Two years ago, I was in Christchurch, New Zealand on the day the city was leveled by an earthquake. It was one of the most unsettling experiences of my life. As I mentioned last year on the earthquake anniversary, it took me almost a month to realize the earthquake left me in some sort of shock. But what I did not realize then is that the shock, in many ways, remains.
Just yesterday, I was at work, and I heard a crash. I live in Tucson. There are no earthquakes here (though we did have snow yesterday, so perhaps anything is possible these days). But when I heard that crash, I jumped inside. There is a bridge in Tucson that always shakes when you drive on it, and I drive over it nearly every single day. Sometimes I still flinch when I feel it shaking. I am starting to realize that earthquake has never left me.
We live in a world where we are told to just get over it. When something does not go our way, we are expected to just move right along as though nothing happened. But our bodies respond differently. Our bodies remember. This is why yoga is such a powerful tool. It reaches into our bodies and exposes that which we have been holding for days, months, or even years at a time.
Consciously I do not live in fear of another earthquake hitting, certainly not in Tucson. But those moments when I jump from a shake are reminders of how deeply embedded memories are in our bodies. While we can consciously attempt to forget certain things that happen in our lives, we cannot escape them fully until we go into the body.
The last post talked about support. An earthquake is the antithesis of support. Earthquakes shake us to our very core. But we all get shaken like that even when we are not experiencing the Earth below us moving. And those crises, or traumas, stay with us. But something as simple as a child’s pose, as discussed in the last post, can be a start to overcoming that trauma.
And then, of course, the breath. In those moments when we are reminded of whatever shook us, we can always come back to the breath and remember that the trauma is not reoccurring. Instead, it is our memory of it. And we can breathe through those moments.
Today, my heart goes out to Christchurch. I learned so much from that city, from that experience. And if my infrequent, unconscious reactions are any indication, the city has not left me yet. The theme in Christchurch after the earthquake was, “Rise up Christchurch.” I know it still has a long way to go, but that theme is an inspiration. From the depths of destruction, the people of Christchurch decided to come together and create a new and evolved city. I am forever grateful to the lessons I learned in Christchurch, even when they take me a bit by surprise.
Have you noticed how you hold memories in your body? What do you do about them?
© Rebecca Stahl 2013, all rights reserved.