I first learned about TWLOHA when I was visiting my family in London in 2008. Someone had been passing out these little notes on my cousin’s university campus: a little card that said simply, “YOU ARE LOVED”. My cousin gave me one, and it crossed the big blue sea with me back to California and went straight up on the wall of my therapy office. That little and powerful card created a pull in me to reach out to TWLOHA and connect. I wanted to offer my services to their cause. I wanted to be involved. So I made a call. I then had the great experience of meeting with two of their representatives when they were visiting L.A., and I have been involved ever since. As a singer, writer, and therapist, everything about TWLOHA’s movement resonates with me on such a deep level. So when I heard about HEAVY AND LIGHT coming to L.A., it was a night I was not going to miss.
The evening I spent at HEAVY AND LIGHT was an incredible experience. It felt like being a witness; like being a part of something extraordinary that was our secret in that moment. A secret we couldn’t wait to share. The energy was indescribable. On a personal note, Christina Perri truly struck a chord with me. I was already a fan of hers walking into the event, but when she
shared her story and her experience with childhood depression, it created such an intimate, emotional, authentic moment, and I was incredibly moved.
As a professional who works with addiction and trauma, this is what I know: research shows trauma to be more effectively healed through experiential therapies. Neurobiological research literally calls it “bottom up processing,” meaning that trauma doesn’t sit in the verbal, understanding part of the brain, but in much deeper regions. So essentially, people process their trauma from their body to the mind, meaning healing starts in the body, in a felt experience.
The reason I share this is because what I was so aware of at HEAVY AND LIGHT was how spoken word and music were creating such a “felt and connected experience” that surpassed the cognitive and verbal aspects of some forms of therapy. People felt it, people were moving their bodies, singing, cheering, and experiencing. This kind of activity accesses the part of the brain that suffering people need to access. They experience connection and feel understood, seen, and heard in a deeper and richer way, where all their senses are tapped in and they can participate, express, and release. They can sing, feel, shout, relate, connect.
This is why I love TWLOHA. It’s about bringing healing into the world in real time, through expression, music, words, community, and so much more. People don’t just read about the message; they feel the message. They hear the message within the music. And at HEAVY AND LIGHT, they experienced the community and love that is held in melody and raw poetry. The hope this creates is a living and breathing thing they may just believe they can grasp and hold onto.
Another unique feature of HEAVY AND LIGHT was the brochure of local mental health resources each attendee received. These pamphlets picked up where the encore left off, pointing people to hotlines, support groups, counseling centers, and therapists like myself in their area. They allowed people to continue processing the hope and healing they encountered at the event in their everyday life. And whether or not you were able to attend, these resource lists are available to you now, below.
It was an honor to share in the experience of HEAVY AND LIGHT, and it was a night I will never forget.
—Georgina Smith, Ph.D.