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Healing Trauma Patterns

It has been 5 months since my hernia surgery.  Recovery has been slow, many times painful, yet powerful.  There were years of trauma associated with this one injury.  I intuitively knew that, within this pattern of injuries, there is something deeper.  I wonder if others who have had hernias and the surgery to repair them have gone on similar journeys.   I understand why most of us would not write publicly about this.  This is an extremely vulnerable area of the body and a vulnerable topic.  The key word: vulnerable.  In order to share about my own healing, this is what I must be able to be.  Vulnerable.

Trauma has a pattern.  From what I have read, it begins in childhood.  As children, we have all experienced something that we couldn’t handle or process.  We then cope by doing things like withdrawing and manifesting physical symptoms, like stomachaches or body aches.  Later on in life we try, unconsciously, to recreate the traumatic event(s) so that we can change them somehow.  This oftentimes manifests in our adult life in our relationships and in our physical body.   This is something to be aware of and to explore when contemplating healing.

So I am exploring this idea.  I think about the recent traumas in my life: a biking accident when a school bus knocked me off my bike (resulting in a head and neck injury); a sociopath inserting herself into my life and trying to destroy it; my son’s addictions, depression, then suicide;  and finally a surgery to repair a hernia that I had before all of these events occurred.  All of these events – each one in itself – could be considered a significant trauma.  Each event has put me into an intensive healing and recovery mode.  Just now, 5 months post-surgery, I am beginning to realize the full impact of this long pattern of traumatic events.

I am healing, slowly recovering.  Given the extent of these traumas, especially the death of my son, I am clear about one thing:  all I can do is practice healing myself.  I have no expectations that I will someday be just fine – in recovery that is one of the declarations people make that I think should be translated into all of life – not just addiction recovery.  In addiction recovery, they say that one should not expect to recover from addiction, but to simply practice each day being sober.  I say this is a sensible attitude for healing.  I may never fully recover.  It’s unrealistic to think that, given what has happened.

Right now I have been walking, practicing yoga, meditating, clearing out my attic, working, going to a sports massage therapist and rebuilding strength in atrophied muscles.  I am releasing tight muscles that have been trying their hardest to support what could not be supported: internal wounds in my physical and emotional body.  I am changing some daily routines.  This shakes up patterns by creating new experiences.

Making changes is a gradual process.  I’m making sure I have a solid foundation to fall back on, with time to rest.  I take a couple new steps, then retreat into my safe place.  This is essential for healing from trauma – having a safe place to heal.  My safe place is my home.

I have been spending a lot of time at home.  Since December (surgery), I do what I can each day to make my home an environment for healing.  It’s becoming clear, clean and organized.  I donate things I don’t need or use or give them to friends who can use them.  It’s clean enough that company can drop by (with maybe a half hour notice) if I am here.  (That’s a big change for me.)

This idea of trauma as a life pattern occurred to me while I was walking in the woods.  The path through the woods that I like to walk is a powerful healing place for me.  The sights and sounds of nature bring about a peace inside of me that allows deep self-reflection.  While walking, I suddenly became aware of this pattern of injuries in my body as a manifestation of the pattern of repeated traumas in this span of 6 years.  What has really been taking place? (I ask myself).

Now that I realize these things, what do I do now to heal and invent a new pattern of wholeness?  How do I create a more sustainable life?

In searching within myself, I know that this process of writing and sharing will help to clarify and redirect my path in life.  In researching material, I came across many articles about vulnerability, trauma repetition and the symptoms related to trauma.  I was (an am) accurate in my assessment of how to recover and grow beyond a life of trauma.  The first step is to acknowledge it, then share it with writing for myself and others.  Another step is to do what I have been doing all along — to seek out the support and help I need to heal my body and my emotions.

From many years of practicing yoga and meditation, I have the tools of self-awareness and discipline to continue, each day, taking steps to heal.  My practice, sharing my practice, eating healthy each day, making sure I drink enough water, get enough rest, take the hot baths, get the massages and spend time outdoors!  These are all regular practices I incorporate into life.  I truly believe that this is why I am not on psychiatric medications, or suffering from chronic pain.  I don’t take pain meds.  For a short time after my head injury I took ibuprofen once or twice a week.  For a short time before and after hernia surgery I have taken it.  Now I limit myself to, at most, once a week of taking ibuprofen.

The yoga practice has made me aware of pain and the effects (on pain) of every physical action and pattern of thinking.  This awareness keeps me on a path of healing, rather than being stuck.  And now, 5 months post-surgery, I see the possibility of life with little or no trauma.  I could not have predicted or prevented the things that have happened, but I can make myself strong and set up so that I have a powerful support system around me.  I can plan my life to minimize being a victim.  I can be whole.


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Consequences and Forgiveness 

I was asked why I have forgiven one person but not another. I thought about the question. For a minute. 

The person asking me this I don’t speak to or any of the people connected to him or his sociopathic partner. The thing is, he’s wrong.  I’m in the place of forgive and almost forgotten. It has taken me a couple of years, but forgiveness is for me, not the person/s who did the hurting. 

When you hold anger in your heart towards another, it does nothing but continue to poison you. I love myself too much to poison myself. I’m a grandma now and besides my grandchildren, I receive so much love from my closest family and friends that I don’t need to spend time and energy dwelling on past hurts. 

I’m not saying it doesn’t happen. It does, I feel triggered now and then and get upset, but it doesn’t last or stay for even a day. That’s good. 

How I got there?  Just keep focusing on my love. What you focus on grows. You know that. 

When you forgive someone you also must decide if you will allow them into your life.  I simply ask myself if this person is likely to cause

Me harm in the future. The answer was clear. When there’s a sociopath in your life, to get them out of your life you simply cut all ties. No responses, no answers, no reactions to their attempts to rehook you. This is hard when every few months I get an email or before I blocked the phone number, a call with voicemail  or text. I breathe through the temptation to react or respond then let it go and focus on what I love. 

This post is a response to an attempt for contact and though I did not respond, just deleted the email, I am writing a response for all of you who might read this because 1 in 4 people have had a run in with a sociopath (perhaps more). If you have, you know how hard it is to get their hooks out of you. 

It is worth the effort. You will come out much stronger and much more powerful in your life. Promise. 

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Three Weeks Post Surgery

I walked today.  It’s been 3 weeks since surgery. I am healing – slowly. Exactly how it’s supposed to go. Wow! A whole new level of appreciation for a healthy attitude, diet, lifestyle – in the face of this past year of pain and now recovery – this is hard work!

I walked 1.8 miles so far today. That’s all. Yet, this is about a mile and a half further than I could walk by the end of this past summer.

Inguinal hernia, sciatica, chronic pain – if you have suffered from this or live with someone who does – hang in there.  Keep searching for answers. This is not something you have to live with forever. Believe that. 

Belief is what keeps me focusing on healing.  It leads you to the answers you need and are searching for.




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Hernias – Sports injuries 

As a yoga teacher starting my career several years ago, I did what many instructors do: took on as many classes as I could physically manage. 

I regularly taught 14-16 classes a week (some teachers do many more than that) and within a year I started noticing a small bulge in my right groin area. 

Not knowing what it was, not having insurance at the time, I started figuring out what caused it to bulge – since it wasn’t always bulging.

Over the years with this injury I learned more than most people will ever learn about inguinal hernias. 

I only learned what I needed to. Not you. There are plenty of websites with vast amounts of info about this topic. One thing that is lacking however, is information about yoga, hernia, scoliosis and women. You can consider this a complicated multilayered injury. 

First, I have scoliosis. 

Second, I teach yoga and like many teachers, didn’t learn yet how to do my practice – vs. a yoga exercise and pose class. My practice must take into account the scoliosis, my joint type, strengths and weaknesses.   My own practice is separate from teaching, yet when I teach and demonstrate, this too must be done with great attention. 

Third, I learned how to make my colon very very healthy. How?: By observing the bulge where the hernia was located. I observed also what activities made it bulge, what food, and what time of day it bothered me most.  As a result of these observations I changed my diet drastically – and it’s much healthier for my own body’s needs – and I feel much stronger now. I also adapted my daily schedule and activities to managing pain. Working primarily in the mornings and teaching fewer classes. I lie down on and off from mid-afternoon to evening, getting up to move around frequently, thus maintaining good muscle tone. 

Last year we made the plan (my husband and I) to get the surgery to repair it in December of this year. I am writing this the same day as my surgery – seven hours later!

I searched for a no mesh surgery option as I have read of painful effects others have experienced with mesh in their bodies. I found a Dr. Desarda, from India, who developed a no-mesh hernia repair method with astounding results and then found one surgeon in the US who trained under this doctor. 

Perfectly timed, we scheduled the surgery for December 4 and left Minnesota, before the first snow fell, for Florida. 

The surgery price included initial exam, surgery, post op exam and any cost associated between initial and post op exams (except pain relief after surgery). 

I also used herbal antibiotics rather than prescription post operation. Studies on herbal antibiotics are hard to find but the antibiotic resistant bacteria is not resistant to the herbal ones. At least it wasn’t a few years ago when I read this. 

All went well. Read more as I post more. It’s hard to find an account like this anywhere on the Internet.  I’m posting in case it can help someone.  Feel free to ask me a question too. 

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Hernia Yoga

Hernia Yesterday I had surgery to repair an indirect inguinal hernia that I have had for more than 8 years. 

Why did I wait so long? The first year I didn’t notice much. When it started popping out – occasionally – it was easily put back in place. (I just pushed it in). I finally realized after 3 years of this that I had a hernia. I then began reading all I could about them. 

I tried to figure out how I could have gotten it and what yoga poses to avoid. I realized, after years of observing this, that 3 things aggravated the hernia. They were: 

1. Certain yoga poses – because of my scoliosis – strained the lower right groin/abdomen area. 

2. Certain foods caused a bulging of the hernia.

3. Activities and time of day that made it worse.
To explain further: 

1. Scoliosis: for my particular body- I have a thoracic s-curve and compensating lumbar curve. This has caused weakness in my lower right abdominal muscles and certain yoga postures could have torn the inguinal area’s abdominal muscles – thus allowing fatty tissue insulating my colon to protrude through the tear at times when my colon is inflamed or when I’ve done too much /or the wrong activity (for my particular structure).

I’m only speaking for my particular body structure. I have a slightly twisted and crooked pelvis and slight lumbar curve. (Which is the secondary curve of my scoliosis). Upward bow pose, upward facing dog and deep twisting poses (to the right) over-stretch this weak area. I’ve done these poses a lot in the past 10 years or so.   With modifying my practice, chiropractic care and now an osteopath, I’m getting myself aligned better to prevent future injury. 

2. Diet – as my colon would push through only some of the time, I began to notice when this happened. Usually it was when I was slightly constipated. Then I began experimenting with the foods I ate to find out which foods I should eat and which ones to avoid.  

The first food I had to eliminate from my diet was wheat and in particular pizza. I loved the taste of pizza like anyone, but it backed me up for usually 5 days. When this caused more pain than the pleasure of eating pizza, it was easy to stop eating it.

The two ingredients that caused it were wheat and cheese. Even gluten free pizza crust I found has something that is irritating to the colon: guar gum. 

I also had to cut back on popcorn and all other grains. 

I now eat a big salad everyday – a full heaping plateful of lettuce and other raw veggies. Best eaten at night, this salad provides the fiber needed to have regular elimination each morning. 

Also the first thing I do on waking is drink 2-3 full glasses of water. 

So one side effect of having this hernia has been now a healthy colon and eliminating system because of new good habits. 

3. Time of day. 

By the end of the day we are usually tired. Also after many hours of being upright, gravity has been working on us. For the past two months I have been lying down a few minutes every hour or two in the afternoon and evening. Not sitting….either laying down flat or moving about doing work or getting some exercise like walking. This small change helped me to manage pain to the point where I rarely had to take anything for the sciatica I suffered from (due to hernia pressing on sciatic nerve) for 9 months. 

Resting is necessary to live a balanced and healthy life. I learned that from having sciatica pain for 9 months. Now it is a lifetime habit even after I recover from the hernia repair surgery. 

I hope you will incorporate these habits into your life without having pain to force you into it. We rarely learn from others mistakes or trials, but by sharing this I hope that someone who reads this will start practicing healthy bowel habits and balance rest and work in a healthier way. 

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Practice Non-Retaliation

I am so sad about the current events in the world where people – families – are fleeing their homes, for their lives.  To add to their trauma, their enemies are trying to undermine the places they are fleeing to. Places like Paris, France, where good people take in refugees, then terrorists pretend they are refugees and blow stuff up – shoot and kill people. 

How insane is this?!  What can I do? 

Plenty.  I remind myself that I can do plenty. I can overcome this weakness in my own thoughts and actions. I can practice non-retaliation. 

France bombed targets in Syria to retaliate – and to protect their own people. I never know what to believe in the news “out there”.  There is one thing that is clear:  innocent people – even small children – are being harmed or killed.  They are doing nothing but living or trying to live.

There are two very powerful things I can do to counter this terrorism. (Terrorism is not just those guys in masks shooting people- it’s our reactions to that too- watching the news, getting angry, spreading that fear to those we interact with…)

1.  I can practice focusing on love, not fear. 

2. Watch my own urges to retaliate and choose love and forgiveness instead. 

For example:

This morning I was driving in pounding rain on the highway before sunrise. I couldn’t see very well, so I was driving more slowly and giving the car in front of me lots of extra room – while the car behind me tailed me closely. When the bumper buddy passed me, then merged in front of me at an unsafe distance, (for the driving conditions) I had this strong urge to flash my lights at him or her.  Then I remembered: the practice. 

Don’t get angry, get peaceful. 

Later I almost forgot about writing about this, but then I had several more opportunities to practice. You see, when it’s raining, many people drive more cautiously so those who are not considerate and safe drivers stand out even more. 

To the person who ran the merge light: I forgive you. To the truck driver who squeezed in at the last second- to pass me up while merging onto the road. I forgive you.  To the driver of the big paper shredding truck who honked at the pedestrian crossing the road in the pouring rain:  I forgive you. 

I would have been angry and I felt it rising up.  But I thought of my practice and breathed deep, exhaled and reminded myself of the children who have had to flee their homes, the people who were shot in the night club. So bad drivers are a small problem to practice with in comparison. 

When we take on this practice, we are strengthening our self control – we are allowing our true Self to guide our mind, emotions, actions. This is real power. 

May all beings be happy and free. And drive safely you all! 

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Getting Along

Getting along

My perspective

Your perspective

No right

No wrong


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Time, the Illusion

It has been six months since I have last posted on this site.  I remember the day I wrote the scoliosis post.  Has it really been six months???

I have been somewhere else in my mind lately.  Trying to be out of my mind really.  I listen to books and read them – very entertaining books that have nothing to do with yoga or self care.  These books take me to another universe and now I realize that I have leapt across time somehow.

I have escaped, yes, but, I have also taken good care of myself still.  This yoga and self-care thing is a habit.  My body is healing, my heart is at least not so raw, and my energy is returning.

I have people to live for.  My grandchildren, my family, they all love me and it is love that truly heals and keeps us here and together.  Something in me has changed.  I am changed – surviving the loss of my son – that has changed me.  Now I live with gratitude and allow myself to take care of me more than I ever have.  Because there are young ones who depend on me and I see that taking care of myself is the best thing I can do for them too.

This one little change has made a difference for me and one that, if you will try it, I think it will also make a difference for you:  Just live in the moment.  If you need time alone, be alone.  If you need to soak in the tub, do that.  I still work, I still take care of my home.  I am not escaping my responsibilities by soaking or being alone, I am taking better care of my responsibilities – because the better I feel, the more I can do.

The illusion?  It is the idea that if you spend time taking care of you, there will be less time for other things.  Not true.  There will be more.

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Scoliosis and Yoga

Scoliosis, a curvature of the spine, can be helped with yoga.  I was 21 when I found out that I had scoliosis.  Today, there are screenings in the schools for it. However, I think that everyone should go see a chiropractor for a more accurate screening (many abnormal curvatures are missed until it’s too late).

My diagnosis was a bit late for me, but also helped to form who I am today.  When I was called into the doctor’s office to look at an xray, I didn’t understand when he said “look at this”.  What?

Then he used the pencil and showed me the “S” shaped curve in my thoracic spine.  Oh! Is this bad? I said.  No, not if you take care of yourself by staying in good physical condition.

Interesting…I recall being about 7 years old when I made the decision to stay in shape for my entire life, so I wasn’t learning anything there.  I was a bit worried and back then, there wasn’t google or yoga studios everywhere.  So I exercised about the same as I had always been doing.

This wasn’t enough, however.  My diet was poor, I was rather wild at age 21.  It wasn’t until several years later, when I picked up the Richard Hittleman book about yoga, that I began to explore yoga on my own.

The years have flown by and the progression has been slow, I now manage my scoliosis with a combination of yoga, walking, chiropractic care, massage and a good diet.  Sometimes the curvature seems worse and at other times, it is better.  In the meantime, it is my teacher, this “S” curve in my thoracic spine.

Just last weekend, I was practicing ashtanga yoga and had a thought. (Finally, connecting some dots).  I always wondered why I am constantly fluctuating in my mind with questions “should I”? “shouldn’t I”?  I also experience moments of extreme strength and confidence, then the next second, moments of exhaustion, weakness and wanting to lie down and quit.

I realized during my yoga practice that day that these messages are flowing on a curvy pathway (spinal cord) and there is some ‘interference’ This realization somehow empowered me to see things more clearly.  I realize the truth of who I am – unlimited in everyway – and anything else…well… it is just not true.  So… if I am experiencing limitation, doubt, unhappiness, it is simply not the truth and I can ignore that.

My “test” for truth/not truth is simple.  Does this idea fit within the true nature of my soul?  Joy? Beauty?  Love?  If not, ignore it.  If so, smile and carry on.  I am grateful to my teacher, scoliosis.

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Yoga Keeps Me Sane

I posted this on Facebook one day – although I said that Ashtanga yoga keeps me sane…

The fact is, that this is one time of day, when I do my yoga practice, that everything else is forgotten. There is only me moving by body with the rhythm of my breathing.  Some days it is difficult and some days easy.  No matter the level of practice or difficulty, I am grateful that I have stepped onto the mat each and every time.

Many of you reading this may say – I’ll start tomorrow – or someday I really have to get back to yoga.  I read a quote about someday:  “Someday is not a day of the week on our calendar”.  

Practice now.  Now is the only real time.


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