My recent training experience with Trauma Sensitive Yoga inspires me to explore the sight, smell, taste, feel and sound of the word trauma. I’d also like to do some ‘housekeeping,’ with my clingy traumatic experiences…the dusty residue they’ve left within my thoughts, feelings and behaviour. I’d like to admit that we all have experienced trauma in qualities and quantities, and to resist this validates the disorienting dominance trauma conceives. To intersect science and yogic wisdom creates a supported healing journey that generates self-care in the realms of mindfulness, safety and resiliency.
Breathing, orienting and grounding are becoming big buzzwords in our wellness conversations. Seasoned yoga and meditation practitioners describe the process of mindful breathing can bring us to a familiar equanimity rippling a calmer response to our stressor(s). An internal experience such as special attentiveness to the rise and fall of inhales and exhales may be a vulnerable and anxious experience for some.
Orienting asks us to pay attention to our external senses…take our eyes to your nearest sights, smell the current fragrances in the air, or maybe notice the sensation of swallowing cool water from your water bottle. Feel the weight of your clothing, or the textures of its fabric. Listen to the sounds of laughter from the lunch room at work and smile! This kind of external practice restores our attention to the present moment, softly striking the stressful thoughts, flooding emotions, or the revisiting of distant threats off our path.
Grounding asks us to tune into our precise relationship to the ground. Standing or sitting, sense what parts of our body are connected to the ground. Naturally trusting the support of the ground we are encouraged to sense our weight, consider the downward pull of gravity and the contact our feet or sit bones make to the floor or chair. This attention to where our body is in relationship to the ground invites us to come back to the moment we are in.
Mindful breathing, orienting and grounding are practices that reclaim our ability to live in the moment. This famous over used declaration of living in the moment is easily said yet not as easily practiced! When we live in the moment we are loosening the trauma knot that keep us tied up from embracing our full potential. This loosening releases our attachment to our trauma stories and to the constriction in our bodies, minds and feelings. Then co-creating an expansive quality where in time we may begin to re-experience the lightness of being, thinking and feeling.
Savoring anything sensory creates the curiosity and space to re-enter the present moment every time we’ve forgotten (and we all forget a lot!). Whether it’s mindful breathing, orienting or grounding, whether it’s applying lip balm, taking a walk in the park, sitting in the starkness of traffic and turning up the bass of your favourite jam. Maybe it’s taking a silent moment among a difficult conversation, a yoga class, eating your favourite meal, coffee with a friend or washing your face with your favourite natural soap. When we pay extreme attention to what is going on in the moment, we can re-integrate ourselves over and over again into living safely, mindfully, and resiliently.