Perhaps you’ve watched the A&E Network’s show, Storage Wars. In it, a group of people look for five minutes at the contents of a storage unit from its periphery, but cannot enter the unit. Then they bid to own the unexamined contents inside. The winner is the highest bidder, and his/her reward is ownership of everything in that unit.
The highest bidder might find valuable coins or artwork, antique toys or newspapers. In rare cases, they find instruments. However their newly-bought storage unit could be filled with dirty tee-shirts accompanied by soiled linens and parking tickets, vestiges of life in transit. More often than finding gold, the winning bidder finds the clutter of unresolved issues and remnant droppings of a human pack-rat.
The show is popular because it’s a modern day version of a mother-lode gold strike. In a few cases, bidders have made hundreds of thousands in profit. One bidder discovered Spanish gold coins, some dating back to the 16th Century, valued at half a million dollars. Another winner found a model grand piano and a third stumbled into classic toys worth nearly $13 thousand.
In our yoga bodywork, it’s not long before we are like most of those treasure seekers who run smack dab into unwanted leftovers and are faced with cleanup. It’s widely understood in our yoga communities that our bodies are storage units of past traumas. This includes mental and psychological trauma along with physical injuries.
Dr. David Berceli describes his work treating “deep chronic tension created in the body during a traumatic experience or that has accumulated from prolonged stress.” His therapy to clean up the human body’s storage unit is called TRE, Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises. Berceli’s therapy didn’t arise from a vacuum, but from his acute observations inside a bomb shelter.
TRE is a set of exercises and poses are designed to “release deep chronic muscular tension held within the body.” When TRE works on bodily trauma, it creates small or large shaking in the body. In a less obvious way, yoga’s body work creates similar stress release.
This understanding of our physical bodies as a repository for trauma and stress is corroborated by Dr. Bruce Lipton who writes about the mind and memory of cells in The Biology of Belief. Lipton believes at our cellular level, our life-history is recorded and stored. He recounts the experience of transplant patients. One is a young girl who received a heart transplant. Lipton writes, She began having nightmares of murder following her transplant. “Her dreams were so vivid that they led to the capture of the murderer who killed her donor.”
In yoga practice, our goal is quite the opposite from that of the Storage Wars bidders. Our bidding is our work to empty the traumatic and accumulated storage in our bodies and minds by releasing trauma and negative memory.
This work isn’t easy. But the good news is that it happens in small degrees every time we go to the mat. When, during a regular yoga practice, our joints along with skeletal and muscular structure are opened up and expanded. When that opening starts happening, emotions are sometimes released in forms from crying to shaking.
A yogi truly wins when they empty the storage bin of anything unnecessary, when they are free from emotional burdens – even if the release is only for a brief time – and if one really thinks about it in the larger picture of yogic consciousness, is there really anything worth storing in a locker, or in our bones?
When a yogi wins by losing, eventually devoid of clutter and stored trauma, bodies respond more efficiently, the yogi’s mind becomes sharper and cleansed, and their spirits are refreshed by the emptying out. If any of us hold onto perceptions of being wronged or harmed by others, it does nothing to them, but fills the storage bins of our bodies with cellular junk like anger, sadness, and distaste, maybe even hate.
Living now means one experiences everything fully now. Nothing in storage can add to my full presence. By living in yogic breath and embodied moments, the yogi gradually releases trauma and unwelcome energies from the past and grows free from the grasp of storage.
He or she grows into greater openness and presence for themselves and others. And while it’s something of a cliché’, as we’re coming up on gift giving season, why not give presence this year rather than presents that will in all likelihood end up as an afterthought for a Storage Wars bidder.
http://www.bercelifoundation.org., Accessed Nov. 16, 2015
Lipton, B. (2005). Epilogue: Spirit and Science p. 155. In The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter and Miracles. Carlsbad, CA: Hay house.