Category Archives: choosing better

Personal violence is disruptive no matter how brief the exposure.

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Personal violence is disruptive no matter how brief the exposure.

As I tell my story of sexual trauma and exploitation, others often share with me that they have a story of abuse too, and then they hastily add, “It’s not as bad as yours. It was just one time. Or one perpetrator. Or a long time ago. Or, Or, Or…..

I always reply with this: Own your story. Your story matters too. Painful stories are not to be placed on a scale. Pain is pain. Assault, rape, abuse – it deserves its own space in your story. Personal violence is disruptive no matter how brief the exposure.

This journey has taught me there are just different traumas, however, each is painful and debilitating. Each requires courage to face. No doubt your trauma left a mark on you. Depression, trust, intimacy hang-ups, body issues, self-harm patterns, and the list goes on.

If someone tells me they have cancer, I have just as much empathy for them as I do the person with sexual assault. Cancer is no picnic! And, after walking the road with some dear friends, they tell me it feels like a betrayal from their own body. And, I have heard that from sexual trauma victims too. The emotions that arise from our painful stories are actually more similar than we realize. It’s just the roots that are different.

Another response is folks that say, “I can’t imagine what you’ve been through.” Well, there are a lot of other painful situations that I can’t imagine either. Again: pain is pain.

I’m giving you permission to carry your painful stories gently and reverently. Own them, become comfortable with them, and they will, eventually, ask less of you over time.

From another perspective, if you or I minimize our stories then we are minimizing someone else’s story that resembles ours. There are, unfortunately, thousands of stories of assault and abuse from priests, church leaders, teachers, coaches, Boy/Girl Scout leaders, trainers, medical professionals, and next door neighbors.

Each breach of boundary is important to acknowledge – it leads us define what a healthy boundary feels like.

I’ve been the first witness to long held secrets many times now. And what I can tell you is that keeping it locked up inside is a form of denial. It doesn’t mean you need to take a public stance and tell the world, it means you open up to those closest to you that love you. You become vulnerable with trusted people in your life.

Perhaps you just quietly say “Me Too” in the mirror to practice being honest with yourself. Open your journal and write it out – yes, this happened, this is part of my story. Send yourself an email with the subject line: Me Too and see how it feels to see it in black and white in your handwriting, and/or on your computer screen. Perhaps you decide to sit with a therapist or other trauma professional to unpack this old story that has layers of dust covering it up.

Then, when you feel you’ve gathered your strength around this event, you can open up to those closest to you.

I do believe it’s important to tell the story to folks that are safe. Reclaiming our voice after silence is an empowering action. Chances are that silence has cost you something.

The last consideration I will share is this: silence has allowed this rape culture to become epidemic. If I’d been able to find my words, it might have saved victims that came after me. I’ll never know because I didn’t find my words until my grandfather had been dead for 20 years.

Here are the hard stats: the average perpetrator has 117 victims in his/her lifetime – our silence has allowed them to continue harming. THIS is why the stats also tell us that 1 in 5 children have experienced sexual assault by the age of 18. THIS is criminal and epidemic. My friends with breast cancer have a 1 in 8 chance of having breast cancer by the time they are 88 years old – and breast cancer has been an epidemic for 20 years.

It’s time for sexual violence to be declared an epidemic too. We can change these statistics. Let’s do better for our children. Let’s do better for each other.

Angela
p.s. If you want to read about my story,you can dig around in this blog OR you can wait for my book! “The Other F Word, My Manual on Forgiveness.” Sign up for my email list here: http://www.thekiinside.com – it will be available on amazon for pre-order soon.

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Are you Happy this New Year? Now that the party is over,

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Are you Happy this New Year? Now that the party is over,

are you excited about your life and opportunities? Would you like to learn something new? Tell a new truth? Live a more creative life? What lights you up? Are you clear on your goals, ambitions, desires for the coming year? January is THE month to get clear and set solid intentions for 2018. It’s a wide open space ahead! Are you interested in co-creating this year instead of simply allowing things to unfold? Are you part of the #metoo movement and unsure of what is next to help you heal?

Coaching is a fantastic way to gain clarity and momentum – are you curious or ready?

I spent many years in a simply allowing space and once I realized the power of clearly and directly stating my desires for my life, I was hooked. My life radically changed. For years I had listened to teachers and coaches that didn’t encourage me to be BOLD in my requests and vision. More and more the message I share is, “Do you love what you do? If not, let’s get you there!”

I love my job as a life coach. I get to talk about Emotional Freedom, Brain Training, Neuroplasticity, Self-Compassion, Self-Care, Love & Acceptance of Self, Listening to the Inner Voice, Owning Our Truth, Vision Boards, and how to navigate the world in a safe and nurturing way. How to be sure your voice is heard, your needs are met, and your creativity thrives. I also get to talk about marketing and fun business ideas for entrepreneurs.

Life is a puzzle – finding the right piece to fit in the right spot that gives us a landscape that we enjoy. We often have to expand our horizons, think outside the box, and learn something new for a better fit in our lives.

I get excited listening to someone that is looking for a new way to do an old thing. My brain starts looking for solutions while clients talk.

I’ve got lots new experiences for me in 2018: First up is a TEDx Talk titled, “What To Do After #metoo”, several podcast interviews, magazine articles, guest blog posts, and I’m publishing a book, “The Other F Word, My Manual on Forgiveness” – I’ve got momentum!

I’m excited about life and opportunities to do what brings me joy and lights me up.

It would be an honor to be part of your sacred journey. I really do love supporting people to find joy, love, and acceptance in periods of upheaval or change or just adding some momentum to a business goal.

I can help you be bold, be courageous to live the life you have dreamed of. Email me if you want to know more about how to coach with me. I have a couple of openings available right now.

Cheers to a Radically Blessed 2018!

angela

There’s A New Guest at the Holiday Table: #metoo

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There’s A New Guest at the Holiday Table: #metoo

Me Too sits awkwardly silent, afraid to cause a ripple in the traditions of cheer and joy. Me Too feels like a single word will bring the party down. Suddenly, that confident voice that finally said, “Me Too” is self-conscious and already choosing to stay home next year. Me Too is afraid this time of year will never be the same.

An entire day goes by with everyone else carefully avoiding getting too close. Me Too feels ashamed, unwanted, unseen, ignored, and most of all, isolated.

For many of the new voices in the Me Too movement, a holiday season is anything but joyful. I know, I’ve been there. I was living in my trauma day in and day out – trauma pain doesn’t take a holiday. It felt as though I’d brought home a new pet elephant for everyone to meet. But my family didn’t know how to even say hello to the elephant. I left those experiences wishing I knew how to interrupt their discomfort and avoidance. And I felt like the burden wasn’t really mine – I needed my family to choose differently. Often my choice is to not attend. It’s just easier than bringing along my elephant.

This is how rape culture has grown into the crisis it is, by us not knowing how to talk about things that matter with those we spend the holidays with. Even the best therapists are going to say this isn’t easy. It’s not easy because we haven’t been practicing it. It’s not easy because we are afraid to say the “wrong” thing.

Take a deep breath, say things out loud to yourself in the mirror and it will be easier – especially because the rewards are so immense. As family systems start to choose differently, the rewards are in the strength and intimacy that comes from walking through difficult times together.

Here are some variations of what I’ve imagined my family saying to me:
I can’t imagine what you are going through right now. I’m glad you chose to come and spend time with us. If you want to talk for a few minutes at any time today, let’s find a quiet spot so I can listen.

I’m glad you are here and that I love you. Because of all the activity and kids running around, it might be difficult to actually talk without interruption today. Let’s schedule time this week, I want to give you undivided attention. I know your self-care is strong and I’m proud of you for breaking the silence.

I can only imagine how hard it is to come to a “party” environment when you are facing such pain. I’m glad you are here. Let’s keep taking a deep breath together and enjoy being with each other today. If you need a few moments to yourself at any time, this room would be a quiet place. Come and ask me to join you if you want to talk or just need my presence.

Using your words, reach out to that loved one and say, “I believe you.” “I see you.” “I hear you.” “I honor you.” “I love you.”

Above all, remember that Me Too is still a daughter/son, brother/sister, aunt/uncle, nephew/niece, cousin, mother/father, grandparent, and friend. And they need you now more than ever.

It’s time to be vulnerable and loving, even during the holidays.

What Forgiveness Meant to Me – Literally

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What Forgiveness Meant to Me – Literally

I wrote about the 3 day retreat that ended with an unforgettable experience here. And I wrote a poem expressing my pain here. Now it is time to share exactly what freedom meant to me after the exercise of forgiveness. I had no idea what to expect – the possibilities were endless.

In the days following the retreat, I felt that my heart space had doubled in size. In my daily prayers I asked God to bring things up so I could let go of even more. I would think of old painful experiences and I forgave myself and others easily. Since I had tackled the biggie in my life, all these other wounds were senseless to hold on to. Sometimes tears accompanied my prayers of forgiveness, but overall, each time I practiced forgiveness, it just got easier and easier.

It seemed pointless to hang on to anything that weighed me down – forgiveness was my new happy pill and I dosed myself frequently.

The second miracle is that the SHAME that clouded my whole life, simply evaporated. I had not understood the roots of my shame until now. I had worked on it from so many angles, and now with the choice of forgiveness, it was gone.

An old journal entry describes my feelings:
“I feel like I am drowning in shame. I take more of it in with each breath. It stinks like rotting flesh. Its voice is eerily comforting as it fills my ear with lies. Sometimes I play hide and seek with shame trying to escape its grip. But I end up feeling naked and exposed and put out the SOS – Shame Oh Shame, please return. Wrap yourself around me like a cloak and help me feel safe again.

My head knows that being raped was never my fault, but I cannot release the grip of shame in my being. Ok, God, let’s heal this shit. Enough already. I am 46 and I have proven I can do shame – with gusto, flair, and grit. It is time to make a change.”

I don’t know if I can adequately express how much shame was woven into my being. I always had shameful thoughts about myself running my brain and body ragged. I used so many tools to neutralize this shame, but they only helped me keep my head above the drowning level.

Obviously this shame took root in my being just from the nature of the violence I endured. I think it was easy to allow shame to grow and perpetuate because so much of the world mirrored that I was not enough as a girl, as a woman, as a human.

I do still have moments when I feel vulnerable without that cloak of shame. I feel exposed and yet I realize that I was always the first one to attack myself. Being and sitting with vulnerability is a worth while practice.

There are many layers of vulnerability and just when one gets comfortable, another emerges, inviting us to expose more of our heart.

Freedom from shame and old wounds of unforgiveness would not have happened if the seed of wanting forgiveness to happen had never been planted. Even if it seems impossible for you to experience forgiving someone that harmed you, I encourage you to say, “Someday, I would like to be free from the weight of unforgiveness. Prepare my heart so when the moment arrives I step into the miracle of unfolding.”

The last little miracle to happen from this is that for 3 days after the retreat ended, I heard my grandpa saying “Angie” in quiet moments. Just before bed on the 3rd day, I said, “Ok, grandpa, I am listening.” He appeared in my mind’s eye sobbing and repeating “I’m sorry.” I thanked him for his apology and released him to continue his own journey. While it was completely unexpected to hear from him (he died 25 years ago) it was beautiful to feel his sincerity and hear his apology. I certainly was not anticipating this experience.

So, if his soul found a new level of peace, that was previously beyond imagination, I am a-ok with that.

Won’t you plant some heart seeds today?

In case you missed it, here is Part 1: Forgiving the Unforgivable

My Poem Related to this post: Feisty for $25

Read more about who the heck I am: https://iamangela.org/about/

Forgiving the Unforgivable

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Forgiving the Unforgivable

My grandpa sold me for sex when I was a child. There is a poem here.

It is okay. Really. This story will show you how I am more than okay.

My grandpa also sexually assaulted me many times before he sold me. In navigating my healing, I found a level of compassion for him that was beyond my human capacity. I wrote about that here. But in early 2014 I realized my forgiveness had hit a wall. I saw his act of selling me as:

U n f o r g i v a b l e.

My journal says: “Grandpa, my forgiveness will not extend that far. I am pissed that I have so much damage to navigate from your evil-ness. If you were still alive, I would send you to jail. I want to feel safe and you stole that from me. I hate that I cannot still the voice that says I am less than the other people in the world. I hate that my worth, my value was put into dollars. Will I ever be able to forgive you? My anger is so huge, it feels like the Earth will shake and buildings will crumble if I let it out. I cannot imagine this rage being replaced with forgiveness.”

Even thought it seemed impossible, I wanted forgiveness for what it had to offer ME even though I had no idea of what it would feel like or look like. I did not know how unforgiveness was holding me back because I had carried it with me since I was 5 in an unconscious way. Now, I was willing to let go. But I needed help.

This was the condition of my heart and mind when I went to a Dances of Universal Peace Retreat in May of 2014 with a simple prayer, “Let this retreat serve my highest good.”

The first morning I was up with the sun writing, singing, and praying by the stream. Once the morning dance was about to begin I entered the lodge and a friend of mine greeted me by falling on the floor and kissing my bare feet. This took my words away – I had not ever been greeted like this before. He said, “Isn’t that how we are to greet Goddesses?” I mumbled something, unsure of how to be gracious about such a gesture. He smiled and asked that I take it in. I said I would work on it.

One of the dances was about Mitakoye Oyasin, A Lakota phrase meaning All My Relations. Mitakoye: All beings in all levels of creation. Oyasin: Call you & draw you closer to the deepest love of your soul. Somewhere in the course of the song, God pricked my heart and asked if I could bring my grandfather front and center to sing this song with him.

After a few tearful rounds of the song, I told God I would extend the olive branch and take one small step toward my grandfather. That was all I could manage in that moment. The edges of my heart started to ache. I was completely okay with taking my time navigating forgiveness. I had deep compassion for myself first. After all, this was a biggie.

After that song we had a silent meditation time and I opened my journal to write and God asked, “Could you kiss the feet of your grandfather and call him Beloved?” Then I wrote: “God prepare my heart. I want to run away right now.” And then I did – I ran to the stream and sobbed. Sobs that shook my being on every level, loosening the roots of unforgiveness.

All day my prayer was, “Prepare my heart.” I could not fathom how forgiveness might occur. My grandfather was dead so how would I know I had truly forgiven him? And because he was dead, a small voice said, “Well, you don’t have to really kiss his feet.” Part of me was relieved.

I also was being incredible gentle with myself with messages like:

“I might not find forgiveness until the last breath I take, and that is ok.”

“It might take 20 or 40 years to figure out how to forgive him, and that is ok.”

At the end of the first day I was exhausted.

Day 2: My heart chakra literally ached – it was being opened and stretched and expanded.

My prayer by late morning was, “Oh God, Sustainer of my Soul.” I felt the weight of my anger in my being and it was heavy and frightening. Once again I ran to the stream, dropped to my knees, and this time I threw rocks in water yelling “FUCK YOU!” over and over – covering all the reasons I was angry with him. My anger spilled out into the quick moving stream and she carried it away.

Then I climbed on some huge trees that had been pulled up by the floods of the previous fall. I wrapped my arms and legs around the trunk of one and cried into the tree:

I am sorry for
my little girl inside,
all 5 year old children with out love,
what you did to yourself grandpa,
what you did to humanity,
the beautiful trees that are dead now from the flood,
the space in me that seemed dead for 41 years,
the effort it has taken to resurrect that space, to learn to breathe in that space,
all the physical pain that I feel,
the land torn apart by the flood water,
my little girl that has felt uprooted and lost since that very first time of being sold,
my Self having felt displaced, not valued, unloved, and unlovable.

Then I said “I LOVE YOU” to all these aspects. This emotionally laden process just kept unfolding. Yes, it was painful – and beautiful. I was surrounded by God’s love and Mother Earth, offering infinite support. God was totally leading the way to forgiveness – these sure weren’t my ideas!

Then I had a picture enter my minds eye: a ceremony where my friend stands in as my grandfather and I kiss his feet and I hug him and call him Beloved Grandfather. I immediately gave myself permission for this ceremony to be many months, if not years away from happening. And perhaps, the first time it is done, I call it practice.

By the end of day 2 I asked my friend to stand in as my grandfather. He said he would be honored. I explain that I have no desire to rush this process, it could be the next day or many years away.

Day 3 I woke with a headache from all the emotional processing. The dances that morning were soothing and I continued my prayers, “God, prepare my heart, sustain my soul.” During the silent meditation time I wrote out my Healing Intentions:

1. Heal ME. This is for me and only me. I feel the ache and the weight of unforgiveness and I am tired of dragging it around. Fill up that space where unforgiveness has lived with love and wisdom.
2. Reach across TIME and extend the choice of healing to my grandfather, because it is never just about me and my healing.
3. Let my forgiveness ripple out into the WORLD to further heal all crimes against humanity in this spectrum.
4. Allow me to remember this was a crime against himself and all of humanity as much as it was a crime against me.

At the end of the morning, we were seated in a circle sharing our retreat experiences. There was a silence and God prompted me. I shared that my grandfather had committed crimes against me as a child and God had prepared me to forgive him. I had asked my friend to stand in as my grandfather and I invited anyone to witness this ceremony. My friend started removing his socks as one of the leaders said, “How about now?” My reply was, “I am ready.” My heart really was ready – I was not forcing anything to happen, it was completely ready in all ways. It was miraculous.

I kneeled, kissed his feet, and called him “Beloved Grandfather” in an embrace. I felt infinitely lighter immediately.

I went deep inside and stretched my heart so much it felt like the sun had taken up residence. I am still in awe at the way God supported me in this process. It was not practice. It was, and is, forgiveness – the real thing.

Forgiveness is freedom. I took a chance, I said yes, I want this healed. I trusted the process and stepped into the opportunity that God provided, and I found JOY.

Keep reading: Part 2 What Forgiveness Meant to Me, Literally

Read more about who the heck I am: https://iamangela.org/about/

feisty for $25

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feisty for $25

twenty five dollars changes hands over my head
dirty blue and white striped mattress
iron headboard
hot, heavy air
sweaty, dirty man
hands bound to the headboard
my body twists away
my feet kick fast, furious
i fight
with all that i am, i fight
with a chuckle he says
“just what i ordered. i like me some feisty”
my 5 year old brain scrambles in horror
my fight is desirable, enticing
how can i not fight?
fight or no fight, he wins
he unties me
tells me to run for the road
i fall, twist my ankle on the broken, dry dirt
grandpa is there
he chuckles at my tears, my fear
he carries me to the car

angela clark
04/2015
http://www.iamangela.org

I share this poem today to celebrate my truth, my freedom, and my healing. And to acknowledge that it is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. My birthday is today. I am in the mountains singing and dancing with my whole being. Finding joy on a regular basis for the first time in my life.

I believe there are others from northern, rural Iowa from the early 70’s that had this experience. It is time we do all we can to stop these crimes. Even though it was 42 years ago, I want to do what I can to stop children from being sold for sex in every part of the world. Let’s start in our families and our neighborhoods. It starts by talking about it. Openly and honestly.

Help me celebrate healing and consider giving $25 to http://givebackyoga.org/donate-today  I volunteer with this organization and tremendous healing can happen through yoga.

Thank you for hearing my story and honoring my voice.

Yoga of Self-Care #8 Moving Forward Using Anger

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Yoga of Self-Care #8 Moving Forward Using Anger

I have a ton of fun hosting family and friends out here in beautiful Colorado. We often visit trails and mountains that are new to me too. Recently all the fun I had in a mountain adventure was sucked away in a vacuum of anger just a few minutes into our drive down the mountain. I use all experiences – good and bad – to grow and learn more about myself.

I have known for several years now that I don’t allow to have enough healthy anger to have a voice in my life. Here is the beginning of my anger working for me. I have a new boundary. I feel compelled to publish it – it is good practice for saying it out loud to all the people that plan to visit this summer.

If you are visiting me and you feel it is important to tell me how to live my life better than I am, I will walk you to the door. Our visit will end at that moment, especially if I didn’t ask for your opinion. If you cannot have an insightful, open, intelligent dialogue with me respecting my choices, you are out. I will be direct with every person that plans on coming a long distance to spend time with me. If you happen to live locally, its not such a hardship to get your ass home.

I have navigated questions about my soul’s eternal destiny and many of my lifestyle choices with love and compassion for many years now and I am not going to be so nice and peaceful anymore. Now I am pissed that people I know and love cannot love me for who I am – they insist on trying to change me. That is not love.

My request is quite simple: Leave my choices alone. Give me the same respect you want of me for your lifestyle choices. I love my current life. My spirituality is sacred to me – anyone that attacks what I believe, is attacking me. I won’t stand for it anymore. Choose your words wisely in my company or you will find yourself back home sooner than planned.

For years anger has frozen me. It was a learned behavior to repress my anger. I have feared that letting anger out would be catastrophic to me and those that I love – my anger seemed bigger than me. I am experiencing healthy responses to my healthy anger and it feels great!

I understand the importance of honoring all of who I am – even the Angry Angela. In fact, allowing anger to flow through me in a timely and appropriate way is a natural and beautiful response to have present in my daily life. Bottled up and repressed anger is toxic, like an oil spill, to my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

I don’t want to smell like toxic shit anymore.

Day 7: The Yoga of Self-Care

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Day 7: The Yoga of Self-Care

Self-care for the blogger begins with hitting the draft button regularly or a completely done amazing post goes down the vortex of the web. And sucks my beautiful words and tender heart with it. It is amazing how my energy plummets when this happens. I was done except for my image. A nice person at WordPress even conspired to find my words but to no avail. Why isn’t the new post page defaulted on draft where it is in save mode instead of publish immediately where it does not save text?

I am grateful for the Your Turn Challenge team led by Winnie Kao and Seth Godin. It has been a remarkable week. I can’t wait to spend more time on the blog reading amazing material by other participants.

I can ship. Lots more than I thought I could. And I had FUN doing it. My self-care will be to ship way more frequently and stop hiding who I am and what I think and where I have been and where I am going.

I had a nice long note here about the sun and my daily celebration of her steadfastness. Of how much this comforts me and gives me strength and perseverance in my own life. How by spending time in the natural world, I am more devoted and compelled to be steadfast in my personal self-care. I watched her rise this morning and she took my breath away. I even wrote her a letter. And then I wrote you, the readers of this blog a letter about honoring your self-care rituals that help you grow and heal. We are all different and it takes respecting your self enough to take care of you. No matter what kind of crap another might throw at you. We all clean up our shit storms our own way.

That beautifully written post will have to be drafted tomorrow because my body is yelling at me to go to bed. And tonight I am going to listen. I hiked in the Rocky Mountains today and celebrated the Earth’s magnificent brilliance, played an outdoor xylophone and had my picture taken with a snowman. So all in all, it was an awesome day. My words will come tomorrow as sure as the sun rises.

This is part 7 of a 7 part series on self-care.

Day 6: The Yoga of Self-Care

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Day 6: The Yoga of Self-Care

Why am I writing about self-care? All I had learned and understood was how to live in survival mode which is chaos and mayhem. Very exhausting. Self-care was a vague and foreign concept – something I am still cultivating an understanding within myself. I believe listening to my body is the foundation for learning how best to take care of myself. It has taken me years to develop healthier habits. And I am still very much a work in progress. Consistency is my challenge. I find myself in a state of resistance or flat out self-sabotage regularly.

There are so many reasons why we, as a culture, resist premium self-care habits in the midst of our platinum and luxurious lives. In my opinion, the lives we are working so hard to maintain, are layers of distraction for avoiding ourselves. I am ready for something different.

I choose to give myself permission to take extraordinary and exquisite care of myself. I give you permission to do it too.

Why all this emphasis on yoga? It spoke to me. Attending weekly Trauma Sensitive Yoga classes taught me what consistency meant for my body. Anytime I see a mat, I feel my body hum. It longs to spend more time on the mat in various states of rest and stretching.

TRAUMA YOGA

Contrary. Oxymoron.
Like me.
Two halves that should not fit.
But must reside in the same body.
The wounded half. The healed half.
I wonder, “How is this yoga different?
My curiosity invites me.
My trauma qualifies me.
My trauma body shows up.
Longing to find my yoga body.

No Eastern ambiance.
Just a conference room.
Filled with a sense of safety.
Created just for me.
And the millions of eligible souls.
Small classes, by design.
No challenge for perfecting the pose.
No call for deepening the experience.
My eyelids shutter closed.

It is just me and the teacher’s calm voice.
My body responds with a small rocking motion.
My self-soothing visits each pose.
Resources on Suicide Prevention keep me company during tree pose.
I smirk at the irony.
Memories of my 15-year vigil with Suicide.
And now I am doing yoga with Suicide.

Several weeks go by uneventfully.
Then my whole being hears the word “choice.”
My body shudders in response.
My mind keeps repeating:
Choice, choices, choice, choices, choice, choices
This is my awakening
I can move a little
Or a lot
Or not at all
The past is not here

Today means
No violent authority
No need to resist
No one holding me down
No one demanding, expecting
It is just me

I immerse myself in the experience of safety and choice
Body memories spasm and sputter, ready to escape
Captive no more
A spinal twist wrings out ancient tears

Yoga connects me to my body
Helps me feel whole
Shows me the path of gentleness
I begin to see a wider landscape of the future
To feel more freedom than pain
To resemble healing more than trauma

Only a teacher than understands
Trauma is ready to witness the depth of my pain
Only a teacher that understands
Yoga will appreciate the stretch of my courage
Today
I practice
The Yoga of Courage
I practice
The Yoga of Choice
I practice
Freedom Yoga

Photo, of the author in tree pose, is by http://www.brittripleyphotography.com/

Previously published on http://givebackyoga.org/trauma-sensitive-yoga-for-rape-survivors-reflections-from-a-poet

This is part 6 of a 7 part series on self-care.

Day 5: The Yoga of Self-Care

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Day 5: The Yoga of Self-Care
1. Remember to notice your breath and how it changes with situations, emotions, triggers, people.
2. Add an intention that includes something that feels miraculous to you right now. Miracles happen.
3. Nothing ever gets resolved with out ACTION. Run, walk, dance, jig or two-step your way into movement.
4. Being willing to seek out the root of your shit-storm is HUGE. Give yourself a big hug and eat some ice cream. Call on a friend and professionals.
5. This self-help method can be used anywhere with any problem.
Massage therapists always say: The issues are in the tissues. I agree – our body holds much wisdom and has a memory far more powerful than we probably know. It is incredibly important to honor, honor, honor what the body has to say during any healing process. This is one method I use in my 1 on 1 healing sessions frequently. There are many methods – use what works for you. I do encourage folks to do this on their own and when receiving care from a chiropractor, acupuncturist, yoga class, meditation time, massage therapist, dancing, etc. There are a gazillion ways to heal and this can be used and adapted for just about any modality.
Sit quietly and note where in the body you feel pain, discomfort, soreness, tightness, etc.
Set intention to be able to hear the message(s) your body has for you and make a clear direct statement that you are seeking wisdom from your body and are willing to hear what it has to say. Do your best to empty your mind and create space for the message(s) to come in without judgement. Use your breath to clear and absorb several times throughout the process.
You can hold, tap, or massage the sensitive point you have identified. As you begin to do this, see what situations, people, relationships, thoughts come to mind.  Allow the tears, anger, frustration, jealousy, etc. anything that surfaces, to flow. Each emotion needs to be honored. Once you think you have the emotional root, thank your body for holding space for this to be honored. Reassure the body that you are committed to resolving the issue and ask if your body would like to have you check in again. If yes, ask when. Send a huge dose of love to this part of your body. Then imagine wrapping yourself in a beautiful soft blanket soaked in love. Give your body permission to absorb the healing of love.
Then do some art, writing or whatever process feels good to you to absorb the new information. Process with a friend or professional if needed.
I suggest ending with a positive mantra/statement (or several) to tap into whatever part of the body feels natural to be tapped on (or massaged or held) and do that until you feel peace in all ways. Mantra suggestions: I am grateful for my innate wisdom. I love my body and our memories. I am grateful for being open to discover a layer of myself that deserves healing. I am committed to healing this wound completely. I honor this wound as a part of who I am and I know that I am whole, even with wounds waiting to be healed. My body is a gift. This knowledge is a gift. I am a gift.
Yoga helps me appreciate my body. And it helps my body release old wounds that I do not want to carry around anymore. Regular yoga practice, in a class or by yourself, is a gift to yourself. Stretch gently into healing. Give yourself loving-kindness and freedom from the past. These women inspire me. I am grateful they gift themselves yoga. http://www.rebelcircus.com/blog/curvy-girls-nailed-yoga-poses/
This is part 5 of a 7 part series on self-care.