I am a survivor of severe child abuse. Through divine grace, I somehow got through those terrible years. My childhood left me with overwhelming traumatic memories and occasional waves of depression. The holidays were especially challenging, since I had no concept of normal family interactions and traditions. As a young adult, flashbacks often caught me by surprise and drained my energy, leaving me fatigued and heartbroken.
The good news is that, over time, I realized I was no longer helpless. Then I began a journey to heal and nourish my mind, body and soul. It became clear to me that much of the suffering in my present was the result of memories trapped inside my body and mind from those past, formative years. My body was in a constant state of rigidity and tension. My breathing was quick, rapid, and shallow. This state of constant body arousal perpetuated my traumatic anxiety and depression. Once I was totally convinced of the mind/body connection, I explored ways to relax and alter my muscle tension, breathing and thoughts.
What I know now, after many years of practice and self-reflection, is that there is a natural flow between mind and body. Traumatic memory and depression are primal self-defense mechanisms and survival tools. The symptoms of trauma are not a sign of weakness but of strength. However, the key is to use trauma as the starting point of the healing process, and to not remain stuck in that state. Our brains have the amazing ability to heal and rewire, which is almost impossible to imagine when we are depressed and traumatized.
Healing the mind and body requires constant communication with our souls. Everyone is unique and has a different rate of healing. An inner awakening can happen when we shift our mind towards positive goals. Here are some techniques that I have found helpful for restoring resiliency and recovering from trauma and depression:
- Moving Meditation: Tai-Chi, Qi Gong, and Gentle Yoga — It is so important to reconnect the relaxed body to the relaxed mind. Moving meditation promotes a state of calmness through practices that are gentle and fluid. A few minutes a day may be all that is needed to release negativity and stay in the present.
- Neurofeedback — These days it’s easier and more convenient to practice this powerful technique. Neurofeedback is a wonderful way to calm the nervous system and help realign the signals in the brain. Find an app through your iPhone or android device that you can download and use daily. It can also be possible to find restful sleep by listening to Delta waves.
- Contact and Self-Holding — This is an excellent exercise to promote grounding and awareness. When we were toddlers, positive body contact through a loving parent was essential for thriving. Many of us during our formative years may not have received proper cradling or hugs. Self-soothing exercises will help reintroduce this kind of gentle touch. I have found it helpful during distress, to place my hand on my chest in order to calm my breathing and restore security.
- Nature — Surrounding yourself with nature is another wonderful grounding exercise. It promotes healing as it radiates positive vibrations. We need to grow, to expand, to embrace life, and nourish ourselves as we feed our souls. When we allow ourselves to enjoy nature, we can see that we are all beautiful and divine.