Trauma, by definition, is a deeply distressing or disturbing experience.
But in reality, trauma is multi-dimensional, continuously unfolding, and has the lethal potential to be programmed into our brains, bodies, emotional responses, and thoughts, often in a completely unconscious manner.
It is compounded into our everyday experience—whether we are aware of it or not—and can affect us in a multitude of ways.
It is interweaved within the many generations before us and passed down through belief systems, mental structures, and DNA. It is not merely a memory or story, but a definitive aspect of the way we understand the world—and we’re all doing our best to heal those parts of ourselves.
During the time I spent in wellness circles, it became abundantly clear that these spaces were not only majorly uneducated regarding trauma but also triggering people left and right without the proper tools to begin the real healing process.
I saw myself and others fall into traps over and over again because of it, and finally asked myself, “How did we get here?” and “Why is this happening?” I soon realized that mainstream wellness communities hadn’t done their own inner work, and they were hurting others as a result.
I started to sense the disparities soon after dedicating my life to yoga and its teachings.
I recognized that though the teachings of yoga and other ancient healing practices were absolutely revolutionary and had the potential to radically change the lives of people and the world alike, they were being used in ways that weren’t actually in alignment with the work itself. And it bothered me immensely.
The work was often being shared in a way that turned into, like many other powerful resources and tools of humanity, dogmatic belief systems that created boxes rather than bridges. They promoted exclusion within communities that were in direct opposition to the foundation of the teachings and displayed an abuse of power over the vulnerable and unprotected.
Now, before I go on, I’d like to make it exponentially clear that the teachings of yoga, the work of the mystics, and holistic health practices have saved my life, and still continue to do so.
Furthermore, I never like to speak in absolutes, as I don’t believe that’s the way the universe works.
In fact, I think it’s sort of the opposite. Nothing is absolute, and everything is varied.
So with these ideas comes the big recognition that this isn’t about every single yoga practitioner, every single yoga teacher, or the entire yoga/wellness community at large.
It is merely my experience of the majority of it (I have also had some seriously potent experiences with some teachers and practitioners, too) as a person who is continuously healing and learning how to be a human.
My personal experience with mainstream yoga and wellness spaces was mostly being told and then witnessing the misunderstandings about what the teachings really meant.
Just like in the game of telephone, critical information is being passed down by teachers but not being translated appropriately.
In doing so, this creates a snowball effect of spiritual bypassing, abuse of power, cultural appropriation, and using terms like “we are all one” as a way to perpetuate harm and violence, rather than recognizing the real meaning behind this statement.
We all affect one another.
Everything we do affects everybody else in the most subtle and sometimes ginormous ways.
To use this term to bypass a person’s personal pain, systemic oppression, or societal suffering is not only incorrect, but also inhumane, and it’s why so many people are turned off by spiritual teachings and also lose themselves to them, too.
I realized shortly after coming to this conclusion that these groups of mainstream yoga and wellness communities didn’t understand trauma or true healing because they hadn’t done their own inner work.
They were slipping and sliding through new age theology (built from ideas on ancient traditions), but compartmentalized into a modern-day capsule while creating another hasty remedy for us to run and be done with.
The reality is that the teachings, the self-realization, and the work of being a human cannot be solved with a hasty remedy, because, first and foremost, being human is not a deformity—it is our most precious and gracious birthright.
And much like the rest of anything as complex as human life, it is grueling and painful, intense and raw, beautiful and bewildering.
It often goes completely unplanned and is utterly fascinating when we give ourselves a chance to be present with the ride. Yet in the same breath, it can be confusing, unique, and sometimes extremely devastating.
The key to experiencing all of it is to be completely awake, including the dark and messy pain and pleasure, without any skips or Band-Aids.
Band-Aids only make it worse. A wound needs space to be free before it can close, yet we’re walking around with our wounds wide-open, thinking they are healing because they are covered, yet they are infected and painful.
Being human isn’t something to cover up; it’s a blessing we have been graciously offered, and every teaching that comes from what most wellness spaces offer is rooted in the idea of relishing it—we have somehow missed the point.
We must experience our whole human life, otherwise, we’ll miss it. We were never meant to live life in the fast lane.
To take things a step further, I would be as bold to say that our ancestors that lived in the age of the yogis weren’t living the same lives we are.
They didn’t live in a world that deemed everything as broken and needing to be fixed. They weren’t being continually manipulated with stirring emotions and thoughts while having access to an abundance of information and materials every moment—a fast-track way of looking at life.
This lifestyle isn’t just toying with the way we live, it’s changing the way we experience life. It’s causing our brains to reprogram, our bodies to shape to the unnatural, and our humanity to simmer in a boiling pot of pain, shame, and confusion.
If we add more existential trauma to the mix, we have created a whole new ballgame of brain responses, emotions, programmed habits, and self-preservation tactics.
This is one of many reasons the mental health crisis is at an all-time high, and people everywhere are desperately trying to figure out how to simply live.
As a result, people are turning to yoga (and other various alternative wellness systems), due to a lack within our modern medicine model, which is also ferociously powerful in its own way and dogmatic and stifling in others—especially within mental health and trauma.
Being human is hard; that is for certain.
We have an unlimited amount of resources at our fingertips when it comes to the how’s and why’s. So much, that it is often completely overwhelming and unhealthy for our precious nervous systems.
However, the good news is that we have unlimited resources for what we are facing.
Ancient wisdom will help us slow down so we can hear the music playing among all of the noise. Science and modern medicine give us deeper intel into why and how we have the ability to do that.
We are all trying to figure out how to feel better without realizing that we have to learn how to live better.
We have to come to terms with the fact that the fast-track model of life simply doesn’t work, and the more patience we have for ourselves and others, the more fulfilling our lives become.
The more we show up to our life, the more life shows up for us.
The teachings of the holy ones were never meant to be put into bright red capsules. They were never meant to be made into boxes.
They were meant to provide us with support to explore our messy, human experience, so we can spread our wings among the masses and finally fly.