There I was, standing on my yoga mat in a Warrior 2 position, Fear is a Liar was playing in the background, and then the instructor invited us to look back over our shoulder gazing at our fingertips. She then said, “bring to mind those times in your past that hurt. See that they are behind you. Now turn your gaze to our outstretched arm in front of you. What does it feel like to know your future is still before you? Now bring your attention to your core, your place here at the center. Be present in the moment. Appreciate the feeling of this strong pose of Warrior 2. Allow God to heal and strengthen you in this place.” In that moment I found myself sobbing on my yoga mat. My experience occurred during my YogaFaith Instructor training. We were being guided through a “trauma sensitive” class. It never occurred to me that my body was carrying around the marks of trauma until that emotional release on my yoga mat.
My Warrior 2 sob session came to mind as I read The Body Keeps The Score: Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma by Bessel Van Der Kolk. Kolk is a world leading psychiatrist and researcher who has focused most of his study on trauma, the ways in which trauma leaves imprints within the body, and developing methods “that utilize the brain’s own natural neuroplasticity to help survivors feel fully present and move on with their lives.” Kolk applies his trauma theorist expertise of over 30 years to help the average person understand the dynamics of trauma; trauma has a layered impact that is mental, emotional, and neurological, but also physiological. The Body Keeps the Score is broken into 5 major sections including: The Rediscovery of Trauma, This Is Your Brain on Trauma, The minds of Children, The Imprint of Trauma, and Paths to Recovery.
I am very fascinated with the subject of trauma and the ways it is embodied in people and communities. Reading through the first section of The Body Keeps the Score I began wondering about the ways trauma seems to be impacting the body of Christ. Kolk talks about his Rorschach research with veterans and discovered that trauma affects the mental flexibility “which is the hallmark of imagination.” Kolk goes on to say that “Imagination gives us the opportunity to envision new possibilities.” There seems to be a clear connection to Friedmans claim that an anxious system is reveal through “imaginative gridlock.” This begs the question how much is the toxic system in a church due to trauma that goes unaddressed? Kolk ends chapter one saying that for there to be healing the body needs to experience and know safety and called to live in the present. So what are the Biblical stories that connect us to this concept of healing leads to shalom? For me it is marked by Jesus’s engagement in the communities through the healing stories. Jesus seems to communicate that healing is not just about a cure but perhaps more importantly about restoration of relationships within the community, and therefore restoration of the community itself.
It is the restoration of individuals that motivates the skills/teaching certifications I have pursued. Both Yoga (as Kolk mentions in chapter 16) and scuba are avenues that have proven to be therapeutic for healing for those with PTSD. Curating spaces and experiences for people to have a rewiring of their brains is important gospel work. And if the anxious stuckness of our churches is connected to trauma it seems paramount for church leaders to pay attention to the ways we can offer the shalom God has provided. When we invite restoration of the individual, we affect restoration for the community.
Imagine yourself standing on your yoga mat in Warrior 2…you are invited to look back over your shoulder gazing at your fingertips. Now bring to mind those times in your past that hurt. See that they are behind you. Now turn your gaze to our outstretched arm in front of you. What does it feel like to know your future is still before you? Now bring your attention to your core, your place here at the center. Be present in the moment. Appreciate the feeling of this strong pose of Warrior 2. Allow God to heal and strengthen you in this place
 M.D, Bessel van der Kolk. 2015. The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. Reprint edition. New York, NY: Penguin Publishing Group. Page 3.
 Ibid. Page 19.
 Friedman, Edwin H., and Peter Steinke. 2017. A Failure of Nerve, Revised Edition: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix. 10th Anniversary edition. New York: Church Publishing.
 M.D, Bessel van der Kolk. 2015. The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. Reprint edition. New York, NY: Penguin Publishing Group. Page 25.