A 9/11 Trauma Recovery Story: The Power of the Essential Breath.
While attending a 3-Day Workshop for Veterans, Trauma, and Treatment,, at the Omega Institute, in Rhinebeck, NY, October 2014, I participated in a yoga workshop led by Beryl Bender Birch. Her new book had just been released, “Yoga for Warriors: Basic Training in Strength, Resilience, and Peace of Mind”. I left the weekend along with several of her new books.
Beryl lives in the Berkshires in upstate New York. She shares with the group the following story occurring in the days following September 11, 2001. Beryl was contacted by a social worker who worked in one of the New York City hospitals. The social worker had been a student in one of Beryl’s yoga classes, and knew her. Beryl was asked if she would come to the one of the hospital waiting areas where family members were waiting to hear news and updates on the condition of their loved ones who were in the burn unit, trauma unit, and intensive care unit. Beryl shares that she did not know what she would be able to do to help, as she was not a healthcare professional, but she did go. The social worker met her and escorted her to the waiting area, introducing her to the group, standing room only.
After being introduced, Beryl made the suggestion to let's all take a deep breath.
She asked if she could lead the group in taking a few deep breaths together. Each person in the room synchronized their in-breath and out-breath. As the group co-synchronized their breathing, the energy in the room shifted. A silent calm settled within the room. The calm was palpable.
No one was talking as their minds were quieted with the slow expiration of the breath, activating the parasympathetic nervous system. With this calm and stillness, the group continued to breathe in sync together, for about 15 minutes. Even though the situation did not change, being present with the situation was a gift, along with the most powerful self regulator, the BREATH. The breath was a tool to have with them, into the days ahead.
As a nurse, spending many moments with family members in waiting areas of hospitals, as an ED nurse, a critical care nurse, as an admissions nurse for hospice care, I loved hearing this story from Beryl. I have a beautiful memory of being in the cabin room on an Autumn afternoon, with Beryl on the Omega campus, being present and feeling her energy, and the energy we created and shared with the others in the group.
Nurse leaders on the front line will be the voice. With the reorder and transformation of healthcare, and the profession of nursing being reimagined in disruptive ways, nurse leaders on the front line will be the voice to implement changes. Developing nurse leaders, beginning in Schools of Nursing, will create the culture of creativity to emerge. Nurse leaders will participate in the movement of implementing those creative ideas every day.
Movement and momentum and miracles will flow. Transforming healthcare from the bottom up. The social worker who reached out to Beryl is a powerful example of bringing a creative idea to the front line, moment by moment with a powerful ripple effect.
Coaching is a powerful method of developing leaders in front line nurses. With all the self-help and well-being practices promoted within the profession of nursing, connecting with relationality and presencing heals trauma. When trauma is integrated, energy and creativity are released. With the massive explosion of trauma research in the past decade, we know that trauma is experienced in the body. Trauma experts are now dropping the “D” in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Trauma recovery coaching helps create the space for awareness of trauma which has not been integrated and remains frozen within the body. Trauma recovery coaching makes the unconscious conscious.
To experience a complimentary trauma recovery coaching session, please reach out. We live in a culture of collective trauma, we think is normal. We have been born into it. We don't know what we don't know. Awareness is the first step.