Body, Mind, Spirit Magazine

Healing Trauma

By Healingyoga

Outside of having two near miss (and by near miss, I mean miraculously getting out of the car without injury being grateful -- and wholly surprised -- to be alive) car accidents, I haven't experienced all that much trauma in my life. I suppose I've experienced some emotional upheavals at various points, but nothing that I would consider serious trauma. Unfortunately, these days there's plenty of traumatic events taking place along with people suffering from their effects. I firmly believe in the power of yoga, meditation, and pranayama in tandem with other therapies for helping with trauma and PTSD (see this article in Yoga Journal), and have at various points studied this topic.

Years ago I was in a therapeutic yoga training and learned of Candace Pert. During the training we discussed how emotions are held in the body. I read Pert's book, Molecules of Emotion, and became fascinated. Then I worked with clients and saw the effects firsthand -- I witnessed working with a person's body only to have a memory and/or emotion triggered which led to deep physical responses and release of emotions. It got me curious about what my own body was holding onto (yep, I like to use my body as a laboratory and experiment with things for myself). I'd already experienced some interesting emotional responses on my mat -- like crying when holding Pigeon Pose for an extended period of time -- so I was interested in going deeper. 

Often we think that something awful and wholly traumatic to happen for us to have keep it in our body. That's not necessarily true. Being shamed on a playground can result in a physical response that is held in the body for decades. Yes, even those seemingly unmemorable events from your past can have an effect. After more research, I became fascinated by and started to look at my own body's holding patterns. Perhaps I was holding on to tension and armoring as a result of events/experiences in my past, even those that I couldn't remember. 

When I heard about David Berceli's trauma release process, I was intrigued. For a while, I added his exercises, which are designed to bring about tension and vibration in the body, to my yoga practice. I started off with some gentle Sun Salutations and then moved into the trauma release exercises Berceli teaches. I suppose you could say I swapped out Savasana for release. I was surprised when, after just one session, my body was responding with all sorts of involuntary movements. Afterwards, I'd lie on my mat feeling like the tension had drained from my body, almost like I'd just gotten a full body massage. I was relaxed and peaceful. That first night, I slept very deeply and awoke feeling refreshed and energized. 

Yes, the body is truly amazing, and I am a geek about finding out how to access its brilliance and wisdom. Here are some resources to help get you started on the journey:

The Revolutionary Trauma Release Process by David Berceli (the exercises I mentioned above can be found in this book).

Overcoming Trauma Through Yoga by David Emerson and Elizabeth Hopper -- you can read this book online for free here.

Guided affirmations, meditations, and music to heal your bodymind by Candace Pert

The Forgotten Body: A Way of Knowing and Understanding Self by Elissa Cobb -- Elissa is one of my teachers and offers a wealth of wisdom from her own personal experiences and those from years of teaching others how to find the truth in their bodies.

Bodymind by Ken Dychtwald -- This was one of the first books I read about this subject and I always recommend it to others.

Your body is always talking to you, telling you its story. Are you listening?

Namaste!

 

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