Speak your truth. Speak your truth. Speak your truth.
I keep hearing this. From a healer. Listening to a podcast. In meditation class. And from myself – that little voice inside. Speak your truth. So, here goes…
A little preface.
When I was little I was very shy. I never knew if I was saying the right thing. I was afraid to speak. I know when this happened – this fear. It happened when I was told that not everyone wanted to hear what I had to say by a grown up that I trusted. Bam. That’s all it took to create a lifetime of questioning myself and my own voice.
It has taken a lot of work to feel confident to speak out. I was able to grow as an acting major in college, which I did because I liked the idea of using other’s words to speak instead of my own. I loved disappearing into a character – so I could speak the character’s truth instead of my own. But, somehow this process loosened up the fear, and I slowly began to accept my own voice and truth, too. My true break-through came when I started doing yoga. The combination of breathing with movement slowly started to open up my throat center. The throat center is known as the fifth chakra. The place of communication, where you find your own voice, where you feel you have the right to speak and be heard. So, with a lot of practice, I now feel like I can speak my truth.
Trauma. Trauma is defined as a deeply distressing or disturbing experience by the Oxford Dictionary. So many of us have experienced trauma, or are experiencing trauma now (Covid-19 isolation, societal injustice, wild fire displacement… 2020 has been unreal). When I was young, I witnessed abuse and experienced abuse. I suffered the loss of a brother. As an adult, I experienced abuse and more loss. These are traumatic experiences. This is my truth. This is the place that I come from.
Trauma impacts us in many ways – emotionally, physically, psychologically. Sometimes we don’t even know how we are holding on to trauma. It is subconscious because we push it out of our minds to get through life. This is what happened to me. I was holding onto trauma in my body. Bessel van der Kolk in his book, The Body Keeps the Score, says that through research, he discovered, “…the memory of trauma is encoded in the viscera,”** or the body. Me, I would hold onto my breath when I felt stressed. I would hold my body in a tense state. I would shield my chest and look down. I had a lot of stomach aches & digestive issues. I didn’t realize that these were all tied to my trauma. This is just how I was.
I was introduced to yoga in college, and I continued to do it in spurts for exercise, usually with yoga videos, to be healthy. During one of these spurts, I noticed I felt not only stronger in my body, but also better about myself. And then life happened, I got into a relationship, and let some of my routine self care go. I didn’t feel as good anymore. I was in a pretty high-stress job and was unhappy. I needed an outlet, so I decided to do yoga again, only this time I did it more regularly. I went to classes and learned breathing techniques. I learned to balance my action so that I was not pushing myself, but letting my exhales guide my body deeper into poses. I learned stillness in meditation. I learned to combine the stillness with the breathe in restorative yoga, holding positions for several minutes. This is when it happened. My regular yoga practice led me to a place where I could breathe again. Where I could feel my body. Where I could regulate my emotions and calm myself using my breath. Where I could let go of the holds. I remember being in a restorative yoga class, and I felt this tremendous weight just lift off of my chest. I wanted to keep that feeling. So, I kept practicing yoga, and I keep practicing yoga. And, that is how I healed, and continue to heal my own trauma.
Peace Shala (peace home).
The result of my yoga practice lead me to become a yoga instructor. I loved how it made me feel and I wanted to share this path and guide others towards feeling better. For me, it isn’t about being that bendy yogi on social media. I think that’s pretty cool because those yogis have really dedicated themselves to their practice, but that is not the end goal for me. I believe in the meaning of yoga, which is to “yoke” or “join together.” We bring together the breath, the body, and the spirit – we reconnect with the wholeness of our own bodies, our true selves, and nature. When I went to yoga teacher training, I learned that it wasn’t just a happy feeling I was having because I was doing yoga, but it was science. When we exhale, we trigger our parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for slowing your heart rate and helps you calm down.
It makes sense that Yoga helped me come to be able to speak my truth. What I am sharing about my own trauma, I can do because of the transformation that I have gone through with the help of my yoga practice. I believe that my experiences can help you find more peace within, too. So, I have developed Peace Shala™. A program to help survivors of trauma heal themselves. I show you yoga techniques to release the stress in your body and your mind. You can start now just by taking a breath in and then a long exhale out. There. You did it. You can also join my Peace Shala group on facebook. I do a weekly live video with meditation, relaxation, and yoga and offer support in a safe environment. The program is expanding, so I will offer even more tools to help you very soon.
May you have peace within,
*Blue Whispers of Truth by Jo Jayson, http://www.jojayson.com/
**van der Kolk, Bessel. The Body Keeps the Score. Penguin Books, 2014, page 88.