Sometimes, pictures capture a flicker of a person’s soul in that exact moment in time. We can often put our metaphorical masks on and hide ourselves for a split second to pose for a picture. But this picture, it got me, the real me. I can see my soul, my pain. This was taken literally a day before I had my out-of-body experience. I would like to now walk you through it.
I was still in grad school, studying to become an Art Therapist, and it was the summer residency of 2019. The first week of the semester I was on campus. One of the classes I was taking was, Trauma informed Art Therapy and Crisis Counseling. The professor that was teaching this class, was the same professor I had for my Spirituality in Art Therapy class.
During residency we were meeting the professors and the other students in the class. The normal introductions started, and the professor informed us she just got certified in trauma informed dance yoga! All the students thought that was the coolest thing and we convinced her to run a group dance yoga session with us during class! It didn’t take much convincing and the next day she beautifully led us into a group session going through the 7 chakras.
My out-of-body experience happened in the middle of this group dance yoga session! Yup, in front of 30 people, and most of them I barely knew.
We started the session with the root chakra, the first chakra in our energetic body. From the beginning I knew that I was going to go ALL IN on this experience. I was treating this like it was a real trauma therapy session, because to me this is what our professor was gifting to us.
Not all the students were taking it as seriously as me though. Some people were inappropriately laughing and making jokes. There was talking going on during the periods of time we were instructed to be silent. It was quite frustrating, honestly, and it did unfortunately make me feel unsafe. It set the tone that this was an unsafe environment. That I could not fully let go emotionally, but halfway through the session I was able to ignore that bullshit.
By the time we got to the solar plexus chakra I was getting really into it. The professor was having us punch the air, stomp the ground, and think about what we weren’t going to take anymore. Then we made a pretend fire to throw all the energy we were wanting to let go of into the fire. I was starting to allow myself to be open.
Then we got to the heart chakra. The professor instructed us to grab what we need to heal in this journey, energetically grab people if we need it, pull it all into our heart, and hold hands with our people. At this moment I was ready for a full release. I was ready to let myself cry it all out. But I heard some people whispering and making jokes, so I emotionally closed up.
For the throat chakra, one of the things we were instructed to do was to grab a partner, if we wanted, and dance with them for an entire song that was upbeat. I grabbed a person that was a friend of mine that I noticed they were also taking it as seriously as I was. With them, I was able to be more at ease. A part of me knew I needed that safety so I could then allow my emotions to flow through me.
Then we got to the third eye chakra. **trigger warning**
We were instructed to pick a partner again. I stayed with the friend I felt comfortable with. The professor said we were to stand there and witness our partner dance for an entire song. Then they would witness us dance. When it was my turn to dance, the first line of the song was “thank you for hearing me”, and out of nowhere I was cracked open.
My energetic body left my physical body and connected to my higher self.
I was uncontrollably crying releasing so much trauma that was stored in my body. Listening to the lyrics of that song felt like my higher self was talking to my present self, thanking it for listening to my trauma, my inner child, and for all the work I have done to get to this point. But it was also like I was my higher self above my present self, looking down onto my physical body, and offering it love and support.
I literally was not even aware that I was going through this moment in front of 30 other people. I was so zoned in and my partner helped me stay zoned in. When I needed it, I’d reach out my hands for her to hold them. Then she looked me in the eyes saying how beautiful I was, how strong I was.
Then my higher self gifted me with the memory of the last rape I had experienced in college.
Up until this moment, summer residency of 2019, I had believed that I survived only three sexual traumas in college. Then I remembered that was not the case. This last memory I was gifted with also brought to my awareness that I had been raped by someone I knew.
So, my journey just got way more complicated, challenging, and messy. I was stunned. It was also within that moment where I realized what my thesis was going to be about. I wanted to research how a person can take care of themselves after surviving sexual trauma. I recognized how interwoven my trauma was now. It wasn’t just these strangers who hurt me that I was “separate” from. Where I could put them out of my mind and focus on my own healing. It became way more difficult to heal, and now I needed to figure out how the fuck to actually do that.
I started to question, how does a person even become abusive in the first place. How did we get here with this mindset of victim vs abuser? Is it solving anything? Is someone who has sexually abused a person just automatically this awful human forever? I’m still in the process of exploring all these questions myself. I go more into my thoughts about this on my podcast, in episode 19.
During this dance yoga experience though, I did not have the time to really start thinking about all that stuff. I especially did not have the space to integrate the information I just received in the middle of residency. So, I shoved it back down, but not for long because then I started going to therapy a few months later.
But this was the drawing I made after the dance yoga session! It’s interesting looking back on these drawings. I remember that the purple represented myself, my body. The blue and yellow represented my mind and spirit. You can visually see how disconnected my mind, body, and spirit felt before the session. Then after my out-of-body experience, I felt so connected, which sounds contradicting now writing that out, but it’s how I felt! It was as if I now had all the pieces of myself to continue doing the healing work full force. I was extremely proud of myself for what I had accomplished so far, and realized how important it was to do the work I was about to personally embark on through my heuristic study.
You can listen to the song, “Thank You for Hearing Me,” by Sinead O’Connor, here. Every time I listen to it I cry! I only listen to it when I can feel I am needing an energetic release.
When we see the light in ourselves, we create light in others.