Life Lessons

Shanthi Project: Healing from trauma

What can we do to recover from any type of trauma in our lives? A group in the Lehigh Valley called Shanthi Project is spreading a concept for healing around our area that is aimed at at-risk kids and adult survivors of trauma.

The trouble with trauma is that it can be pretty hard to disconnect from, but science says that trauma-informed yoga and mindfulness can have a real impact on the brain. This is the cornerstone of the Shanthi Project.

Meshell says her long term recovery is tied to being able to let go of the past.

"I have to remember breath. You're not there anymore Meshell. You're right here. That's in the past. That can't hurt you anymore. And once I'm aware of that, I can move on," says Meshell.

Organizers of The Shanthi Project say trauma-informed yoga and mindfulness can make a huge difference in the community. They take their teachings into places like Northampton County Prison, recovery centers, even 121 classrooms throughout the Lehigh Valley.  They also train social workers, counselors, teachers and yoga instructors with the idea being that taking away the pain can take away the distructive behavior.

Michael Lear,  one of the founders of the Shanthi Project, explains, "This allows them to feel safe and they're able then to feel what the trauma may produce in terms of sensations. And then the techniques that we teach them allows them to be present with what might not be comfortable but it also allows them to prevent being pushed to a negative act."

He says it's about learning coping skills promoting positive emotions. Meshell says the model has helped her tremendously.

"That's something I really had trouble with in early recovery and even today is accepting that these things happened and that I was not at fault. The mindfulness has helped me with that," she says.

"What this process has been shown to do is kind of reset or recalibrate the precincts of the brain that have been disregulated or dissrupted by the trauma that lead to impulsvity, hypervigilance, hyperactivity, things of this nature," Lear said.

For Meshell it's about finding a new outlook by simply becoming aware of who she is and what she's capable of.


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