About Me + The Invisible School

I grew up in what was Acjachemen lands (in what is now called California) and I have worked in many countries and cultures. I have been teaching various body-based practices for 30 years. My earliest training was a decade in natural horsemanship. I worked as an artist in performance for over a decade. I have navigated intense mental health crisis and healing in myself/family. I studied at ISLO’s Education in Dance and Somatics in Finland. I trained in somatic sexuality (Joseph Kramer and Barbara Carrellas). Primary practices through my life have included dance, running, yoga, walking in nature, and vipassana meditation.

I’ve been researching cognition, behavior and neuroscience for the last several years. To be clear: I regularly read science studies dealing with these topics, as well as books and lectures written by scientists studying this work; I research via phenomenological work dealing with social interaction, and I have just begun a slow path towards a neuroscience degree. (Just a few scientists in this field, whom I am particularly drawn towards include: Robert Sapolsky, BJ Fogg, Francisco Varela, Ginger Campbell, Catherine Kerr, Sarah Lazar).

I currently live in Confederated Salish and Kootenai lands (Polson, MT, USA).

Hello. My name is erin christine bell. This is a bit of my story: My strongest, earliest influence comes from working with horses. I was able to ride, free of any bridle, rope or restraint; the communication between my horse and I was such that he would gallop, stop, or do fancy ‘footwork’ on request, all through the subtlest of communication. I developed a particular and keen awareness of non-verbal communication. Most importantly, as opposed to ‘breaking,’ forcing one creature’s desire upon another, I learned to find calmness before delving into further conversation.

Along with learning from horses in this way, I also taught youth and adults to work with horses. Teaching in this experiential learning setting fostered my ability to teach others how to listen and communicate in nonverbal ways.

My degree in Cultural Anthropology worked as a doorway through which I entered the world of art making. In my mid-twenties I began independently studying music, learning to compose and play in brass bands under the guidance of my expert friends. I began to paint, make puppetry and work in theater. Through theater, particularly my time working with Peter Schumann at Bread and Puppet Theater, I fell deeply in love with movement and dance. This love, combined with a longstanding interest in healing work, led me to ISLO’s Education in Dance and Somatics, learning from Malcolm Manning in particular.

I come from a family which struggles with many mental health difficulties including depression, addiction: anorexia, schizophrenia, alcoholism, compulsive eating/shopping, childhood sexual abuse, and other difficulties which evade psychiatric or DSM diagnosis. Through this, I have had experience as a patient and as a first line of support within the structure of psychiatry and psychotherapy.

I find that the being-ness or ‘vibe’ of a practioner/therapist/teacher themselves is far more important than what modality they offer. That is – whether psychotherapy, body-based practices, or otherwise – how the presence, life experience, world view, compassion + intuition of the practitioner feels to me is more impacting than whatever particular style they might offer.

That said, I have found the greatest support – the most useful tools for my daily life – via body-based and/or mindful practices, as well as behavior design tools. These have been some of the greatest sources of my healing and continual learning – that is why they are the tools I offer.

I’m currently in a process of getting a dsm-related diagnosis. I seem to exist on an outer cusp of neurotypicality. That is, I do not obviously fall into one of the existing categories offered via the dsm (such as ASD, ADHD, etc.) However, I do, definitely, experience the world in a way which makes typical work/social environments, and certain types of learning situations quite taxing on my system. In my situation, I have come to find that when I offer people a diagnosis they more readily understand that I am not being ‘careless’, ‘lazy’, ‘stupid’, etc. Rather, they seem to more-readily understand that I process information in unusual ways – and offer me a bit more time + space.

Why the name ‘The Invisible School’? It’s because most of this work deals with phenomena which are invisible. I didn’t invent this stuff. It’s been around forever – I just teach about it with my own flavor of elbow grease.

Too, I felt that a name, other than my own, would make it easier to share with others – to sort this healing-focused work from my more art-making + social cognition-focused work.

I find that teachers all arrive with their personal strengths and weaknesses, sharing the knowledge of their own experience as humans. I come from a perspective that personal life experiences (the attributes that make up ‘you’ combined with how the world ‘sees’ you) significantly impact the sorts/ways that systemic biases/oppression effects each on of us. If you are looking for a practitioner with a related approach but different life experience, please do write for a recommendation. If my words and experience speak to you, I hope to meet soon!

I’m regularly on the look out for more, diverse perspectives in relation to this sort of work. If you have sources that you think I might like, I welcome sharing of inspiring references.

Sources which I have found to be especially helpful through the years: All My Relations, Dr Ginger Campbell’s Brain Science, Re-Rooted/Francesca Maxime, Queer Nature, Pema Chodron, Gabor Mate, Dr Yellow Bird, Tara Brach, James Baldwin, Madness Radio, Francisco Varela, Maxine Sheets-Johnstone, Peter Levine, Robert Sapolsky, Art and – especially – Movement and Nature.