Let’s talk about trauma.
Not limited to war veterans or assault victims, trauma is a part of everyday life for millions. Odds are we all know someone who has experienced trauma—that someone may even be you.
Trauma is the Greek word for “wound.” Although the Greeks used the term only for physical injuries, we now understand that trauma is just as likely to come from emotional wounds.
We now know that a traumatic event can leave psychological symptoms long after any physical injuries have healed. The psychological reaction to trauma now has an established name: post-traumatic stress. Its symptoms can include depression, anxiety, flashbacks, and recurring nightmares.
These often invisible wounds can be a source of much suffering both in ourselves and those around us, whether it be friends, family, classmates, or fellow teachers.
So, what can we do?
How do we hold space for the healing of wounds we cannot see and injuries that friends and students are often uncomfortable bringing up in class?
The great news is that yoga is a wonderful healing modality for trauma.
The following two books opened my eyes to the world of invisible wounds around us and helped equip me with tools of compassion and knowledge to better engage with and hold space for the healing of myself, my friends, and my students.
Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma by Peter A Levine
Dr. Levine is a clinical psychologist who has been studying trauma since before I was born. Through his research, he identified a source of trauma as stagnant or stuck energy that built up in the body during an experience of stress and was not able to be released.
Waking the Tiger is full of vivid, descriptive illustrations that allow for the understanding of the impacts of stress on the mind and body through the lens of the evolution and development of human beings and provides simple to understand and effective methodology for processing, moving through, and releasing this stagnant energy.
Unshakable Awareness: Meditation in the Heart of Chaos by Richard Haight
While not directly written to address trauma, Richard Haight’s exploration of various ways to stimulate the vagus nerve and activate the parasympathetic nervous system to deepen inner resources to create and restore equilibrium is a rare gem. This work is full of easily accessible methods for harnessing the body’s natural resources to effect healing and transformation.
Haight draws from decades of experience mastering four Samurai attributed martial arts and deftly demystifies a number of ancient traditions while remaining respectful, reverent, and providing an explanation of why such methods are so effective.