Updated: Jun 27
Please note... I am not a medical or psychological professional. The following posts are not meant to substitute for medical or psychological advice. Please seek advice from trauma-trained professionals. The following post reflect my own thoughts and musings about trauma.
If you are in crisis, you can reach out to NAMI at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) Monday-Friday 10am-8pm Eastern Time.
In his book In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts Dr. Gabor Mate shares how being a holocaust survivor contributed to his experiences of anxiety, depression, and addiction. “Trauma is not what happens to you,” Dr. Mata says. “It’s what happens inside you as a result of what happened to you.”
When people experience trauma, we often imagine the results of that trauma -anxiety, depression, traumatic stress, etc.- as existing somewhere inside the brain. While it is true that trauma induces a psychological response, it doesn’t necessarily happen “in our heads”. Trauma is a full-bodied experience that requires an equally embodied response to heal.
We are all survivors of trauma.
Trauma specialist such as Dr. Mate and Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, the author of the remarkable book The Body Keeps the Score, have both discussed the benefit of yoga in the treatment of many of their traumatized patients, as well as in their personal experience. In conjunction with medical and psychological treatment for trauma, yoga can help survivors learn to manage symptoms such as disorientation, disassociation, and depersonalization. The focus on breath and the experience of being and embodied being on our yoga mats gives survivors a reference point for a way of being embodied when we are off our yoga mats. Our body can be a safe and strong place to be.
We have all experienced trauma. Some of us have experienced major traumas, such as war, rape, and abuse. Others do not recognize their own traumas because, sadly, they are so common. For example, losing a job, the inability to pay for medical care, and being rejected for needed social assistance are traumatic experiences. Furthermore, our bodies do not only carry our personal trauma. We embody ancestral trauma as well. The experiences of enslaved Africans, Indigenous people, women, and those who identify as LGBT+ are held in the bodies of members of those marginalized groups throughout time and space.
Whatever traumas we have experienced, there are things we can do to help ourselves navigate our days. Here are a few ideas that may help:
· Get your needs met. First, see your doctor for a check-up. Tell them about what you are experiencing. Be sure to include any symptoms such as frequent headaches, digestive difficulty, and trouble sleeping. Be specific.
· Talk about it. It may be helpful to speak with a qualified trauma therapist. If possible, seek a therapist who specializes in EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing), which may be helpful at some point on your healing journey.
· Keep a journal and write in it daily. Write about whatever is on your mind! Some helpful things to include might be dreams, feelings, and physical sensations you are experiencing.
· In addition to any needed professional help, and with the approval of your doctor, give yoga a try! If you need help getting started, email me and we’ll schedule a Yoga Optimal Wellness consultation. If we are a good fit and you would like to work with me, I’ll tailor a holistic yoga program to meet your specific needs and support you as you work towards your wellness-related goals.