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Wabanaki Health, Wellness, and Self Determination - Capacitar, meaning, “to empower”.

Excerpt - REACH 2017 Winter Newsletter

Robin_Farrin_Pic_-_REACH_2017_Winter_Newsletter.png                                                                              Photo credit: Robin Farrin

The health and wellness work of Maine-Wabanaki REACH focuses on understanding intergenerational trauma, how trauma becomes trapped in our bodies, and healthy ways to release that trauma. Empowerment and selfcare is an important part of the healing journey. During our 4th annual Wabanaki Wellness Gathering held in the Passamaquoddy community of Sipayik, a Capacitar-style resiliency workshop was offered teaching simple techniques that lead to immediate well-being.

Capacitar is a Spanish verb meaning, “to empower.” A Capacitar-style resiliency workshop is based on healing tools and techniques compiled by an organization called Capacitar International that demonstrate how our bodies possess natural capacities to heal. We are simply uncovering what our bodies already naturally know. The act of sighing is a good example. When we sigh, we may be signaling our frustration or impatience however Capacitar teaches us that a sigh is our body's natural mechanism for releasing stress or anxiety. Deeply inhaling and hearing the sound of its release is a beneficial signal to our bodies. Studies show that the simple act of sighing signals a reset button to our respiratory systems and calms us.

Capacitar-style exercises are body-based healing practices that foster relief from pent-up trauma, anxiety and stress which may be stored in our bodies. Exercises include techniques such as mindful breathing, fingerholds, t’ai chi movements, acupressure and Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT, otherwise known as “tapping”). Although Susan Coopersmith led the Capacitarstyle workshop at the Wellness Gathering, a wonderful thing about this practice is that anyone can do it at home whenever needed. Knowledge of Capacitar-style techniques are freely shared, empowering people to know and trust in the needs of their own bodies - experts are not required.

Since 2014, REACH has offered workshops on Cppacitar-style techniques in four Wabanaki communities. We are eager to continue passing along this knowledge and are willing to circle back to tribal communities to offer a second round of workshops. To host a “Tools and Techniques for Self-Healing” workshop in your tribal community or for your tribal organization, contact Maria at [email protected].

Learn more about Capacitar International, Healing Ourselves, Healing our World, and download the Emergency Response Tool Kit at

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