By Beth Ranagan

The Central Hall Commons in collaboration with community partner organizations will present “Supporting Survivors of Domestic Violence with PTSD:  A Coordinated Community Response,” with speaker Angie Alfonso and “Strengthening Resilience and Connection Together through Conversations,” featuring Kini-Ana Tinkham.  These two programs are the second in CHC’s PTSD Conversations: Our Communities Response virtual presentations and will appear Wednesday, July 22 at 1 p.m. on Facebook Live Events at and on Zoom at for zoom link access before the event.

Angie Alfonso, Rural Outreach Team Leader at Partners for Peace, will share some experiences in working with people with PTSD and the services that her organization provides to the communities of Penobscot and Piscataquis Counties.  Angie is a former Prevention Educator, and she recognizes the importance of building and nurturing relationships to create a coordinated community response.

Kini-Ana Tinkham, BA, RN, is the Executive Director for the Maine Resilience Building Network.  She works to improve the health and well-being of all family members and communities by advancing the mission of MRBN through education in a variety of settings throughout the state.  Her career expands across maternal and child health in the home, school, family planning, clinical healthcare, and public health.  She will speak about resiliency techniques.

Trauma that lives in the body needs to be discharged so that we can live healthy and happy lives.  We can strengthen our resilience to help bring the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems into alignment during, immediately following, and long after traumatic events.

There are several research-supported techniques that can help anyone cultivate resilience.  These techniques can help discharge the trauma within as well.  The American Psychological Association has reported that having supportive relationships with family and friends is the primary factor for resilience.  Talking through your emotional and physical responses with caring and loving people fosters perspective.  Maintain and stay connected to your friends and family always and especially during times of stress and adversity to bolster resilience.  Find targeted support groups for connection, too.    

Using breath to release stress has been found to create balance within the body as well.  Use the rhythmic movement of inhalation and exhalation, feeling breath through the nostrils, throat, and in the rise and fall of your belly to develop conscious awareness.  A deep sigh is a good way to release tension for a realistic view of a situation.  Resilient people use breath techniques often.

Daily meditation and prayer calm us because they reach the deeper cortex of the brain, as found from MRI studies at Stanford University.  Practicing mindfulness throughout the day, using full attention to daily tasks, can curb disturbing and ruminating thoughts surrounding a disturbing event.  Coupled with conscious gratitude for the good in life, mindfulness can lead to more positive thoughts and life purpose for greater resilience.

Movement, particularly rhythmic and repetitive movement, develops resilience and discharges trauma.  For those with PTSD from domestic violence, Trauma-Sensitive Yoga is especially useful.  Dancing, drumming, tai chi, and walking are also good ways to regulate the autonomic nervous system.

Touch gives us a sense of safety and trust.  Oxytocin, the feel-good hormone, is released to counteract the stress hormone cortisol.  If you live alone, use the butterfly hug (hands touching opposite shoulders) to hug yourself or put your hand on your heart while gently breathing to self-soothe.  Hug and stroke pets to achieve calming effects. The resulting sense of safety builds resilience.

Stephen Porges, PhD, founder of the Polyvagal Theory, reminds us to use a smiling facial expression when connecting with others as well as using a pleasantly intoned voice and good eye contact to help ourselves and others feel safety, thereby building resilience for both communication partners.

For more information on the upcoming program described at the beginning of this article, call Jody at 207-717-6782.

14 views0 comments

by Lesely Fernow July 2020

During this time, Central Hall Commons (CHC) is re-imagining how we can bring people together to build community and restore health and vitality. In an effort to relieve stress and bring healing, CHC is undertaking a weekly virtual offering to our community called “Mindful Monday” which will include a short written “thought for the week” about living mindfully in this time accompanied by a live 15 minute guided mindfulness session called “Spirit Pause”, which will also be available on demand as a YouTube video on our website or Facebook page.

Spirit Pause is an opportunity for people to spend 15 minutes a week deeply reflecting on our moment-to-moment experience and connecting with each other by being together in a spirit of mindful contemplation. In this way we can all move more easily through our difficult days, by feeling, and truly knowing in our inner being that we are all in this together and that our deep nature is an invisible bond we all share as human beings.

Spirit Pause is not religious, although some will find it like prayer. It is not a cult. We are not gurus. It is an open offering to join us for just a few minutes during your day to take time totally for yourself, to allow yourself to be truly human, to feel, to let go of stress, obligation and worry, by just being.


Spirit Pause is for anyone: workers needing to work even when they are scared of getting sick; employers or business owners who are struggling with economic crisis and are navigating the challenges of reopening their business vs risking the health of their employees or the public; people who need a small break from routine or constant bombardment of bad news to improve focus and reduce stress; mothers and fathers who are trying to protect their families from an invisible but deadly illness, and who must work from home while trying to cope with children who are restless, scared and tired of being cooped up, doctors, nurses, other caregivers who are experiencing fear and unimaginable stress, people who are hungry, tired, scared, lonely, bored; children who are missing their friends and worried about their families. ANYONE.


Spirit Pause will offer a mindfulness session for 15 minutes every Monday morning from 8:30-8:45 on Facebook live. This session will be recorded and will be available for on demand listening later if the time is inconvenient.

When you enter the space we ask you to get into a comfortable position sitting, standing or even lying. We have found mindfulness to be easier if you try to create a small space or ritual around the practice: use a special chair, a cushion, a corner of the room, have a small candle or image, or simply use a brief “entry” ritual such as two or three deep breaths with your eyes closed to signal to your body your intention. Later, your body will recall this if you need to take a “spirit break” in the middle of another moment in your day.

Each mindfulness session will be different and guided by an experienced meditator. Some may feel more useful to you than others. You are under no obligation to attend, but we hope you will find yourself drawn to come often, to center yourself and to help you to live through this difficult time knowing that we are truly all in this together. This is our gift to you.

Central Hall Commons

#CentralHallCommons #SpiritPause #MindfulMonday

#CHC #zooming

29 views0 comments

By Beth Ranagan

PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is most often associated with the combat stress following the active duty of soldiers.  Actually, people other than soldiers can experience and be professionally diagnosed with PTSD if they have experienced actual or threatened serious injury, have been threatened with death, or have experienced actual sexual violence or have been threatened with sexual violence.  If someone witnesses death or violence, including the domestic violence that children may witness, they can be at risk for later trauma symptoms associated with PTSD.  First responders and medical personnel dealing with repeated exposure to death as well as professionals dealing with the details of child abuse are at risk.

The DSM-5, or the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5, indicates the kinds and number of symptoms required for a professional diagnosis of PTSD.  Symptoms may be delayed in expression or may occur immediately following the event.  Some of the symptoms experienced and witnessed by others are horrific nightmares, flashbacks, involuntary recurrent memories of the event, trauma-related emotions of fear, anger, guilt or shame, irritable or aggressive behavior, physical symptoms such as stomach aches, exaggerated startle response, and many others.  These symptoms may cause functional impairment at the social or occupational levels and lead to anxiety and depression.  Those with PTSD may turn eventually to drugs and/or alcohol to ease the mental pain and quell unwanted memories or behaviors.  Soldiers, in particular, may consider suicide.  A full diagnosis of PTSD is not made until 6 months following symptom onset.

During these days of the COVID-19 pandemic and social isolation, those with PTSD may be suffering more.  The psychotherapy that is a social lifeline for some may have been suspended or may be infrequent when delivered via telehealth.  Support groups can no longer meet except digitally.  Suicide rates are expected to go up as social supports from family and friends dwindle and jobs are lost.  The psychopharmaceutical piece may not be enough without the psychotherapy element.  To build resilience, people with PTSD need social supports to heal and maintain equanimity.

Every person with PTSD has their own story.  On Wednesday, June 17 at 1 p.m., NAMI Piscataquis County will host Nicole Foster, JD, who will relate her experience as a PTSD survivor.  Nicole is employed by NAMI Maine as the Director of Peer Services and will offer her story as a message of hope to those with PTSD and their families and friends.  This program will be held via zoom.  For information and an invitation to attend, email indicating your name, phone number, and email address or call 924-7903.  A further profile of Ms. Foster and her upcoming presentation will appear next week in the press

NAMI Piscataquis County also supports and sponsors PTSD Conversations:  Our Communities’ Response, a series program presented by The Commons at Central Hall.  The first presentation via zoom in this series on Wednesday, June 24 at 1 p.m. will feature the VA-approved equine therapy program offered by Judy Cross and Kim Slininger at Spirit Warrior in Dover-Foxcroft.  Watch the media and Facebook for more information regarding registration for the program or go to to register.

#PTSDAwareness #CentralHallCommons #CommonConversations #NAMI

17 views0 comments