By Dr Deepak Mittal
Yoga and meditation are ancient restorative sciences that can be used as therapies for the holistic healing of the important triad of well-being, namely the mind, soul and body. To keep the body healthy, strengthen the mind and soothe the soul, nothing works better than these two divine practices. The world is waking up to their sterling benefits, and beginning to induct them in their own plans of daily well-being. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Yoga and meditation practitioners were quite successful in keeping the peace and going with the flow of the evolving times. Seeing this, several others too found themselves wanting to start or revert to these practices to get in touch with the peace within.
Being at peace is an important contributing factor for all positive things in life such as peace of mind, a content soul, restful sleep, etc. For people who have had traumatic experiences, they can really benefit from the practice of Yoga and meditation since the benefits are exactly what they need to heal. One of the effects of trauma is that it can alter one’s personality as it causes a number of neurological changes. And with the regular practice of Yoga and meditation, one can overcome the overwhelming effects of a traumatic experience.
Impact of Yoga and meditation on people who have experienced trauma
No matter when the traumatic experience happened, the residue of it lives on in the subject’s mind and body. Hence, we see people who’ve experienced trauma being afraid of certain physical sensations, and the resulting anxiety causes their breathing to become shallow and the whole body to go rigid and uptight, as if they’re frightened in the present moment. When one practices Yoga, this stressful breathing slows down and with it the stress too, thus letting the heart rate mitigate as well. Yoga puts people back in touch with their bodies.
When meditation is practiced daily, not only the body but also the mind is gently retrained to let go of the trauma and be mindfully present in the moment. So, it helps in healing the residues of a traumatic experience by helping with anxiety, depression, insomnia and nightmare management, and by propelling people to feel calm enough to let go of anger and engage socially with others.
What research says?
Many studies have shown how Yoga is beneficial, at times even more than medications in alleviating traumatic stress symptoms. After the subjects started practicing yoga, neuro-imaging of their brain showed a perceivable activation in the areas of the brain that are connected to self-awareness. These are the same areas that people get locked out of following their trauma, and which needs healing in order for them to move on in life. Hence, the efficacy of Yoga on people dealing with trauma cannot be disputed.
Infact, efficacy of yoga and meditation is very high as compared to other therapies such as neuro feedback, eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing. To treat trauma, several systems and processes like changing brain activation and memory processing is necessary as well. While the said therapies are champions in some or the other of these systems, the regular practice of Yoga and meditation has been found to be helpful with most of these systems, albeit as a gradual process.
Other than these changes, subjects having trauma almost always have issues with good sleep hygiene. Sometimes, the sleeplessness gets so bad that it affects their work schedule and all aspects of their life. With regular practice of meditation and Yoga, most subjects have experienced emotional healing and the ability to finally move on. Thus, meditation helps to calm a mind affected by the residual stresses of trauma and Yoga heals the body to let go of the tension it was holding on to all this while.
Other restorative therapies such as laughter therapy
Trauma lead to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that has symptoms such as anxiety and depression, emotional numbing and social withdrawal, etc. In short, trauma shuts people away from their inner child. When daily practice of Yoga and meditation is boosted with other restorative therapies such as laughter therapy and clean Ayurvedic diet and eating, a lot of changes can be brought about. Laughter therapy is the purest way to get back in touch with your inner child and its effects on healing trauma cannot be emphasised enough; only on seeing the effects can one truly behold the benefit.
Healing from trauma is a gradual process but possible with the regular practice of Yoga and meditation among other ancient recuperative and soothing therapies. By working on the several symptoms of trauma and providing emotional healing, these curative therapies align the mind and body with the infinite soul of the person and make the process of moving beyond the trauma a reality.
(The author is Founder, Divine Soul Yoga. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of FinancialExpress.com.)