+HEALING CHANGES: WE ARE OUR OWN CHARIOTEER

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I have been thinking back over the 4+ years I have been posting on this blog to see if I can remember ever having recommended any specific book not about what happened (especially) to change the earliest physiological development of severe infant-child abuse and trauma survivors but rather about HOW TO HEAL from what happened to us.  I can’t think of one book, or even of one train of thought or practice that has yet struck me as holding forth the kind of practical hope for healing that I would demand of any particular healing or “therapy” technique.

Not a one.  Not one approach has captivated, intrigued, impressed or ever struck me as being of such vast and truthful importance that I would ever say to myself, “Gee Whiz!  This is a SURE BET for MY healing!”  Certainly if I could not find that book for myself I would not ever recommend or even suggest it to my readers. 

I have two books in my possession that lie near to me at hand right now that I believe FINALLY hold hope for my own progress in healing.  I find that fascinating!  I consider that both of these books, as I mentioned them in my recent post, contain accurate information that lies at the foundational level of what I need for my own healing.  I will turn 62 at the end of this coming August.  It has taken me a long time, I guess, to be ready for these books and therefore to be ready to recommend them to this blog’s readers.

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I am only at the starting line regarding what these books have to teach me.  Both of them deal with the BODY.  The first one – the revised and updated 2010 edition of a book written by Shelley Redford Young and Robert O. Young, The pH Miracle: Balance Your Diet, Reclaim Your Health is the most worthwhile book I have ever read – and read – and read again.  I feel as though I have entered a university course on my own body, and I have a long way to go before I can say I truly understand what this book is truly telling me.

That means I still have a long way to go before I understand how my body operates!  I know as a trauma-changed person that it is most important for me (and for others like me) to understand how the “stress” of the massive amounts of trauma I have experienced are affecting me today.  How I digest the food and liquids I put into my mouth matters no more or less than how I digest my own personal experiences with trauma in all the ways it has made my life hard to live – and harder to love.

I survived advanced aggressive breast cancer (I actually had two of them) through “western” medical means 5 ½ years ago.  I am 100% convinced that if I had known the information in this book and had been able to put it into practice years ago, I would not have gotten the cancer in the first place.  Certainly if I had known and applied this information once my cancer was diagnosed I am certain my body could have healed that cancer all on its own.

I of course can make this statement regarding nobody but myself – but I now fully intend to heal through this information other problems I can no longer outrun, which include osteoporosis that is already destroying my bones, chronic diarrhea (I had to consume 8-10 antiD pills per day of my travels), and my fear that my cancer will return.  Through this process of learning and applying what I am learning I have true hope that trauma-related PTSD, chronic depression, nasty anxiety that plagues me and even my dissociation can begin to heal.  I have never had this hope before, but neither have I ever had the information this book is giving me.

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The other book is in an area I have never considered for myself before now.  I am a serious and very long-term cigarette smoker.  I already have onset of COPD – and I CANNOT FIND THE WAY TO QUIT!!  I did quit once 27 years ago for 3 months.  Something very stressful happened, I had one puff – and that was THAT!

The Yoga of Breath: A Step-by-Step Guide to Pranayama

Richard Rosen

ME?  YOGA?

I have only made it to the third page of the first chapter so far.  This book will take some time!  But – I have hope!  Many times I find myself holding my breath.  Seriously holding my breath, as if in the midst of a terror that makes terror pale.  I feel very small.  Well, we all know how that terror feels when we are very small and our attacker is deadly mean and at us….

BUT…..

I often search for word origins to deepen my comprehension of the meaning of words in English.  I have for many, many years felt a special delight when I find an English word whose origin or word family connects back to Sanskrit.  I have never even known why I feel that way!  It’s a sense of rightness.  A sense of having found my way home.

At the risk of making this a long worded post, I am going to share some of the author’s words in the first three pages of the first chapter (pages 13-15).  They speak to me.  Perhaps they will speak to you, especially if you have been confined for your whole life as I have been under the influence of a body changed by trauma.

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Yoga

The classical or literary language of India is Sanskrit.  The word itself means “well or completely formed, perfected.”  Sanskrit is indeed a beautiful and highly evocative language.  Many of its words remind me of a Russian doll, which opens up to reveal a smaller doll inside, and which in its turn opens to reveal an even smaller doll, and so on and on until the littlest doll is exposed.  Even though I don’t know the language well, I can find my way around a Sanskrit-English dictionary [I want one of these!].  I like to look up words in the yoga lexicon and pull them apart to see what’s inside.  This often gives me new insights into my practice.  We’ll be unraveling Sanskrit words as we go through this guide.  Your practice will be enriched by the hidden meanings in this perfect language.

[What a concept!  A perfect language!  Perfection is healing, I think.  The idea of it inspires me.  Being in the presence of perfection is healing.  But this is a paradox.  It is not that literal perfection is possible here on earth – but there is the best of the best of the best….  All of life is going in that direction.  One way or the other.]

Let’s start with a word that may already be familiar to you – the Sanskrit verb yuj, which means to “yoke” or “harness.”  It’s a relic of an age, many thousands of years ago, when Indian warriors rode into battle in chariots.  These wagons typically carried an archer and his driver or charioteer and were drawn by two horses, which had the reputation of being rather ferocious.  “At his deep neigh,” sings one old hymn about the cry of a warhorse, “like the thunder of heaven / the foemen tremble in fear.”  It was the charioteer’s task to hitch these barely tamed beasts to the chariot, no small feat in the days before the invention of the yoke.  He needed both extraordinary braver and skill, and as a consequence, his position was highly esteemed.

“In the everyday language, yuj assumed the sense of “unite, connect, add, bring together,” as well as – since the occupation of yoking or harnessing implied that the charioteer had learned a particular technique that got the chariot up and running – “made ready, prepare, set to work, employ, apply.”  Two notions, then, of a desired end and its means are conveyed by the verb yuj and its several derivatives, including the masculine noun yoga.

The practice of yoga is very old.  There were surely contemporaries of our charioteer who were engaged in some form of yoga, though it probably didn’t exactly resemble what we call yoga today.  In general, yoga has four goals:

1.  Regeneration or health, and the end of suffering

2.  Skillful action

3.  Integration or self-knowledge

4.  Liberation

[All sounding good to me and related/connected to what all of us trauma survivors are doing all of the time just by remaining alive!]

“In much of the sacred literature of India, liberation (moksha) is explained as the yoking or joining of the embodied soul (jiva-atman) to the Great Self (parama-atman).  Both yoke and join, by the way, are cognate with yuj and yoga.  This is a pointed allusion to the charioteer, his horses, and the chariot.  One of the most famous parables in the Upanishads [a collection of philosophical texts which form the theoretical basis for the Hindu religion.] recalls and plays upon this root meaning:

Know thou the soul (atman, self) as riding in a chariot,

The body as the chariot.

Know thou the intellect (buddhi) as the chariot-driver,

And the mind (manas) as the reins.

>>  The senses (indriya), they say, are the horses;

The objects of sense, what they range over….

>>  He who has not understanding,

Whose mind is not constantly held firm –

His senses are uncontrolled,

Like the vicious horses of a chariot-driver.

>>  He, however, who has the understanding of a chariot-driver,

A man who reins in his mind –

He reaches the end of his journey,

The highest place of Vishnu.

…However the supreme attainment is imagined, whether as a blissful merging with the Great Self or the quelling of the vicious horses of consciousness and nature, yogis emphasize both practice and study….

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NOTE:  My mother’s severe psychotic Borderline Personality Disorder mental illness took away from her the ability to DO what this poem is suggesting — she was forced to live this poem’s opposite….  A disaster.

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This idea struck me, the thought of our body being a chariot in need of an expert driver.  A trauma-changed body changes the entirety of a survivor’s life!  What do we have the power to change about the way our body IS in this lifetime – with us being taken along for the ride?

What choices can we make to change – I mean REALLY change – our BODY?  I choose to smoke – for whatever reason.  I choose what I eat and drink.  I choose a lot of things that, according to both of these books, have great influence on HOW I am WHO I am in this lifetime.

None of this is EASY!  Heavens!  No!  But I know for a fact, for example, that even READING this book — The pH Miracle: Balance Your Diet, Reclaim Your Health WILL change a person’s life for the better! 

(I also make a note here briefly that infant abuse survivors have been deprived from ever having built true HEALTH into their body in the first place.  This is true in some way for every early abuse and trauma survivor but ESPECIALLY true for infant abuse, neglect and trauma survivors.  That means for us, when WE heal, we are giving something to ourselves that we have never had before.  This is different for us from “reclaiming” a total health that we were prevented from having from the start of our life.)

Miracle is exactly the correct word – but this is much bigger than the title of this book implies.  The MIRACLE is exactly THE BODY that we live with – no matter how tormented it has been, how trauma-altered its development was – this book explains HOW our body works in relation to what we eat and drink – think and feel – and DO with our life, one moment in time following another one.

This IS something we can do!  I have no doubt about it.  Our life is not a competition with anyone else.  We are our own charioteer.

And this charioteer needs to eat RIGHT and learn how to BREATH so that I can LIVE!  Not subsist, but LIVE!

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