Why boundaries are important for Recovery

Having healthy boundaries is important for our own well-being.  Creating solid boundaries, however, can be challenging even when life is going well. What happens to our boundaries when the wheels fall of the tracks and we find ourselves going through a traumatic situation?  When we are going through a traumatic situation in can be difficult just to get through the day so making the determination of what’s supportive of us may not even be on our radar due to the strong and intense emotions we are feeling.  When we are is emotional distress, rational thinking often goes out the window because our body is in survival mode.

 

After a serious life interruption last year, I took at long and hard look at what healthy boundaries meant to me during my recovery.  When bad things happen, especially if it is a situation that is on-going, we can feel like we have no control over anything in our life.  It’s the loss of control that can create a sense of uncertainty, fear, and anxiety.  While I was going through my experience and subsequent recovery, I found that creating strong internal and external boundaries gave me the stability I was looking for.  If I wasn’t able to control certain aspects of my life, I certainly could put supportive parameters in place and give myself permission to determine how I would interact with myself and others.  This allowed me to take my life back and gave me the structure I needed to get through my situation.

 

Understanding our boundaries, or looking at what we need to heal, allows us the opportunity to look within and ask the question “what do I need right now that will support me”?  If we don’t acknowledge our boundaries, it can build resentment, martyrdom, lack of self-esteem, and disharmony within ourselves as well as our relationships with others.  Boundaries allow us to express our needs clearly and when those needs are met, that begins the path to healing.  And it’s important to understand that internal boundaries are as important as external boundaries.

 

Here are five boundaries to consider when in recovery:

 

  1. Say no—saying no to others can be difficult but sometimes is necessary if it helps us conserve energy or recharge
  2. Listen to our Internal dialogue—each morning ask your-self, “what do I need today that will support me”?. Is it yoga or meditation? Walking in nature?  Determine what you need then do it.  Commit to, and honor, your self-care regimen
  3. Eliminate negative self-talk–Practice using a mantra or affirmation daily and especially when thoughts about the situation begin to overwhelm you. Give your mind a job so it doesn’t go off into negative internal chatter.
  4. Seek help—if you need support, get it from friends, community, or a trusted therapist
  5. Eliminate triggers—remove permanently or temporarily anything in your control that’s triggering, including people who sap your energy.

 

Creating boundaries can enhance your resiliency and shorten your recovery time.  They keep us in touch with our heart and authenticity. When that happens, we are well on our way to healing and living our best life.

 

Release a lifetime of stress with Neurogenic Tremoring!

It’s a typical Wednesday night at Breathe Together Yoga in my Core Release & Restore class. As I look around the room, I see students of all ages and physical abilities. I’ve guided the class through a series of somatic yoga postures and the class is currently in a resting, or “pausing,” state, in Supta Baddha Konasana (also known as reclining bound angle pose). In this pose, students lie on their backs with the soles of the feet together and, in this case, hands are by their sides. I ask the entire class, “Who hasn’t done the neurogenic tremoring with me before?” Several students raise their hands, which allows me to make a mental note to check on them early in this process.

As I start to guide them through the warm ups, a sequence that invites the tremoring to be initiated, I begin to briefly explain what is happening to their bodies. “You might feel a rocking, shaking, or bouncing,” I tell them. “This is your body’s way of releasing stuck energy that is held by tension. As your body shakes, energy that you have held onto (possibly for a very long time) is being released. And you don’t even have to remember the experience being released.” Then, I announce that I will go around the room and check in with every single person (which I do for every class) to see how their experience is going and to answer any questions they might have.

Based on the Trauma Release Exercises (TREs), neurogenic tremoring is the body’s natural mechanism for releasing tension and energy caused by stressful, anxious, or traumatic experiences. What is being released can be something that happened today, last week, or during childhood, and students will likely not have any idea what it is. The body, as an intelligent organism, is releasing whatever is ready to be let go of. This regulates the body’s systems and brings the nervous system back into rhythm. It’s a modality that is so simple and easy that it’s appropriate for just about anyone!

As I walk up to one of the new students, I ask them how they are doing and their face transitions into a big smile. “This feels weird! But it feels really relaxing!” As I approach each student, I ask, “You didn’t know your body could do this did you?” They respond similarly, laughing, and saying “no.” I tell them they are in complete control and they can take a break or stop the process entirely whenever they feel like it. After class, I greet students as they are putting their props away and ask how they are feeling. “I feel so relaxed,” one person says. “I bet I’m going to sleep very well tonight,” someone else chimes in. I invite them all back on Monday, when we will do the whole thing all over again. And based on the number of regular, returning students, it seems to benefit them!

Suffering happens.

Spring is an excellent time to cultivate the shifts  or changes we want to pursue.  Depending on what’s going on in our life these shifts can be from anything from self-inquiry and service to business or relationships goals. But what happens when we are simply going along and something bad happens?  I could have just said challenging.  But let’s face it…bad things happen.  We often are just chugging along with our lives and we are not prepared for those interruptions when they occur.  And in some cases, we can never prepare ourselves.  The fact is that no one goes through life without pain or suffering. But the other truth is that none of us are sad forever.  The yoga practice was made for these situations. It’s important to develop these tools, coping mechanisms, understandings, practices or whatever you call them to help us heal, and if I’m being completely honest, simply function in times of crisis.  I’m no different than you.  I have great moments and not so great moments.  If you think about the challenges you’ve had, you can bet that everyone reading this newsletter has their own challenges.  What’s unfortunate is that we often go through these situations without the support or self care rituals that are so healing.  It was 20 years ago that I stepped out of a therapist’s office and decided to pursue holistic practices to help me heal and I’ve never looked back.  Today I study Buddhism, practice and teach yoga, and have a strong support system in place (which does include therapy when needed….just being real).  Service is also a great healer for me so I might do more of that when things are tough.  Because of this, when challenges arise, I can deal so much better and in a much healthier way than I used to be capable of.  I am more aware of everything that is happening in my body, with my breath, and with my thoughts.  I allow it all to happen, acknowledge everything I am feeling, and then begin again.   I am not as afraid of emotional pain as I used to be because I know it will pass.  And I know, no matter how much life is kicking my butt, I am blessed beyond measure.  These are the things that keep me going, and probably keep me sane along the way.

 

I believe so much in this work and have seen how it’s helped me, and so many others along the way. If you have the time next month, do consider attending the Yoga for Trauma Recovery intensive over two weekends.  If not, then maybe attend one of my workshops.  And if you only have a small amount of time then come to class. Just show up.   There is a saying in yoga, “practice and all is coming”.  Yoga is union and the more we connect to ourselves on all levels regularly, the easier it will be to navigate through those trying times that we all face.   Consider this your personal invitation.  I hope to see you soon.

Yoga and Spirituality

People will often ask me if my spirituality has changed since becoming a yogi. I was born Catholic, went to catholic school, received the sacraments, raised our kids catholic. I always will be tied to my catholic roots. But when it comes to my connection with God or my “Path”, I would have to say that yoga has definitely changed my perspective.

Yoga allows me to get quiet, become more connected to the sensations, thoughts, emotions and patterns of my body. What I tell them is that my yoga practice has awakened my spiritual path in a way that Catholicism didn’t. In Catholicism, to me it felt like I was told what to read or pray, then it was read to me, and then I was told what it meant. What it didn’t allow for me was the ability to think freely on my own or to consider my purpose.

Although I appreciate the rituals of Catholicism, the rules are a thorn in my side. As I’ve gotten older this type of dogma does not sit well with me. What the path of yoga offered me was the ability to look right into my soul without judgment. Believe it or not, looking deeper takes courage as we may not always like what we see. And by doing so, it allows the opportunity to be more compassionate towards others. This has definitely been the case with me.

Yoga is greatly influenced by Buddhism and Hinduism so if one is going to deepen their practice they will get a lot of exposure to these belief systems.   As I began to look deeper into these other religions and philosophies, I began to see that when you remove the dogma, each philosophy or religion has the same belief systems. Be kind to others. Love everyone. Show compassion for yourself and others. Now that is a path I can follow.