When the car finally came to a stop after rolling over several times, it stood still in the plains of California and I sat still with my forehead resting on the dashboard. The music was still playing and I really really wanted it to stop. I also really really wanted to move my body, but I couldn’t. As hard as I tried, I could not take my head from the dashboard and move my body back in the seat. I could not move.
When my fiance came to the window in a panic to get me, a stranger who had stopped insisted — “Don’t touch her if she can’t move!” That person saved my life… and I will be forever grateful to that angel. I had broken my neck. And it was not pretty. I am very lucky to be alive and not paralyzed. After months of being in a HALO (the amazing innovation screwed into my skull to stabilize my neck), the surgeon warned me that I would forever have arthritis in my neck.
My life moved along and I dealt with the discomfort. Not just physical discomfort from the break, but also emotional discomfort from the trauma. Years went by with nagging reminders of the accident including panic attacks, anxiety about my neck, fear of driving… and then I met Pilates.
From that day forward, Pilates has been my practice. It taught me (and continues to teach me every day) that finding a deeper self-awareness through movement is healing. And it all starts with self-awareness, a mindful movement practice, and intentional reflection.
Have You Experienced Trauma? The Answer Might Surprise You.
Throughout my years of teaching Pilates and developing the Conscious Strong™ program, I have encountered many people who have witnessed and experienced trauma. When you give birth, it is a beautiful experience. It is also traumatic for the body. When you break your arm, that is trauma. When you lose a loved one, grief is traumatic.
Whenever you experience any type of trauma, be kind to yourself. Listen to yourself. You are the core of your being and only you can understand the depth of your pain.
We Are Conscious Strong™
We invite you to join the Conscious Strong Foundation Facebook Group today. We are a community with a mission to help create a lifestyle foundation that will help you work through all of life’s difficulties and stresses. One of the best ways to take care of yourself and heal from a trauma is to engage and connect deeper within yourself.
Breath is Our Lifeline
Engaging and connecting deeper within ourselves must start with the breath. Our breath is our lifeline and it is also the most beautiful and natural healing agent we have before us. Our breath gives us hope. Our breath feeds the cells of our body. When our breath is shallow, we have shallow engagement. When we breathe deeply, we will have a deeper (and healing) engagement with ourselves.
How does it work? Deep breathing stimulates the vagus nerve, which creates a sense of calm and allows you to find the space to connect with yourself. And it’s FREE!
Breathing in a Chair can be Your Start!
Here’s a video to show you how to layer in the breath.
When we engage and connect deeper with our breath, we take our first step towards healing from trauma.
Alternate Nostril Breathing Brings You Back to Awareness
We recently held a Conscious and Connected workshop in Chapel Hill NC and one of the exercises was a technique called alternate nostril breathing. Though it may seem awkward at first, you will find that this particular breathing method will help you focus on your breath instead of your thoughts. Not only does it bring you back to focus, it also leaves you feeling more balanced and calm. This is something we all could use, right? Open up to the awkwardness and you may find a sense of calm in the midst of trauma.
Make Time to Practice and Focus on Your Breath
When you find yourself distracted by the noise in your head and unable to turn it off, here is a technique that will bring you back to focus and will stop the recurring thoughts: Alternate Nostril Breathing. Here is an article to help you get started: https://www.healthline.com/health/alternate-nostril-breathing
Healing from trauma takes time. Just as learning these new techniques takes time. Give yourself the gift of making the time.
Honor Your Trauma and Feel It Releasing
By practicing deep breathing every day, you will begin to have a much deeper sense of awareness. In order to fully release the trauma and find acceptance and peace, we must bring the event to the surface of our awareness. What I learned is that every time I had a panic attack while driving, if I stopped and took 10 deep breaths or used alternate nostril breathing, I immediately calmed down. So honor the trauma as it appears in the present and then release it by using any of the deep breathing techniques introduced above.
Here’s what I did to release my trauma:
- Every time I had a thought about the accident, I would stop where I was and close my eyes.
- I would breathe in gratitude for being here.
- I would breathe out with a mantra of “let it go.”
- I would do this 10 times.
- After I opened my eyes, I would get out my journal (if I had it with me at the time) and write down what I felt during those 10 breaths.
Healing from trauma can only occur when you allow yourself to feel it and allow yourself to let it go. Although it can feel like the best thing to do is push traumatic thoughts away, leaning in and embracing these thoughts can actually help you move through them more easily.
Healing Begins When You Discover Self-Awareness
As counter-intuitive as it might seem, deepening into difficult thoughts, can often be the first step toward healing from trauma. I learned to heal the trauma from my accident through mindful movement and mindful breath work. My deepest hope is that my experience of healing can help others start their own journeys toward healing.
Do yourself a favor and start with the breathing exercises above and then visit the Conscious Strong Foundation Facebook Group and get some support. We all could use a little support.
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