“Love is learning the song in someone’s heart and singing it to them when they forget.” ― M.K. Asante, Buck: A Memoir
In two weeks, I’ll begin training to teach Trauma Sensitive Yoga through The Trauma Center. My curiosity regarding trauma and the body began shortly after my daughter was stillborn at full term a little over 5 years ago. Even before I left the hospital, I began to realize that, somehow, movement would be vital to the healing process. In fact, I wrote this post the night after delivery (full disclosure: I was a little drugged up and a lot sleep deprived at the time….even still, there was some clarity in there, somewhere…..).
What I didn’t realize then was how trauma is, in fact, lodged in the body. Nor did I recognize the importance of body centered therapies for healing. I didn’t originally move my own body with this knowledge. Movement was an obsessive coping mechanism (along with cleaning, lots and lots of cleaning…..). I ran when I was anxious, lifted weights when I was angry or upset, and had recently become a yoga instructor to balance out the other two modalities. For me, movement was less about connection and more about control. At least that’s how it started.
Oftentimes, a breakthrough looks and feels a lot like a breakdown. It seems every major transition is preceded by the feeling of having nothing left to lose. This Buddhist idea of non-grasping does not feel very Buddhist at all (or at least my vision of it, which mostly comes from bad movies and poorly rated television shows…).
It’s not sitting on a meditation cushion with pretty hair and a serene smile. It’s me, in the kitchen, taking a deep breath after snapping at my four year old when he asks for yet another banana (he just ate two!) and dinner is right around the corner. It’s me, having an ounce of self-compassion while anxious for reasons unknown with a pain in my stomach after a poor night’s sleep.
It comes in drips and drabs. At 3:00 in the morning with my legs up the wall (it’s a yoga pose, not just me being weird….). In connecting with another human being over the heart-opening phrase “me too.” When a yoga student tells me they feel “taken care of” in my class….when just that morning I felt like I could barely take care of myself.
What has come as a surprise is finding connection doesn’t always have to be so serious. I like my Eastern wisdom with a little bit of New England sarcasm (and sometimes a New England accent….). In listening to the affectionately called “JewBus” (Jewish Buddhists) like Tara Brach, Jack Kornfield, and Sharon Salzberg I recognize that levity can be sacred. This is as true regarding verbal expression as it is regarding movement.
I’ve found profound connection and healing in both quiet yoga practice and dancing to Beyonce. I’ve remembered my truth during an early morning walk through the woods and also during olympic bar squats at the gym. Neither is more noble than the other. Connection is connection. Truth is truth. It really doesn’t matter how we get there.
I love the quote at the top of this post. I forget the song in my heart just about every morning and remember it again during some form of physical activity. It was exciting for me to learn that The Trauma Center is beginning to explore Trauma Informed Weight Lifting. Just as there are many things that cause us to forget the song in our heart, there are many ways to help us remember it again. In my experience, movement is one that can be quite powerful.
A photo snapped while walking with my dog last week during a beach vacation….while walking itself can be incredibly therapeutic, beautiful beaches and rainbows sure don’t hurt….