Element Three: In the Wake of Trauma
I delved into research and learned that leading experts have found that pervasive symptoms of trauma is the result of residual energy from the traumatic event held in the body. My traditional psychological training was focused on the impact of trauma on the mind and interpersonal relationships, overlooking the direct physiological impact on the body as a whole, particularly the mind-body connection.
Traumatologists and researchers move beyond the study of the mind, investigating trauma through multiple lenses; psychology, neuro-biology and traditional indigenous healing practices that honor the lived experiences of the body. Contemplative practices which incorporate stillness, ritual, movement, creativity and community, to name a few, have been shown to offer an energetic release that goes deeper than psychological treatment alone.
I never went back to work at the prison. Instead, I began a new chapter in my life dedicated to reconnecting with my body through an embodied approach to healing. In 2017, I embarked on a 40-day commitment to Kundalini yoga and felt the awakening of my body and soul. Through pranayam (breath work), asana (postures), meditation and mantra (sound), I discovered a deeper layer into the practice and into my symptoms. Once again, I created room for deeper self-inquiry and empowered choice. I began to come out of darkness as I regained a sense of safety within my body.
The confidence and desire to live courageously returned. Soon after, I envisioned a new goal - to teach embodied healing practices to trauma survivors while continuing my own healing. I completed a Yoga to Transform Trauma leadership intensive that opened my eyes to the powerful interplay between the worlds of psychology, neuro-biology, trauma and yoga. Shortly after, I enrolled in a 200-hour hatha yoga teacher training to fully embrace the practice. I also began working with an empowerment coach who continues to support me as I weave together these three parts of my life while accessing and honoring my full potential.
As I look back on my path, I feel a deep sense of gratitude. I sought the position at the prison because I wanted a challenge that would push me to grow, both personally and professionally. I certainly wasn't expecting the intensity of what came my way, but what initially seemed to be an obstacle in my journey became the journey itself. The experience shattered both my internal and external sense of safety, and although I continue to experience moments of discomfort and/or fear where my nervous system goes into overdrive, I now have sufficient tools to nurture myself back into a safe space. Yoga has been, and continues to be, my greatest teacher, reminding me that I am worthy, I am capable, and I am resilient. My practice has also taught me that self-compassion is a foundational aspect to all healing. It is expanding my capacity to heal and honor myself through the continuous ebbs and flows, all while holding space for others to nurture themselves back into wholeness.