For so many years, it caused me shame to admit that I am a Trauma Survivor. Since adolescence, I suffered from shame that seemed to be a natural way to live, second nature really. How can the brain and body acclimate itself into feeling like taking up space is a problem? For the past 23 years, I have been attempting to understand the role shame has played in my life and somehow it still feels unconscious as it is mixed in with growing awareness of how the abuse I experienced as a child shaped my psyche.
I have spent over twenty years bringing awareness to my past experiences but still suffered from deep seated guilt and not feeling entirely safe in the world. The true healer of my personal trauma have been the practices of Qigong, Yoga and Tai Chi.
My journey into exploring the role that domestic violence and sexual abuse played on my feelings, thoughts and behavior began when I was eighteen years old. I was also full of life, energy and inherent compassion for sentient beings. My spirit was an indomitable one as I believe all of our spirits are.
I now understand that trauma or no trauma, this is both a direct and vicariously painful world to live in. We all suffer and we all thrive in our own ways. Luckily, my unusual experiences led my psyche to a depth of understanding and an active pursuit to find another way to live that embraces healing, meditation, loving-kindess, emotional transparency and courage.
I am still digging deeper to know the humbling nature of vulnerability and truth telling. It is much easier to hide pain and to display masks of “ok-ness” to the world. I now am finally getting that the guilt, the anger, the anxiety, the fear along with the joy, the calm and the gift of life…that the tapestry of it all is enough. I am enough and you are enough with all our parts, all our complexity, all our easeful and difficult experiences. We are ok, even if we are morbidly down and lost in the array of illusions life presents, we are o.k..
I give you this backdrop around the pain I experienced in my past not to hope for pity or to absorb in it but to offer a simple and straightforward testimony for what has truly healed the deepest pain of my life caused by childhood abuse.
It, without a shadow of a doubt has been Yoga, Qigong and T’ai Chi. These practices have shifted my nervous system and physiology in profound ways. These practices have helped me to befriend my shadow….to befriend my shame, my hurts, my anxiety, my anger, my grieving heart and to anchor into a friendship with all parts of myself.
Qigong has emptied out the weight I carry in my mind and body.
Tai Chi has softened the hardened places in my heart and have helped me to feel like a part of nature, not separated from the natural world.
Yoga has allowed me to love the power of the breath and being in a body in all of it’s graceful poses, expressions and capabilities. My shame has softened into deep compassion of self….and when I feel guilt creeping back in as it likes to do, I am still friends with myself and have learned never to abandon self no matter what happens in life.
Reclaiming spirit and returning to true self is a choice and it requires will. Each time I practice or teach Qigong, it is a way of saying yes to the mystery of soul and that’s where wellness resides to greet us back home.
I have been teaching these three practices since 2002 and this article is a simple story. It is a story written to hopefully encourage the reader to try Qigong and Tai Chi if you haven’t yet, to explore the profound benefits it will offer you. If talk therapy has helped but there is still a hole in your heart or if you might struggle with difficult emotions or body issues, there is a healer within that will naturally guide you back to your center and back to your strength of Self.
My body, heart and spirit have found genuine refuge and sanctuary in these ancient practices. I am unsure where I might be without having landed upon them in my life. Certainly, anyone, including those who didn’t have the burden of trauma to bear benefit physiologically, mentally and emotionally as well.
Yoga, Qigong and Tai Chi will be a central part of my life throughout the rest of my journey and they are intricately related. They are catalysts for physical and emotional healing which are a birthright.
They have alchemized my suffering into self-love, my shame into self-compassion and my hurt into empathy for others, the planet and all living beings. I try as best as I can to feel these words from the depth of my soul each day and it is my prayer that humanity find a pathway to deep healing in self, other, planet and all of life.
“May we be at peace. May our hearts remain open. May we awaken to the light of our own true nature. May we be healed. May we be a source of healing to ourselves, each other and all living beings.” I am incredibly grateful that Yoga, Qigong and Tai Chi have offered me the grace and miracle to feel that prayer of self-healing as reality in my whole being, mind body and soul…and it is my desire to continue to sing, pray, write and take action towards this deeper healing for our earth, each other and all the beautiful animals we share this planet with. It is also my intention to stay real with what is and to say no to denial for the pathway denial paves is a muddy and unresolved one.
Thank you to all of the wise ones who have come before to lead us all back home if we choose. Our spirit will triumph over all that we endure.