follower with respect to someone else leading, but also how to be a leader. And then if you really, really want to play, you say, “Ok, now neither of us is following and neither of us is leading.” And there becomes this very beautiful dance of who is leading, who isn't. And it creates such a state of peace. 

You know, and it can be silly. You can go really, really fast. ok, now go so fast. And then everyone just falls apart. But it's the simplest thing you can do. It can be your shared meditation experience in the mornings. It's great.

Justin: All right. So I want to wrap up this part by asking you about teens. Now, I know you have a five-month-old, but you do have siblings and they either have been teenagers or might still be teenagers. I don't know. But we're doing a workshop right now on parent-teen communication for The Family Thrive. Working with several therapists on this and just really getting into the idea that it's, it’s a really new space because I mean, it is this like transition between childhood and adulthood and so much is happening. 

Do any of these practices change? Is there anything special to bring into the teen-parent relationship?

Alexandra: So I'm definitely not a teen expert. I will definitely say that. And what's happening in the teenage years is youth are developing a relationship to their own authority. And so what's happening is they're having to, you guys are, we're all having to navigate my authority versus your authority? How do I keep my authority while you are still developing your own inner authority? And so there's a negotiation that's taking place. When you have kind of like the super rebellious aspect of teenage life. That's them learning their own authority. 

And sometimes they're having to push up against really serious extremes for them to know where they end and the world begins. And so, yeah, I mean, you're not going to get everything right and perfect, but you can push back, hold that strong boundary and give a space for negotiation. How can they get further next time? So because what's happening is they still have to honor and respect the whole and the collective. 

And what we as parents are is we are representing the whole and the collective. So we’re having to say, yes, you're an amazing individual. Yes, you're stepping into your power. And you somehow have to hold some sort of regard for the larger group, because it's not just about you. And that's you're just going to be in a constant back and forth and that, it's a negotiation. Right. And depending on if you want your kid to be an entrepreneur and in all of these crazy leadership positions, well, like it or not, you probably want them to learn how to lead. Right? A

nd give them that space, if that's what their disposition is, even if it's really uncomfortable for us. Right. So this is part of that. You know, we're living in a new era and we want to give space for our kids to step into those capacities.

Justin: Are there any important differences in emotional health, emotional health practices for moms versus dads. I mean, are we basically working off the same template or is there something special that moms need to be aware of versus dads in taking care of their own emotional health, growing emotionally, emotional processing the whole thing?

Alexandra: I wouldn't state moms versus dads. What I would state is we have some of us are more insight-oriented and some of us are more deep-expression-oriented. So maybe women are more deep expression and maybe men are more in their head and insight. But of course, it can be vice versa. 

So if you are someone that already has access to your emotional system and you're already big and you already cry and you're already, you know, yelling and you're already in that kind of like big way, well, then you do your emotional processing in such a way that helps calm those intensities. Right. You're learning how to kind of self-regulate. Bring it down. You're figuring out. “I'm in this activation, which is causing me to act like this. Give me a minute. Let me go work it out.” So that's important. If you find yourself always repeating the same sentence, there's something that you haven't resolved in yourself or there's a dynamic between you and your partner, you and your kid that you have to look at. It just says that there's something there. 

But on the flip side, if you tend to be more insight-oriented. Then you want to be able to open up more of that emotional expression, and the advice for that is go for a long drive. Maybe you're on the freeway and let it out. Yell at the top of your lungs. Yell at the top of your lungs until your body feels at peace, once your body feels at peace, you're like, oh, ok, glad I got that let out, or you do that sports thing that you're doing, but when you're doing it consciously, take the emotion from the day that you've kind of locked off and put it into that run, channel that emotion. 

So some of us are more cut off from our emotions and we need to learn how to shake it up and open it up. Some of us already have a lot of access to it, and it's more about refining, refining those intense spaces. And both are great.

Justin: I love it, Love it, love it. Thank you. All right, so before we get to the final three questions that we ask every single guest on the show, I want to make sure that listeners know how to find out more about what you're doing and all the new stuff that's going to be coming for you.

Alexandra: Yeah, please. My website is hojialexandra.ca. And that's where you'll get my movement stuff, my circling stuff, my communication stuff, just all of the things that I do. I also go through bioemotiveframework.com where I do my coaching and run my classes. We have a six-week intensive coming up in Fall. 

Justin: When does that start? 

Alexandra: Mid-September. Get hojialexandra.ca and then bioemotiveframework.com. And yeah, reach out to me whether it's for coaching or questions. I'm always happy to send an email where I can or refer you to people if there's something that I'm not able to give the highest and best advice for.

Justin: Awesome. Perfect. All right. So our final three questions first. If you could put a Post-it note on every parent's refrigerator tomorrow morning, what would that Post-it note say?

Alexandra: Find the feeling. Behind every intense behavior there's a feeling. Remember that, it will save you so much.

Justin: Beautiful. All right. And the second question is, is there a quote that you've seen lately that has changed the way you think or that has really moved you?

Alexandra: This is Gabrielle Roth’s book. “To cast off the world's spell, our inner rhythm takes over and we begin to sense who we really are and how great our potential is.”

Justin: Back to movement, the rhythms. Beautiful. All right. So then our final question is, what do you love about kids?

Alexandra: Their playfulness and the fact that if you actually take the time to enter into their reality, you will discover how big reality is. that play is very serious to them. And when we as adults are able to take that playfulness into our day-to-day life, we start becoming actual masters of our existence. It's very, very amazing. Yeah. 

Justin: Ali, thank you so much for taking time out of your day to join us on The Family Thrive Podcast. And we can't wait to do it again.

Alexandra: This time was fun. Thank you so much.

Justin: Hey, thanks for listening to the Family Thrive Podcast. If you like what you heard, please subscribe, tell two friends and head on over to Apple Podcasts or anywhere you listen to podcasts and give us a review. We're so grateful you've chosen to join us on this Family Thrive journey.

Justin: Hey, friend, this podcast is brought to you by The Family Thrive, an expert-led science-backed online community for busy parents who are looking to thrive. Join us at thefamilythrivecom.

Alexandra: If we do our work as parents, it just starts to shift the kids as we calm our nervous system and we get more clarity in our mind that transmits. And the kids start to co-regulate. If you're speaking in this way, the child just starts speaking in that way. It just happens. It's monkey see monkey do on such a primal level, they start to come down and it's like a transmission.

Justin: I met Alexandra Tataryn a year and a half ago when she led an online workshop on something called the Bio-Emotive Framework. It was all about learning how to understand the process and express emotions in the body so that we can become more present and connected to those around us. These practices and the ideas behind them were developed by her father, Douglas Tataryn, who was a psychologist and researcher at the University of Arizona—go Wildcats—and has been a practicing psychotherapist for the past 20 years. I'll just say here at the beginning that the bio emotive framework and Ali’s coaching has had a huge impact on me, on our marriage, and my parenting. And I believe that it can do the same for every parent. This is why we just had to reach out and bring Ali on the podcast. 

She's not just a bio-emotive coach, but she's also a mother and a movement artist. She leads in-person and online classes in emotional health healing movement and a relationship practice called circling. 

In this episode, we learn about emotions, why they're so important, how we can use them for healing and connection, the unique emotional experiences of mothers and fathers and so much more. If you want to learn more about your own emotions and the emotions of your kids and your partner, then buckle up. Without further ado, here's the wonderful and wise Alexandra Tataryn. 

You are, of course, a mother. You are a bio-emotive coach. You are a movement artist. And I want to talk about all of these and I want to talk about how they intersect. But I think before we begin, we should just talk about bio emotive real quick. Like what is this word? I'm sure listeners are already feeling lost and confused. So maybe we can just start with bio-emotive motive. What does that mean?

Alexandra: The bio-emotive framework or bio-emotive processing; bio like biological, emotive, like emotion. And we should probably stick in there rational. 

It's a form of therapy that my father came up with and what he was doing over the last 20 years when absolutely no one was doing it. It's a lot more acknowledged now, was he was saying that when you're doing therapy with people, when you're working with people, with mental illness, when you're working with people that are facing all sorts of issues, it's not just about controlling their behavior. It's actually acknowledging that they have an inner world and that inner world involves emotions and feelings. 

So our motto has been we kind of have two messages. One, that emotions exist. So just do whatever you need to do. Go study whatever you need to study. Go discover whatever you need to discover. You have emotions. They're valid, they're real. Acknowledge them, give them space. Go do what you've got to do to have that. And this is kind of where we start specializing a little bit more. Not only do emotions exist, they can be worked with, harnessed and released in a way that you're not swimming in them endlessly, so that by actually consciously understanding your emotional system, you're not being unconsciously controlled by your emotional system, which means you're able to take way more conscious action and choices in your life. 

Our particular angle, which I do, I'm really careful, really careful to acknowledge like all of the amazing emotional things out there. But we work really a lot on making sure that people are integrating the intellectual, emotional and physical aspects of their being. 

And it really rooted in Gendlin’s Focusing where you spend a lot of time, you tune into a different part of your body. You're being you just say, “Ok, what's the story that's happening here? What's hidden?” Like what's what's the wounding that's hidden in this pain right here? And as you follow that process, you keep asking yourself, “does that capture the essence of your pain or do you need to clarify it a little bit more?” 

Justin: Yes. 

Alexandra: And so what you end up doing is you are getting more and more refined and articulate. So it's like, “Oh, it's not just that that person is really mean and I hate them.” And they're this and that. It's like, “Oh, when she spoke to me in this way, I felt really dismissed. Oh, when I felt dismissed, it felt like she wasn't acknowledging that my perspective was meaningful.” When I'm not having my perspective acknowledged as meaningful, it goes even more deep. Right. And so you keep following that thread until you basically find the aha moment.

Justin: That is a beautiful explanation, because as you described that I recognize that's exactly what we did together. 

Like you helped me clarify a lot of just these emotions that felt just big and kind of just like a wave. Like so much of, I think, mental health and also the mindfulness, kind of mainstream mindfulness, at least as I had experienced it before bio-emotive, at least for me, came across as let the wave pass. You know, is there a way just to let the wave pass or can you just bring your attention back to the breath while the wave, you know, comes and goes? And what I loved about the bio-emotive approach was like, oh, no, no, no. The wave is like, that's where the gold is, like that's where I keep following that. And then you're going to come across treasure.

Alexandra: Yeah. And it's a good capacity to be able to let the wave pass. Like I will say like develop that capacity for sure. But there is treasure in those waves. Exactly. And like I'm, you know, I'm talking about this is as like broad strokes as I can, like not getting into theory, not getting into nuances. But it's like what's the true essence? And yeah, inside those waves, you can take the time and you can discover it goes back to a little pin root. And if you can find that, you can pluck it out and suddenly you're like, whoa. 

And what I'll also comment is so there's an element of this work that is unique to kind of like what my dad figured out and blah, blah, blah. But there's another side of it where it was like he just sort of started to notice, oh, there's a pattern that when you're doing deep healing work that everyone's going through, they're just going through it haphazardly. The body knows how to heal if you actually just let it. 

And what is the most natural thing in the world to do? Get really annoyed. Start talking about it incessantly, going on about it until you randomly say the thing that makes you burst into tears and someone hugs you with that and you're like, well, I just feel so much better. Thank you so much for listening to me. Right. And so it's like that really silly, easy cycle. Well, it's like that's it. Notice you have something going on. Give space for it. Don't ignore it. Say it out loud. Cry it until your body gets rid of what it needs to get rid of and feel the release. Any other healing modality you do, you're going to realize. Oh, we've just been skipping a step or oh, we've just been bypassing one little area, so it's really brilliant. It's really beautiful.

Justin: Absolutely. Oh, yes. Yes. This all feels very familiar. And I've attempted to weave this into my own daily mindfulness practices. Like right now I'm feeling activated or can I now take these steps to talk about it. Can I let these emotions come up? Can I kind of get more precise around them? And then can I physically express them like this is, that was a huge key for me, is like, oh, I've been living my life in my head so much that I just assumed all emotions were just these mental products. And then to really have this awareness of like, oh, no, these emotions are physical like these. 

These are absolutely in my body. And they need to be expressed physically as well, whether it's, you know, something as small as just a deep breath and a sigh or something as big as sobbing like these emotions need to be processed physically. They need to be expressed. And that was a big game-changer for me. So I am curious now how this has or if anything new has come up around the process of motherhood or, you know, during pregnancy, around the birth. Maybe we can start there. Did anything new in your emotional or personal growth work come up?

Alexandra: Yeah. So I think for myself, I've been doing emotional clearing work. Like it's been built into me, right, from a young age.

Justin: Oh, can I pause there? Because I've heard you say that before and I've had a lot of curiosity around this. And so, like, how young were you when you started to learn these emotional processing tools?

Alexandra: I think I was about seven years old when I was crying and my dad came down and asked me, “Well, if it had a color, what color would your sadness be right now?” And I remember contemplating no, it's blue, not yellow. And I remember that. So that was the beginning. I was about seven years old.

Justin: And so then not just in childhood, but through your adolescence as well, when I'm sure emotions got really big. You already had these tools.

Alexandra: Yeah. And I mean, it was like we just had space. We just had space to express ourselves. And like appropriately, there was boundaries where it was like, no, in this moment you need to just go put your toys away and you need to just go do this and then you can go cry about it later. Right?

Justin: Yeah. 

Alexandra: You can go get that out of your system after. But right now you have to do what I'm asking you to do. And that was really beautiful because it still taught regulation. Right? It was like I could honor the intensity that was moving through my body, but I still had to honor the group space of the family and go do what needed to be done. And so I've appreciated that because I think honoring emotions, like I said before, honoring emotions allows emotions not to run your life. 

And so even when I've been working with different children and different youth with behavior challenges or neurological challenges, we just give a lot of space for them to honor what's going on inside their system so that we can bring them back and get them to actually do the task at hand.

Justin: How did your emotional processing work or your personal growth change during pregnancy?

Alexandra: The shift that I had in emotional processing was recognizing the importance of community. So in the beginning, the partnership that I had with the father, we weren't sure what was going to happen. And that's a real thing for some of us is having to navigate that. And so recognizing how important it is to not just be able to do emotional processing on your own, but when you need to be able to reach out to others that can hold space for you, but then also others that can hold space for you and help you find the things. 

So it's not just, you know, crying and expressing and releasing, which is really good, but it was like I'm going into a perception loop here, and it's creating an issue between how I'm handling this dynamic. You know, I'm a really intelligent woman. I'm not acting so intelligent in this situation. Let me really do some emotional processing and really figure out what it is that I'm getting triggered into. And so, yeah, this is what I do for a living. And I need to keep doing this work as a human being. Right. 

And I'm so grateful because I'm telling you, there's also a certain fierceness where it's like I have to really look at what core feeling is getting activated in me that I don't want to feel, that is pushing me into all of these like strength behaviors that is not helping this dynamic. And so I had to get myself out of a few little fear responses, because as soon as you're a mom. Wow. Your survival instincts are just heightened, which means you have to also become a little more eloquent. So I don't know. I mean, you can dig into that if you want.

Justin: Audra has described that as like the mother bear, you know, and this like mother bear, you know, survival response. And then you said you have to become more eloquent. Can you unpack that a little bit?

Alexandra: Well, yeah. So like with great power, my mother bearness comes great responsibility, which is like now that I've got all of this like primal energy moving through my system and like precision with perception. What is the future hold? What needs need to get met? How are we going to implement that? Who's the community coming together? That's a lot of energy moving through a woman's body. 

And so recognizing, especially in this time where women are getting much more respect, it's like how do we flow? How do we flow those energetics? So if I'm seeing something really precisely and really important, how do I communicate that in a way that's uplifting and landing in those around me?

Justin: Ali, what's coming up for me is that hearing that you had to navigate all of this as someone who has been doing this work since age seven. I hear what's coming up is what hope is there for us who have never done this or, you know, for somebody like me who, you know, came across as a little over a year ago. Were there any lessons that you might be able to share for a new mom who doesn't have these tools but might be experiencing some of these same challenges?

Alexandra: Yeah. And I'll say kind of like the intensity that I'm going to like. I just kind of go to like this bigger intensities. It's just sort of me. It's just my personality. I mean, the advice for the new moms is, is that we're all human. And it doesn't really matter how much experience you have or don't have. We're all extremely valid in the emotional experience that we're having. And what you can do as a new mom is honor in you. 

Yeah, if I could find people to talk to in a safe space, whether it's my best friends, whether it's my family members, whether it's an online community, if you can take that one step of self-empowerment to say this is meaningful enough that I have to somehow prioritize it, that's it. Because once you have that friend or that group or whatever where you're able to just say this is a safe space to talk, this is a safe space to share. This is a safe space to cry. And then you makeup back on and go back out into the world. That is empowering. And it really doesn't matter if you're brand new to emotional processing or if you're a therapist. We're all in that humanity position together.

Justin: So the birth comes. Were there any experiences around the birth where you had to draw on your emotional processing tools, or was it more of a like instinctual thing where you just kind of went with the flow?

Alexandra: I wouldn't say I had any specific, like emotional processing experiences during the birth, but in the communities that I'm part of, there is a lot of emphasis on natural and at-home birthing. And that wasn't a process that I went through. I went to the hospital and I was taken care of very, very well in the hospital. And I could feel myself almost feeling a little bit quietly shamed by all of the women that I knew that had done their wild mob births in their living room. 

And I just said, you know, I'm here at this hospital and I have got like seven nurses, these amazing women who have all gathered here to make sure that me and my baby come through this together. And I am going to give all of that over, like I'm going to trust these women. I'm in their turf. I'm in their territory. They were all really kind and loving to me. And so, again, it was sort of that attitude of community. But it was, there was an emotional ache that I had to say, no, I'm not going to let that get under my skin. And so I had an amazing birth experience.

Justin: So this is an aspect of parenting that is unique, I think, for moms, as I remember Audra experiencing some of this around having to have a C-section and it was planned. And so like it, because of medical necessity, it just had to happen. And there was a feeling it was like this subtle, like you are not doing it the natural way. And then around breastfeeding and then and then adding in formula. 

And so there were all these things that as a dad, it was like it didn't register at all, was like, who cares? I mean, we have a healthy kid and like, you know, and if we supplement, you know, the breastfeeding with the formula, like, who cares? And but it was this whole now, in retrospect, you know, with Max is now 14 years old, this was a long time ago. But there was this whole emotional world that Andre was experiencing that I had very little awareness of. What I'm hearing for you as you were able to not just shake off some of those judgments that you might be perceiving, but then you also were able to look at your current situation with these nurses and this community that was there to care for you in the hospital as well. I wonder if there's been any other experiences like that where you've been able to navigate those social judgments around motherhood.

Alexandra: It's like there's this interesting balance between it's like I mean, there's you know, there's research, of course, right. Like if you do it this way, then this is proven to show this and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And so this is why it's ideal to do all of these sort of things. But the way that I see it, like for the breastfeeding example, is we know so much that if you're one of the families where circumstances happened, whatever it is, whether it's, you know, pressure on the mother or whether it's biological issues with feeding, whatever it is, we have enough knowledge now that we can say because there was this thing that we had to overcome at this time, we can recognize the impact and so we can use all of our resources and understanding to kind of make up for it in a future way. 

So if there is some sort of I mean, I'm kind of thinking about that a little bit more behaviorally, but there's like this dual all women should be empowered to do as they want to do as mothers. But if you don't follow it the right way, we are steadily going to have an issue like this. And so it's like you're getting these mixed messages. But then again, this kind of goes back to if you can recognize in yourself, “Oh, the way that that woman or the way that that worker said that to me, it's triggering some of my own insecurities around this, this, this and this. I can acknowledge that I've got, you know, these little wounds where I want to be seen as the perfect mom, because I want to be seen as significant in all of this stuff.” You can just kind of quickly jump past it and say, “and I'm not perfect and I'm ok. I don't have to be perfect.” 

And I think you do kind of have to be tough as a mom. And that toughness hopefully doesn't translate into like inflexibility, right? Where you feel safe enough to still learn. But there is a certain. “Yeah, I'm doing it this way. And maybe no one here agrees and maybe I'll change my mind tomorrow or I'll educate myself and I'll do it differently tomorrow. But like in this moment, this is who I am. This is what's happening. And my kid is going to be ok in the long run” and really kind of keeping that larger, that long-term view, because like otherwise, you're just going to start obsessing over every little thing and you're not... This is the essence. Oftentimes, we're not actually caring about what the kid needs. We're caring about what people are thinking about us as parents.

Justin: So it starts in the womb and then throughout the rest of their lives, because it's, I mean, all the way up through what college did your kid get into? You know, so. Absolutely. Absolutely. Oh, so there's a lot of emotional processing and self-awareness work that parents can do all the way through that can pay dividends. So now we talked about pregnancy. So now in infancy or early childhood, what has been coming up for you again in this around emotional processing or personal growth, or all of this work that you do?

Alexandra: I think what I just said, they're like one the kind of personal thing I've been contemplating is making sure that I'm making choices for my child. I'm not making choices because of me getting pulled into other people's perceptions and their views.

Justin: Yeah. So how do you do that work? Because I can imagine that it's not always easy to pull out. Like what is the social judgment piece that I have? And then what is the inner knowing piece that I have? How do you do that work?

Alexanda: Well, for me, it's like the inner knowing is my kid is going to I'm going to somehow screw make it up no matter what I do. So give her the tools to be able to feel empowered and strong enough and love herself enough and love me enough that when she needs to go get therapy and figure out whatever, that she can, that she'll just be like, yeah, this is a part of life. 

And what I have been thinking a lot about is I'm that kid that liked going to school. I liked having the consistency I liked having, now we take a break. Now we go to recess. Now we come back. Everyone stands in line. There's a beauty to like, let's all walk single-file down the hallway. And even as an actor, theater performer, sports player, you start to love like let me surrender my own will for the greater of the group. Right. Let me play my role really effectively so that the larger whole can accomplish something. So I love that. 

But what I'm recognizing is the way we were raised was, you know, you kind of did what you were told. You just, you did what you were told and you would override. Doesn't matter if you have a passion about this, this is what needs to get done. And this was I mean, I grew up in a small, small town here in Manitoba, Canada. So I don't know what it's like in other places, but there was a bit of a strictness. But what I'm seeing is we are moving into a different world where children need to be strong enough to say no. When kids start saying no to their parents, it's terrifying. Kids have a lot of power. Right. And as parents, we have to somehow direct that energy for them to stay empowered, be able to say no. Right. As a young girl, no, this is my body, not yours. No, you can't. You know, no, you can't do that. Like somehow we have to bring in that no, without egocentric-ness. 

And so what I'm really exploring is there were things that I valued growing up as a child, but with my daughter. I'm like, I'm going to have to give her more freedom than I had because she's going to be living in a world where she has to take charge and she has to take the lead and she has to be able to negotiate. So when I grew up, it was like, don't negotiate with me. Just do as you're told. This is what you're going to have. With my daughter, I'm like, no, she's going to have to learn how to negotiate. She's going to have to learn how to like say, well, mom, maybe if you did this and this, then I'll do this and this. And that's a very big mindset shift for me to say. That's actually a life skill that she could be having.

Justin: Wow, that's powerful. I remember taking a sociological theory class over 20 years ago, and we were reading this book by this sociologist who argued that one of the key differences for kids growing up is, he used the term in modernity. But we can just say, you know, these days as opposed to a hundred years ago or almost any time in the past, is that our ancestors had identities and roles that were just given to them. It was like, “Hey, man, your dad was a, you know, cobbler. You're going to be a cobbler. And your dad went to this particular church and that's what you're doing.” And it wasn't even a question. 

And then he says, but today, it's not just that, you know, we have choices or we get to have choices. You know, we're forced to have choices and that landed on me like no, no, no. Like you don't have a choice. You have to choose because your role, your identity is not given to you. And so that. Yeah, yeah. I really like what you're saying. But it feels. Oh, man, it feels like such a rocky parenting path.

Alexandra: Well, it just it's keeping me humble. It's humble because I have been that person that's kind of like been like, well, this is not how I would do it. And over the years, I've gone you know, I've kind of watched some of these kids grow up and they're like really confident, self-empowered kids. And so, like, maybe it wasn't so bad that they had, that they were like this when they were younger, because that kind of started to work out as they got older.

Justin: So you do have experience in foster care. And so you do have experience with children, as you said, it was primarily ages seven to 12. So what did you learn in that experience that you are anticipating that you're going to be able to put to use?

Alexandra: The main things I've learned as I, I was also often working with very intense children. And so that sometimes I'll go into like a regular school and I'll be like, oh, this is so easy. What? Yeah, I think I just learned a lot about behavior in the mind, working with these kids and so much of what's going on in the kids. If we do our work as parents, it just starts to shift the kids as we come our nervous system and we get more clarity in our mind that transmits and the kids start to co-regulate. They start to come down. And it's like a transmission. If you're speaking in this way, the child just starts speaking in that way. It's just like, it just happens. It's monkey see monkey do on such a primal level, like if you're doing your work. I mean, that's such a luxury oftentimes to be able to do personal work and self-reflection. 

So I don't want to throw that out there lightly. But if you are the chaos that's kind of going on inside of our systems is the chaos that's manifesting around us. And then that's and that's beautiful. That's not something to be ashamed about. That's just something to recognize and dance with and play with. And the more that we can just come back to our own, this is that breath. This is the chaos. This is my next step. And I don't have to know what my next step after that next step is. That just is what calms a kid right down.

Justin: So, Ali, one thing that I experienced after doing work with you in the Bio-Emotive Framework. Is well, actually, the interesting thing, I think on the first session that we had in that workshop, I well, I remember it. I described being triggered by Max like the day before. There was some dispute around video games in the morning before school. And I was triggered and I got upset at him. 

And so I kind of have that as a marker for me. And what happened over the course of several months after that was or my experience and I now have the reflection of Audra and the kids, that this is what they experienced as well. Being able to get closer to my own challenging emotions and to dig in and to really feel them and to process them. And then what felt like, you know, a wave that was just going to crush me eventually it's see, oh, it's not going to crush me. 

Like I can't actually, you know, go through it and actually learn more. And be even fuller on the other side that I was then able to hold space or just be comfortable with my kids, difficult or challenging emotions. And so I was no longer trying to shut their difficult emotions down. I was able to actually sit with them or like you described with your dad, you know, instead of, like I can imagine a dad, just a typical dad who isn't a psychologist, who doesn't have a PhD, who would say to the kids, stop crying over the blocks or just, you know, calm, calm down. 

And instead he came and was like, no, let's explore these feelings. And so I really recognize what you're saying about this was a monkey-see monkey-do of like if I'm more regulated and this calmness is going to kind of percolate outward. But there was this other piece that just totally surprised me, that the more I'm comfortable with my own challenging emotions and my own triggers and my own internal junk, like the more comfortable I am with that than the more comfortable I am just being with my kids’ internal junk and just letting it be and letting it express itself and just being here for it instead of trying to squash it.

Alexandra: Behind every crazy behavior, there's a feeling.

Justin: Yeah. And so instead of squashing it, can we like let that feeling come forth and can we? Yeah. Can we hold space for it? And can we talk about it? So one thing I want to make sure that we talk about so we've mentioned your work as a bio-emotive coach or for listeners who might have just like skipped ahead an emotional processing coach and then a mother, somebody who has worked in the foster care system in Canada. But then there is this other identity that you have as a movement artist. And so I want to know, first of all, what is a movement artist?

Alexandra: I work teaching and performing movement, expressive movement, healing movement and also performative movement. Kind of the other life that I've had has been as a performer, but as a performer I've always seen how powerful expressing myself through my body has been, so through dance. But I would never call myself a dancer because that's just like a whole other, it's just a whole other world is to go into that. It's more of a performance artist. 

During my years training in theater, I basically got to get exposed to all sorts of just wacky modalities through movement. So what I sort of discover as a performer was that the time that I would take to do all of these like performance practices, this was the difference between me being able to have a space to safely express really, really, really deep emotional states that didn't have a place anywhere else. So I was getting to have really powerful, cathartic releases through these trainings. And I started to recognize, oh, other people need to be able to do this. 

When you're working as a performer, your body is your instrument and you need to clean out your body. So you need to get rid of the blocks. And that means learning how to like unlock where the tension is and release it in a really, really effective way. So now a lot of, the other side of the work that I do is how do we take the heaviness of your day? And how do we let that go on the stage? How do we perform it through our bodies?

Justin: So this work is done on a stage?

Alexandra: On a stage or in a room. It just depends on what we've got rented.

Justin: Yeah, I was wondering like, is this yeah. Is this only on a stage or is this something that can be done just in a room? Is it done with multiple people?

Alexandra: Yeah. So this can be done anywhere. You can do it on your bed. I've had a movement practice where I don't leave my bed and I just I oh, well, I'll explain what that practice is. But basically for. So, for example, there's a woman named Gabrielle Roth. She's wrote something called 5Rhythms. 5Rhythms is saying that we all have five different basic rhythms that exist in our bodies. And we all have biases towards one rhythm, over another rhythm. And you can use this. Oh, flowing. I like to be in a flowing state versus staccato-like these hard, soft versus lyrical, versus chaos, which is like ahhhhh, versus stillness, and if you take the time to allow your body to explore each one of those rhythms, you're going to discover that there is some part of you that finds deep peace and flow, but also is afraid of flow and it's afraid of slowing down. It’s afraid of being gentle. It’s afraid. And now you get to work with that. Right. 

And usually there can be an emotional release through that and then you dance that release out of your system. So it's bypassing the intellect. It's helping unlock what's locked in your system. And it's also helping you kind of, you get these little insights of like, oh, I always have to be strong and pushing. What happens if I came to my partner with a little bit more gentleness? Now that I'm a little less afraid of gentleness or she's gentle. And I don't know how to handle gentle, right or, oh, I've been mistaking how she's behaving for being angry. He's not being angry. She's just being direct. I like to be indirect all the time, but I've been confusing anger for directness. 

So you start to discover through your own movement patterns, your psychological kind of tendencies. So a practice that I can just offer to people. Yeah. So I mean, one go look up, 5Rhythms. They're awesome. I mean, I tend to make everything much more therapeutic. So, you know, but go look at 5Rhythms, they’re great. 

A practice that I can offer is, yeah. If you're waking up in the morning and in particular, if you're feeling kind of depressed or like low energy, contract your whole body and then release out, do that a couple of times. You're focusing on your gut contraction, expansion, contraction, expansion, and then allow your body to just start moving how it wants to move. Follow the impulse. You're going to feel like a funny tingle in your shoulder or like a funny little feeling in your toe. And if you follow that, within eight to 15 minutes, your body will have naturally wrung out whatever depressive state that it has. 

And you may find yourself making funny noises like roaring or like prrr prr prrr prr prr, like making ridiculous sounds. It doesn't matter. It's going to activate a state of play which activates a state of all, which is going to activate a really good chemical in your brain, and you're going to wake up feeling happy. But you have to allow your body to go through what it wants to go through. So 10 minutes, less.

Justin: So I imagine there are some people who, you know, live in their heads like me and are saying, like, how do I even get there? So. Are there some preparatory pieces of advice that you can give people who are like trapped in their head? And it might sound strange to try to get into their bodies like that?

Alexandra: For sure. How about you hop out of bed, stand beside your bed and you play with the three planes, you reach up. But not only do you reach up, you reach beyond how you can reach. You pull out of your realm. You go up, up, up, up, up, and then explore the side, reach as far as you can behind you, and then go to the ground and explore the lower plane. And if you move between all three of those planes and then to each side, that's a very, very simple way to wake you up.

Justin: I love that. That feels like it is also something or this whole movement piece is also something that can be done between parents and kids too. Have you seen that? I mean, because I've heard of this work and also in my work with you over bio-emotive. There was a lot of movement pieces to it that I've been able to incorporate and absolutely love. But I'm not aware of bringing this into maybe like a parent-child practice.

Alexandra: Yeah. I mean, like I—you know, stuff off the top of my head is just a good mirroring game. But so sit with your child, make eye contact, kind of be with the like giggles that are there. And as you're present and you just wave one hand and have your child follow, and as you do this mirroring game together, then you say, “Ok, now you lead.” Right. And you try to get them to slow down enough. 

But what happens is it's getting the two of you guys in sync. And it's giving a shared experience of how to be a follower with respect to someone else leading, but also how to be a leader. And then if you really, really want to play, you say, “Ok, now neither of us is following and neither of us is leading.” And there becomes this very beautiful dance of who is leading, who isn't. And it creates such a state of peace. 

You know, and it can be silly. You can go really, really fast. ok, now go so fast. And then everyone just falls apart. But it's the simplest thing you can do. It can be your shared meditation experience in the mornings. It's great.

Justin: All right. So I want to wrap up this part by asking you about teens. Now, I know you have a five-month-old, but you do have siblings and they either have been teenagers or might still be teenagers. I don't know. But we're doing a workshop right now on parent-teen communication for The Family Thrive. Working with several therapists on this and just really getting into the idea that it's, it’s a really new space because I mean, it is this like transition between childhood and adulthood and so much is happening. 

Do any of these practices change? Is there anything special to bring into the teen-parent relationship?

Alexandra: So I'm definitely not a teen expert. I will definitely say that. And what's happening in the teenage years is youth are developing a relationship to their own authority. And so what's happening is they're having to, you guys are, we're all having to navigate my authority versus your authority? How do I keep my authority while you are still developing your own inner authority? And so there's a negotiation that's taking place. When you have kind of like the super rebellious aspect of teenage life. That's them learning their own authority. 

And sometimes they're having to push up against really serious extremes for them to know where they end and the world begins. And so, yeah, I mean, you're not going to get everything right and perfect, but you can push back, hold that strong boundary and give a space for negotiation. How can they get further next time? So because what's happening is they still have to honor and respect the whole and the collective. 

And what we as parents are is we are representing the whole and the collective. So we’re having to say, yes, you're an amazing individual. Yes, you're stepping into your power. And you somehow have to hold some sort of regard for the larger group, because it's not just about you. And that's you're just going to be in a constant back and forth and that, it's a negotiation. Right. And depending on if you want your kid to be an entrepreneur and in all of these crazy leadership positions, well, like it or not, you probably want them to learn how to lead. Right? A

nd give them that space, if that's what their disposition is, even if it's really uncomfortable for us. Right. So this is part of that. You know, we're living in a new era and we want to give space for our kids to step into those capacities.

Justin: Are there any important differences in emotional health, emotional health practices for moms versus dads. I mean, are we basically working off the same template or is there something special that moms need to be aware of versus dads in taking care of their own emotional health, growing emotionally, emotional processing the whole thing?

Alexandra: I wouldn't state moms versus dads. What I would state is we have some of us are more insight-oriented and some of us are more deep-expression-oriented. So maybe women are more deep expression and maybe men are more in their head and insight. But of course, it can be vice versa. 

So if you are someone that already has access to your emotional system and you're already big and you already cry and you're already, you know, yelling and you're already in that kind of like big way, well, then you do your emotional processing in such a way that helps calm those intensities. Right. You're learning how to kind of self-regulate. Bring it down. You're figuring out. “I'm in this activation, which is causing me to act like this. Give me a minute. Let me go work it out.” So that's important. If you find yourself always repeating the same sentence, there's something that you haven't resolved in yourself or there's a dynamic between you and your partner, you and your kid that you have to look at. It just says that there's something there. 

But on the flip side, if you tend to be more insight-oriented. Then you want to be able to open up more of that emotional expression, and the advice for that is go for a long drive. Maybe you're on the freeway and let it out. Yell at the top of your lungs. Yell at the top of your lungs until your body feels at peace, once your body feels at peace, you're like, oh, ok, glad I got that let out, or you do that sports thing that you're doing, but when you're doing it consciously, take the emotion from the day that you've kind of locked off and put it into that run, channel that emotion. 

So some of us are more cut off from our emotions and we need to learn how to shake it up and open it up. Some of us already have a lot of access to it, and it's more about refining, refining those intense spaces. And both are great.

Justin: I love it, Love it, love it. Thank you. All right, so before we get to the final three questions that we ask every single guest on the show, I want to make sure that listeners know how to find out more about what you're doing and all the new stuff that's going to be coming for you.

Alexandra: Yeah, please. My website is hojialexandra.ca. And that's where you'll get my movement stuff, my circling stuff, my communication stuff, just all of the things that I do. I also go through bioemotiveframework.com where I do my coaching and run my classes. We have a six-week intensive coming up in Fall. 

Justin: When does that start? 

Alexandra: Mid-September. Get hojialexandra.ca and then bioemotiveframework.com. And yeah, reach out to me whether it's for coaching or questions. I'm always happy to send an email where I can or refer you to people if there's something that I'm not able to give the highest and best advice for.

Justin: Awesome. Perfect. All right. So our final three questions first. If you could put a Post-it note on every parent's refrigerator tomorrow morning, what would that Post-it note say?

Alexandra: Find the feeling. Behind every intense behavior there's a feeling. Remember that, it will save you so much.

Justin: Beautiful. All right. And the second question is, is there a quote that you've seen lately that has changed the way you think or that has really moved you?

Alexandra: This is Gabrielle Roth’s book. “To cast off the world's spell, our inner rhythm takes over and we begin to sense who we really are and how great our potential is.”

Justin: Back to movement, the rhythms. Beautiful. All right. So then our final question is, what do you love about kids?

Alexandra: Their playfulness and the fact that if you actually take the time to enter into their reality, you will discover how big reality is. that play is very serious to them. And when we as adults are able to take that playfulness into our day-to-day life, we start becoming actual masters of our existence. It's very, very amazing. Yeah. 

Justin: Ali, thank you so much for taking time out of your day to join us on The Family Thrive Podcast. And we can't wait to do it again.

Alexandra: This time was fun. Thank you so much.

Justin: Hey, thanks for listening to the Family Thrive Podcast. If you like what you heard, please subscribe, tell two friends and head on over to Apple Podcasts or anywhere you listen to podcasts and give us a review. We're so grateful you've chosen to join us on this Family Thrive journey.

Justin: Hey, friend, this podcast is brought to you by The Family Thrive, an expert-led science-backed online community for busy parents who are looking to thrive. Join us at thefamilythrivecom.

Alexandra: If we do our work as parents, it just starts to shift the kids as we calm our nervous system and we get more clarity in our mind that transmits. And the kids start to co-regulate. If you're speaking in this way, the child just starts speaking in that way. It just happens. It's monkey see monkey do on such a primal level, they start to come down and it's like a transmission.

Justin: I met Alexandra Tataryn a year and a half ago when she led an online workshop on something called the Bio-Emotive Framework. It was all about learning how to understand the process and express emotions in the body so that we can become more present and connected to those around us. These practices and the ideas behind them were developed by her father, Douglas Tataryn, who was a psychologist and researcher at the University of Arizona—go Wildcats—and has been a practicing psychotherapist for the past 20 years. I'll just say here at the beginning that the bio emotive framework and Ali’s coaching has had a huge impact on me, on our marriage, and my parenting. And I believe that it can do the same for every parent. This is why we just had to reach out and bring Ali on the podcast. 

She's not just a bio-emotive coach, but she's also a mother and a movement artist. She leads in-person and online classes in emotional health healing movement and a relationship practice called circling. 

In this episode, we learn about emotions, why they're so important, how we can use them for healing and connection, the unique emotional experiences of mothers and fathers and so much more. If you want to learn more about your own emotions and the emotions of your kids and your partner, then buckle up. Without further ado, here's the wonderful and wise Alexandra Tataryn. 

You are, of course, a mother. You are a bio-emotive coach. You are a movement artist. And I want to talk about all of these and I want to talk about how they intersect. But I think before we begin, we should just talk about bio emotive real quick. Like what is this word? I'm sure listeners are already feeling lost and confused. So maybe we can just start with bio-emotive motive. What does that mean?

Alexandra: The bio-emotive framework or bio-emotive processing; bio like biological, emotive, like emotion. And we should probably stick in there rational. 

It's a form of therapy that my father came up with and what he was doing over the last 20 years when absolutely no one was doing it. It's a lot more acknowledged now, was he was saying that when you're doing therapy with people, when you're working with people, with mental illness, when you're working with people that are facing all sorts of issues, it's not just about controlling their behavior. It's actually acknowledging that they have an inner world and that inner world involves emotions and feelings. 

So our motto has been we kind of have two messages. One, that emotions exist. So just do whatever you need to do. Go study whatever you need to study. Go discover whatever you need to discover. You have emotions. They're valid, they're real. Acknowledge them, give them space. Go do what you've got to do to have that. And this is kind of where we start specializing a little bit more. Not only do emotions exist, they can be worked with, harnessed and released in a way that you're not swimming in them endlessly, so that by actually consciously understanding your emotional system, you're not being unconsciously controlled by your emotional system, which means you're able to take way more conscious action and choices in your life. 

Our particular angle, which I do, I'm really careful, really careful to acknowledge like all of the amazing emotional things out there. But we work really a lot on making sure that people are integrating the intellectual, emotional and physical aspects of their being. 

And it really rooted in Gendlin’s Focusing where you spend a lot of time, you tune into a different part of your body. You're being you just say, “Ok, what's the story that's happening here? What's hidden?” Like what's what's the wounding that's hidden in this pain right here? And as you follow that process, you keep asking yourself, “does that capture the essence of your pain or do you need to clarify it a little bit more?” 

Justin: Yes. 

Alexandra: And so what you end up doing is you are getting more and more refined and articulate. So it's like, “Oh, it's not just that that person is really mean and I hate them.” And they're this and that. It's like, “Oh, when she spoke to me in this way, I felt really dismissed. Oh, when I felt dismissed, it felt like she wasn't acknowledging that my perspective was meaningful.” When I'm not having my perspective acknowledged as meaningful, it goes even more deep. Right. And so you keep following that thread until you basically find the aha moment.

Justin: That is a beautiful explanation, because as you described that I recognize that's exactly what we did together. 

Like you helped me clarify a lot of just these emotions that felt just big and kind of just like a wave. Like so much of, I think, mental health and also the mindfulness, kind of mainstream mindfulness, at least as I had experienced it before bio-emotive, at least for me, came across as let the wave pass. You know, is there a way just to let the wave pass or can you just bring your attention back to the breath while the wave, you know, comes and goes? And what I loved about the bio-emotive approach was like, oh, no, no, no. The wave is like, that's where the gold is, like that's where I keep following that. And then you're going to come across treasure.

Alexandra: Yeah. And it's a good capacity to be able to let the wave pass. Like I will say like develop that capacity for sure. But there is treasure in those waves. Exactly. And like I'm, you know, I'm talking about this is as like broad strokes as I can, like not getting into theory, not getting into nuances. But it's like what's the true essence? And yeah, inside those waves, you can take the time and you can discover it goes back to a little pin root. And if you can find that, you can pluck it out and suddenly you're like, whoa. 

And what I'll also comment is so there's an element of this work that is unique to kind of like what my dad figured out and blah, blah, blah. But there's another side of it where it was like he just sort of started to notice, oh, there's a pattern that when you're doing deep healing work that everyone's going through, they're just going through it haphazardly. The body knows how to heal if you actually just let it. 

And what is the most natural thing in the world to do? Get really annoyed. Start talking about it incessantly, going on about it until you randomly say the thing that makes you burst into tears and someone hugs you with that and you're like, well, I just feel so much better. Thank you so much for listening to me. Right. And so it's like that really silly, easy cycle. Well, it's like that's it. Notice you have something going on. Give space for it. Don't ignore it. Say it out loud. Cry it until your body gets rid of what it needs to get rid of and feel the release. Any other healing modality you do, you're going to realize. Oh, we've just been skipping a step or oh, we've just been bypassing one little area, so it's really brilliant. It's really beautiful.

Justin: Absolutely. Oh, yes. Yes. This all feels very familiar. And I've attempted to weave this into my own daily mindfulness practices. Like right now I'm feeling activated or can I now take these steps to talk about it. Can I let these emotions come up? Can I kind of get more precise around them? And then can I physically express them like this is, that was a huge key for me, is like, oh, I've been living my life in my head so much that I just assumed all emotions were just these mental products. And then to really have this awareness of like, oh, no, these emotions are physical like these. 

These are absolutely in my body. And they need to be expressed physically as well, whether it's, you know, something as small as just a deep breath and a sigh or something as big as sobbing like these emotions need to be processed physically. They need to be expressed. And that was a big game-changer for me. So I am curious now how this has or if anything new has come up around the process of motherhood or, you know, during pregnancy, around the birth. Maybe we can start there. Did anything new in your emotional or personal growth work come up?

Alexandra: Yeah. So I think for myself, I've been doing emotional clearing work. Like it's been built into me, right, from a young age.

Justin: Oh, can I pause there? Because I've heard you say that before and I've had a lot of curiosity around this. And so, like, how young were you when you started to learn these emotional processing tools?

Alexandra: I think I was about seven years old when I was crying and my dad came down and asked me, “Well, if it had a color, what color would your sadness be right now?” And I remember contemplating no, it's blue, not yellow. And I remember that. So that was the beginning. I was about seven years old.

Justin: And so then not just in childhood, but through your adolescence as well, when I'm sure emotions got really big. You already had these tools.

Alexandra: Yeah. And I mean, it was like we just had space. We just had space to express ourselves. And like appropriately, there was boundaries where it was like, no, in this moment you need to just go put your toys away and you need to just go do this and then you can go cry about it later. Right?

Justin: Yeah. 

Alexandra: You can go get that out of your system after. But right now you have to do what I'm asking you to do. And that was really beautiful because it still taught regulation. Right? It was like I could honor the intensity that was moving through my body, but I still had to honor the group space of the family and go do what needed to be done. And so I've appreciated that because I think honoring emotions, like I said before, honoring emotions allows emotions not to run your life. 

And so even when I've been working with different children and different youth with behavior challenges or neurological challenges, we just give a lot of space for them to honor what's going on inside their system so that we can bring them back and get them to actually do the task at hand.

Justin: How did your emotional processing work or your personal growth change during pregnancy?

Alexandra: The shift that I had in emotional processing was recognizing the importance of community. So in the beginning, the partnership that I had with the father, we weren't sure what was going to happen. And that's a real thing for some of us is having to navigate that. And so recognizing how important it is to not just be able to do emotional processing on your own, but when you need to be able to reach out to others that can hold space for you, but then also others that can hold space for you and help you find the things. 

So it's not just, you know, crying and expressing and releasing, which is really good, but it was like I'm going into a perception loop here, and it's creating an issue between how I'm handling this dynamic. You know, I'm a really intelligent woman. I'm not acting so intelligent in this situation. Let me really do some emotional processing and really figure out what it is that I'm getting triggered into. And so, yeah, this is what I do for a living. And I need to keep doing this work as a human being. Right. 

And I'm so grateful because I'm telling you, there's also a certain fierceness where it's like I have to really look at what core feeling is getting activated in me that I don't want to feel, that is pushing me into all of these like strength behaviors that is not helping this dynamic. And so I had to get myself out of a few little fear responses, because as soon as you're a mom. Wow. Your survival instincts are just heightened, which means you have to also become a little more eloquent. So I don't know. I mean, you can dig into that if you want.

Justin: Audra has described that as like the mother bear, you know, and this like mother bear, you know, survival response. And then you said you have to become more eloquent. Can you unpack that a little bit?

Alexandra: Well, yeah. So like with great power, my mother bearness comes great responsibility, which is like now that I've got all of this like primal energy moving through my system and like precision with perception. What is the future hold? What needs need to get met? How are we going to implement that? Who's the community coming together? That's a lot of energy moving through a woman's body. 

And so recognizing, especially in this time where women are getting much more respect, it's like how do we flow? How do we flow those energetics? So if I'm seeing something really precisely and really important, how do I communicate that in a way that's uplifting and landing in those around me?

Justin: Ali, what's coming up for me is that hearing that you had to navigate all of this as someone who has been doing this work since age seven. I hear what's coming up is what hope is there for us who have never done this or, you know, for somebody like me who, you know, came across as a little over a year ago. Were there any lessons that you might be able to share for a new mom who doesn't have these tools but might be experiencing some of these same challenges?

Alexandra: Yeah. And I'll say kind of like the intensity that I'm going to like. I just kind of go to like this bigger intensities. It's just sort of me. It's just my personality. I mean, the advice for the new moms is, is that we're all human. And it doesn't really matter how much experience you have or don't have. We're all extremely valid in the emotional experience that we're having. And what you can do as a new mom is honor in you. 

Yeah, if I could find people to talk to in a safe space, whether it's my best friends, whether it's my family members, whether it's an online community, if you can take that one step of self-empowerment to say this is meaningful enough that I have to somehow prioritize it, that's it. Because once you have that friend or that group or whatever where you're able to just say this is a safe space to talk, this is a safe space to share. This is a safe space to cry. And then you makeup back on and go back out into the world. That is empowering. And it really doesn't matter if you're brand new to emotional processing or if you're a therapist. We're all in that humanity position together.

Justin: So the birth comes. Were there any experiences around the birth where you had to draw on your emotional processing tools, or was it more of a like instinctual thing where you just kind of went with the flow?

Alexandra: I wouldn't say I had any specific, like emotional processing experiences during the birth, but in the communities that I'm part of, there is a lot of emphasis on natural and at-home birthing. And that wasn't a process that I went through. I went to the hospital and I was taken care of very, very well in the hospital. And I could feel myself almost feeling a little bit quietly shamed by all of the women that I knew that had done their wild mob births in their living room. 

And I just said, you know, I'm here at this hospital and I have got like seven nurses, these amazing women who have all gathered here to make sure that me and my baby come through this together. And I am going to give all of that over, like I'm going to trust these women. I'm in their turf. I'm in their territory. They were all really kind and loving to me. And so, again, it was sort of that attitude of community. But it was, there was an emotional ache that I had to say, no, I'm not going to let that get under my skin. And so I had an amazing birth experience.

Justin: So this is an aspect of parenting that is unique, I think, for moms, as I remember Audra experiencing some of this around having to have a C-section and it was planned. And so like it, because of medical necessity, it just had to happen. And there was a feeling it was like this subtle, like you are not doing it the natural way. And then around breastfeeding and then and then adding in formula. 

And so there were all these things that as a dad, it was like it didn't register at all, was like, who cares? I mean, we have a healthy kid and like, you know, and if we supplement, you know, the breastfeeding with the formula, like, who cares? And but it was this whole now, in retrospect, you know, with Max is now 14 years old, this was a long time ago. But there was this whole emotional world that Andre was experiencing that I had very little awareness of. What I'm hearing for you as you were able to not just shake off some of those judgments that you might be perceiving, but then you also were able to look at your current situation with these nurses and this community that was there to care for you in the hospital as well. I wonder if there's been any other experiences like that where you've been able to navigate those social judgments around motherhood.

Alexandra: It's like there's this interesting balance between it's like I mean, there's you know, there's research, of course, right. Like if you do it this way, then this is proven to show this and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And so this is why it's ideal to do all of these sort of things. But the way that I see it, like for the breastfeeding example, is we know so much that if you're one of the families where circumstances happened, whatever it is, whether it's, you know, pressure on the mother or whether it's biological issues with feeding, whatever it is, we have enough knowledge now that we can say because there was this thing that we had to overcome at this time, we can recognize the impact and so we can use all of our resources and understanding to kind of make up for it in a future way. 

So if there is some sort of I mean, I'm kind of thinking about that a little bit more behaviorally, but there's like this dual all women should be empowered to do as they want to do as mothers. But if you don't follow it the right way, we are steadily going to have an issue like this. And so it's like you're getting these mixed messages. But then again, this kind of goes back to if you can recognize in yourself, “Oh, the way that that woman or the way that that worker said that to me, it's triggering some of my own insecurities around this, this, this and this. I can acknowledge that I've got, you know, these little wounds where I want to be seen as the perfect mom, because I want to be seen as significant in all of this stuff.” You can just kind of quickly jump past it and say, “and I'm not perfect and I'm ok. I don't have to be perfect.” 

And I think you do kind of have to be tough as a mom. And that toughness hopefully doesn't translate into like inflexibility, right? Where you feel safe enough to still learn. But there is a certain. “Yeah, I'm doing it this way. And maybe no one here agrees and maybe I'll change my mind tomorrow or I'll educate myself and I'll do it differently tomorrow. But like in this moment, this is who I am. This is what's happening. And my kid is going to be ok in the long run” and really kind of keeping that larger, that long-term view, because like otherwise, you're just going to start obsessing over every little thing and you're not... This is the essence. Oftentimes, we're not actually caring about what the kid needs. We're caring about what people are thinking about us as parents.

Justin: So it starts in the womb and then throughout the rest of their lives, because it's, I mean, all the way up through what college did your kid get into? You know, so. Absolutely. Absolutely. Oh, so there's a lot of emotional processing and self-awareness work that parents can do all the way through that can pay dividends. So now we talked about pregnancy. So now in infancy or early childhood, what has been coming up for you again in this around emotional processing or personal growth, or all of this work that you do?

Alexandra: I think what I just said, they're like one the kind of personal thing I've been contemplating is making sure that I'm making choices for my child. I'm not making choices because of me getting pulled into other people's perceptions and their views.

Justin: Yeah. So how do you do that work? Because I can imagine that it's not always easy to pull out. Like what is the social judgment piece that I have? And then what is the inner knowing piece that I have? How do you do that work?

Alexanda: Well, for me, it's like the inner knowing is my kid is going to I'm going to somehow screw make it up no matter what I do. So give her the tools to be able to feel empowered and strong enough and love herself enough and love me enough that when she needs to go get therapy and figure out whatever, that she can, that she'll just be like, yeah, this is a part of life. 

And what I have been thinking a lot about is I'm that kid that liked going to school. I liked having the consistency I liked having, now we take a break. Now we go to recess. Now we come back. Everyone stands in line. There's a beauty to like, let's all walk single-file down the hallway. And even as an actor, theater performer, sports player, you start to love like let me surrender my own will for the greater of the group. Right. Let me play my role really effectively so that the larger whole can accomplish something. So I love that. 

But what I'm recognizing is the way we were raised was, you know, you kind of did what you were told. You just, you did what you were told and you would override. Doesn't matter if you have a passion about this, this is what needs to get done. And this was I mean, I grew up in a small, small town here in Manitoba, Canada. So I don't know what it's like in other places, but there was a bit of a strictness. But what I'm seeing is we are moving into a different world where children need to be strong enough to say no. When kids start saying no to their parents, it's terrifying. Kids have a lot of power. Right. And as parents, we have to somehow direct that energy for them to stay empowered, be able to say no. Right. As a young girl, no, this is my body, not yours. No, you can't. You know, no, you can't do that. Like somehow we have to bring in that no, without egocentric-ness. 

And so what I'm really exploring is there were things that I valued growing up as a child, but with my daughter. I'm like, I'm going to have to give her more freedom than I had because she's going to be living in a world where she has to take charge and she has to take the lead and she has to be able to negotiate. So when I grew up, it was like, don't negotiate with me. Just do as you're told. This is what you're going to have. With my daughter, I'm like, no, she's going to have to learn how to negotiate. She's going to have to learn how to like say, well, mom, maybe if you did this and this, then I'll do this and this. And that's a very big mindset shift for me to say. That's actually a life skill that she could be having.

Justin: Wow, that's powerful. I remember taking a sociological theory class over 20 years ago, and we were reading this book by this sociologist who argued that one of the key differences for kids growing up is, he used the term in modernity. But we can just say, you know, these days as opposed to a hundred years ago or almost any time in the past, is that our ancestors had identities and roles that were just given to them. It was like, “Hey, man, your dad was a, you know, cobbler. You're going to be a cobbler. And your dad went to this particular church and that's what you're doing.” And it wasn't even a question. 

And then he says, but today, it's not just that, you know, we have choices or we get to have choices. You know, we're forced to have choices and that landed on me like no, no, no. Like you don't have a choice. You have to choose because your role, your identity is not given to you. And so that. Yeah, yeah. I really like what you're saying. But it feels. Oh, man, it feels like such a rocky parenting path.

Alexandra: Well, it just it's keeping me humble. It's humble because I have been that person that's kind of like been like, well, this is not how I would do it. And over the years, I've gone you know, I've kind of watched some of these kids grow up and they're like really confident, self-empowered kids. And so, like, maybe it wasn't so bad that they had, that they were like this when they were younger, because that kind of started to work out as they got older.

Justin: So you do have experience in foster care. And so you do have experience with children, as you said, it was primarily ages seven to 12. So what did you learn in that experience that you are anticipating that you're going to be able to put to use?

Alexandra: The main things I've learned as I, I was also often working with very intense children. And so that sometimes I'll go into like a regular school and I'll be like, oh, this is so easy. What? Yeah, I think I just learned a lot about behavior in the mind, working with these kids and so much of what's going on in the kids. If we do our work as parents, it just starts to shift the kids as we come our nervous system and we get more clarity in our mind that transmits and the kids start to co-regulate. They start to come down. And it's like a transmission. If you're speaking in this way, the child just starts speaking in that way. It's just like, it just happens. It's monkey see monkey do on such a primal level, like if you're doing your work. I mean, that's such a luxury oftentimes to be able to do personal work and self-reflection. 

So I don't want to throw that out there lightly. But if you are the chaos that's kind of going on inside of our systems is the chaos that's manifesting around us. And then that's and that's beautiful. That's not something to be ashamed about. That's just something to recognize and dance with and play with. And the more that we can just come back to our own, this is that breath. This is the chaos. This is my next step. And I don't have to know what my next step after that next step is. That just is what calms a kid right down.

Justin: So, Ali, one thing that I experienced after doing work with you in the Bio-Emotive Framework. Is well, actually, the interesting thing, I think on the first session that we had in that workshop, I well, I remember it. I described being triggered by Max like the day before. There was some dispute around video games in the morning before school. And I was triggered and I got upset at him. 

And so I kind of have that as a marker for me. And what happened over the course of several months after that was or my experience and I now have the reflection of Audra and the kids, that this is what they experienced as well. Being able to get closer to my own challenging emotions and to dig in and to really feel them and to process them. And then what felt like, you know, a wave that was just going to crush me eventually it's see, oh, it's not going to crush me. 

Like I can't actually, you know, go through it and actually learn more. And be even fuller on the other side that I was then able to hold space or just be comfortable with my kids, difficult or challenging emotions. And so I was no longer trying to shut their difficult emotions down. I was able to actually sit with them or like you described with your dad, you know, instead of, like I can imagine a dad, just a typical dad who isn't a psychologist, who doesn't have a PhD, who would say to the kids, stop crying over the blocks or just, you know, calm, calm down. 

And instead he came and was like, no, let's explore these feelings. And so I really recognize what you're saying about this was a monkey-see monkey-do of like if I'm more regulated and this calmness is going to kind of percolate outward. But there was this other piece that just totally surprised me, that the more I'm comfortable with my own challenging emotions and my own triggers and my own internal junk, like the more comfortable I am with that than the more comfortable I am just being with my kids’ internal junk and just letting it be and letting it express itself and just being here for it instead of trying to squash it.

Alexandra: Behind every crazy behavior, there's a feeling.

Justin: Yeah. And so instead of squashing it, can we like let that feeling come forth and can we? Yeah. Can we hold space for it? And can we talk about it? So one thing I want to make sure that we talk about so we've mentioned your work as a bio-emotive coach or for listeners who might have just like skipped ahead an emotional processing coach and then a mother, somebody who has worked in the foster care system in Canada. But then there is this other identity that you have as a movement artist. And so I want to know, first of all, what is a movement artist?

Alexandra: I work teaching and performing movement, expressive movement, healing movement and also performative movement. Kind of the other life that I've had has been as a performer, but as a performer I've always seen how powerful expressing myself through my body has been, so through dance. But I would never call myself a dancer because that's just like a whole other, it's just a whole other world is to go into that. It's more of a performance artist. 

During my years training in theater, I basically got to get exposed to all sorts of just wacky modalities through movement. So what I sort of discover as a performer was that the time that I would take to do all of these like performance practices, this was the difference between me being able to have a space to safely express really, really, really deep emotional states that didn't have a place anywhere else. So I was getting to have really powerful, cathartic releases through these trainings. And I started to recognize, oh, other people need to be able to do this. 

When you're working as a performer, your body is your instrument and you need to clean out your body. So you need to get rid of the blocks. And that means learning how to like unlock where the tension is and release it in a really, really effective way. So now a lot of, the other side of the work that I do is how do we take the heaviness of your day? And how do we let that go on the stage? How do we perform it through our bodies?

Justin: So this work is done on a stage?

Alexandra: On a stage or in a room. It just depends on what we've got rented.

Justin: Yeah, I was wondering like, is this yeah. Is this only on a stage or is this something that can be done just in a room? Is it done with multiple people?

Alexandra: Yeah. So this can be done anywhere. You can do it on your bed. I've had a movement practice where I don't leave my bed and I just I oh, well, I'll explain what that practice is. But basically for. So, for example, there's a woman named Gabrielle Roth. She's wrote something called 5Rhythms. 5Rhythms is saying that we all have five different basic rhythms that exist in our bodies. And we all have biases towards one rhythm, over another rhythm. And you can use this. Oh, flowing. I like to be in a flowing state versus staccato-like these hard, soft versus lyrical, versus chaos, which is like ahhhhh, versus stillness, and if you take the time to allow your body to explore each one of those rhythms, you're going to discover that there is some part of you that finds deep peace and flow, but also is afraid of flow and it's afraid of slowing down. It’s afraid of being gentle. It’s afraid. And now you get to work with that. Right. 

And usually there can be an emotional release through that and then you dance that release out of your system. So it's bypassing the intellect. It's helping unlock what's locked in your system. And it's also helping you kind of, you get these little insights of like, oh, I always have to be strong and pushing. What happens if I came to my partner with a little bit more gentleness? Now that I'm a little less afraid of gentleness or she's gentle. And I don't know how to handle gentle, right or, oh, I've been mistaking how she's behaving for being angry. He's not being angry. She's just being direct. I like to be indirect all the time, but I've been confusing anger for directness. 

So you start to discover through your own movement patterns, your psychological kind of tendencies. So a practice that I can just offer to people. Yeah. So I mean, one go look up, 5Rhythms. They're awesome. I mean, I tend to make everything much more therapeutic. So, you know, but go look at 5Rhythms, they’re great. 

A practice that I can offer is, yeah. If you're waking up in the morning and in particular, if you're feeling kind of depressed or like low energy, contract your whole body and then release out, do that a couple of times. You're focusing on your gut contraction, expansion, contraction, expansion, and then allow your body to just start moving how it wants to move. Follow the impulse. You're going to feel like a funny tingle in your shoulder or like a funny little feeling in your toe. And if you follow that, within eight to 15 minutes, your body will have naturally wrung out whatever depressive state that it has. 

And you may find yourself making funny noises like roaring or like prrr prr prrr prr prr, like making ridiculous sounds. It doesn't matter. It's going to activate a state of play which activates a state of all, which is going to activate a really good chemical in your brain, and you're going to wake up feeling happy. But you have to allow your body to go through what it wants to go through. So 10 minutes, less.

Justin: So I imagine there are some people who, you know, live in their heads like me and are saying, like, how do I even get there? So. Are there some preparatory pieces of advice that you can give people who are like trapped in their head? And it might sound strange to try to get into their bodies like that?

Alexandra: For sure. How about you hop out of bed, stand beside your bed and you play with the three planes, you reach up. But not only do you reach up, you reach beyond how you can reach. You pull out of your realm. You go up, up, up, up, up, and then explore the side, reach as far as you can behind you, and then go to the ground and explore the lower plane. And if you move between all three of those planes and then to each side, that's a very, very simple way to wake you up.

Justin: I love that. That feels like it is also something or this whole movement piece is also something that can be done between parents and kids too. Have you seen that? I mean, because I've heard of this work and also in my work with you over bio-emotive. There was a lot of movement pieces to it that I've been able to incorporate and absolutely love. But I'm not aware of bringing this into maybe like a parent-child practice.

Alexandra: Yeah. I mean, like I—you know, stuff off the top of my head is just a good mirroring game. But so sit with your child, make eye contact, kind of be with the like giggles that are there. And as you're present and you just wave one hand and have your child follow, and as you do this mirroring game together, then you say, “Ok, now you lead.” Right. And you try to get them to slow down enough. 

But what happens is it's getting the two of you guys in sync. And it's giving a shared experience of how to be a follower with respect to someone else leading, but also how to be a leader. And then if you really, really want to play, you say, “Ok, now neither of us is following and neither of us is leading.” And there becomes this very beautiful dance of who is leading, who isn't. And it creates such a state of peace. 

You know, and it can be silly. You can go really, really fast. ok, now go so fast. And then everyone just falls apart. But it's the simplest thing you can do. It can be your shared meditation experience in the mornings. It's great.

Justin: All right. So I want to wrap up this part by asking you about teens. Now, I know you have a five-month-old, but you do have siblings and they either have been teenagers or might still be teenagers. I don't know. But we're doing a workshop right now on parent-teen communication for The Family Thrive. Working with several therapists on this and just really getting into the idea that it's, it’s a really new space because I mean, it is this like transition between childhood and adulthood and so much is happening. 

Do any of these practices change? Is there anything special to bring into the teen-parent relationship?

Alexandra: So I'm definitely not a teen expert. I will definitely say that. And what's happening in the teenage years is youth are developing a relationship to their own authority. And so what's happening is they're having to, you guys are, we're all having to navigate my authority versus your authority? How do I keep my authority while you are still developing your own inner authority? And so there's a negotiation that's taking place. When you have kind of like the super rebellious aspect of teenage life. That's them learning their own authority. 

And sometimes they're having to push up against really serious extremes for them to know where they end and the world begins. And so, yeah, I mean, you're not going to get everything right and perfect, but you can push back, hold that strong boundary and give a space for negotiation. How can they get further next time? So because what's happening is they still have to honor and respect the whole and the collective. 

And what we as parents are is we are representing the whole and the collective. So we’re having to say, yes, you're an amazing individual. Yes, you're stepping into your power. And you somehow have to hold some sort of regard for the larger group, because it's not just about you. And that's you're just going to be in a constant back and forth and that, it's a negotiation. Right. And depending on if you want your kid to be an entrepreneur and in all of these crazy leadership positions, well, like it or not, you probably want them to learn how to lead. Right? A

nd give them that space, if that's what their disposition is, even if it's really uncomfortable for us. Right. So this is part of that. You know, we're living in a new era and we want to give space for our kids to step into those capacities.

Justin: Are there any important differences in emotional health, emotional health practices for moms versus dads. I mean, are we basically working off the same template or is there something special that moms need to be aware of versus dads in taking care of their own emotional health, growing emotionally, emotional processing the whole thing?

Alexandra: I wouldn't state moms versus dads. What I would state is we have some of us are more insight-oriented and some of us are more deep-expression-oriented. So maybe women are more deep expression and maybe men are more in their head and insight. But of course, it can be vice versa. 

So if you are someone that already has access to your emotional system and you're already big and you already cry and you're already, you know, yelling and you're already in that kind of like big way, well, then you do your emotional processing in such a way that helps calm those intensities. Right. You're learning how to kind of self-regulate. Bring it down. You're figuring out. “I'm in this activation, which is causing me to act like this. Give me a minute. Let me go work it out.” So that's important. If you find yourself always repeating the same sentence, there's something that you haven't resolved in yourself or there's a dynamic between you and your partner, you and your kid that you have to look at. It just says that there's something there. 

But on the flip side, if you tend to be more insight-oriented. Then you want to be able to open up more of that emotional expression, and the advice for that is go for a long drive. Maybe you're on the freeway and let it out. Yell at the top of your lungs. Yell at the top of your lungs until your body feels at peace, once your body feels at peace, you're like, oh, ok, glad I got that let out, or you do that sports thing that you're doing, but when you're doing it consciously, take the emotion from the day that you've kind of locked off and put it into that run, channel that emotion. 

So some of us are more cut off from our emotions and we need to learn how to shake it up and open it up. Some of us already have a lot of access to it, and it's more about refining, refining those intense spaces. And both are great.

Justin: I love it, Love it, love it. Thank you. All right, so before we get to the final three questions that we ask every single guest on the show, I want to make sure that listeners know how to find out more about what you're doing and all the new stuff that's going to be coming for you.

Alexandra: Yeah, please. My website is hojialexandra.ca. And that's where you'll get my movement stuff, my circling stuff, my communication stuff, just all of the things that I do. I also go through bioemotiveframework.com where I do my coaching and run my classes. We have a six-week intensive coming up in Fall. 

Justin: When does that start? 

Alexandra: Mid-September. Get hojialexandra.ca and then bioemotiveframework.com. And yeah, reach out to me whether it's for coaching or questions. I'm always happy to send an email where I can or refer you to people if there's something that I'm not able to give the highest and best advice for.

Justin: Awesome. Perfect. All right. So our final three questions first. If you could put a Post-it note on every parent's refrigerator tomorrow morning, what would that Post-it note say?

Alexandra: Find the feeling. Behind every intense behavior there's a feeling. Remember that, it will save you so much.

Justin: Beautiful. All right. And the second question is, is there a quote that you've seen lately that has changed the way you think or that has really moved you?

Alexandra: This is Gabrielle Roth’s book. “To cast off the world's spell, our inner rhythm takes over and we begin to sense who we really are and how great our potential is.”

Justin: Back to movement, the rhythms. Beautiful. All right. So then our final question is, what do you love about kids?

Alexandra: Their playfulness and the fact that if you actually take the time to enter into their reality, you will discover how big reality is. that play is very serious to them. And when we as adults are able to take that playfulness into our day-to-day life, we start becoming actual masters of our existence. It's very, very amazing. Yeah. 

Justin: Ali, thank you so much for taking time out of your day to join us on The Family Thrive Podcast. And we can't wait to do it again.

Alexandra: This time was fun. Thank you so much.

Justin: Hey, thanks for listening to the Family Thrive Podcast. If you like what you heard, please subscribe, tell two friends and head on over to Apple Podcasts or anywhere you listen to podcasts and give us a review. We're so grateful you've chosen to join us on this Family Thrive journey.

Justin: Hey, friend, this podcast is brought to you by The Family Thrive, an expert-led science-backed online community for busy parents who are looking to thrive. Join us at thefamilythrivecom.

Alexandra: If we do our work as parents, it just starts to shift the kids as we calm our nervous system and we get more clarity in our mind that transmits. And the kids start to co-regulate. If you're speaking in this way, the child just starts speaking in that way. It just happens. It's monkey see monkey do on such a primal level, they start to come down and it's like a transmission.

Justin: I met Alexandra Tataryn a year and a half ago when she led an online workshop on something called the Bio-Emotive Framework. It was all about learning how to understand the process and express emotions in the body so that we can become more present and connected to those around us. These practices and the ideas behind them were developed by her father, Douglas Tataryn, who was a psychologist and researcher at the University of Arizona—go Wildcats—and has been a practicing psychotherapist for the past 20 years. I'll just say here at the beginning that the bio emotive framework and Ali’s coaching has had a huge impact on me, on our marriage, and my parenting. And I believe that it can do the same for every parent. This is why we just had to reach out and bring Ali on the podcast. 

She's not just a bio-emotive coach, but she's also a mother and a movement artist. She leads in-person and online classes in emotional health healing movement and a relationship practice called circling. 

In this episode, we learn about emotions, why they're so important, how we can use them for healing and connection, the unique emotional experiences of mothers and fathers and so much more. If you want to learn more about your own emotions and the emotions of your kids and your partner, then buckle up. Without further ado, here's the wonderful and wise Alexandra Tataryn. 

You are, of course, a mother. You are a bio-emotive coach. You are a movement artist. And I want to talk about all of these and I want to talk about how they intersect. But I think before we begin, we should just talk about bio emotive real quick. Like what is this word? I'm sure listeners are already feeling lost and confused. So maybe we can just start with bio-emotive motive. What does that mean?

Alexandra: The bio-emotive framework or bio-emotive processing; bio like biological, emotive, like emotion. And we should probably stick in there rational. 

It's a form of therapy that my father came up with and what he was doing over the last 20 years when absolutely no one was doing it. It's a lot more acknowledged now, was he was saying that when you're doing therapy with people, when you're working with people, with mental illness, when you're working with people that are facing all sorts of issues, it's not just about controlling their behavior. It's actually acknowledging that they have an inner world and that inner world involves emotions and feelings. 

So our motto has been we kind of have two messages. One, that emotions exist. So just do whatever you need to do. Go study whatever you need to study. Go discover whatever you need to discover. You have emotions. They're valid, they're real. Acknowledge them, give them space. Go do what you've got to do to have that. And this is kind of where we start specializing a little bit more. Not only do emotions exist, they can be worked with, harnessed and released in a way that you're not swimming in them endlessly, so that by actually consciously understanding your emotional system, you're not being unconsciously controlled by your emotional system, which means you're able to take way more conscious action and choices in your life. 

Our particular angle, which I do, I'm really careful, really careful to acknowledge like all of the amazing emotional things out there. But we work really a lot on making sure that people are integrating the intellectual, emotional and physical aspects of their being. 

And it really rooted in Gendlin’s Focusing where you spend a lot of time, you tune into a different part of your body. You're being you just say, “Ok, what's the story that's happening here? What's hidden?” Like what's what's the wounding that's hidden in this pain right here? And as you follow that process, you keep asking yourself, “does that capture the essence of your pain or do you need to clarify it a little bit more?” 

Justin: Yes. 

Alexandra: And so what you end up doing is you are getting more and more refined and articulate. So it's like, “Oh, it's not just that that person is really mean and I hate them.” And they're this and that. It's like, “Oh, when she spoke to me in this way, I felt really dismissed. Oh, when I felt dismissed, it felt like she wasn't acknowledging that my perspective was meaningful.” When I'm not having my perspective acknowledged as meaningful, it goes even more deep. Right. And so you keep following that thread until you basically find the aha moment.

Justin: That is a beautiful explanation, because as you described that I recognize that's exactly what we did together. 

Like you helped me clarify a lot of just these emotions that felt just big and kind of just like a wave. Like so much of, I think, mental health and also the mindfulness, kind of mainstream mindfulness, at least as I had experienced it before bio-emotive, at least for me, came across as let the wave pass. You know, is there a way just to let the wave pass or can you just bring your attention back to the breath while the wave, you know, comes and goes? And what I loved about the bio-emotive approach was like, oh, no, no, no. The wave is like, that's where the gold is, like that's where I keep following that. And then you're going to come across treasure.

Alexandra: Yeah. And it's a good capacity to be able to let the wave pass. Like I will say like develop that capacity for sure. But there is treasure in those waves. Exactly. And like I'm, you know, I'm talking about this is as like broad strokes as I can, like not getting into theory, not getting into nuances. But it's like what's the true essence? And yeah, inside those waves, you can take the time and you can discover it goes back to a little pin root. And if you can find that, you can pluck it out and suddenly you're like, whoa. 

And what I'll also comment is so there's an element of this work that is unique to kind of like what my dad figured out and blah, blah, blah. But there's another side of it where it was like he just sort of started to notice, oh, there's a pattern that when you're doing deep healing work that everyone's going through, they're just going through it haphazardly. The body knows how to heal if you actually just let it. 

And what is the most natural thing in the world to do? Get really annoyed. Start talking about it incessantly, going on about it until you randomly say the thing that makes you burst into tears and someone hugs you with that and you're like, well, I just feel so much better. Thank you so much for listening to me. Right. And so it's like that really silly, easy cycle. Well, it's like that's it. Notice you have something going on. Give space for it. Don't ignore it. Say it out loud. Cry it until your body gets rid of what it needs to get rid of and feel the release. Any other healing modality you do, you're going to realize. Oh, we've just been skipping a step or oh, we've just been bypassing one little area, so it's really brilliant. It's really beautiful.

Justin: Absolutely. Oh, yes. Yes. This all feels very familiar. And I've attempted to weave this into my own daily mindfulness practices. Like right now I'm feeling activated or can I now take these steps to talk about it. Can I let these emotions come up? Can I kind of get more precise around them? And then can I physically express them like this is, that was a huge key for me, is like, oh, I've been living my life in my head so much that I just assumed all emotions were just these mental products. And then to really have this awareness of like, oh, no, these emotions are physical like these. 

These are absolutely in my body. And they need to be expressed physically as well, whether it's, you know, something as small as just a deep breath and a sigh or something as big as sobbing like these emotions need to be processed physically. They need to be expressed. And that was a big game-changer for me. So I am curious now how this has or if anything new has come up around the process of motherhood or, you know, during pregnancy, around the birth. Maybe we can start there. Did anything new in your emotional or personal growth work come up?

Alexandra: Yeah. So I think for myself, I've been doing emotional clearing work. Like it's been built into me, right, from a young age.

Justin: Oh, can I pause there? Because I've heard you say that before and I've had a lot of curiosity around this. And so, like, how young were you when you started to learn these emotional processing tools?

Alexandra: I think I was about seven years old when I was crying and my dad came down and asked me, “Well, if it had a color, what color would your sadness be right now?” And I remember contemplating no, it's blue, not yellow. And I remember that. So that was the beginning. I was about seven years old.

Justin: And so then not just in childhood, but through your adolescence as well, when I'm sure emotions got really big. You already had these tools.

Alexandra: Yeah. And I mean, it was like we just had space. We just had space to express ourselves. And like appropriately, there was boundaries where it was like, no, in this moment you need to just go put your toys away and you need to just go do this and then you can go cry about it later. Right?

Justin: Yeah. 

Alexandra: You can go get that out of your system after. But right now you have to do what I'm asking you to do. And that was really beautiful because it still taught regulation. Right? It was like I could honor the intensity that was moving through my body, but I still had to honor the group space of the family and go do what needed to be done. And so I've appreciated that because I think honoring emotions, like I said before, honoring emotions allows emotions not to run your life. 

And so even when I've been working with different children and different youth with behavior challenges or neurological challenges, we just give a lot of space for them to honor what's going on inside their system so that we can bring them back and get them to actually do the task at hand.

Justin: How did your emotional processing work or your personal growth change during pregnancy?

Alexandra: The shift that I had in emotional processing was recognizing the importance of community. So in the beginning, the partnership that I had with the father, we weren't sure what was going to happen. And that's a real thing for some of us is having to navigate that. And so recognizing how important it is to not just be able to do emotional processing on your own, but when you need to be able to reach out to others that can hold space for you, but then also others that can hold space for you and help you find the things. 

So it's not just, you know, crying and expressing and releasing, which is really good, but it was like I'm going into a perception loop here, and it's creating an issue between how I'm handling this dynamic. You know, I'm a really intelligent woman. I'm not acting so intelligent in this situation. Let me really do some emotional processing and really figure out what it is that I'm getting triggered into. And so, yeah, this is what I do for a living. And I need to keep doing this work as a human being. Right. 

And I'm so grateful because I'm telling you, there's also a certain fierceness where it's like I have to really look at what core feeling is getting activated in me that I don't want to feel, that is pushing me into all of these like strength behaviors that is not helping this dynamic. And so I had to get myself out of a few little fear responses, because as soon as you're a mom. Wow. Your survival instincts are just heightened, which means you have to also become a little more eloquent. So I don't know. I mean, you can dig into that if you want.

Justin: Audra has described that as like the mother bear, you know, and this like mother bear, you know, survival response. And then you said you have to become more eloquent. Can you unpack that a little bit?

Alexandra: Well, yeah. So like with great power, my mother bearness comes great responsibility, which is like now that I've got all of this like primal energy moving through my system and like precision with perception. What is the future hold? What needs need to get met? How are we going to implement that? Who's the community coming together? That's a lot of energy moving through a woman's body. 

And so recognizing, especially in this time where women are getting much more respect, it's like how do we flow? How do we flow those energetics? So if I'm seeing something really precisely and really important, how do I communicate that in a way that's uplifting and landing in those around me?

Justin: Ali, what's coming up for me is that hearing that you had to navigate all of this as someone who has been doing this work since age seven. I hear what's coming up is what hope is there for us who have never done this or, you know, for somebody like me who, you know, came across as a little over a year ago. Were there any lessons that you might be able to share for a new mom who doesn't have these tools but might be experiencing some of these same challenges?

Alexandra: Yeah. And I'll say kind of like the intensity that I'm going to like. I just kind of go to like this bigger intensities. It's just sort of me. It's just my personality. I mean, the advice for the new moms is, is that we're all human. And it doesn't really matter how much experience you have or don't have. We're all extremely valid in the emotional experience that we're having. And what you can do as a new mom is honor in you. 

Yeah, if I could find people to talk to in a safe space, whether it's my best friends, whether it's my family members, whether it's an online community, if you can take that one step of self-empowerment to say this is meaningful enough that I have to somehow prioritize it, that's it. Because once you have that friend or that group or whatever where you're able to just say this is a safe space to talk, this is a safe space to share. This is a safe space to cry. And then you makeup back on and go back out into the world. That is empowering. And it really doesn't matter if you're brand new to emotional processing or if you're a therapist. We're all in that humanity position together.

Justin: So the birth comes. Were there any experiences around the birth where you had to draw on your emotional processing tools, or was it more of a like instinctual thing where you just kind of went with the flow?

Alexandra: I wouldn't say I had any specific, like emotional processing experiences during the birth, but in the communities that I'm part of, there is a lot of emphasis on natural and at-home birthing. And that wasn't a process that I went through. I went to the hospital and I was taken care of very, very well in the hospital. And I could feel myself almost feeling a little bit quietly shamed by all of the women that I knew that had done their wild mob births in their living room. 

And I just said, you know, I'm here at this hospital and I have got like seven nurses, these amazing women who have all gathered here to make sure that me and my baby come through this together. And I am going to give all of that over, like I'm going to trust these women. I'm in their turf. I'm in their territory. They were all really kind and loving to me. And so, again, it was sort of that attitude of community. But it was, there was an emotional ache that I had to say, no, I'm not going to let that get under my skin. And so I had an amazing birth experience.

Justin: So this is an aspect of parenting that is unique, I think, for moms, as I remember Audra experiencing some of this around having to have a C-section and it was planned. And so like it, because of medical necessity, it just had to happen. And there was a feeling it was like this subtle, like you are not doing it the natural way. And then around breastfeeding and then and then adding in formula. 

And so there were all these things that as a dad, it was like it didn't register at all, was like, who cares? I mean, we have a healthy kid and like, you know, and if we supplement, you know, the breastfeeding with the formula, like, who cares? And but it was this whole now, in retrospect, you know, with Max is now 14 years old, this was a long time ago. But there was this whole emotional world that Andre was experiencing that I had very little awareness of. What I'm hearing for you as you were able to not just shake off some of those judgments that you might be perceiving, but then you also were able to look at your current situation with these nurses and this community that was there to care for you in the hospital as well. I wonder if there's been any other experiences like that where you've been able to navigate those social judgments around motherhood.

Alexandra: It's like there's this interesting balance between it's like I mean, there's you know, there's research, of course, right. Like if you do it this way, then this is proven to show this and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And so this is why it's ideal to do all of these sort of things. But the way that I see it, like for the breastfeeding example, is we know so much that if you're one of the families where circumstances happened, whatever it is, whether it's, you know, pressure on the mother or whether it's biological issues with feeding, whatever it is, we have enough knowledge now that we can say because there was this thing that we had to overcome at this time, we can recognize the impact and so we can use all of our resources and understanding to kind of make up for it in a future way. 

So if there is some sort of I mean, I'm kind of thinking about that a little bit more behaviorally, but there's like this dual all women should be empowered to do as they want to do as mothers. But if you don't follow it the right way, we are steadily going to have an issue like this. And so it's like you're getting these mixed messages. But then again, this kind of goes back to if you can recognize in yourself, “Oh, the way that that woman or the way that that worker said that to me, it's triggering some of my own insecurities around this, this, this and this. I can acknowledge that I've got, you know, these little wounds where I want to be seen as the perfect mom, because I want to be seen as significant in all of this stuff.” You can just kind of quickly jump past it and say, “and I'm not perfect and I'm ok. I don't have to be perfect.” 

And I think you do kind of have to be tough as a mom. And that toughness hopefully doesn't translate into like inflexibility, right? Where you feel safe enough to still learn. But there is a certain. “Yeah, I'm doing it this way. And maybe no one here agrees and maybe I'll change my mind tomorrow or I'll educate myself and I'll do it differently tomorrow. But like in this moment, this is who I am. This is what's happening. And my kid is going to be ok in the long run” and really kind of keeping that larger, that long-term view, because like otherwise, you're just going to start obsessing over every little thing and you're not... This is the essence. Oftentimes, we're not actually caring about what the kid needs. We're caring about what people are thinking about us as parents.

Justin: So it starts in the womb and then throughout the rest of their lives, because it's, I mean, all the way up through what college did your kid get into? You know, so. Absolutely. Absolutely. Oh, so there's a lot of emotional processing and self-awareness work that parents can do all the way through that can pay dividends. So now we talked about pregnancy. So now in infancy or early childhood, what has been coming up for you again in this around emotional processing or personal growth, or all of this work that you do?

Alexandra: I think what I just said, they're like one the kind of personal thing I've been contemplating is making sure that I'm making choices for my child. I'm not making choices because of me getting pulled into other people's perceptions and their views.

Justin: Yeah. So how do you do that work? Because I can imagine that it's not always easy to pull out. Like what is the social judgment piece that I have? And then what is the inner knowing piece that I have? How do you do that work?

Alexanda: Well, for me, it's like the inner knowing is my kid is going to I'm going to somehow screw make it up no matter what I do. So give her the tools to be able to feel empowered and strong enough and love herself enough and love me enough that when she needs to go get therapy and figure out whatever, that she can, that she'll just be like, yeah, this is a part of life. 

And what I have been thinking a lot about is I'm that kid that liked going to school. I liked having the consistency I liked having, now we take a break. Now we go to recess. Now we come back. Everyone stands in line. There's a beauty to like, let's all walk single-file down the hallway. And even as an actor, theater performer, sports player, you start to love like let me surrender my own will for the greater of the group. Right. Let me play my role really effectively so that the larger whole can accomplish something. So I love that. 

But what I'm recognizing is the way we were raised was, you know, you kind of did what you were told. You just, you did what you were told and you would override. Doesn't matter if you have a passion about this, this is what needs to get done. And this was I mean, I grew up in a small, small town here in Manitoba, Canada. So I don't know what it's like in other places, but there was a bit of a strictness. But what I'm seeing is we are moving into a different world where children need to be strong enough to say no. When kids start saying no to their parents, it's terrifying. Kids have a lot of power. Right. And as parents, we have to somehow direct that energy for them to stay empowered, be able to say no. Right. As a young girl, no, this is my body, not yours. No, you can't. You know, no, you can't do that. Like somehow we have to bring in that no, without egocentric-ness. 

And so what I'm really exploring is there were things that I valued growing up as a child, but with my daughter. I'm like, I'm going to have to give her more freedom than I had because she's going to be living in a world where she has to take charge and she has to take the lead and she has to be able to negotiate. So when I grew up, it was like, don't negotiate with me. Just do as you're told. This is what you're going to have. With my daughter, I'm like, no, she's going to have to learn how to negotiate. She's going to have to learn how to like say, well, mom, maybe if you did this and this, then I'll do this and this. And that's a very big mindset shift for me to say. That's actually a life skill that she could be having.

Justin: Wow, that's powerful. I remember taking a sociological theory class over 20 years ago, and we were reading this book by this sociologist who argued that one of the key differences for kids growing up is, he used the term in modernity. But we can just say, you know, these days as opposed to a hundred years ago or almost any time in the past, is that our ancestors had identities and roles that were just given to them. It was like, “Hey, man, your dad was a, you know, cobbler. You're going to be a cobbler. And your dad went to this particular church and that's what you're doing.” And it wasn't even a question. 

And then he says, but today, it's not just that, you know, we have choices or we get to have choices. You know, we're forced to have choices and that landed on me like no, no, no. Like you don't have a choice. You have to choose because your role, your identity is not given to you. And so that. Yeah, yeah. I really like what you're saying. But it feels. Oh, man, it feels like such a rocky parenting path.

Alexandra: Well, it just it's keeping me humble. It's humble because I have been that person that's kind of like been like, well, this is not how I would do it. And over the years, I've gone you know, I've kind of watched some of these kids grow up and they're like really confident, self-empowered kids. And so, like, maybe it wasn't so bad that they had, that they were like this when they were younger, because that kind of started to work out as they got older.

Justin: So you do have experience in foster care. And so you do have experience with children, as you said, it was primarily ages seven to 12. So what did you learn in that experience that you are anticipating that you're going to be able to put to use?

Alexandra: The main things I've learned as I, I was also often working with very intense children. And so that sometimes I'll go into like a regular school and I'll be like, oh, this is so easy. What? Yeah, I think I just learned a lot about behavior in the mind, working with these kids and so much of what's going on in the kids. If we do our work as parents, it just starts to shift the kids as we come our nervous system and we get more clarity in our mind that transmits and the kids start to co-regulate. They start to come down. And it's like a transmission. If you're speaking in this way, the child just starts speaking in that way. It's just like, it just happens. It's monkey see monkey do on such a primal level, like if you're doing your work. I mean, that's such a luxury oftentimes to be able to do personal work and self-reflection. 

So I don't want to throw that out there lightly. But if you are the chaos that's kind of going on inside of our systems is the chaos that's manifesting around us. And then that's and that's beautiful. That's not something to be ashamed about. That's just something to recognize and dance with and play with. And the more that we can just come back to our own, this is that breath. This is the chaos. This is my next step. And I don't have to know what my next step after that next step is. That just is what calms a kid right down.

Justin: So, Ali, one thing that I experienced after doing work with you in the Bio-Emotive Framework. Is well, actually, the interesting thing, I think on the first session that we had in that workshop, I well, I remember it. I described being triggered by Max like the day before. There was some dispute around video games in the morning before school. And I was triggered and I got upset at him. 

And so I kind of have that as a marker for me. And what happened over the course of several months after that was or my experience and I now have the reflection of Audra and the kids, that this is what they experienced as well. Being able to get closer to my own challenging emotions and to dig in and to really feel them and to process them. And then what felt like, you know, a wave that was just going to crush me eventually it's see, oh, it's not going to crush me. 

Like I can't actually, you know, go through it and actually learn more. And be even fuller on the other side that I was then able to hold space or just be comfortable with my kids, difficult or challenging emotions. And so I was no longer trying to shut their difficult emotions down. I was able to actually sit with them or like you described with your dad, you know, instead of, like I can imagine a dad, just a typical dad who isn't a psychologist, who doesn't have a PhD, who would say to the kids, stop crying over the blocks or just, you know, calm, calm down. 

And instead he came and was like, no, let's explore these feelings. And so I really recognize what you're saying about this was a monkey-see monkey-do of like if I'm more regulated and this calmness is going to kind of percolate outward. But there was this other piece that just totally surprised me, that the more I'm comfortable with my own challenging emotions and my own triggers and my own internal junk, like the more comfortable I am with that than the more comfortable I am just being with my kids’ internal junk and just letting it be and letting it express itself and just being here for it instead of trying to squash it.

Alexandra: Behind every crazy behavior, there's a feeling.

Justin: Yeah. And so instead of squashing it, can we like let that feeling come forth and can we? Yeah. Can we hold space for it? And can we talk about it? So one thing I want to make sure that we talk about so we've mentioned your work as a bio-emotive coach or for listeners who might have just like skipped ahead an emotional processing coach and then a mother, somebody who has worked in the foster care system in Canada. But then there is this other identity that you have as a movement artist. And so I want to know, first of all, what is a movement artist?

Alexandra: I work teaching and performing movement, expressive movement, healing movement and also performative movement. Kind of the other life that I've had has been as a performer, but as a performer I've always seen how powerful expressing myself through my body has been, so through dance. But I would never call myself a dancer because that's just like a whole other, it's just a whole other world is to go into that. It's more of a performance artist. 

During my years training in theater, I basically got to get exposed to all sorts of just wacky modalities through movement. So what I sort of discover as a performer was that the time that I would take to do all of these like performance practices, this was the difference between me being able to have a space to safely express really, really, really deep emotional states that didn't have a place anywhere else. So I was getting to have really powerful, cathartic releases through these trainings. And I started to recognize, oh, other people need to be able to do this. 

When you're working as a performer, your body is your instrument and you need to clean out your body. So you need to get rid of the blocks. And that means learning how to like unlock where the tension is and release it in a really, really effective way. So now a lot of, the other side of the work that I do is how do we take the heaviness of your day? And how do we let that go on the stage? How do we perform it through our bodies?

Justin: So this work is done on a stage?

Alexandra: On a stage or in a room. It just depends on what we've got rented.

Justin: Yeah, I was wondering like, is this yeah. Is this only on a stage or is this something that can be done just in a room? Is it done with multiple people?

Alexandra: Yeah. So this can be done anywhere. You can do it on your bed. I've had a movement practice where I don't leave my bed and I just I oh, well, I'll explain what that practice is. But basically for. So, for example, there's a woman named Gabrielle Roth. She's wrote something called 5Rhythms. 5Rhythms is saying that we all have five different basic rhythms that exist in our bodies. And we all have biases towards one rhythm, over another rhythm. And you can use this. Oh, flowing. I like to be in a flowing state versus staccato-like these hard, soft versus lyrical, versus chaos, which is like ahhhhh, versus stillness, and if you take the time to allow your body to explore each one of those rhythms, you're going to discover that there is some part of you that finds deep peace and flow, but also is afraid of flow and it's afraid of slowing down. It’s afraid of being gentle. It’s afraid. And now you get to work with that. Right. 

And usually there can be an emotional release through that and then you dance that release out of your system. So it's bypassing the intellect. It's helping unlock what's locked in your system. And it's also helping you kind of, you get these little insights of like, oh, I always have to be strong and pushing. What happens if I came to my partner with a little bit more gentleness? Now that I'm a little less afraid of gentleness or she's gentle. And I don't know how to handle gentle, right or, oh, I've been mistaking how she's behaving for being angry. He's not being angry. She's just being direct. I like to be indirect all the time, but I've been confusing anger for directness. 

So you start to discover through your own movement patterns, your psychological kind of tendencies. So a practice that I can just offer to people. Yeah. So I mean, one go look up, 5Rhythms. They're awesome. I mean, I tend to make everything much more therapeutic. So, you know, but go look at 5Rhythms, they’re great. 

A practice that I can offer is, yeah. If you're waking up in the morning and in particular, if you're feeling kind of depressed or like low energy, contract your whole body and then release out, do that a couple of times. You're focusing on your gut contraction, expansion, contraction, expansion, and then allow your body to just start moving how it wants to move. Follow the impulse. You're going to feel like a funny tingle in your shoulder or like a funny little feeling in your toe. And if you follow that, within eight to 15 minutes, your body will have naturally wrung out whatever depressive state that it has. 

And you may find yourself making funny noises like roaring or like prrr prr prrr prr prr, like making ridiculous sounds. It doesn't matter. It's going to activate a state of play which activates a state of all, which is going to activate a really good chemical in your brain, and you're going to wake up feeling happy. But you have to allow your body to go through what it wants to go through. So 10 minutes, less.

Justin: So I imagine there are some people who, you know, live in their heads like me and are saying, like, how do I even get there? So. Are there some preparatory pieces of advice that you can give people who are like trapped in their head? And it might sound strange to try to get into their bodies like that?

Alexandra: For sure. How about you hop out of bed, stand beside your bed and you play with the three planes, you reach up. But not only do you reach up, you reach beyond how you can reach. You pull out of your realm. You go up, up, up, up, up, and then explore the side, reach as far as you can behind you, and then go to the ground and explore the lower plane. And if you move between all three of those planes and then to each side, that's a very, very simple way to wake you up.

Justin: I love that. That feels like it is also something or this whole movement piece is also something that can be done between parents and kids too. Have you seen that? I mean, because I've heard of this work and also in my work with you over bio-emotive. There was a lot of movement pieces to it that I've been able to incorporate and absolutely love. But I'm not aware of bringing this into maybe like a parent-child practice.

Alexandra: Yeah. I mean, like I—you know, stuff off the top of my head is just a good mirroring game. But so sit with your child, make eye contact, kind of be with the like giggles that are there. And as you're present and you just wave one hand and have your child follow, and as you do this mirroring game together, then you say, “Ok, now you lead.” Right. And you try to get them to slow down enough. 

But what happens is it's getting the two of you guys in sync. And it's giving a shared experience of how to be a follower with respect to someone else leading, but also how to be a leader. And then if you really, really want to play, you say, “Ok, now neither of us is following and neither of us is leading.” And there becomes this very beautiful dance of who is leading, who isn't. And it creates such a state of peace. 

You know, and it can be silly. You can go really, really fast. ok, now go so fast. And then everyone just falls apart. But it's the simplest thing you can do. It can be your shared meditation experience in the mornings. It's great.

Justin: All right. So I want to wrap up this part by asking you about teens. Now, I know you have a five-month-old, but you do have siblings and they either have been teenagers or might still be teenagers. I don't know. But we're doing a workshop right now on parent-teen communication for The Family Thrive. Working with several therapists on this and just really getting into the idea that it's, it’s a really new space because I mean, it is this like transition between childhood and adulthood and so much is happening. 

Do any of these practices change? Is there anything special to bring into the teen-parent relationship?

Alexandra: So I'm definitely not a teen expert. I will definitely say that. And what's happening in the teenage years is youth are developing a relationship to their own authority. And so what's happening is they're having to, you guys are, we're all having to navigate my authority versus your authority? How do I keep my authority while you are still developing your own inner authority? And so there's a negotiation that's taking place. When you have kind of like the super rebellious aspect of teenage life. That's them learning their own authority. 

And sometimes they're having to push up against really serious extremes for them to know where they end and the world begins. And so, yeah, I mean, you're not going to get everything right and perfect, but you can push back, hold that strong boundary and give a space for negotiation. How can they get further next time? So because what's happening is they still have to honor and respect the whole and the collective. 

And what we as parents are is we are representing the whole and the collective. So we’re having to say, yes, you're an amazing individual. Yes, you're stepping into your power. And you somehow have to hold some sort of regard for the larger group, because it's not just about you. And that's you're just going to be in a constant back and forth and that, it's a negotiation. Right. And depending on if you want your kid to be an entrepreneur and in all of these crazy leadership positions, well, like it or not, you probably want them to learn how to lead. Right? A

nd give them that space, if that's what their disposition is, even if it's really uncomfortable for us. Right. So this is part of that. You know, we're living in a new era and we want to give space for our kids to step into those capacities.

Justin: Are there any important differences in emotional health, emotional health practices for moms versus dads. I mean, are we basically working off the same template or is there something special that moms need to be aware of versus dads in taking care of their own emotional health, growing emotionally, emotional processing the whole thing?

Alexandra: I wouldn't state moms versus dads. What I would state is we have some of us are more insight-oriented and some of us are more deep-expression-oriented. So maybe women are more deep expression and maybe men are more in their head and insight. But of course, it can be vice versa. 

So if you are someone that already has access to your emotional system and you're already big and you already cry and you're already, you know, yelling and you're already in that kind of like big way, well, then you do your emotional processing in such a way that helps calm those intensities. Right. You're learning how to kind of self-regulate. Bring it down. You're figuring out. “I'm in this activation, which is causing me to act like this. Give me a minute. Let me go work it out.” So that's important. If you find yourself always repeating the same sentence, there's something that you haven't resolved in yourself or there's a dynamic between you and your partner, you and your kid that you have to look at. It just says that there's something there. 

But on the flip side, if you tend to be more insight-oriented. Then you want to be able to open up more of that emotional expression, and the advice for that is go for a long drive. Maybe you're on the freeway and let it out. Yell at the top of your lungs. Yell at the top of your lungs until your body feels at peace, once your body feels at peace, you're like, oh, ok, glad I got that let out, or you do that sports thing that you're doing, but when you're doing it consciously, take the emotion from the day that you've kind of locked off and put it into that run, channel that emotion. 

So some of us are more cut off from our emotions and we need to learn how to shake it up and open it up. Some of us already have a lot of access to it, and it's more about refining, refining those intense spaces. And both are great.

Justin: I love it, Love it, love it. Thank you. All right, so before we get to the final three questions that we ask every single guest on the show, I want to make sure that listeners know how to find out more about what you're doing and all the new stuff that's going to be coming for you.

Alexandra: Yeah, please. My website is hojialexandra.ca. And that's where you'll get my movement stuff, my circling stuff, my communication stuff, just all of the things that I do. I also go through bioemotiveframework.com where I do my coaching and run my classes. We have a six-week intensive coming up in Fall. 

Justin: When does that start? 

Alexandra: Mid-September. Get hojialexandra.ca and then bioemotiveframework.com. And yeah, reach out to me whether it's for coaching or questions. I'm always happy to send an email where I can or refer you to people if there's something that I'm not able to give the highest and best advice for.

Justin: Awesome. Perfect. All right. So our final three questions first. If you could put a Post-it note on every parent's refrigerator tomorrow morning, what would that Post-it note say?

Alexandra: Find the feeling. Behind every intense behavior there's a feeling. Remember that, it will save you so much.

Justin: Beautiful. All right. And the second question is, is there a quote that you've seen lately that has changed the way you think or that has really moved you?

Alexandra: This is Gabrielle Roth’s book. “To cast off the world's spell, our inner rhythm takes over and we begin to sense who we really are and how great our potential is.”

Justin: Back to movement, the rhythms. Beautiful. All right. So then our final question is, what do you love about kids?

Alexandra: Their playfulness and the fact that if you actually take the time to enter into their reality, you will discover how big reality is. that play is very serious to them. And when we as adults are able to take that playfulness into our day-to-day life, we start becoming actual masters of our existence. It's very, very amazing. Yeah. 

Justin: Ali, thank you so much for taking time out of your day to join us on The Family Thrive Podcast. And we can't wait to do it again.

Alexandra: This time was fun. Thank you so much.

Justin: Hey, thanks for listening to the Family Thrive Podcast. If you like what you heard, please subscribe, tell two friends and head on over to Apple Podcasts or anywhere you listen to podcasts and give us a review. We're so grateful you've chosen to join us on this Family Thrive journey.

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