The audio podcast is above. Here’s Douglas Baker’s review of the book:
A fundamental idea found in millennia of yoga-based teachings is that the human quest for relief from suffering can be found through both mind and body. This contrasts the Buddhist view that liberation is primarily a cognitive shift. As dharma teacher Larry Rosenberg pithily stated, “Where is peace to be found? In the same place as sorrow. How convenient.” In other words, in the mind.
In her comprehensive, insightful, and heartfelt new book, Attachment-Based Yoga and Meditation for Trauma Recovery, Deirdre Fay guides us through yogic teachings and practices that essentially say, ‘Let the body help free you.’
I began my own exploration of yoga’s therapeutic potential after seeing myself and others touch remarkable states of wholeness in a 90-minute meditative yoga class, a shift that more than a decade of psychotherapy had not yielded.
We can learn to sit, stand, breathe and hold the body in ways that produce therapeutic opportunities – to experience states of balance, integrity, clarity and ease in the body. These in turn can be powerfully medicinal for the mind, and lead practitioners to new frontiers of experiencing the body as a safe place to be, often for the first time in their lives. For some who are deeply alienated or dissociated from the physical and emotional realms, the value of this mind-body rapprochement cannot be overstated.
Originally steeped in the spiritual growth-oriented Kripalu Yoga lineage, Fay went on to collaborate with Bessel Van der Kolk (who enthusiastically speaks of the yoga studio installed in the Trauma Center) and others. Indeed, this book might be thought of as the hands-on manual that could ably accompany The Body Keeps The Score, Van der Kolk’s remarkable memoir-like overview of his lifelong journey to better understand and treat trauma.
With great compassion, Fay details how shame and trauma create a toxic inner environment, leaving the sufferer feeling like there is no safe place in their own skin. Whether the trauma is ‘big T’ or the mundane variety of parent-child mis-attunement, no matter. As Mark Epstein describes in The Trauma of Everyday Life, we all carry this shame and trauma. The sufferer blames himself “there must be something wrong with me.”
Attachment-Based Yoga and Meditation for Trauma Recovery presents a trove of simple body-based practices to empower the client to differently discern sensation from association. In coming to know the body, its energies, emotions, sensations, fluctuations and mysteries in a new way, free of shame and fear, yoga becomes a practice of loving self-attunement.
As valuable as all of this is, where Fay’s work arguably breaks the most new ground is her linking yoga, trauma and attachment theory, from a rich variety of perspectives, including Bowlby’s attachment research, the Focusing method (Gendlin), Germer and Neff’s compassion work, and many others. In the end, Fay shows us there are literally countless tools in the self-attunement toolbox of yoga and meditation, and encourages the reader to take simple steps. This is not put-your-leg-behind-your-head yoga, the often competitive workout commonly taught in studios. This is the yoga of union (one of many translations of the word), and the book guides the reader toward a more perfect union of mind, body and spirit with great compassion.
This lovely book is quite vast in scope and impressive, but what comes through again and again is simple and profound: Learning to trust the body. In this Deirdre Fay has done a great kindness to us all.