How movement can heal your trauma

In the mind-body school of trauma, movement is a staple to recovery.
Often we associate bodily sensations with danger, so we disassociate.
Because of that, exercise can be overwhelming, and we give up on our body.
There is hope though with gentle, compassionate movement exercises!

“How can you do what you want
if you don’t know what you do

Essentially, we need to bring it back to basics.
A few days ago I did a movement workshop called ‘Up and Down‘ by nervous system specialist Irene Lyon and therapeutic dancer Elia Mrak.
The techniques studied are inspired by somatic experiencing healing, pioneered by Peter Levine. In his book ‘Healing Trauma’, he gives simple exercises that anyone can do:
Touch your hands and say these are my hands.
Stand in the shower and feel the water on your head. This is your head.
Grab a piece of string and trace your outline on the floor where you’re sitting. This is your space.

Sitting meditation is well known,
but buddhists also practise walking meditation.
Instead of focusing on the breath,
your attention is on your steps.

Trauma causes body dysmorphia, shame and aches by ignoring our needs.
Becoming aware of our dimensions, where we begin and end, is as crucial as:
Feeling how we shift our weight, which foot carries more, which side we prefer turning to.
Listening to our instincts is also important.
We’ve been taught to sit all day, to go to the toilet during the break, to not burp.
Instead of ignoring our physical cues, we should reconnect with them if possible.

Nowadays we think we are our brain
and our body is our vehicle.
We have forgotten how memories and pain
are trapped inside of our body.

During my Vipassana meditation retreat, I listened to my breath for 10 days straight.
Every day I realised how little I knew of it, and there is so much more to my body!
While I listened, the most random memories would come up: I was processing stored pain.
Ever since then, I’ve become deeply fascinated by my body.
Instead of just living in our body, we need to become friends with it.
Often we make our body an apology, an excuse, work it tirelessly like a horse.

“Thought, feeling, perception and movement are closely interrelated and influence each other.”
– Moshe Feldenkrais

If you are struggling with trauma or mental health, movement therapy can be the answer for you.
Every morning I do my Buddhist breathing exercises, as trauma kept my breathing shallow and my thinking thus muddled.
Right after my gratitude prayers I do some light kundalini and yin yoga.
This is much less straining and movement-heavy than the traditionally practises ashtanga yoga!
I don’t focus on getting it right, but on feeling where my body touches the floor, which muscles are stiff and where I feel heavy. I practise listening to whatever my body tells me.
What do you do to reconnect to your body? Let me know so we can learn together!

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