What inspired me to write this article, besides listening to his keynote address, was a four-minute video I watched of Matthew Sanford talking with YogaJournal.com, Yoga and Healing Trauma, in which he discusses how practicing yoga poses can help people move through trauma, pain, and sadness. I encourage you to watch it for yourself!
Matthew Sanford says, "The body is the best home your mind is ever going to have", and that the body is a powerful vehicle to help support the mind as it deals with trauma and sadness.
An example he gives is of someone with painful arthritis of the hand who might become overly focused on the pain they experience in that hand. They're afraid to do much with it, because they know it will hurt. Their awareness is narrowed down to this experience of a painful hand, and Sanford says this contributes to an enormous loss of freedom in our life.
The practice of yoga helps us to distribute our awareness throughout the whole body, so we are more than just that painful arthritic hand. We can live more freely, and deal with more pain and discomfort, both physically and emotionally, if we can focus on our whole being and not just on the discomfort.
Our body, when we use it well, can help steady our mind, so that even though the pain and discomfort is still there, we aren't completely ruled by it. We can maintain more of a sense of equanimity in the face of hardships.