Can you heal from trauma? How yoga can help.
June 2, 2016, driving in my van on the way to teach 2 Yoga Therapy classes at YogaMcc, I was expecting soon to be at the studio, just a couple of minutes away. I was looking forward to transitioning from my commute & working on the lessons I had had planned for this week. But in a split second, I went from feeling serene, to seeing something in front of me, realizing it was a car, braking, & then the world slowed down. I saw I was about to hit a car on the passenger side & thought, I am about to kill someone. Then the noise & next thing I know, a man in a bike helmet was helping me out of the car & telling me to “just breathe”. The next bit I was being helped by a woman who was jogging by, doing her daily 5k & again reminded that I am ok, & would I like to use her phone to call someone. Soon I was working though the immediate shock & telling myself to “just breathe” & dealing with all the people that came to assist at the accident. In the end, the girl who was driving the car (thankfully, there was no passengers) & I were assessed as having no major injuries. All the vehicles were taken to the side of the road, all the statements made & the police investigation was done. One by one everyone that was so needed just a few minutes ago, finished their jobs & began leaving. As I sat in the grass, the jogger from earlier came back & said “I brought you some water & are you doing ok still”? I said yes, then she jogged away. The police asked if they wanted me to stay till the tow truck arrived & I said no, I was told it would arrive in the next 10 minutes or so. So once again, I was alone with my thoughts & sat for a bit, feeling surprisingly serene again. For a moment, it seems as if this accident didn’t happen, but all I need to do was look up & see the front end of Sandy (that is what my kids named the van) all crushed & smell the scent of the airbag on my clothes & I know it was not a dream. Now gratitude for being ok & that the van did it’s job to save me, was mixed with frustration of having to deal with all that was to come. The uncertainty on how I was going to feel in the next couple of days was growing & so I just gently stretched & breathed as I sat in the grass as a way to find my inner centre that was free from all this external worry. Watching the cars go by, I wondered what was going on in their minds seeing my crushed car by the side of the road. But for them it was just a brief moment in time of noticing & wondering “what happened here” as they drove by. For me it would be part of me forever, not so soon to go back to my normal life. By now the AMA tow truck has arrived & I was beginning the journey of dealing with the aftermath & meeting up with my family that was worried & wanting me home. A few tears & hugs, a goodbye to the van that kept me safe & back home we went.
Trauma, by definition “a deeply distressing or disturbing experience” So yes, this event was traumatic & will be carried in some way with me forever. We all have traumatic things that have happened to us over our lives, some major, some more minor. They can be physical & emotional. We can get support from others, therapists, friends, family…. but all of us handle processing these things differently. What I know is that we need to face these traumatic things at some point to be able to truly move on. We can distract ourselves, or run away from things for a time, but the traumatic event is part of us & only facing it will allow it to not control us. I teach Yoga Nidra meditation in my classes often. I trained with Dr Richard Miller in iRest (integrated restoration) & using his techniques to help me remember that if we can process things through the layers of the physical self, we can realize that we are the calm, safe centre within it all, that is our True Nature.
Here is a great article speaking about Richard’s work & how it can help us heal.
Also, we are blessed to have Dr Richard Miller come to Calgary often & he will be offering a retreat in Calgary Oct 13-19 2016. Go to the link below for more information.
"Our animal friends have an instinctive capacity to rebound from fear, and so do we. Through gentle body-based practices, yoga allows trauma survivors to reconnect with their innate power to heal”. By Linda Sparrowe