Trauma survivors often have difficulty inhabiting their body. With unprocessed trauma we will tend to orient toward threat and dissociate from the painful sensations, thoughts, or feeling states that arise in our physiology.
I spent most of my life operating from a traumatic fear response. I had blocked out and repressed painful memories of abuse from my childhood that led to symptoms of anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, and bouts of depression. I now know that these are common traits of trauma survivors and that my body was providing me with valuable feedback and information regarding my unprocessed pain.
It is incredibly common for survivors to seek relief from the intensity of their emotional experience through addictive tendencies, compulsive behaviors, or self harming tactics. While these coping strategies and escape mechanisms are protective and primal in nature, they only further exacerbate our suffering and perpetuate our trauma.
As my symptoms grew to feel unbearable, I sought alternative modalities. I turned toward meditation, Yoga, and somatic psychotherapy, which are now proven by research as the most effective modality when working with trauma. It took many years for me to even slightly understand what it meant to be comfortable feeling my feelings and staying present with the waves of being alive that moved through me. It was only once I was able to hold my hurt that I was able to create space for my healing.
This bottom-up approach differs from traditional talk therapy and involves a gradual introduction of staying with physical sensations in a safe way. I found that processing is the gateway to progressing. I can now turn toward my pain, hold it with a warm embrace and befriend myself fully in all of my fluctuations. I can, time and time again, return safely to the home that is my body.
This is the path to true and sustainable liberation from trauma. Liberation is simply honoring the complexity of our humanity, trauma and all.
Wherever you are on your journey as a yoga teacher, we're here to help! If we can support you in any way please contact us!
“TELL ME, WHAT IS IT YOU PLAN TO DO WITH YOUR
ONE WILD AND PRECIOUS LIFE?”
- Mary Oliver