It Didn’t Start With You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle is a book that explores this concept of epigenetics and how we may carry our ancestors stressors and traumas in our genes. The book does a good job of explaining how this happens and provides some examples. I thought some of the examples seemed a bit “out of this world” and unimaginable but interesting. I think this phenomenon plays out more in the not so obvious ways the book provided. When we start digging deeper in our family history, we are bound to find stressors that play out in our lives as they are our own. The book uses “core language,” “core complaint,” “core sentence,” and “core trauma” development to help the reader discover their greatest fears and help possibly connect to an ancestor who had a similar experience.
“When entangled, you unconsciously carry the feelings, symptoms, behaviors, or hardships of an earlier member of your family system as if these were your own.”
Many chapters including the “core” ones have writing exercises to help with discovery and ways to process well as release our stressors and traumas. I believe the writing exercises are beneficial and give the reader ways to work through what they have found. The author goes into areas that are traumatic that we may overlook including in utero and early childhood attachment issues.
Overall, the book was intriguing for me personally as a therapist as it provides another avenue for self-discovery as well as understanding possible reasons why we struggle with what we struggle with. I would suggest having the support of a mental health professional while diving into these topics.
Read this book if:
You are interested in epigenetics
Believe your ancestors may provide more insight into your own struggles
A mental health professional and want to help your clients dive deeper into their past
Savasana, the ending resting pose in most yoga classes, can conjure up all sorts of feelings. I would go as far to say that you either love it or hate it. How can one pose create such an emotional reaction? I would guess that those who hate it are challenged by the stillness and struggle with not “doing.” Maybe it’s just really hard to get comfortable on the floor, on your back. Perhaps the silence brings an awareness to your racing mind, and that is uncomfortable. I can also safely assume that those who love it, have developed that relationship over time. Those people understand that becoming aware of your racing mind, sensations in the body, and feelings that arise are just part of the package. It comes with the territory and it’s how we choose to meet all that arises is the difference.
Savasana is the most simple pose in any yoga practice but also the most complicated. All you are asked to do is lie on the floor and “be.” Be with your thoughts non-judgementally; be with sensations in the body without creating a story around them; be with any and all feelings that you notice; just be. You have no demands on you during this time. No errands to run, nobody asking you for anything, and no tasks.
If you embrace Savasana as a gift of the practice, I challenge you to stay longer, add more props for comfort and ease, and rest in it more frequently. Extend your time by just a few minutes each time you set yourself up; the longer the better. Commit to a regular practice of Savasana by keeping your props accessible, dedicating time in your daily schedule, and set a timer so that you have the boundary to go deeper.
If you are interested in a better relationship with Savasana, I challenge you to first, get really comfortable in your set up in the most quiet, peaceful place you can find. Set a timer for 5 minutes in the beginning and extend by a minute each time you commit to the practice. Cover yourself with a blanket and cover your eyes with an eye pillow or wash cloth if you are comfortable doing so. Meet all that you notice with compassion. You can choose to spend more time with it or you can choose to focus on the present which may include becoming aware of your breath. Consider it a refuge from life, a place to hit the “pause button.” Dedicate to a regular practice to gain the benefits of stillness and deep rest. I guarantee it will work wonders if you let it!
The fancy and beautiful poses are great. They make us feel powerful, balanced, and strong. Don’t get rid of your movement practice, it’s important too. I just ask you to simplify your practice, commit to doing less, and just be.
Join me Sunday, January 21, 2018 for a 2-hour workshop, “Advanced Savasana,” where we will explore 3 comfortable shapes as well as setting up a home practice, and enjoy a generous Savasana.
Katie Rodgers is a 200-hour registered Yoga Instructor who has trained extensively with Restorative Queen, Judith Hanson Lasater and combines Restorative Yoga with mental health talk therapy for overall mind-body well-being. Register at Noda Yoga.
The Heart Speaks by Mimi Guarneri is written by a cardiologist who lost several family members to heart disease. She began her career as a cardiologist inserting stents in her patients to aid in blockages. She began to notice that the same people continue to return for the same issues. Simultaneously, a few of her patients began utilizing alternative medicine in conjunction with the western medicine she was applying. Dr. Guarneri was skeptical at first but began to see progress in her patients who were using these methods. She then founded the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine in San Diego where holistic healing methods such as acupuncture, group therapy, biofeedback, and yoga were combined with conventional methods to aid in healing.
The book is divided into 3 parts and the second part was the most appealing to me as it went into the emotions of stress, anger, depression, and grief and how they affect the heart. Dr. Guarneri noticed that when people began to open up and share themselves as well as what they are carrying around, the healing can truly begin. Lastly, Guarneri states that “compassion, patience, and empathy” have shifted in the medical field and are desperately needed from doctors to their patients.
This book is fairly quick to read and not geared towards medical professionals so it can benefit the lay person.
Read this book if:
You are interested in more information on the intersection of conventional and complementary medicine with a focus on heart disease
You are a practitioner of conventional or complementary medicine
You have been diagnosed with any type of heart disease, high blood pressure, or experienced a heart attack
Stephanie Cunningham of “Changing the Face of Yoga” podcast recently interviewed Katie on how she integrates restorative yoga in her mental health practice to aid in managing symptoms of traumatic stress, anxiety, depression, and self-injury. Listen here or download in the podcast app on your iphone(Episode “Trauma”).