Before & After-ish Photos From A Trauma Recovery Standpoint (especially)

One of the things I love about this work realigning the body, physically letting go, or as I like to call the blending of the two: integrating with the animal, is the fact that I can see it in my students. It literally shows up in the body.

My struggle with fatigue, the fallout of my early traumas, limited the amount of Align Up practice I’d ever been able to do. Pushing past it only unleashed more unsettling emotional intensity and three years of adrenal fatigue. The tides turned for me, long-story-short, by surrendering and living by the mantra: What Would Feel Really Good Now?

Lately-a couple years later? I’ve been feeling awe-struck with life and wanted to see what that looked like in my body. Change is so gradual, it’s hard to see it when you see yourself day-to-day. So a friend took some photos of me while I practiced on her patio. I am not presenting these images as a “before and after” in a finalized version of the expression, because working this way is  literally how I live and breathe now. Life is about my moment-to-moments shaping my journey.

Here’s me at work about three-four years after I’d been practicing Tai-Chi, and was in teacher training at The Balance Center:

Standing meditation

It might appear that the 15 pound sandbag on my head was the reason for the intensity of my expression. Not true. I was working in a way that the bag felt light. No, that heaviness was about how I was carrying and letting down my weight. It was also my trauma expressing itself whenever I trained or practiced. I remember Chen Xiaowang seeing it in me. I felt it, of course. But I thought this was training! This was strength. But it was really me, my animal deeply stressed and over-exercised. It was triggering pain and shame from my physical trauma.

This is me now, June 2015. I could feel the peace I’d made with myself and with my animal when I looked at these photos. We did it! I did it! I am okay now. It’s not like I’ll be running off into some perfect sunset or a photo shoot for a mental health poster. Perfection is a dead-end anyway. I have a baseline feeling of peace and lightness. My days are spent lollygagging moment to moment, going by what would feel good. And only doing that thing, including Align Up & TRE, as long as I need to. As long as it’s pleasurable.

Tree Up Lighter Tree Me

The gratitude I feel is so profound. I’ve been waiting most of my life to feel this emotional freedom and physical peace. Recovery didn’t bring me what I planned or struggled for. It brought me something better. Something I couldn’t fathom as I waded through the darkness. We are miracles. I wish you love and lightness.



3 thoughts on “Before & After-ish Photos From A Trauma Recovery Standpoint (especially)

  1. Hi Karen,
    I LOVE seeing your before and afters and the sense of ground… as though you have a place of stillness inside of you. Congratulations on getting to this place that can seem so unrealistic and then feel so normal when we get there. I hope to hear more some day about what this meant for you ie: the difference in the old animal body and how you found your way, by doing what you most wanted in the moment, into your new / innate animal body. thanks for sharing!!

  2. Karen – this is beautiful – you are beautiful. Now I see where you have been and where you are.

    much love, Jude

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