A Guest post by Lisa Boldin.
Lisa Boldin is a Facilitator of Trauma Sensitive Yoga, and a Supervisor for students in the TCTSY certification program at the Trauma Center in Brookline, MA. She offers this evidence based therapy in small group settings and individual sessions throughout NH and MA. Lisa is also an Ayurvedic practitioner who fully embraces the importance of conscious lifestyle and diet as a way to greater health. Lisa was born singing and gratefully shares her love of music with her husband.
When I was a little child, I understood relationship to be family and the people who lived just outside our doors. I grew up in the Bronx, in the top floor of a two-family house with my parents and baby sister. I played 7-Up in the alley and ate Italian Ice delivered by the beloved ice cream truck. I spent time with my neighbors, a single mom, her 5 children and their elder aunt. Our fun ranged from making up plays and performing them in the backyard to sleeping 5 thick on the pull-out bed after day of exploring our block. I didn't think much about relationships then, I simply lived them.
All of these many years later I find myself more deeply understanding the power of relationship and how good ones can foster growth and healing, how difficult ones can shake the ground of our lives. I work in the world of trauma as a facilitator of Trauma Sensitive Yoga. One of the underpinnings of our practice is that creating shared authentic experiences through safe relationship can help a person recover. I know this from our research and I know this from the people I serve. This is the bedrock upon which healing becomes possible. Judith Herman, the author of Trauma and Recovery wrote: "Recovery can take place only within the context of relationships; it cannot occur in isolation." I have come to understand that many, many people in our world have never had the experience of safe relationship. Their early years may not have included bonding with their caretakers. They may have experienced physical or emotional abuse. The people who should have protected and nurtured them could not and did not. This is gratefully not the end of the story but rather the beginning. It is in cultivating relationships that hope is found.
When I welcome people into a trauma sensitive yoga class, it is the first moments on the mat that are most magical. This is when I become part of a group of people who share a common thread of broken relationship. It is not about how flexible someone is or whether they have prior experience. It is not about the clothes they are wearing, the shape and form of their physical bodies. It is all about my ability to be with them in an authentic manner. It is about being present and listening with my ears and also with my heart. It is about leveling the field of power; although I am teaching, I am also participating. When I offer choices of movement (a very important part of this type of yoga), I move through them myself. Do I want to lift my arm or leave it by my side? Would I prefer to create large or small movements? Does it create peace or anxiety to notice that I am breathing? I am living the experience that I am offering to others. I let people know that they can notice what is happening in their own body as a way to determine how to move and when to be still. I remind people that they are always, always in control of their practice. I do not offer to physically assist them. I do describe forms and shapes that they may try if they are curious. I am also aware that curiosity is something that may not be present due to years of being silenced. I look for ways to empower those I work with; inner strength comes from knowing that resources are present and can be drawn upon. There are so many things to be conscious of when teaching in this manner; it is a mindful practice that requires seeing and being with the people around me. They will tell me in gross and subtle ways what is helpful and what is harmful. Honoring each relationship as best as I can is the gift I give.
The power of relationship extends to all types of recovery. It is evident in peer support groups. It is present in communities who offer services to those in need. It shows up in families and between friends. It is in fact impossible to separate recovery from the relationships that support that journey. We are each uniquely qualified to become present to another human being. Moving from isolation to relationship can happen in one instant of authentic, honest connection.
For more information, visit SamaTalCenter.com