Sunday, March 30, 2014

Coming Back

This has been the longest break I have ever taken from this blog. There are several reasons for it, but most importantly, I have not been motivated to write, so I decided not to try to write for no reason. I also felt I was getting away from what this blog was originally designed to be – a way to integrate yoga and a professional life, in my case, a lawyer.

But these past few months have also taken me deeper into my practice than ever before. None of it has been “yoga” in the western definition of asana. It has not even really been a traditional yoga practice as I have described on this blog so many times.

But yoga means “to yoke.” It means union. And that is exactly the path I have been on these past couple of months.

I do not know if you have noticed, but this year has been even quicker than 2013, and it is not looking like it is going to calm down anytime in the near future. Somehow, in the midst of this craziness, we have to find a way to not just hang on for dear life but also to ride the waves doing what we want to do with our lives in a way that does not destroy us.

I have been reading several books about how we can learn from the body’s sensations and the way we move. This work comes in many forms: Feldenkrais, Hanna Somatics, Somatic Experiencing, Trauma Releasing Exercises, Neurogenic Yoga, Core Awareness, and Somatic Intelligence. And these are just the ones I have found. But they all have one thing in common – they are designed to help our bodies release trauma so we can heal.

I am finally seeing information about Vicarious Trauma (or Compassion Fatigue) take root in the legal profession. Other professions have known about this phenomenon a long time. I have a label about it for a reason – it’s important. But so much of what is being taught do not involve understanding the body’s piece of our trauma and stress. These past two months have been the deepest exploration of this phenomenon I have ever done, and I have not even begun to scratch the surface.

And yet, I knew I had to write about it. I knew I had to share it. Because I think this is the piece that is missing from so much of our discussions. Pain is rampant in society, particularly among professionals. There are too many reasons for its existence among professionals for me to go into right now, but we rarely talk about how trauma is stored in the body and what we can do to release it.

The most important step is just noticing. So many of us have trained ourselves not to feel, either our emotions or our bodies. But both of them eventually get to a point where they take over and force us to pay attention. Better to nip it in the bud ahead of time and begin to notice what our bodies are telling us.

And so, as you sit here and read this, notice your body. Just notice. Does it feel tense in one place? Does it feel fluid in another? Does it feel like it wants to move in ways you have not allowed because you’re staring at your computer or your phone? What happens when you take a moment to notice the sensations of your body?

Ask yourself what the sensations feel like. Do they feel hot or cold or neutral? Do they move, or are they static? If they move, do they move in circles or linearly? Is it stabbing? Is it shooting? Is it painful? Is it throbbing? Does it feel open? The body is constantly sending us signals, and we have done a wonderful job learning to tune them out. But tuning out the signals of our bodies rarely serves us.

And so, in this coming back to writing blog, I hope you can just take the time to notice the body. If emotions or thoughts come up with it, just go with them. Our bodies are messengers, and we just have to learn how to interpret. The most important step, however, is the first – awareness. Becoming aware of our bodies opens us up to possibilities we never knew existed. And then, being in our bodies, we can begin to find some grounding and calming as the world continues to move faster and faster.

I would love to hear what you feel and notice. Please share it in the comments.


© Rebecca Stahl 2014, all rights reserved.

The post, Coming Back, first appeared on Is Yoga Legal.