Trauma Stories & Body Memory

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Cutting Edge Research

Analysts speak of the ‘trauma story, a communal construct of what happened and what may lie ahead. This story is tied to experience, but elaborated to confer meaning, explanation, and exculpation for the side that tells and conveys it. Often stories are mirrors of images of each other one told by perceived victim (but perhaps the perpetrator to the other); the other told from the other point of view.  The traumatic event may lurk in past centuries or in recent history. Regardless the trauma story serves to drive a wedge between communally defined groups and freeze-frame their interpretation of all subsequent events. Hence human security may remain out of reach for generations.

Jennifer Leaning (2000), ‘Human Security and War’

Trauma Stories are like Body Memories: they are true, they are felt, and yet they are constructed and learned at the same time.

We injure our foot and we start walking with a wrong posture and our body learns this new posture as ‘the natural one’. Then we develop back pain and we think our problem is in the back. We often don’t even remember the foot injury that taught our body to walk differently, and constructed a new posture that is now causing us back pain.

Trauma Stories are like Body Memories: they are real, but they need to be mapped to understand them and heal them opening new possibilities for the future.

This is why exploring shared narratives through a body memory tool such as yoga may open new perspectives on how to live through trauma.

Find out more on Yoga as workshop facilitation technique.

The Author

A Participatory Action Research on Yoga in Action for Post-Conflict Reconciliation

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