The Labyrinth

Originally posted on DailyPS.com

My life looks like one big labyrinth.  Beautiful in concept.  Awe-inspiring from afar.  But at closer look, one finds a series of twists and turns that have no end in sight. Somedays I am excited to see where the path will lead, and other days I am like a stubborn child, heels dug in, not wanting to take the next step forward. Other days I swear the center is mocking me.

Standing at the beginning of a labyrinth, all you can see is uncertainty. You can’t fathom the end. You have no idea where the middle is. And have no clue where the twists and turns will take you.  Soon you realize there is no short cut to get to the center. Kinda like the journey through healing where feelings of fear and uncertainty rule the process. 

The labyrinth is an ancient symbol that represents wholeness. It combines the imagery of the circle and spiral into a purposeful path. Unlike a maze where many choices must be made to find the end, a labyrinth has only one option. The option to enter or not. Once in, the path takes you to the center and then back out again.  All you have to do is have trust and keep going. 

Ha!  “All you have to do."  TrustKeep going.  Is that all?

The thought of even entering has me running the other way!  

Trust does not come easy to me and “keep going” is hard when all I want to do is lay down and give up.

And going to the center of yourself is scary!  Heck, there are some days I don't like to look in the mirror in fear of what’s staring back, let alone journey to the center of my being and settling there for a while.  Or at times, avoiding the center all together in fear of what I would find there.  

What if I find something I don't want! 

Or worse. 

Find something I forgot I longed for.

The process of walking through a labyrinth quiets the mind and opens the soul.  And connects us to the depths of our being so we can remember who we are. Through our choices, other people’s actions, hurts or trauma our identity may be lost, forgotten or abandoned.  But this healing process reminds us that at our center is our true identity.  An identity made in the image of God.

Colossians 3:10 ESV And have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”

 God will be there with us.  Walking with us during the journey of healing and carrying us when we want to lay down and give up. 

 Scripture tells us “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

 Take note through your journey of healing that a power higher than you is with you. Guiding you forward. There may be stops, pauses or full-on sprints but know God is with you along the way. To restore you to your true self at the center of your being.  Just trust and keep on going.

JuST Summit Blog Presenting: “Effects of Trauma on the Mind, Body and Soul and How Movement and Meditation Facilitates Healing”

Sigmund Freud said in 1895, "I think this man is suffering from memories."

How true those words ring today. People who experienced trauma relive that traumatic event or events over and over. Their mind, body, and soul are affected long after the initial event. They are, in truth, suffering from memories.

When someone goes through a traumatic situation, their body is a crime scene. It does not feel safe, so survivors try to spend as much time outside their body as they can. Also, many trauma survivors are mentally tormented by shame they feel in the present about events that have occurred in the past. They feel shame for how they acted or didn’t act at the time and try to numb those feelings anyway they can. And there is a loss of self. Some survivors feel defined by the trauma. They become what the abuser says they are or what society deems them to be.

Trauma Needs to be Witnessed

In my line of work, I have seen that suffering needs to be witnessed and validated before it can be openly addressed. David Emmerson states in his book Overcoming Trauma through Yoga: Reclaiming Your Body, that when suffering is minimized or shamed, it doesn’t go away. It goes underground. It goes beneath the surface, into the body and mind, and stays there wreaking havoc until it can be released.

Also, most trauma survivors are unable to tell anybody what exactly happened immediately following the event. Those emotions, thoughts, and memories go unprocessed and get dumped into the body.

The Body Speaks What the Mind Can’t:

When emotions, thoughts, and memories go unprocessed, they can show up as emotional and physical symptoms. And seek validation through flashbacks, unexplained rage, uncontrollable outburst, poor impulse control, racing thoughts, depression, body aches, and pain.

Mending Mind, Body and Soul

While talk therapy is an essential step in the healing process, many are finding that it is not enough. We must address the way trauma is held in the body to make the healing process more complete.

For real change to take place, according to Bessel VanDerKolk of "The Body Keeps the Score," the body needs to learn the danger has passed and to live in the reality of the present. When survivors are triggered or reminded of the past, their right brain reacts as if the traumatic event were happening at that moment. And because their left brain is unable to process the situation due to trauma, they may not be aware they are "suffering from memories."

Bridging the Gap with Yoga and Meditation

In working with trauma survivors, I have found that yoga and meditation can bridge the gap of helping survivors safely process their thoughts and emotions and move them into a space of healing.

Yoga is a series of bilateral integration — right and left motions. Movement in yoga builds connections from the right brain to the left brain. Through bilateral integration, the brain is rebuilding broken connections, thus bringing memories to the surface of consciousness.

Yoga can help survivors create a safe place in which they process those memories.

Meditation also allows the brain to rewire and heal. We spend most of our time thinking about the future or reflecting on the past. Meditation is a way to train the mind on the present. Meditation helps bring the focus inward to increase calmness, concentration, and emotional balance.

During meditation stress hormones decrease, blood pressure decreases, brain waves increase, dopamine is released, and concentration and clarity are improved.

Trauma-informed yoga and meditation are great ways to bring survivors into the present moment an. It can help them learn how to trust and accept their body. And can help release what has been stored and unprocessed for so long.

Click here for the blog posted on Shared Hope International’s website

Wait....It's Not the Eagle's Wings Helping Me Out?

Isaiah 40:31 “But those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not grow weary; they shall walk and not be faint”. NIV

 

Right before Christmas I felt the Lord calling me to retreat and be silent. Hello! God have you not met me!!!!  But I felt the pull so strongly and I attended an 8-hour silent retreat.  Now before you say “silent for 8 hours!!!” I have to tell you, I did not go cold turkey.  That would have been a shock to my system.  The 8-hour day was broken into several silent sessions with some discussion times woven throughout which made the process manageable.

 

The theme of the retreat was “Mastering the Practice of Slowing Down.” 

In the process of mastering the practice of slowing down, the facilitators advised us to read slowly and with intent.  Then they gave us a folder with scripture and away we went to be silent.

 

As I was slowly AND silently reading, I came across Isaiah 40:31. Something about this well- known verse seemed new to me.  So, I went back and read the verse again even slower, letting each word form in my mouth. I read it again for the third time and I processed the meaning of each word with my heart and not my head. I did not try to over analyze or overthink it. I just let my heart absorb the words.

 

Before when I read Isaiah 40:31 or offered it to others as encouragement, I would usually brush past the first part and hang on to the “mount on eagle’s wings” or meditate on “not grow weary” or focus “not be faint”.  But when I read it during my solitude I noticed for the first time the first part of the verse, “but those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength”. 

 

Let’s read that again. Slowly.

 

“But those who WAIT upon the Lord shall RENEW their strength”. 

 

What? Was that first part always there?  Was I reading a different translation? How did I miss the first part all these years?

 

Heck, the whole time I thought it was the eagle and his wings helping me out.  Nope! It was the Lord. Go figure ;)

 

I love how scripture reveals its self like that.  The Bible is truly a living book. You can read a verse numerous times and then one day a whole new revelation. 

 

It’s like God gives me new eyes with new understanding.  There was a time when I needed to hear from Isaiah 40:31 that I shall mount with wings like eagles and I won’t grow weary.  I thank God for that promise and reassurance. But now I am in a season where He wants me to wait so HE, and He alone, can renew my strength.

 

Waiting is hard. But in the waiting, I will trust Him. He will be by rock and my shield. And He will renew me.

 

 I am beginning to like this new arrangement.

 

Are you in a season of God calling you to wait upon Him?  And are you willing to wait upon the Lord so He can renew your strength?

Jennifer

Sweet To the Soul

I had one of those days last week.  You know the kind.  Where you get out of bed and say “not today Satan” and Satan says “Oh, it’s on like Donkey Kong!”. (Yes, that verse is in the bible, well it would be if they ever let me translate a version of the bible. It would be called “The Chicago Truth Version” translation. LOL). 

I got hit from all angles.  Emotionally, spiritually, personally and physically. The burden was too much.  I didn’t know what to do and that’s when it happened, I let my guard down and I did something new.   I called a friend to help me process. A friend who told me it was alright to cry.   A friend who just listened to me ramble on and on.

It is new because in the past I would go into robot mode, shut down and just go about my day.  On my own.  Without asking for help and later yell at God for never sending me any help.  However, this time the load was too much to carry, so I curled up in my chair dialed the phone and listened to her sweet voice speak truth and wisdom into the places that where dark, broken and filled with lies.  Her words mended me.  Mended the hole that began as a snag.  A snag  that was picked at all day by people’s actions, my thoughts, old tapes running through my head, emotions and sin, until it unraveled and lay there a big, gapping hot mess. 

 

I don’t remember the words she spoke over me but I do remember how I felt.  I felt loved, cared for and seen.  Her words where “sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

 

I hung up the phone feeling like the fog was lifted and I was ready for whatever was next. However, I later was thinking why I don’t do that more often. 

 

Heck, don’t we all want to hearing sweet words that heal our bone?! But why do some of us (and when I say “some of us” I mean me!) have to wait until we are completely overwhelmed or so tired and broken that we have no other choice but to let our guard down and let others in. 

 

Perhaps think about the places you need mending the next time you have some quite time, or when sitting at a red light or standing in the Target line (There would be a whole lot of places I would need mending if I were to think about this standing in a Wal-Mart line!!!!!!)  Anyway……..

 

Where are the places in your soul that need to be mended by a kind word?  What is standing in your way to receive it?  And what would it look like if you did something new and reached out?

 

Proverbs 16:24 “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones”

 

1 Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

 

Jennifer

 

Ps-(Thanks gurl for the honeycomb….you know who you are and I love you long time).  J