In Our Culture
Our society is rife with anxiety, stress, and trauma.
Studies have shown that PTSD and 'shock' in this generation of military will overshadow anything known to previous generations, costing billions. Veterans returning from service are finding a depressed economy, a dirth of future and career opportunities, and a shortage of services that answer their physical and psychological needs.
Similarily, first responders are on the front lines of crisis situations day in and day out. On going exposure to truamatic situation takes it's toll. Stress is habituated. Trauma and shock are rote. The private costs are invisible.
Research is showing that domestic violence and sexual assault survivors are just as likely to suffer trauma symptoms, with an even fewer sources of support and intervention. Women are more likely to die at the hands of a partner than of cancer. One out of three are sexually assaulted. One out of four will suffer clinical depression at some point in her life.
One out of every three children are abused.
Research is also showing that race is a strong indicator of stress. Black and immigrant communities are both under protected and over policed. They have fewer quality of life resources, a higher exposure to environmental distress, impoverished education, and exposure to violence, crime, and the mass incarceration system. Poverty and lifestyle related illness are more common and more impactful - since there are fewer social and privileged resources - in communities of color. Walking through the world as a black person is a more dangerous and stressful experience than walking through the world as a white person.
These populations suffer in their own lives, and the effects of trauma are passed onto the next generation. These demographics are over-represented in the unemployed, the homeless, the incarcerated, those seeking emergency services, addiction services, and medical assistance. Their children struggle in education, health, and social connections. These kids are more likely to be involved in crime, high risk behaviors, and have inadequate medical and educational support.
Trauma has proven to be one of the most difficult issues to 'treat'. However, current research has shown that the skills of mindfulness, meditation, and yoga promote autonomy, well being, and genuine healing in away medicine and traditional 'talk therapy' can't. 8 weeks of a yoga practice has proven to calm the sympathetic nervous system and increase activity in the areas of the brain associated with the parasympathetic nervous system, sense of safety and autonomy, and cognitive functioning. Further, yoga can be taught at very little cost, with no negative side effects, and is accessible to any level of ability/mobility.
The effects of trauma (or stress, for those who have been labeled too much already) are pernicious, at times devastating, at other times manifesting as a numbing sense of being 'damaged' or 'broken'. Many who have lived through trauma (from a car accident to the death of a loved one, a sexual assault to active duty) often describe it as a chronic state of hopelessness.
Yoga is a rediscovery of hope, and the lived experience of grace.
There is a profound difference between trying to 'get over it', and feeling oneself okay from the soles of the feet to the deepest parts of the brain.
Yoga allows us to experience ourselves not as 'wounded' or getting over it, but as powerfully alive and worthy human beings.