Breathe and Everything Changes

Breathe, and everything changes. It may not be the next breath; it may be the 5th, then 50th, then 500th, but if we stay, wait, take another breath, eventually everything changes.

Seane Corn

Everyone has some injury, it could be a big obvious trauma like sexual assault or some kind of violence. Everyone experiences some kind of developmental trauma, like being bullied, loss of a loved one, divorce – being born is traumatic, when you think about it.

When we experience trauma for the first time, our body contracts, and the trauma becomes imprinted in the body itself. In the wild, an animal will shake off the shock. But we as humans don’t. We suppress it. “I’m fine. It’s fine.” Recognizing and acknowledging the grief, fear, shame, hate, guilt, is too scary. So, we suppress it, and it lives in our body as tension. Then every time that trauma is triggered in our daily life, the body constricts again. Stress and tension remain in the body.

In an article in the Miami Herald from March 14, 2014, Deborah Hartz-Seeley writes ,” According to the American Psychological Association, chronic stress is linked to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide. And more than 75 percent of all physician office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.” Tension and stress are real and deadly.

Who knew? Up until I experienced this discharge of tension in the yoga studio with a compassionate and authentic teacher, I didn’t even know that I was carrying the grief, shame, and fear. I thought that you dealt with your gunk in the therapist’s office and in quiet time with God. I assumed that because I worked out that I was taking care of my body. I didn’t realize that it was holding all of this gak until it seeped from my eyes in pigeon pose, or I broke down with deep body sobs in the privacy of my car after class.

As we breathe and stretch through the asanas, we discharge this energy that the animals shake off. Yoga is a process through which we can release the stored tension. But it’s uncomfortable. Our nervous system doesn’t have the information to know that it’s safe to let go, so we fidget on the mat, we get irritated. We have years of armor that we have to get through. So it may take a long time to get through the shields and release the body’s stored up tension. But that’s ok. We keep coming back. We keep practicing. And one day, we let go, and everything changes.

Just for Today

I’ll be mindful of what is going on in my body. I’ll pay attention to where I’m feeling tight or hot, cool or shakey. Once I identify the physical sensation in my body, I’ll look at my thoughts and emotions. I’ll curiously inquire if there is any relation to the thoughts, emotions and physical sensations.

Prayer

Help me to develop a more holistic approach to my well being. In addition to my relationship with you, help me develop a right relationship with the body you gave me to live out this life.

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