When you are dealing with PTSD, take what works and run with it.
A Good Start
I took the plunge last week by starting, and more importantly completing, a 5 day beginner’s yoga course. Despite being aware of its benefits and threatening to take up yoga years ago, I’m afraid I can’t take the credit for having the initiative to organize my idea, that all belongs to Lucie and I would be yoga-less with out her.
Lucie and I met last year in Chiang Mai, it’s nice that she’s back. There haven’t been many people who I have opened up to since leaving London. But she knows more than most, as she saw the immediate aftermath of my motorbike crash and kind of understood the context of what was going on in my life with regards to my PTSD, and my return to Koh Phi Phi island – where I was caught in the tsunami.
There have been a few false starts with taking up yoga. Back home, I was a member of the West London Virgin Gym which had regular yoga classes. Admittedly, I didn’t go to many and was never really consistent but after completing last week’s course I have a better understanding why I had never been keen to return.
In hindsight, I never gave Yoga a fair chance. The Yoga classes back home were always a source of anxiety. I never felt comfortable in the classes, the majority of the classes were filled with middle-aged women. For me that made it always feel very mumsy. I wasn’t the only guy, but because of my social anxiety I didn’t really mix with anyone. I would rock up, struggle with staying calm and focused in the class, and end up never really learning anything while basically itching to bolt out of the class as soon as possible.
Unlike London, life in Chiang Mai is genuinely calm and peaceful. Living by the old city means I rarely have to use public transport as I can walk to most places I need to get to. Added to that, there is an abundance of tranquility and culture, from the countless Buddhist temples to the local traditional arts and crafts. The atmosphere makes Chiang Mai such a perfect chilled out city to take some time to reset yourself.
So what’s changed?
Well, for starters I guess I have changed, my base level of happiness, anxiety, depression, survivors guilt and outlook on the future have all had a shift in perspective.
How I react to having flashbacks, which are infrequent and less intense, has also fundamentally changed. I breathe easier, literally and figuratively. Taking time out from life in London and returning to where the trauma all happened has also really helped. As the majority of my most intense flashbacks have always taken me back to Thailand.
The intensity is different. I don’t feel the sudden culture shock, along with the trauma shock of actually being in Thailand when I have a flashback of previously being there (Does that makes sense? Time and PTSD flashbacks are difficult to nail down.) The flashbacks now are less intense when compared to having a flashback of the trauma of the tsunami while I was trying to teach Pythagorus’ Theorem (a2 +b2=c2) to bunch of lovely but rowdy Year Nine students in an inner-city London secondary school classroom.
Trauma Focused Cognitive Behaviour Therapy had previously resulted in a change in my inner dialogue, a less critical voice that allowed me to react from a fairer perspective. This was the key element in being able to really benefit from last week’s yoga.
Unlike the classes in London, I found some genuine calmness in my mind that enabled me to really relax into the flow of the class. Instead of feeling anxious through out, I found some stillness.
Stillness of the mind is what I want to develop through the continuing practice of yoga, mindfulness, and eventually meditation. I’m hoping to document this mindfulness journey, as I know there will be long-term benefits of this lifestyle change.
Originally posted on PTSD Jedi
Photo provided by the Author.