What happens when our freedom to choose is denied?


When I was five we moved from our farm to a town of 8,000 people thirty miles away. A year later I awoke to strange voices in the house. Mother was rushed to the hospital where she hovered near death for weeks. She didn’t die but her recovery took years.

As an adult I’ve had multiple marriages and an equal number of divorces. I’ve moved over forty times. But I would never have told you I was a victim of trauma. In my mind, trauma was for the physically abused or war damaged.

I was in my fifties before I read Waking the Tiger, by Peter Levine, and realized the negative patterns that kept repeating for me were trauma-based. I’d adopted those behaviors as survival mechanisms, but in fact they were creating more trauma.

I sought therapy from a brilliant practitioner, Thea Lee. About the same time I began a personal yoga practice that has kept me centered and sane through whatever circumstances have come my way.

We have a situation world-wide that is wreaking havoc on our nervous systems. “The scale of this outbreak as a traumatic event is almost beyond comprehension,” said one expert in an article published a week ago by CNBC. I would encourage you to read it.

I keep hearing the words, unprecedented, pandemic, apocalyptic to describe the chaos the entire world is experiencing. In conversations with friends and family there are other words: tough, depressing, grinding, boring, stir-crazy, frightening.

Right now I depend more than ever on my daily yoga habit. It works like nothing else to ground me in the morning and enables me to stay present with the reality of the moment rather than spiraling into the what-ifs that lead to fear and panic.

I’d like to make you aware of an opportunity coming up if you want to add yoga to your bag of survival tricks.

In 2013, my daughter, Jessa Walters, was hired by the University of Minnesota to teach trauma sensitive yoga. She’ll be doing a 75 minute session online.

Jessa Walters MA, E-RYT, TCTSY-F

Here’s what she says about the need for a practice that counteracts the effects of trauma on our body.

“A common dynamic in overwhelming/traumatic experience is the feeling that we have no choice in what is happening. David Emerson. founder of Trauma-Sensitive Yoga, defines trauma as an extreme lack of choice. My whole organism wanted one thing to happen and the other thing happened.

“Experiencing an embodied opportunity (in this case, through yoga) to make choices moment by moment can be a way to counter the impact of the choice-less nature of overwhelming/traumatic experience.

“If you’d like, please join me for a 75 minute Trauma-Sensitive Yoga session over Zoom this Saturday, April 4 @ 5pm Pacific Time (or Sunday 8am in Bali).

“This yoga practice will be slow-paced. All are welcome.

To join the Zoom session, you will need to have Zoom downloaded (free) on your phone, ipad or computer. Click on “Join” and enter the meeting ID: 545 061 526. Or click on this link:


“Donations for the yoga class are accepted via Venmo (Jessa Walters) or PayPal (paypal.me/jessawalters). Thank you.”

Just FYI – I downloaded ZOOM this morning. It was quick and painless.

For me, yoga works like a mood-altering drug. If I wake up agitated, anxious, distracted, fretful, I’ll ALWAYS try to talk myself out of getting on the mat.

I’m too tired.

I’ll do it tomorrow – twice.

I’ll walk later instead

Hopefully while this stupid mind-game is in process, I’m pulling on my leggings and sports bra because once I’m dressed for the practice I’ll do it.

It takes about one-and-a-half sun salutes for a major mental shift to take place. By the time I’m finished I’m an entirely different person, supercharged, happy, and ready to take on the challenges of the day.

If you already practice yoga, you may be curious to see how the trauma-sensitive approach differs. If you’re new to the game, this is the perfect opportunity to begin in the non-threatening, non-competitive privacy of your own home.

If someone in your circles would benefit, please feel free to pass along Jessa’s information.

Meanwhile, watch clouds, count birds, and let your mind/body slow…slow… slow down.

Do you agree with this quote?

“Changing is what people do when they have no options left.”
― Holly Black, Red Glove

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Gail Brown
    Apr 03, 2020 @ 18:54:06

    Thanks Sherry, I will download Zoom and give it my best shot.🙏🙏

    Sent from my iPad



  2. Anonymous
    Apr 03, 2020 @ 23:12:25

    Terrific idea. Love the photo at the bottom! And of course the photo of Jessa too😀
    Just for her and anyone else using ZOOM which I utilize often and appreciate…
    They’ve had some issues with privacy so one needs to do certain settings. I tried to cut/paste here but unable. Will send in email and you and send if you think Wise.



    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Apr 04, 2020 @ 20:10:17

      Thanks Sharon…the clouds have been amazing lately! Jessa addressed the issue and has a private password for her meeting now that I’ve attached to the latest post. What a shame ZOOM has this issue. I hope they fix it fast.



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