My passion for treating victims of trauma began with my own experience.
In our community, we use the word empath as a marker of kindness, intuitiveness, sensitivity -it implies being spiritually attuned.

I didn’t know until recently that origins of empathic tendencies are rooted in childhood abuse and neglect.

I had little knowledge of the link between empaths or co-dependents and Cluster B Personality Disorders.

While I knew a lot about PTSD, I didn’t know about a much more difficult to treat form of PTSD called, CPTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

CPTSD, is defined as repeated trauma experienced in a situation in which the individual cannot escape and is dependent on the abuser and often includes -a double bind or catch 22 scenario.

I didn’t know that empaths, are often the escapees of abusive families, and without treatment and knowledge -are the most vulnerable for re-enacting familiar abuse cycles with teachers, students, friends, and romantic partners who have Cluster B Personality Disorders.

But now that I know – I see the dynamic playing out everywhere.

The good news is Yoga and meditation have been proven to help people recover from PTSD and CPTSD.

It happens by a process of reclaimation. Feeling the feels, and telling the truth about the abuse. Then aligning the world view closer to reality and facing the truth by telling the story and re-experiencing it as it actually was. This requires abandoning coping mechanisms that once served the individual; such as, magical thinking and neurotic naivety. Then the individual can learn to keep themselves safe.

In order to begin to do this the brain needs to heal. Simple cues like; grounding into the feet, and using deep diaphragmatic breathing stimulates the somatic sensory cortex and helps to enlarge the hippocampus. While meditation improves the neurological pathways between the limbic and the prefrontal cortex, which increases memory and helps to restore vital function and reduces the intensity of emotional flashbacks.

In my up coming 300 hr Yoga training, we will discuss in great detail how to use Yoga as a tool for recovery. How to use trauma sensitive language and concepts, to help our students heal and to help ourselves become more real and identify unhealthy systems.

We will explore why and how we get stuck and how to inspire others.
We will learn about self-love and self-care which is often linked to diet or beauty regimens, these surface concerns barely scratch the surface of what keeps us repeating patterns that are less than ideal.

Self-care isn’t a discipline but rather an outpouring of intrinsic, unwavering self-worth.

First the work and then the payouts naturally unfold.

I left home at a young age. In fact my cousin recently reminded me that I began running away from home at a very young age. As a child I would fill a red bandana with my most precious items and fasten it to a stick over my shoulder like I had seen in the cartoons. I’d climb the ladder to my treefort staying until it got cold enough to force me back inside. Often my parents wouldn’t notice I was gone -or they pretended not notice as that was likely what they thought a good parent should do to not encourage the behavior. It didn’t work, I ran away because I felt unseen and unheard, so a pattern of extreme behavior to get attention was emerging. While in the treefort I’d imagine a world free from parents and rules and fighting. As an adolescent I began to see this pattern emerging in a larger, more global context. People who feel unseen and unheard will try to get their needs met in all manner of ways, some inflict injury to self, while others inflict pain on others. People screaming at each other to close the gap between them to feel heard. In a larger social context people create radical extremist groups to terrorize the oppressor. The old adage hurt people, hurt people comes to mind. A cycle of pain begetting more pain emerges. Our legal system punishes in punitive ways failing to excavate the root cause of the crime. Why is someone stealing? Why have they become violent?

The question then becomes do we know who our oppressor is? How can we know if we are responding to a perceived threat rather than a real threat? What measures can we take to tell the difference between real and perceived threats? What does this work look like on a personal and global scale?

When I left home the final time I joined a commune of young like minded folks. Many like me, escaping their own history and hoping to create something meaningful and radically different than what society was offering. We had our challenges, many of us had yet to process the emotional pain that we brought with us and with little skills to master this pain it was easy to bring that pain into the group dynamic and allow it to richochet off of one another. That said, we got a lot right. We created together, built families together, made music together, birthed our children at home together, we made clothing and built homes together. We ate meals together and fell apart and came back together many times. We learned a lot about ourselves and while many people our age were learning in college, we learned to live in community and off of the land.

I left Hawaii and the community setting a few months after my son was born. I had confidence at that time that I could bring the gifts that I had learned from the group back to my family of origin to heal the original wound from which I came. I felt it was holding me back from realizing my full potential. In the setting of community, I felt valued and honored and therefore rose to meet the challenges I faced. In the setting of the community there were ample opportunities to create and therefore I consumed less and felt more satisfied and whole. This all changed when I came home to Connecticut. When I returned I learned I was too young to be a mother (21) and that my unmarried status was shameful and embarrassing to the family and stigmatized me as an ‘unwanted woman’ in the culture regardless of the truth. I was expected to be dumb for having chosen to bear a child at a young age and was treated as such by almost everyone I encountered. Strangers offered to adopt my child from me, etc. While having created a whole community with friends I was thought to have no skill sets to offer. I felt under valued and unseen again, the original wound re-opened and I had to hold tight to the memory of my worth.

Dear Friends,

My heart is breaking I can barely eat, sleep or teach. As I was emotionally railing over my son leaving for college, as I was feeling the threat of an empty nest and all the changes and implications that come with this seemingly major life shift… my dear friend, Stardove’s, 19 year old son Koshari was senselessly murdered on Molokai, a blow to the head by a complete stranger, no known motive or affiliation (Koshari Waits). I fell to my knees. I have my son, he’s alive… while her firstborn is dead.

Stardove & Koshari 1996

This comes on the wake of the shooting in Santa Barbara by Eliot Rodger and the senseless cries that drown out the tragedy that scream for rights to be armed. I watched the entire video of Eliot’s self named retribution it has since been taken down from You Tube, he is a tragic, lost, self-possessed individual, overcome with grief turned into rage, misdirected by mysogyny and social myths; isolated by mental illness, entitlement and blame. He is one of many victims of a society steeped in the illusion of what we call social ‘norms’ -materialist expectations of suceess and achievement based in objectification, the acquisition of trophies (beauty and stuff) of which sexism, mental illness and rage are all a by-product.

Meanwhile, the ice caps are melting, Fukushima is threatening to extinquish the human race and people are watching TV, eating poison -or- alternatively they are smugly eating organic food in their massive homes and living the lie of complacency generated by the corporate machine, buy this, wear this and don’t notice your mind has been hijacked by commercial images and excellent marketing strategy.

Yoga plays into this, it plays into notions of spiritual superiority and exceptionalism…not us, but them. PLEASE WATCH Michael C. Ruppert, part 6. A fantastic quote by a realized being Adyashanti ‘You can use meditation to fall asleep as well as WAKE up. It’s time to WAKE UP! Don’t you agree? Playing by the established set of rules no longer works for any of us.

I don’t say this to upset or depress you, if you’re reading this you are likely of the same mind when it comes to the outrage you feel for the general asleepness of the world at large. I say this to rally you. Our concerns for stuff and image are more than a minor flaw in the human condition, the media and all the bullsh*t notions of sucess and togetherness it relentlessly stuffs down our throats is more than marketing strategy and business as usual. It’s a poisenous infection to our collective health, safety and well being as humans. As we kill each other the machine is eating us alive, the SUV’s and monstrous houses we live in are our coffins.

So, Yoga world are we going to use our voices -or- are we going to promote another corporate Yoga brand to promote ourselves and our injured ego’s?

Are we going to fall prey to the machine and let it swallow us whole and along with it the opportunity for change..the chance to give a platform to the ideas and concepts that could save our planet and the human race.

I’m sure as F*@K not!

Maya Angelou
Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies, You may trod me in the very dirt But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you? Why are you beset with gloom? ‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns, With the certainty of tides, Just like hopes springing high, Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?

Shoulders falling down like teardrops, Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?

Don’t you take it awful hard ‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you? Does it come as a surprise That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame I rise
Up from a past
that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling
I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

© 2018 Colleen Lila Yoga