On January 14th of this year, my 6-year old son and I drove up to our home on fire. A fluke “accident” caused this fire and the subsequent loss of 90% of our belongings as well as a forced displacement. I am a hard working single mom and we had just moved into this beautiful home a few months prior. I had poured my heart, soul, and resources into creating the most amazing and upgraded residence that we had ever had the privilege of calling home. In that fleeting moment of arrival, the panic, and awareness of the massiveness of what was happening has forever changed me, and I know, my son. Life will never be the same and the preciousness of life itself remains at the forefront of our everyday reality. What unfolded in the days and weeks after are a slight blur as I was in a state of shock and quite traumatized. I became fixated on simply being in the moment each and every day – really knowing for the first time in my life that that is truly all we have. The tasks that lay before me of digging through our smoke infested belongings searching for only meaningful items to keep, literally throwing away the majority of my “stuff” that I had worked so hard to obtain, tending to my equally affected 6 year old, keeping up with daily affairs and needs, trying to stay afloat financially, and taking care of myself in a way that was absolutely non-negotiable and essential under these conditions; could have sent me spinning into a state of complete overwhelm and paralysis…yet, it didn’t. For the most part, I remained calm, grounded, embodied, and receptive during this time of transition. I took care of what needed to be taken care of, I communicated with those that were asking to be communicated with, I operated from my heart to the best of my ability, and, we made it through….we found our way through the shock and trauma and landed back home in a grateful, easeful, and loving way.
How did I navigate this situation in such a way? There are so many factors, a huge one being that I opened myself up to receiving from community in a way that I never have been able to before. This experience alone could have carried me through beautifully. I also put my 25-year yoga practice into action in my everyday moments. I had to. It was non-negotiable. And, I did up the ante in a huge way and, I believe, that the level that I have taken myself to is a direct result of this process…..I remained embodied. I put my self-care and embodiment practices at the forefront of needs. I knew in my soul that this was absolutely critical to my ability to handle what was being asked of me. Success!! I made my way through the most traumatic experience of my 41 years of life thus far in tact and stronger and clearer than ever.
I offer these tips for moving through traumatic life experiences embodied and they all stem from truly put your health, wellbeing, and self-care practices ahead of everything else: 1. This is a tough one for those of us (you know who I am talking to!!) who are accustomed to putting everyone else’s needs ahead of our own. It is a MUST DO each and every day. This does not mean you go and get a massage every day by any stretch of the imagination. I am referring to tending to your body and your nervous system through tracking your breath throughout your day, taking the time for even a short meditation and yoga practice, a walk in the fresh air breathing all of the beauty and goodness around you in. Feeling the pulse of your heart beating as you walk and breathe. 2. Move your body! Dance around your house. Get on your mat even for 10 minutes. Walk outside. Stretch while cooking, talking on the phone, etc. Keep the energy moving. 3. Give yourself 10 minutes to just BE with YOU before tending to your children in the morning. 4. Look into your own eyes through the mirror and give yourself positive feedback; smile at yourself, tell yourself how great you are doing, that you are going to get through this, and that you are here for you. 5. Eat regularly and lots of greens in every form. 6. Drink more water than you think you need and add a splash of lemon and/or apple cider vinegar to add some extra hydration and balance to your system. 7. Utilize herbal formulas (I like Ayurvedic ones from John Douillard) and steep good quality nourishing herbs every day to make strong tea. Feed the tea to yourself and those that you are taking care of (I add a few drops of stevia to the tea and call it ‘sweet tea’ for my son who chugs it!). 8. Use flower essences (Bach Rescue Remedy and I love the essences from 3flowershealing.com). 9. Make (or buy) bone broth and drink some every day. 10. Take high quality vitamins, supplements, and fish oil; this is not the time to skimp on your body’s need for nourishment and fuel. 11. Get acupuncture regularly. Acupuncture is one of the most powerfully supportive medicines for every system of the body and is crucial during times of high stress. Check your local community for clinics who offer affordable treatments. 12. Lean into your friends, family, and community resources and really open your heart to all of the love that is begging to be poured your way. Say thank you and express authentic gratitude as much as possible; you can never say it enough.
This traumatizing and life altering experience has renewed my faith in humanity and in community as well as my already devoted commitment to my embodiment practices. I believe with all of my being that we have the capacity to give and receive love and support infinitely if we can soften and open up to it. Experiences that bring you to your knees offer that opportunity.... you just must make the choice to take it.
Alison Rothman MA CMT CYT is a yogini, dancer, body worker, single mother, earth lover, and natural healer. She has committed herself to embodying the everyday realities of humanity through various practices and lifestyle choices and is passionate about sharing her discoveries and inspirations with others. She leads retreats locally and internationally blending ancient and modern movement with everyday wisdom through deep, embodied, and inspired teachings. She lives in beautiful Boulder, CO. with her son.