Trauma alters lives, whether the cause is a catastrophic situation like a war, a natural disaster or overwhelming everyday occurrences like health problems or car accidents. Research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has shown that: one in five Americans was sexually molested as a child; one in four was beaten by a parent to the point of a mark being left on their body; and one in three couples engages in physical violence. A quarter of us grew up with alcoholic relatives and one out of eight witnessed their mother being beaten or hit.

My personal trauma manifested a divorced, co-dependent, depressed mother of three small children with a smoking addiction living in poverty.

Because trauma is imprinted on the body, brain and spirit, I created the Meditative Movement technique. Complete healing needs to encompass all of them:

Brain — The brain works to ensure our survival. With repressed trauma, it is on constant alert. Becoming aware of past thoughts and feelings, as well as future fears, starts the healing process. Our own energy becomes depleted when we try to deny and avoid our pasts. When I acknowledged my thoughts and felt my emotions, I was exercising my personal power. The book, You Can Heal Your Life, by Louise Hay, introduced me to the consequences that my own negative self-talk was having on my health. Louise Hay demonstrated how affirmations are a positive way to rewire the brain. Other practices include: Meditation, prayer, support groups like AA and Al-anon, talk therapy, writing/speaking affirmations, and journaling.

Body — Our bodies hold our past, repressed traumas. Hidden traumas seem to magnetically attract harmful behaviors designed to numb the person’s inner pain. Physical addictions offer temporary relief. Yet, given time, food, drug and alcohol addictions overpower the mind and create chaos. My smoking hid my low self-esteem, anxieties and physical disgust. John Ratey, M.D., states that the best treatment for psychiatric problems is exercise and that aerobic exercise is an indispensable tool for anyone who wants to reach his or her full potential. After years of struggle to quit smoking, I finally succeeded. Gaining 15 pounds in three months threatened my resolve. To avoid more weight gain, and out of sheer desperation, I started walking while repeating affirmations like “I can.” To my surprise, grief, pain and other harmful energies like depression were being released naturally from my mind and body. Having more energy, I was becoming stronger physically, mentally and emotionally. For the first time in my life, I was excited about my future. Other practices include: Acupuncture, bodywork, drumming, yoga, massage, jogging, dancing, bike riding, snow skiing, walking in nature.

Spirit — Right now, observe your breath. Notice how it naturally flows in and out of your body. It’s amazing that you exert no effort to make this happen. Pause and try it. I’ll wait. Do you feel more connected and at peace? According to Mental Health America, the best way to increase your mental health is to connect with others. Yet, I have found that connecting to my inner self through breath awareness gets me in touch with my true spiritual nature. This is vital in my quest to be freed from the burdens of the past and the fears of the future. Relaxing in quiet contentment in the present moment is priceless. Other practices include: Breath work, meditation, prayer, retreats, community, church, reading uplifting messages and books.

Remember to free your own self from the bondages of fear, depression and traumas first. I hope that by telling my story, you know that you are not alone. Opening your heart through Meditative Movements and other practices can be a gentle witness to others. May you find the courage to explore new practices that enhance your own well-being. You can be healthier, happier and whole.

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Ellie Peterson
Ellie Peterson studied fitness and psychology at the University of St. Catherine where she graduated in 1992. She has taught thousands of people how to enjoy their lives more fully. Because her personal practice has spanned more than 30 years, she now shares her well-being insights with others. Ellie is author of Empowering Energy, Ellie’s Meditative Yoga eBook, Meditative Movement guidebook and creator of Power of Positive Aerobics DVD. Visit her website at www.meditativemovements.com. Contact Ellie at ellie@meditativemovements.com.

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