This is something that I haven't really shared yet, but since last fall, I've been experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I don't talk openly about PTSD because 1) I'm still navigating it and 2) I feel weird laying claim to it. It's not that I'm ashamed by it - it's that I almost feel like I don't have a right to PTSD. People have been through much worse than I have. How can I share a disorder that impacts those who have experienced combat or abuse or sexual assault? But while each experience is very different, it’s important that our battle are validated - we can’t fight something that we don’t see as real. And every single one of us has a right to feel the full extent of our traumas. What's more, we have a duty to feel our traumas and work to heal from them - we're all part of this world and what we manifest inward is what we send outward, intentionally or not.
I need to acknowledge that I have PTSD because that's the foundational step to recovery. Even though each experience is unique and incomparable, hopefully sharing will lead to learning - and healing. What motivated me to write about this now is this the workshop about yoga, trauma, and resilience I attended last Sunday. It was led by Lisa Danylchuk, a badass psychotherapist and yoga teacher. I know a decent amount about yoga philosophy from my 200 hour teacher training, and a little about the impact of trauma from my own experience and extensive online reading. I also know first-hand the healing power of yoga (it’s been a lifesaver for me and countless others). But so much of what I know is just gut instinct and surface skimming.
In the workshop we got to dig deep into PTSD and the different ways it can manifest, and how to use aspects of yoga to address the physical and mental aspects of PTSD. Learning about PTSD made me more acutely aware of the various ways it’s been affecting me (helloooo intrusive thoughts and panic attacks) and how to use yoga to address those specific demons. It also made me more aware of how many people suffer from PTSD (it can occur in anyone who experiences or witnesses a life-threatening event), and the tremendous ways it impacts our lives.
There were a few holy-shit-smack-your-forehead moments in the workshop. One was - and this is tough to admit that I needed this reminder - that a lot of us are fighting really intense battle full of the darkest, nastiest stuff you can imagine. The quiet girl with the big blue eyes and enviable boobs was raped repeatedly as a preteen. The handsome guy with graying hair lost his whole family in a car crash. (These are examples from other stories - not participants in this workshop. I won’t reveal their traumas of course, but just know that we can never assume anything about anyone). Another moment of realization was the caution that needs to be taken in yoga and meditation. This I should have instinctively known, but when you tell someone to “close their eyes and go inward” ummm there might not be such great stuff waiting for them in there. Meditation can be a fantastic tool for peace and connection, but you have to carefully consider your students and yourself (here's a great resource on the benefits of meditation and more information about the practice).
More than anything, I appreciate having a deeper knowledge about PTSD and tools to build up the healing. I don’t know if it will ever fully go away, but I am learning to find that window of tolerance. Hopefully one day I can help others find it too. That's where the flow of life seems to be taking me now, and I'm excited to see where it goes. Namaste 💜