Multi-Faith and Belief Chaplaincy, For All Faiths and None

Capacitar and Wellness Practices in this time of COVID 19

This week's blog has been written by Ali Newell, Associate Chaplain and Co-founder of Capacitar Scotland

Photograph of a group of people doing capacitar practices in North Kivu, Congo. Their is a person with their back to the camera leading the practice, they are all standing with their arms stretched up over their head.
Capacitar practices in North Kivu, Congo

I wanted to share in these uncertain times during the COVID 19 pandemic the resources and gift of the organisation Capacitar. Twenty years ago, my eldest son became very unwell and I found that my body was holding the anxiety and trauma of the experience. One of the lifelines for me was being introduced to Dr Pat Cane, the founder of the international organisation Capacitar:Trauma Healing and Transformation. Through the simple body energy practices which she taught me, I found a way to keep more calm through the experience and thus more able to be supportive to my son.


Story of Capacitar. Capacitar, a Spanish word meaning ‘to empower, to encourage, to bring one another to life’ grew from Pat Cane’s work in Central America, where she was addressing situations of conflict amongst grassroots people who were suffering from traumatic stress. Through sharing simple practices of healing, team building, and self-development, practitioners were empowered to act out of their own source of strength and wisdom. Pat says, ‘In many places in our world, whole communities or societies suffer from intergenerational trauma and violence. Capacitar takes a holistic approach through the use of body-mind-spirit practices to heal and renew the energy of the person and the community’.

Capacitar now has programs in over 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East working mainly in situations of trauma, conflict, and disease.


Photograph of head holds at the US Mexican border with community workers and human rights workers
Head holds at the US/Mexican border with community workers and human rights workers

Capacitar and the Body. Anxiety, trauma and loss are held in the body. Often our bodies become frozen, we may feel tight in the chest, in the belly or in the head. Through Capacitar practices we slow down and come into the present moment. We become more able to acknowledge and be kind to difficult feelings, sensations and emotions held in the body. We learn body literacy and what it is like to breathe and move with these feelings. In this way we become aware of a healing flow of energy within us and around us. The balancing, grounding and stabilising effects of the practice are often felt in the body at the end of the practice.


Capacitar and Nature. Capacitar practices can also connect us with the healing, lifegiving aspects of nature. During this time of COVID 19, when people are locked down, practitioners may face a window so that as they are moving they can connect to the energy of spring life around them, to the gift of the greening and growing of life flowing through the plants and trees, to the light and lifegiving energy of the sun.


Photograph of two people doing the salute to the sun yoga practice stance in Honduras
Salute to the sun yoga practice – Honduras

Capacitar and Developing Circles of Support. Capacitar importantly also gives a sense of solidarity with others. Many of the practices are offered in pairs, many in a circle of people standing or moving together as with Capacitar Tai Chi or Pal Dan Gum or a drum massage. When practicing with others, even if it is on zoom, practitioners become aware of the flow of connection amongst the group, and share in a healing practice for themselves and for the world.


Photograph of a group of women doing a drum massage - they are all stood in a group with their hands on the shoulders of the person in front of them.
Drum massage - lifting the spirits in Bethlehem

Connection and Solidarity Across the World. One of the aspects of Capacitar that I have found very life-giving, is the connection to a global network of practical healing bodywork – the practices support people across the world from Guatemalan midwives, to refugees in Greece, from peace workers in Afghanistan to those working on the US/Mexican border with migrants, from teachers working with children at risk or rape crisis centres, to those working in cancer care and now during this time of the COVID-19 for healthcare professionals, key workers and families under stress.


Capacitar in Scotland. Capacitar Scotland celebrated its 10th anniversary last year, hundreds having trained in the practices over the years. We particularly enjoyed the sense of connection to the global Capacitar community reminding us of our interconnectedness. To know we are all practicing in the same way gives hope and strength. At present through zoom at this time of COVID 19, people are connecting in practice across the world.

Links to Capacitar International

Capacitar Website

Capacitar at the Chaplaincy (weekly zoom meetings):


Scotland Capacitar resources and videos:


Capacitar Resources


Photograph of a group of Afghan Peace Volunteers doing a capacitar practice. The group in the photograph are lifting their hands to the sky.
Afghan Peace Volunteers