About James Crader
James Crader‘s work is about helping people access their personal power as they connect more deeply with their Self and Others. He’s a Resiliency Expert focusing on movement and mindset coaching. He’s a creative and artist who expresses his connection to / and perceptions of human-ness through writing and media content.
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184 James Crader: Mindset and Movement in Pandemic Times
“It’s important that at least at that level there is accessible work out there and it’s not like the dumbed-down version of the work. It’s just my work, it’s just what I do. I think it’s important for people to create access; that’s an important access point is that there is free accessible work that is accessible in a lot of different areas not just in your social media.”
About This Episode
James Crader returns for a third time to the podcast and shares how his work, his practice, and his teaching approach has evolved in light of COVID-19. James discusses how he blends his movement teaching with other coaching modalities to help people find calm and nervous system regulation during difficult times. Kathryn and James also unpack offering choice in movement teaching, and how to promote self-trust in students to do what makes sense to them.
Hey, Everyone. Welcome back.
Today on the podcast I am speaking to James Crader. James and I have had other conversations on this podcast about different topics. If you are new to his work, you could go on our website mindfulstrength.ca, go to the podcast page, type in his name, and you will see the other conversations that we’ve had.
They’re great conversations. James is one of these people who I just love having on the podcast. I love talking to him. I feel like I could ask him so many different questions. I also love his pilates classes and his work. He is just such a great resource today. We mostly talked about the new work that he’s doing and the effects of the pandemic on his work. We also talked about the people around him and how he’s shifting his emphasis, and what that has been like. I think you’re really going to enjoy this conversation.
I want to remind everyone that this is the last week for early bird pricing for my three hundred hour teacher training that is 100 percent online. It’s a Yoga Alliance Certified program. I’m Co-facilitating it with my friend Carly Stong. Carly has also been teaching for about a decade. Her emphasis has always been a little bit more on inclusivity and yoga. Yoga for bigger bodies. She’s been teaching teacher training for quite a while. Now her focus is also shifting into strength and functional movement. She and I are a really, really great team. The focus of the three hundred hour training is Movement Science, Strength and Inclusion.
These are all of the topics that I’m really passionate about. I am also interested in diving deeper in my teaching but also in my own work. If you want to apply to the training go to mindfulstrength.ca
From there you want to click on teachers’ education; you’ll see the 300-hour course. You’ve got to get your application in before December 31st if you want the early bird pricing. The early bird is a five hundred dollar discount.
That’s really awesome. You should get your application in. All.
Right everyone That’s all for right now. Here is my conversation with James Crader.
All right, James. Welcome back to the podcast.
James Crader: Thank you so much for having me. This is a third time so hopefully, this one’s the charmer.
Yes. You know what, I was taking a class, I’ve been taking some pilates classes with another teacher. Yesterday she was like “who are you interviewing this week?” and I was like “James Crader. She’s like “oh my goodness. That’s so great because I’d love to hear him on the podcast”. I was like “just so you know James Crader has already been on the podcast two times. Go back in time and they are there. They are definitely there. They are there. We talked about all kinds of things”. I have a feeling that’s what we’re going to do more of today. Since we spoke last, which was pre-pandemic, what is going on in your life? What’s new?
James Crader: [00:03:41]
Gosh a lot. I feel like I’ve been in a process of change; a process of really refining what it is I do or where it is that I’m most called to show up within the work that I do. And you know, I thought I had landed on it pretty well last year around this time, probably right when we were talking and then pandemic hit. My coping strategy, what I noticed when a pandemic hit, was just total chaos right?
I noticed at least in my industry, in the pilates industry everyone overnight had Instagram lives, Facebook lives, and online courses. It was like the way that industry processed the world events was to just really put work out there.
When I’m when I feel that sort of chaos my natural instinct is to kind of go a little more reclusive. I just got real quiet and my business transitioned really well at the beginning of the pandemic. All of my students transitioned over to online work and it was good.
I’m in California and in June California opened for a few weeks and all of my students were like “well either we didn’t want to come in or we’re not ready to come in yet. We’ll see you in July and we’re going to stop our online sessions right now and we’ll see”. Well, then we closed back down. One thing businesses don’t like is sort of instability. Very few of my clients came back.
I went from making really good money to not making really good money. I sat there and I was sort of shell shocked for a bit and then I thought “What am I going to do now?”
Now that I’ve been quiet for a little bit I haven’t really been putting out blogs or doing interviews or voicing opinions or showing up in any sort of way; just sort of doing my work. What do I want to do now? I decided what I wanted to do was bring in more mindset work, more psychological work, and more behavioral work. That’s what I’ve been up to.
Kathryn: Do you have a background in psychology or behavior? Where are these things coming from?
James Crader: [00:05:58]
Yeah. My collegiate background is in interpersonal communications. What I thought I would be when I grew up was a marriage family therapist, particularly for queer couples. You know I’m a gentleman of a certain age these days. I’ll be forty-two this year which doesn’t sound super old but in the queer culture that so that’s a lifetime ago. When I grew up there weren’t any gay role models on TV. There definitely weren’t any trans role models on TV.
We didn’t really see homosexual relationships modeled at all, so that was really really interesting to me was: how are people in relationship with people of the same sex? Throughout my degree, I studied a lot of how people form relationships, how behaviors show up in relationships, and how communication impacts relationships.
I don’t have a degree in psychology or background in that but I have a long history of being very interested in that. Then a lot of my work throughout my movement career has been based on the nervous system. I’ve always been drawn more towards nervous system movements polyvagal theory, humanistic psychology, communication, sociology, and how it shows up in a class.
I can say looking back on it now it’s like “well this is sort of the way I’ve been headed”.
I just didn’t know that this was exactly where I was going to be headed and I thought “well I can go back to get a degree in somatic psychology or I can go back and get a degree in some sort of neuroscience or something like that”. Then I thought “well, why don’t I get some certifications; step into this and see if I like this and what I can do with the training I have now before I invest three to four years and a good hundred and fifty thousand dollars in student loans into something that may or may not be fulfilling.
This is my first venture into what it is that I’m now calling bio-behavioral coaching.
Yeah, the idea of seeing what you can do, staying in your scope of practice, using the tools that you have, and seeing how it is for you before taking that step is so interesting. I wanted to ask and so I was reading all over your website this morning and I’m seeing these words come up. I’m seeing a lot of stuff about stress come up and this bio-behaviour and psychology. I was like “I wonder how James fits all of this into his scope of practice”.
James Crader: [00:08:38]
Yeah, well I want to be really clear that I’ll just speak from my personal experience. What I don’t do is diagnose anyone and what I don’t do is work with really intense psychological pathologies. The certifications I have received are in psychological fitness through The Unlimited Institute. It’s Dave Aspery’s Bulletproof Coffee brand. Dr. Marc Atkinson who’s his medical adviser.
Then I have a certification that I’m finishing up in Rapid Transformational Therapy which is the work of Marissa Peer. That’s based on cognitive behavioral therapy, hypnosis, and neuro-linguistic programming. What I’m really interested in: as we headed into the pandemic, I thought “well how am I going to show up in a really relevant way”. You know, first thinking “Well this will all be done pretty quick, right?”
“We all know by July all this be over and things will be back”. Then it turns out that that’s not what history is proving. I thought “well how can I show up with what I’m interested in, with the tools I have and that is in a really impactful way?” I thought “well what people probably aren’t going to need after this is like how to do the teaser better or how to touch your toes better”.
If they do, there are enough amazing experts out there who that’s their jam; that’s what they want to teach you. I don’t want to teach that. I’m more interested in whole-person wellness and whole-life wellness. Connecting the dots and the little aspects of your life to the whole of your life.
I thought “well what people are really going to be experiencing after this isn’t an inordinate and exceptional amount of stress. Our own life stressors have increased throughout all of our lives. I really think what we’re going to see a lot of is phobias after all of this is said and done.
I know I have a phobia of any time I get into a grocery store and it’s busier than normal. I can feel it in my body. I feel that I get anxious. I get tense and I have rapid thoughts. That’s the makings of phobias. I thought well how can I take what I’m interested in what I do and show up in ways that I don’t have to totally leave what I’m doing? But I can incorporate what I’m doing.
I know from the work that I have done, movement and physicality impacts behavior and mood at a very crude level. I thought what if I just got the beginnings, a taste, a few new tools in the belt of working explicitly with behavior and mindset and let’s just see where that goes right now. I think with all of that we all know that people leave our classrooms a little more calm, a little more settled. I’m now curious to know what happens if I have more explicit tools around that?
How do you work with behavior and mindset? How do you start that? I guess there’s a person in front of you and you might not know them. What does that look like?
James Crader: Yeah. I’ve divided my business up right now and it’s pretty clear when you go to the website. I think of it in terms of an ecosystem. No matter where you’re coming into the ecosystem, we are trying to get you to a state of whole person nervous system regulation. Meaning that your mind is a little more…I’ll even backtrack that a little bit. That you are aware of the mental state and the physical state you’re in now. Whether it’s calm or not is dependent upon the day, right?
If I can increase your awareness around mindset, psychological fitness, physical fitness, and how the two interplay, then we have the makings of choice. I can then become aware of: while I’m a little more mentally foggy or frazzled today. I’m a little more achy in my body or I’m sensing something in my body and now I have a few more tools to figure out what that is. So in my system, you can come into it any number of ways. You can come into it from what I call a mindset perspective, body perspective, or even a business perspective.
That was another thing I added in. I was doing it for friends and sort of on the side, doing business coaching. At the beginning of the pandemic that kind of took off when people realized “oh I’ve got to have a new business model”. Wrapping it up into those three prongs of the business, mindset, or body.
My clients have a choice when you come onto the website or when we do a discovery call. We kind of talk about it and where is your biggest pain point right now? For some people, it’s their business or you know the world around them. For some people, it’s body aches and that’s typical. Or a body issue that would be typical of what most of the people who are audience in this show are familiar with.
It would look exactly like what someone would say at your studio or you can come in now and say well my mind feels stressed or my mind feels foggy; or I know that I need some version of psychological fitness because I feel overwhelmed and now there’s just an avenue to enter into the ecosystem that way.
Now once you become a student it’s again a matter of choice. Do we continue along the same path that we’re on? Do you just do the psychological fitness services or do you take part in the full breadth of what I offer? Do we do some movement sessions? Do we create a movement routine for you to practice sort of a movement meditation?
Do we add in some sort of psychological fitness skills in there? Do we need to do some version of hypnosis to remove an obstacle or an issue from your subconscious? All of it ends up in the same place with whole person regulation or what I like to call just an ability to choose how you show up.
When you’re working with people, say someone comes in from the body perspective what kind of tools are you using? Are you using different mat practices? Are you doing Pilates? Are you doing your own kind of blend of movements? I’m so curious where that is at for you right now. I am like “I wonder what James is doing?”
James Crader: This has sort of been the impetus of everything. I would say over the last five to six years I have slowly and then quickly moved away from pilates proper and moved into how do I use pilates as a tool? How do I use mat work as a tool?
Mobility drills as a tool? I am honoring them for what they are which is just some movements and then putting those together particularly for the person in front of me. Over the pandemic and even more even longer than that, probably over the last two and a half years, I’ve really gotten more into or returned to mat practices.
Simply because that’s what people have access to at home. For me, it’s how do I create opportunities for my students to get their reps in whether it’s mindset reps. Now, do I use pilates equipment? Of course. Do I use other props? Of course. Indian clubs, flow rope, all sorts of different things. The predominant and most likely tools I do are mat tools.
If you already have a movement practice, like right now one of my newer students is a yogi. We’re just using yoga asanas. How can we create a little more embodiment and a little more awareness in the yoga asanas; taking her out of those and putting her into movements that are similar enough but that she doesn’t have sort of hierarchical values around. There’s no “I should do this” or “it should look like this”
We sort of take her a step or two away from what might be recognized as whatever yoga asanas we’re talking about. It’s a lot of mat work and big on and even more so now nervous system regulation work. There’s a lot of learning how in teaching how to do self-massage, eye exercises, breathwork exercises grounding exercises.
That’s the basis in the beginnings of all the work I do. No matter if you’re taking a class with me or you’re just coming in for a session, we always start with some version of nervous system regulation work, and then we go on from there.
It’s so interesting what you said about working with your client who’s a yoga practitioner and that you make the poses or the movements a little bit different so there’s less like associations.
James Crader: Yeah.
And then less ideas. That’s such an interesting way to look at it. I don’t know a ton about pilates or whatever; somebody gave me a reformer two months ago and so I do pilates now. But yeah, previous to this I’ve literally…
James Crader: What do you think of it? What do you think of it, Kathryn?
I mean I love the reformer. For the first couple of weeks, before I started taking any classes, I was just like oh this is like a cable machine at the gym. This is so awesome. I haven’t been to the gym in eight months now. I’ve really, really been enjoying it. Then after a couple of weeks of messing around and doing my exercises that I would do at the gym, I started taking classes.
I’ve been taking classes with a private instructor friend of mine and I’ve been taking a lot of pilates classes on Pilates Anytime. I’ve done a couple of your classes a few times. I’ve done a couple of Anula’s classes. It’s just been so interesting because on that website there are literally thousands of classes. There are thousands and thousands. And so sometimes I turn one on and in the first few minutes I’m immediately like “oh no this is not the right thing for me”.
James Crader: [00:18:54]
Yeah, I know what you mean.
It’s just so interesting to take your class and people who are kind like-minded versus taking any reformer class. I really do feel like you’re providing or just encouraging people to like try new things on. “Do this exercise but look over there or look wherever you want” or “this is what I’m doing right now not for some specific perfect reason where it’s so exact but like this is what I feel like doing next. I feel like doing this stretch next. That’s what we’re going to do.
For me, it’s totally in line with how I would teach if I was gonna teach a class on a reformer. It’s totally my style. I guess what I didn’t really realize before I was how that in and of itself is a bit of a statement it seems like.
James Crader: [00:19:47]
Yes definitely. You know with all of my work no matter what avenue you’re coming into the work from, movement, mindset, business whatever it is, I’m most curious about what is your experience. How can we get you more invested in being aware, having discernment around, and creating self-trust through your experience?
I was really impacted by the work of Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen. Anytime I’ve ever had an opportunity to either be with her or listen to her or watch her work, I’m fascinated. Her work when you hear it and when she presents, it is really simple sounding. It’s like well this is just this and there’s no extra dialogue around it.
There are no extra sprinkles on top. It’s just this is what it is. And you know at first it’s kind of I don’t even want to say off-putting. At first, it’s sort of shocking. That might be the word because we’re so used to in the movement field more is more.
As a teacher, if I can just keep giving you more cues, I can prove that I’m worth it. I can prove that I’m smart. I can prove that I’m worth the money that you’re spending here. Then you get someone like Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen who is just, she’s an alien. It’s just like the most genius work ever. And it’s just so simple.
And when she’s sharing and she’s cueing, how an average instructor might say here squeeze your abs or a finessed one my say might say “you might notice this here”. What Bonnie will say is “this is my experience with this. This is how I’m feeling this. This is where it lands in my world”. And listening to that, I was like well that’s it right? All we really have to share is our experience with things. I don’t know how it’s gonna feel for you?
I don’t know how you’re going to value this movement, this practice. I don’t know how it fits into your ecosystem. Why you showed up today versus all the other days. I know why I do. I know why I’m here teaching. I know why I’ve given you this exercise, and I know what it feels like in my body. So maybe if I share that with you then it can lead you on a personal path of exploration. You can go: “Well this person here is modeling. This exercise or this movement or this practice is important to them and here’s why. I wonder if it’s important to me? I wonder what my experience with this thing is?”
If you get overwhelmed, I’m there with some expertise. I’ve been there and I know what it’s like and I don’t know my process and I know what my other students process. I can lend you a helping hand. By no means am I saying I’m throwing you into awareness chaos, but it’s a little more open-ended to where there’s room for personal interpretation, student to student.
I trust that bodies are smart. I trust that people are smart. If we give them the opportunity and we create safe spaces for them to explore and play and learn, they will. And when I say safe spaces I’m not talking about it in the way that it is culturally known in the fitness world, where a teacher has to keep someone safe.
I think this is what we talked about last time but more so in nervous system signals of safety. Can I create opportunities? This why I always start with nervous system work. Can we create a more, resilient, robust, regulated nervous system so that you can begin to practice things that feel a little more outside of your scope of normal? That’s in my opinion how we can get students to grow and explore and get where I think we all really want our students to go, which is being discerning self-trusting, autonomous human beings.
I want to take a moment in the middle of this episode to tell you about Building Resilience, a 30-day practice progression. If you want to get started with strengthening in a meaningful way and you’re not quite sure where to begin or there are just so many options out there, go over to mindfulstrength.ca and get started.
Each day you get a new class. Every class is 30 minutes or less so it’s super manageable. Classes range from strengthening with weights and bands and your body-weight all the way to self-massage and restorative practices. You get a little bit of everything which will help you build resilience. To sign up go to mindfulstrength.ca. Alright everyone, back to the show.
I really feel that when I take even your reformer classes online. I really think that, as a teacher, when you give people different options and when you say to them “let’s do this exercise and look over here or look over there and see how this goes for you”, what you’re unconsciously telling them is you’re cool to do this and you can make these choices. I don’t know every single thing about your body. That is so different from “OK everybody, sit on the reformer, now zip your tummy up. Now do this, now glutes but only this glute”.
James Crader: [00:25:35]
Well, the problem with that Kathryn is that it becomes really really precious. Right? Here is this movement preciousness that you can break easily. You know everyone is just teaching from their own ecosystem, things that make sense to them. Things they heard from their personal history.
My advocation is just that people challenge; that and just try something different. When I hear that version of precious teaching that you sort of described there, what it often sounds like to me is “here’s this magical incantation for you to get right student”. And if you don’t say the magical spell exactly right and put the exact right emphasis on the exact right movement puppies everywhere will die.
And if you get it exactly right the gates of wellness will open up and all will be resolved. And it’s like that’s just not true. We’re dealing with human beings that have unique lived experiences and unique priorities and unique value systems about why they’ve even shown up. What if you did that zip up the tummy thing and someone had diastasis recti and they’re like “I can’t do that. I guess can’t do this”.
So many good things. You mentioned safety and the nervous system and starting to create more of a safe space on your website in a couple of places. You say signals of safety. And I’m wondering if you wanted to walk us through what that means.
James Crader: [00:27:05]
Yeah, so signals of safety or what I call S.O.S is sort of my framework for all of the work I do. And it’s learning. There’s a couple of facets. There are some really really simple tools and strategies to help you regulate your nervous system. It’s surprisingly simple and simple doesn’t mean easy though. And the reason they’re not easy is because they don’t show up culturally for us anywhere else. We’re just never taught outside of very specific spaces how to recognize, honor or regulate our nervous system very well.
Even though there are some very very very simple protocols that you can do that, unless you have some version of pathology, they will help you to regulate your nervous system. We start there so that if you come in a little more frazzled we can at least get you to a place where you can listen with your body and with your own ears. That’s the baseline.
Then signals of safety are all about…this is where this actually came from. If I said imagine Kathryn you’re having an experience and your heart is racing and all of a sudden you’re either hypervigilant or disembodied. Maybe you’re a little sweaty, your breath increases, or you hold your breath. You feel some muscle tension. You feel something in your body that you aren’t quite aware of. But you know there’s something going on there. What am I describing right now? What came up for you?
Kathryn: For me, it sounds like just anxiety.
James Crader: [00:28:44].300 Yeah. It could definitely be some sort of anxiety or stress mode moment but that’s also exactly how most people experience movement when people come in for exercise. We could have been describing an exercise experience because what exercise actually is is stress to the body. And so if you are not used to or accustomed to experiencing processing and being in relationship with physical stress, the realm of exercise is the perfect place to create some awareness around nervous system regulation and how it shows up in the body.
When I say bio-behavioral coaching, what I’m talking about is the intersection of where biology and behavior intersect or join up together. Exercise is definitely one of those places. If you zoomed out, you know I have other people that I’ve talked to about this, like “oh well that sounds like exercise. You’re an exerciser. It sounds to you like stress anxiety some version of that”.
When you’re looking at it’s like “well if I can get you to become aware of what you’re experiencing in exercise and get you to realize you chose, that you’re safe here, this is something that is actually beneficial to you. It’s just decontextualized.
If we can create a better context around this thing and you have some tools to begin to decipher and interpret what you’re feeling…the next time you are out in public and you have some version of a stress or panic attack or anxious moment…you realize: “oh my heart is beating fast. I’m sweating.
I’m disembodied or hypervigilant or holding my breath” whatever it is…you can go “Oh that’s just something my body is doing. My body is under stress right now. Let me go into my signals of safety strategies. Let me go into if I have an opportunity I can do my super simple nervous system regulation things”.
If not, then working with James I probably developed my own personalized S.O.S strategies and so let me do those one or two things and see if that can help me regulate until I can process this thing more fully. S.O.S. Signals of safety are a lot of things. It’s a way of looking at movement as a tool for mindset and psychological fitness, as well as actual simple strategies to regulate everyone’s nervous system.
It’s very interesting to me. Do you find other people who, I use myself as an example: when I’m doing exercise, I can tolerate a lot of feelings. I can and be totally cool with it and it doesn’t even register as like “oh this is fast”. I could be doing like a million jumping jacks or burpees and being like a “frick, this is really hard but this is still great”. However, I feel like when it comes to something like e-mails or whatever bookkeeping shit that stresses me out. Yeah, my tolerance is much much lower right.
James Crader: Right. Right.
Kathryn: And part of me is like the more great exercise I do and the more I become resilient and I’m able to handle all the stressors the better that will carry over into different elements of my personal life. And that is not always my experience right.
James Crader: [00:32:19]
Well and a lot of that I believe has everything to do with contextualization. When I hear that what I’m hearing is I’m someone who identifies as a mover. It’s something I enjoy and it’s something that in my belief system I’ve classified as all beneficial. This is the thing that I find high value in and it’s beneficial. And undoubtedly you’ve injured yourself before, you’ve experienced an injury, and you’ve recovered.
Everything’s been fine. You’ve proven that it’s a safe space even when it feels unsafe. There’s safety in there. You’ll be OK. And so your window of tolerance has increased there. You can accept more stress or tolerate an exorbitant amount of stress sores in the movement world. You have a larger frame of reference and more context to it. You understand it better and you realize it’s something you’ve chosen.
That’s something that’s really popped up for me through my rapid transformational therapy my hypnosis training. Many times when we find that we are not tolerant of something is because we feel like it’s been imposed upon us versus it being a choice. Right?
Then when we look at that email thing or having to answer phone calls, mine is I just simply don’t like to talk on the phone. When someone calls and leaves a message I get really stressed about having to return a phone call. It’s simple, it’s so stupid but it’s just one of those stressors and it’s because it’s not a choice. Right?
And so that’s what I’m hearing when you say “well then when I get over to the e-mail thing and there are all of these things to do over here” it’s because you haven’t chosen that explicitly. I think if instead there was some framework around that where it was like “well I chose to have a business or I chose to have personal relationships” or whatever the elementals around those emails are. Then it’s like “oh well I actually chose this. This is part of the choice to do this.
It’s like if you’re in a relationship with someone and you don’t like their parents but you have to go over, well you chose that. You chose to be in a relationship with not just that person but that entire ecosystem of that person. If you chose to work somewhere and you don’t like that one person and they stress you out, well you chose to work there.
You chose that. Sometimes if we can create some awareness around actually these are all just choices. I have a choice on how I interface with this. I could just simply sit down and carve out an hour or whatever I can do an hour in these e-mails than I do and if not then there’s tomorrow.
I can allocate it out to someone else. I can make a deal with my spouse that we only go over every other Sunday to the in-laws house. You know I just choose not to engage with that one person at work or just simply repeat the same sentence over and over and over again to that person. I think it’s often more to do with how we perceive what it is and how we contextualize around what it is we feel is stressing us so badly. Does that make sense?
Yes, it makes a lot of sense. A few days ago I had a very interesting experience where I like surprise doing for a moment and thought about these things a little bit. I was vacuuming the upper floor of my house and then I was vacuuming all the way down the steps which like whatever not my favorite thing to do but you to do it.
I’m going down the steps with the vacuum and my lower back muscles are like “Yo we’ve been engaging for a long time, we’re getting tired”. In reality, that’s what was happening, but in my mind I’m like” my lower back is screaming at me, this can’t be good”. And I just stopped for a second. I was like “wait a minute. If I was doing my workout right now I would be like yes this is great. My back is going to like now adapt and be stronger and woo hoo”.
James Crader: [00:36:28]
It’s all right there in the language that you said. It’s something I talk about with my students all the time right. When we have a dysregulated relationship with things that we feel stress us out, we always talk about it as something outside of us. And what you just said there was my back was screaming at me. And then when you talked about it in terms of your exercise practice you said “My back is starting to feel resilient. I’m starting to feel resilient here”.
And so it always comes down to how it shows up in our language and this is where the communication background comes in real handy. How do we begin to talk about this if we feel like we don’t have a choice around it? if we feel like it’s being imposed upon us, which is undoubtedly when we create a lot of internalized stress and a lack of coping strategies. It’s always referred to as something outside of us.
This person at work stresses me out, these emails stress me out, my back is causing me problems, my foot hurts, my partner this. Instead of when we have a good relationship with it we say I’m feeling uncomfortable in my back. hen I’m in this relationship I’m feeling uncomfortable or I’m feeling stressed. I don’t know how to handle”.
It’s like the language shifts and we own. When we know we have coping strategies or when we are aware that there is a choice around it even if we don’t know how to create all the options we prefer. The language shifts to first-person and when we feel like it’s being done to us, which is “I’m in a dysfunctional relationship with this stressor” whether it’s in my body or it’s outside of my body it’s always in third-person. That thing over there is doing something to me.
Mm-hmm mm-hmm. Right now everyone I think, because of the pandemic and all the associated stuff that just goes along with that, I think everyone is feeling a lot I didn’t choose this. And I’m wondering if this you know shows up in your work and how you help people work through stressors that they really can’t identify with: “Well I chose this in some way”.
James Crader: [00:38:55]
Right. Well, that comes down to the distinction between stressors stress with an O R at the end of stress. Stressors are sort of the external factors that you’re not really in charge of right. They’re there in the world. And here we can contextualize that and say, again I’m in California, so I’ll just go through my shortlist of current stressors: there’s a pandemic, we burned up here all summer long with more fires than we’ve ever had. Business is going really slowly. There’s a racial pandemic that has come to light. There is an undoubted upcoming recession. That’s a lot.
Those are just what we are all communally feeling. Then you have all of your personal stressors. For me, I have a left foot thing that has been going on it’s getting a little better but it’s been for a couple of years that’s a physical stressor.
There are lot of things on that but it’s we then switch the lens over to stress. Stress is how your biology is affected by stressors. And so this thing happens to us. We experience this thing whatever that thing is we’ll just say pandemic and all of the lovely things that go along with it. Then our body feels some sort of way because of it.
When I say body I’m talking about the min- body, so the full shebang mental state physical state. All of the things that go along with it. It shows up in our body somehow. If we have created a relationship with how our body experiences stress, then it creates some version of awareness around it. All of a sudden you’re like “well I know I tend to experience stress as dot dot dot fill in the blank. You know for me I tend to get upset belly a lot.
I get short-tempered and I get ahead of myself. Those are my usual go tos. And so I can go “Well how am I feeling right now. What’s showing up for me. Is the belly upset? Am I short-tempered right now? Am I functioning in the efforting of things.
If you notice those things about you, then you can kind of go “now I’m experiencing stress. There are these stressors. I’m experiencing it as stress within my body.
How can I go into some version of a self-nurturing nervous system regulation helpful protocol to help create more window of tolerance? How to create more surge capacity in my body whether it’s physical work or mindset work or whatever it is. Because certainly right now none of us chose this. None of us chose to have this; this was a surprise for everybody.
But when you’re looking around and you’re like “Man how are these people thriving right now”. It’s like well they had some version of a relationship with stress. Some version of fortitude and resilience that they had cultivated and that is now showing up as an ability to process stress much better than people who did not have strategies around that; who maybe have a little less fortitude and resilience.
I think that’s really what I’m in the business of is creating fortitude and resilience for people. There’s a physical component to it and then there’s a mindset component to it.
Yeah. So much to think about, so many things so many thoughts go through my mind. When you said that at the end you like some people are thriving right now. They have built up these strategies to deal with the stressors. How do you work? In your own teasing this stuff apart, how do you work into that the privileges that some people have?
James Crader: [00:42:52]
Yeah, isn’t that like the topic right now.
James Crader: [00:42:59]
And I think you know this is a very tough conversation. We cannot deny that there are privileges around us in a number of ways. There is access privilege in who can afford the work and who cannot afford the work who can even find the work. I think that became really relevant, at least in my world in June, after the George Floyd incident.
We all really started looking at even social algorithms and systemic racism and systemic processes in general. We’re just not even circulating in the same worlds as some people who could really benefit from this work. Number one I will say it has been important to me for a long time to make my work accessible.
I have lots of tiers to my work. If you’re going to work with me privately, on some of this I’m you know I’m an expert I charge what I’m worth. Having said that, I put out a lot of free work in partnership with some programs. I have two classes a week that anyone can go to for free. And it’s exactly what I’m talking about and teaching about right now.
I put a lot of work up on social media all the time. You can find it there. I’m the first one to volunteer for anything and show up for anything that friends and colleagues ask me to show up for.
It’s important that at least at that level there is accessible work out there and it’s not like the dumbed-down version of the work. It’s just my work, it’s just what I do. I think it’s important for people to create access; that’s an important access point is that there is free accessible work that is accessible in a lot of different areas not just in your social media.
The systemic processes that we are now all very aware of show up in algorithms all the time. You got to think about that beyond. Now as far as privileges from life stressors and lifestyles and all sorts of different things that way. What I’m really clear about in my work is that I don’t teach to the problem because I don’t know what your problem is and I don’t know what the issues aren’t. I don’t know what the limitations and the obstacles in your life history is.
What I teach is what I consider the lowest common denominator work. What is the simplest thing I can teach or say that is going to have the most impact on the broadest audience possible? What is the simplest thing that has the biggest impact on the broadest audience?
And that’s why I developed S.O.S or signals of safety because these are touch tools, movement tools, sensory organ tools that affect everybody’s nervous system in a positive way. And if I can get that out there in the biggest way possible, if it can be free on things then I’m hoping that it saturates into the valleys that it needs to saturate.
Certainly, if we’re going to start to teach to problems or obstacles or issues how are we ever going to teach to all of them? We don’t know what all of them are. I don’t know what unless it’s shared with me. I don’t know what all of your obstacles are no matter who you are. I wish I had more smart things to say around this and maybe if maybe we circle back in a few years and revisit this question then culturally maybe hopefully we have all figured this out a little bit more.
But right now that question sort of encompasses the problem is that…I mean even here in my city people are living different lives and have different experiences based on history, based on skin, based on sexual orientation, based on gender, based on all sorts of things. Then that expands out into other markets and other worlds and other countries. I don’t have the answer to that.
My current drive is to create work that is of the lowest common denominator that I hope impacts in a positive way; to the most people possible. If I can get it out there in a number of different ways, then I’m hoping I’m doing a good thing.
Yeah. Thanks for sharing all of that with us. I’ll get links from you for all the different things, all the various things and we’ll put it in the show notes on the website.
James Crader: Cool.
Kathryn: Thanks so much for having this conversation with me.
James Crader: [00:48:08]
Yeah. Your audience is amazing and you are amazing and I’m so happy to be here for a third time. What a blessing. When you asked me I was like “That’s amazing”. This is the first podcast I’ve been on three times. Thank you.
Kathryn: Yeah. Love having you on here. Love these conversations. I feel like we just we go very deep.
James Crader: Yeah, it’s what I do. I immediately am a deep diver like immediately.
Kathryn: Yeah. Yeah. If people want to follow you on social media or go check out your website before they go look at the show notes, where should they get that?
James Crader: [00:48:43]
Yeah totally. You can go to amescrader.com. My last name is c r a d as in David e. r. Jamescrader.com and everything is there. All of this stuff I worked really hard on. The website and the language to be really explicit about what it is that I do and sort of the audience that would hopefully gravitate towards.
I’m really excited about this. Currently, there is a quiz on there that you can take and it’s all about your animal stress style. How do you process stress? I think it is a cool website. Then my Instagram is james_crader and you can find me there and I’ll be on Facebook until the end of this year because I have to for a thing and then I’ll probably be off Facebook.
Kathryn: Amazing. Thanks so much.
James Crader: Appreciate you, Kathryn.
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If you want to learn more about my work, my membership, my teachers’ course, or my new free course called Mindful Strength Foundations, you can head over to mindfulstrength.ca