Facing past traumas, especially the ones I might not even remember or realize were traumatic, is not easy. In fact, it’s super challenging. For me, as a facilitator for trauma-informed yoga, there are times that I feel dread instead of what I’d like to feel: a light-heartedness. But I can tell you this: not facing the past trauma keeps me in a state of dread, a state of fear and/or apprehension. Becoming aware of the suppressed feelings, or just becoming aware of the present sensation in my body and simply acknowledging that it’s possibly connected to something much deeper or older than the present moment, helps me create some space for it and breathe with it. As I breathe with it, I become more aware of my options: I can choose to hold on to it or choose to let it go.
When I first started facilitating trauma-informed yoga, I was still in a state of apprehension. I still hadn’t realized that even though I can become triggered by witnessing others’ stories, I still have a choice about how I hold onto that feeling, or how I breathe through that feeling and move into the next moment with curiosity.
I’m almost at the point where I’ve embodied this realization — where my body knows that it has options. It doesn’t need to feel trapped in a sensation.
I just finished listening to the book, “My Stroke of Insight.” In the book, the author discusses how our bodies can be triggered and we can experience physiological states that are very uncomfortable. She also reminds us that this triggered state lasts for about 90 seconds and then can pass through us if we choose to let it pass. This describes the embodiment of this awareness, this practice. Once my body (and my mind) becomes aware of the 90 second duration of the trigger, I can then remind myself compassionately, that this is an old, old feeling and now I need to make a decision about what I’m going to do with that feeling/sensation. The more I remind myself that it’s my decision, the more light-hearted I become. And then, I can go back to the task at hand, with the gentle thoughts in the back of my mind, that “this is your choice.”
By witnessing and being witnessed in a confidential group, I get to experience a room full of non-judgmental people. These people resonate with the feelings I’ve experienced, they hear and sometimes feel what I’m feeling and I hear and sometimes feel what they’re feeling. It connects us. Then, in the times in between sessions, when I feel disconnected, I can think of them, and their stories, intertwined with mine, and I am calmer.