Realities and Remembrances Around Suicide and Adoption

My post today is a retrospective and resource guide of sorts. I am linking to my previously published posts about suicide and adoption, among the hardest topics to write about. Still. I want to honor the memory of Fisseha Sol Samuel, who died by suicide four years ago today.

There are other adoptees I’ve written about as well, who died by suicide: Gabe Proctor, Philip Clay, Kaleab Schmidt. In my own circle of deeply loved friends and family, (some adopted, some not), I know people who have had breakdowns, who have been hospitalized, who are on meds, and who have scars both visible and hidden, There are many others whom I have not written about and never will. I hold all of them in my heart. I hope you do too.

And maybe you have your own list of dear friends or family who have considered, attempted, or died by suicide. Maybe suicide is something you have considered yourself. My heart acknowledges and aches for your sorrow.

Please know that there are resources and help available. Please know that things can get better. Please know that there are people who would grieve your leaving the world, even if you don’t know them, or know them now.

Let me clear: Most adoptees don’t attempt or die by suicide. Suicides happen for complicated reasons, and adoption may or may not be a factor. That said, we need to be aware, and to talk about it. Suicide is, regardless of adoption status, a major public health concern.

It’s a cold, rainy day here today, and we are going through complicated, difficult times in the world. It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed. You’re not alone. There are no magic wands. There is still, though, purpose and the potential for joy. Always. 

Here are a few links to my previous posts. Click on them if you wish. I offer them with the hope they may be useful. May those who have died be at peace. May those of us still here be at peace as well.

Here are some other statistics and resources:

Suicide is a Leading Cause of Death in the United States

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) WISQARS Leading Causes of Death Reports, in 2016:
    • Suicide was the tenth leading cause of death overall in the United States, claiming the lives of nearly 45,000 people.
    • Suicide was the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34, and the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 35 and 54.
    • There were more than twice as many suicides (44,965) in the United States as there were homicides (19,362).

LGBT Youth at Higher Risk For Suicide Attempts  

Preventing Youth Suicide: Tips for Parents and Educators

Suicide Prevention: How to Help Someone Who Is Suicidal

Tomorrow (October 10) is World Mental Health Day: Here is information about it from the World Health Organization.

 

October, Traumaversaries, and Hope

T.S. Eliot may have called April the “cruelest month,” but I am thinking October–6 months after April–gives that notion a run for its money. October holds Halloween, and the Day of the Dead. It’s when school kids (right up to college) often move out of the honeymoon start of school, and problems start surfacing. Trees in many parts of the world change their colors, and leaves drop off. Harvest season has ended, fields lie fallow, days get darker.

An Ethiopian adoptee, the British poet Lemn Sissay, wrote this on his Facebook page a year ago today, October 9: “When October arrives, part of me leaves. I want what leaves to come back.”

A year ago today, Fisseha Sol Samuel died by suicide at 20 years of age, near the soccer fields of his college campus. I send my heartfelt condolences to his family, left behind, grieving mightily, healing slowly.

In The Wasteland, Eliot wrote that “April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire…”

Memory and desire. Loss and love. The powerful combination that can firmly glue and sometimes rip apart a family, a child, a beloved soul.

We celebrate or observe anniversaries of important events. Sometimes, less official but quite real, we experience traumaversaries:  a feeling of sadness, anxiety, and/or grief around the anniversary of a trauma (experiencing a deeply disturbing frightening event). I hear this term “traumaversary” fairly often in the adoption community. Adoptive parents note that their children fall apart (crying, overreacting, withdrawing) at a particular point of year because the children had experienced a traumatic event during that time, a year before, 10 years before. Often the body remembers, even as the mind seeks to forget, and an edginess or anxious vigilance can manifest on the anniversary. I know of a young adoptee who had a psychotic episode in October many years ago; every October the fear that it will happen again, the unsettling knowledge that it happened at all, permeates the month.

It’s hard stuff. And it is real. I offer these thoughts to assure people they are not alone in and on their traumaversaries, whether in October or any cruel month. There are resources, and there is hope. Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness, said Desmond Tutu. Sometimes we need to be the light for others; sometimes we ourselves need to look for it. The astronomer Pamela L.Gay, writing about Childhood’s Shadows, notes that “you can only be there for someone when they let you be there. You can only listen to someone who is willing to speak. You can not force yourself into any other person’s life no matter how much you may want to be there for them.

So I watch, and I wait for the moment when my extended hand will be taken. When you are ready for help, understand that I will still be here.

And on this October night, on traumaversaries, and in this cruel, crazy, beautiful world, may we watch, and listen, and extend our hands.

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Flower in Ethiopia, 2014. © Maureen McCauley Evans

 

A tip of the hat to Dr. Jason Evan Mihalko, who today tweeted the link to the “Childhood’s Shadows” post.

Suicide and Adoption: We Need to Stop Whispering

Update: For resources about adoption-related suicide awareness and prevention, here is information.

Just this morning, as I was getting ready to post this, I read on my Facebook feed about a 28-year-old Korean adoptee who died by suicide two days ago. I did not know her. She was the same age as my oldest son, and she had a daughter about the age of my granddaughter. May she rest in peace.

I am holding in my heart a 20-something-year-old adoptee, adopted with a biological sibling into a huge adoptive family (more than 25 kids). He is overwhelmed all the time these days, as a result of things he has done and has had done to him. He wants to go home, though he’s not sure any longer where “home” is. He is in great need of mental health services, and is intently resisting help. He is teetering on the edge of suicide.

Yes, I know most adoptees do well. But this one is struggling, and it appears to be the result of events after he was adopted. His adoptive family has abandoned him.

My two most shared blog posts (shared over 1000 times on Facebook) are “Does ‘Adoption’ Really Equal ‘Trauma’?” and “Fisseha Sol Samuel: Irreplaceably Marvelous.” Both deal with a hard side of life: trauma and suicide. The first post says, yes, adoption is trauma, and there is a spectrum of response to it. The second post was written last October following the suicide of an Ethiopian adoptee who had previously exhibited no symptoms of depression, and whose death was likely (we will never know for sure) the result of a sudden, triggering, traumatizing event in which he was overwhelmed and impulsive. Fisseha’s mother, Melissa Faye Green, has written several powerful posts as she sorts through her son’s death.

Here is an excerpt from my post about Fisseha:

“There is sobering research that says that adoptees are four times more likely to attempt suicide. It’s here in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Not lightweight stuff, and even more startling in that the mean age of the 1000 participants was about 14. Out of the total group, which included adoptees and biological children, 56 had attempted suicide; 47 of those were adoptees.”

I am holding in my heart a 14-year-old Eastern European adoptee, who is too familiar with drugs and sex, who is loved deeply by her adoptive parents, who is in various therapies, who cuts herself and threatens suicide often. She can be a bubbly, sweet teen, and also a deeply frightened and frightening out-of-control mystery.

Yes, her struggle may not be the result of being adopted, but rather of what happened to her before she was adopted. She is struggling, and those who love her are deeply worried.

No one enjoys thinking of adoption as a trauma. No one likes to talk about suicide. And, I know: most adoptees–most people generally–don’t consider or die by suicide.

That said, let’s start thinking and talking about the link among adoption, trauma, and suicide. Let’s insist that suicide awareness be a part of pre-adoptive parent training classes. Let’s demand that anyone who claims “adoption competency” in their therapeutic practice is extremely knowledgeable about suicide. Let’s actively and shamelessly share resources to prevent suicide. Let’s request workshops like “The Presence of Suicide in Adoption” as a topic at adoption-related conferences. We need to stop whispering about suicide and adoption, and to speak about it with clarity and without fear.

I am holding in my heart a 16-year-old adoptee from India, beloved by her adoptive family, mentored by an adult Indian adoptee, raised in Minnesotan suburbs, who killed herself about a month ago.

Yes, she struggled, and also was offered and received help. She may be at peace now, though all those left behind are filled with sorrow and questions.

These 3 adoptees are among the reasons that we must talk about the role of trauma and suicide in adoption.

A few weeks ago, I was at the national conference of the American Adoption Congress. The main legislative advocacy effort of the AAC has historically been access to original birth certificates, a means of allowing adopted persons to know who they are, a basic human and civil right.

What is the connection between suicide and the AAC’s legislative efforts? Well, there may be a genetic component to the likelihood of suicide. Access to one’s medical and mental health history–too often denied to adopted persons–could be a matter of life and death. Knowing about a history of depression or other mental illnesses in one’s family could mean proactive treatment and interventions. It is yet another reason that closed records are unfair, untenable, and wrong.

Here are links to two medical journal articles:

Genetic and Familial Environmental Effects on Suicide – An Adoption Study of Siblings

Genetics of Suicide: An Overview

Many adoptees are adopted into families where the adoptive parents are well off financially, have attended college, and are in highly regarded professions.The adopted children go to excellent schools and often have wonderful opportunities. Still. Take a look at “Best, Brightest–And Saddest?”, in which Frank Bruni reflects on the “suicide contagion” among teens in Palo Alto and elsewhere who are under pressure to succeed academically in highly competitive situations. The article cites a CDC report that says 17 percent of American high school students considered suicide in 2012. Eight percent said they’d attempted it.

Suicide, of course, feeds on trauma and depression, and does not discriminate based on economics and education. While the “suicide cluster” among high schoolers in “epicenters of overachievement” is discussed in the New York Times’ article above, there has also been a similar tragedy–which has not made national press–among young people in Seattle. Three young men, ages 18, 18, and 20, who were students at the Seattle Interagency Academy (SIA), died by suicide, within a 4 month period in the last year. SIA works with at-risk youth, who have struggling families and who are often homeless or on probation. Listen to an excellent podcast with the SIA principal here.

Coincidentally, there was a string of 7 suicides by adolescents on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota around the same time. No one is quite sure why this is happening, though bullying and grim prospects for the future seem to be significant.

I don’t know if any of these young people had spent time in foster care or were adopted. Certainly, though, their life paths echoed those of many young people whose families are struggling mightily, and those struggles are often the reasons that children land in foster care and/or adoption. Racism and micro-aggressions can significantly affect the mental health of transracial adoptees; I wrote about that reality here. Even adoptees placed as infants in same-race families can struggle with loss, grief, identity, and feelings of not belonging. It’s clear that many of these challenges manifest in adolescence.

This is all daunting tough stuff. I am seeking a balance: to acknowledge suicide prevention as a goal about which we can all speak in the adoption community, not over-reacting, being pro-active, and supporting each other. My next post on this subject will give some resources.

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Light Through Trees, Forest near Lake Langano, Ethiopia © Maureen McCauley Evans

The Sorrow and Tragedy of Sonya Spoon

Update March 16, 2017: About two and a half years have passed since this horrifying event. My understanding is that Sonya Spoon has been in jail since the night she killed her two small children. Yesterday, she pled guilty to their murder, part of a plea agreement that will allow her no fewer than 35 years in jail. She will be sentenced on June 7.

She will live that time knowing that she killed her children. I hope she has gotten help with her mental illness, which was certainly a factor in this. That doesn’t make her innocent. Maybe it helps the rest of us to vaguely understand what happened. Maybe not.

Some sad good may come of this case. Per this news report, legislation is being introduced in Maryland that will alert social services not only when children are harmed, but also when they threatened.

Surely you’ve seen the photos and heard the news: 24-year-old Sonya Spoon admitted to murdering her two small children. It’s a tragedy from any objective view. You’ve probably seen the photos from Sonya’s twitter feed, the sweet pictures of her children. Heartbreaking to see them now.

One of her tweets was a link to the song “Missing” by Evanescence. Sonya wrote that “Evanescence always gets how I feel during the highs and the lows.” It was posted June 7, exactly 2 months before she murdered her son and daughter. Why this song resonated with her, why she posted the link–I have no insights. The lyrics, though, are powerful:

Please, please forgive me,
But I won’t be home again.
Maybe someday you’ll look up,
And, barely conscious, you’ll say to no one:
“Isn’t something missing?”

You won’t cry for my absence, I know –
You forgot me long ago.
Am I that unimportant…?
Am I so insignificant…?
Isn’t something missing?
Isn’t someone missing me?

It’s possible that the lyrics reminded her, as an adoptee, of her Russian mother.

It’s possible they reminded her of the father of her child.

It’s possible they reflected how she felt in the world.

It’s possible it’s none of these things.

Sonya’s tragedy hits close to me because the murders took place in Cheverly, Maryland, where my kids, all now in their mid-20’s, grew up and still live, and where they rode the bus as kids to the same elementary school as Sonya and her brother.

I remember seeing Sonya, a little blond child, when she was adopted at the age of 3 from Russia. I think that would have been in 1993, around a time I was working professionally in adoption and becoming aware of the very tough realities of Russian orphanages and baby houses. I knew the family only in passing, to say hello to when we passed in halls of their elementary school, or walked by their house, around the corner from ours, en route to the Cheverly Community Center. We never know the sorrow and struggles of those we pass by.

How could a mother kill her two little children? I have no answer or insights about that, just incredible heartache for the children, their mother, their fathers, their grandparents, their playmates, their family, their friends. Sonya, whatever the judicial system outcome is, will have to live the rest of her life with the knowledge that her children are dead, and that she killed them.

Of course mental illness played a role here. I would guess adoption did too, and we have to stop being afraid to recognize how trauma affects individuals. I’m not saying this happened because she was adopted. Please. I’m saying that what happened to her in utero, what happened to her during her early childhood, what may exist in her genetic history, what the impact of being separated from her biological family may have had–much of that is related to trauma and loss. There is a spectrum to trauma, trust, and grief around adoption, and many children are resilient. Most grow up to be strong, healthy adults. Some have deep, dark, lifelong, real struggles.

I don’t know what went on in Sonya’s head. I feel certain that her parents tried to get help for her, that they loved her and their grandchildren deeply, and that the complexity of their grief right now knows no bounds. Anyone who has struggled to help a loved one, adopted or not, with mental illness knows well how tenuous the lifeline can be, how mentally ill people can accept and reject help, how high hopes can be for the right meds, the right therapy, the right treatment. And how easily those hopes can be dashed.

In most cases, of course, we muddle through, perhaps not elegantly but nonetheless safely, though often not without scars.

My final point here is a minor one, perhaps, but still. You’ve seen this photo of Sonya from news outlets, which many have thought to be Sonya’s police booking photo. Many have asked how she could smile in such a photo.

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It’s from her driver’s license. This doesn’t condone the crime, or the guilt, or the tragedy. It does suggest we often don’t have the full story when we pass judgement.

As a mother, as an adoptive parent, as a grandmother, I grieve. It’s all I can do.

 

 

 

 

 

Does “Adoption” Really Equal “Trauma”?

Yes.

To some people, this is old news (“The Primal Wound” came out in 1993.) To some, it’s a startlingly new concept. I’d argue, though, that “adoption as trauma” exists on a spectrum, as does trauma itself: some people recover well and easily, some people are forever wounded, and most are somewhere between.

A mainstream view is that adoption is a happy event: a child needing a family gets one. How, then, is adoption a trauma? That sounds so negative and scary, especially to an adoptive parent, and to an adoptee.

As an adoptive parent, I believe that adoption is all about gains and losses, joy and grief, a balance that shifts often throughout life. I also believe if we took a deep breath and viewed adoption as trauma—trauma that can be overcome, trauma that some people may experience to a small or large degree—we would be better able to help adopted children heal and grow healthy, sooner than later. I think we adoptive parents need to acknowledge trauma as part of adoption, not only for our children, but also for their first mothers (and fathers and grandparents as siblings).

I’m hardly the first to be aware of this, or to write about it. In candor, though, I’m just beginning to fully understand and accept it. Adoptive parents who have worked hard to bring a child into their lives through adoption don’t want to think that this action is in fact rooted in trauma.

I wrote in February about a yoga retreat I attended, all about healing from trauma, through yoga, writing, and nutrition. I shared a list of items that cause trauma, and I suggested that they all describe reasons children are placed for adoption.

Much research acknowledges that separation from one’s mother is trauma. Think Harlow and the baby monkeys; think Primal Wound. In the case where the separation is the result of neglect, abuse, or death, the trauma is intensified. The American Academy of Pediatrics wrote a report called “Helping Foster and Adoptive families Cope with Trauma.” Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy, a birth mother and powerful writer of the blog “Musings of the Lame,” wrote about the AAP report in her post “Assume There Is Adoption Trauma in Adoptees.”

We are hardwired to need and depend on our mothers for survival. If there is an end to that basic relationship, children suffer—even if they are infants, even if there is a new (loving, overjoyed) mother or mother-figure.

So it’s not only neglect or abuse that contribute to trauma, though please don’t minimize those challenges.

Adoption itself is trauma.

If we acknowledge that separation from one’s mother is a trauma, then we also must recognize that separation from one’s child is a trauma. When my granddaughter turned 6, I couldn’t help but think that was the age when her mother (along with her twin sister) arrived here in the US for adoption. I thought about their Ethiopian mother, and the loss of her 6-year-old twins.

Part of that thinking acknowledged the total lack of any counseling, follow-up, or therapy that is provided to many first mothers (and fathers, etc.), in the US but perhaps even more so around the globe. Providing equitable services to adoptive and to first parents must become a priority in adoption policy.

Some people, adoptees or otherwise, heal just fine from the trauma of separation. Some struggle with trust issues throughout their lives, and have a hard time beginning or ending relationships. Some are challenged with depression, anxiety, and more, throughout their lives. I want to stress that point: there is a spectrum of resilience among adopted people, and no doubt among first parents. The spectrum does not negate the need for equitable, timely services.

If adoptive parents could accept trauma as part of their newly adopted child’s reality, might they approach attachment and bonding differently? Might they see some of the post-honeymoon (the time after the adoptive placement) behaviors as grief, due to trauma? Even infants grieve.

What if pediatricians gave new adoptive parents brochures about trauma, as well as developmental checklists?

What if agencies had prospective families listen to experienced parents whose children have struggled, instead of the parents with the cute toddlers? What if agencies had adopted adults speak of their experiences around trust, stealing, lying, and depression, as well as identity and race? What if agencies acknowledged the need to provide equitable services to international first parents, to help them deal with their losses and grief?

What if we normalized trauma, as an inherent part of adoption? What if we accepted that possibility calmly, and gathered resources for our children?

I would have done a few things differently when raising my children, had I been more willing to consider trauma when they were little. Maybe I could have made their paths smoother.

Deanna Doss Schrodes is an adoptee, Christian pastor, and the writer behind “Adoptee Restoration.” Corie Skolnick is a therapist and author. Both Deanna and Corie are contributors to the excellent anthology, Adoption Reunion in the Social Media Age, edited by (adoptee, expat, writer) Laura Dennis. Deanna and Corie had a conversation via Deanna’s blog, about the subject of adoption and trauma, and it’s well worth reading and contemplating (“Ask a Therapist: How Is Trauma Part of Adoption?“).

It’s coincidental that Claudia, Deanna, Corie, and I should be writing about adoption and trauma. As I noted at the start of this post, we are hardly the first to consider it.

Still, here we have agreement among a birth/first mother, an adopted adult, a therapist, and an adoptive parent on a significant adoption issue: adoption is a trauma. Imagine what would happen if more of us talked together about challenging adoption issues.

Tremendous fights and fractures are occurring in the world of adoption right now, in terms of policy and of whose voices are being heard. Adoptive parents and prospective parents continue to dominate. It’s rare we (adopted adults. first parents, adoptive parents) all sing from the same song sheet, and there are lots of people with lots of microphones singing many different tunes. Still.

Acknowledging that adoption is trauma, understanding that trauma manifests differently in different people and over time, and allocating resources for treatment and support: that would be a positive step toward healing.

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Yoga, Trauma, Healing (And the Seahawks)

I recently attended a weekend workshop called “Healing From Trauma with Yoga, Writing, and Nutrition,” held at Seattle Yoga Arts. I’ve been fortunate not to have had a lot of trauma myself, though many people whom I love deeply have experienced trauma. I’ve dabbled in yoga. I love that this workshop combined yoga with writing, since I do lots of that, and with nutrition, because the way we nourish ourselves, and our feelings about food, can have a great impact on the way we heal and thrive, emotionally and physically.

I attended the workshop to see how all this might merge together: yoga, writing, nutrition, trauma, and healing.

From www.seattleyogaarts.com

From www.seattleyogaarts.com

Traumas can be physical, emotional, psychological, or a combination. Doctors talk about trauma as significant, sudden damage done to the body. Trauma also can mean an emotional response to a terrible, unexpected event, something that shatters our sense of security, of feeling safe. These events can occur in childhood, when we are unprepared and powerless to prevent them. Traumas can be a terrible accident or a natural disaster. They can happen to toddlers, to highly trained soldiers, to athletes, to anyone. Sometimes right after the event, we deny or minimize what happened. Sometimes, we recover quickly. When we don’t, later on we can have emotional symptoms (feelings of sadness, hopelessness, guilt, shame, self-blame, anxiety, and fear; mood swings with anger and irritability; withdrawing and feeling disconnected) and physical symptoms (being easily startled, having difficulty concentrating or sleeping, feeling tired or tense).

Symptoms can fade, and people can recover. Sometimes, symptoms can be triggered (well after the event) by reminders of what happened, reminders that can be based on the calendar (anniversary dates of a death or disaster), or on an unexpected reminder (a sound or smell, a picture of something that traumatized us).

Adoption is a trauma. We adoptive parents may not like to think about it that way–I certainly don’t. Still, it’s true.

Here is information from Emotional and Psychological Trauma: Symptoms, Treatment, and Recovery:

Childhood trauma results from anything that disrupts a child’s sense of safety and security, including

  • An unstable or unsafe environment
  • Separation from a parent, especially a mother
  • Serious illness, surgery (especially before age 3), intrusive medical procedures
  • Sexual, physical, or verbal abuse
  • Neglect

Though it’s not labeled as such, that list describes reasons children are placed for adoption–and why it is trauma. Significant separation from a child is also trauma, and thus adoption can be traumatic for birth/first mothers, fathers, and siblings as well.

Some adoptees recover from the trauma well, as do first parents. Some struggle throughout their lives. It’s a spectrum. Why is one person resilient, and another not at all?

Maybe that question, though, is just a distraction. The key is to accept the reality of trauma, to be aware of the impact of trauma, and to be open to helping oneself and others to heal.

Yoga is one good resource, perhaps especially because it connects the mind and the body, providing means to soothe the brain, and thus allow the body to better bear the physiological responses to stress and the triggering recurrences of trauma.

Slow, steady, purposeful breathing really is a big deal. Counting to 10 is only half the point: breathing slowly in and out, letting the body and mind get steady, is even more helpful.

Let go of any stereotypes about yoga. I admit I was heartened this weekend when our yoga group was not entirely high-toned reeds, because I always feel a bit daunted in those classes. Our group had a few um violins. A cello or two. It worked well.

We were encouraged to take care of ourselves, to talk about our expectations for class time, and to say what we hoped to take away from it. Safety was central: emotions, abilities, and efforts would all be safe, and accepted. Giving our beloveds (family members, friends, colleagues) space in which they are safe is a meaningful gift.

I want to emphasize this. Making a safe space–doing so with clear intention–may be one of the best gifts we can give to anyone who has experienced trauma. What does this mean? To me, it means that assuring (and backing it up) loved ones that when they are with us, they will be safe. We will listen to their needs deeply, we will accept the needs as they are expressed, and will partner with them, where they are. This could mean figuring out ways not to startle them, or best ways to express concern or affection, or what words are least/most helpful.

This weekend, we practiced different, gentle yoga positions, always encouraged to pay attention to our bodies, to notice what the muscles and joints were saying–and to breathe. This was “restorative yoga” we were learning: ways to restore energy and promote healing. Our wonderful instructor, Bianca Raffety, told us to pay attention to pain or discomfort, and to pay attention to what felt good. That was powerful. When we focus on what causes pleasure, in a healthy way, we can focus on maintaining or re-creating it. That’s true in yoga, and in other parts of daily life.

Meditation is often also powerful. Children can learn to meditate. The brain clears, the mind calms, the body regenerates. We are so over-tired and over-electronified, and over-loaded with information. What if, when we woke in the morning, we didn’t immediately reach for our cell phones? As a result of this weekend, at night I’m putting my phone in another room to charge, rather than on my nightstand. I’m going to use my waking up time to pause, breathe, and maybe meditate a bit, before bounding into the day.

I mentioned letting go of stereotypes about yoga earlier in this post. Here’s another dimension: the Seattle Seahawks–why, yes, they are the Super Bowl Champions–use meditation and yoga in their training. This article (the title made me groan, so try to move beyond that) has some fascinating points: “Seattle Seahawks Will Have ‘Ohm’ Team Advantage.”

Seahawks.com

Seahawks.com

A few highlights about the benefits of yoga and meditation:

“While football is obviously an intensely physical sport, mental muscles also flex pretty hard during a game. Learning to slow down and calm down is so important…because it teaches players to fine-tune their focus, attention and attitude. This leads to…a more mindful approach to the game.”

“There’s an entire body of science backing the idea that increased mindfulness can equate to better performance. Studies find that daily meditation helps raise awareness of self-defeating thoughts. Mindfulness practice also helps reduce production of the “flight or fight” hormone adrenaline that contributes directly to anxiety and distracting mental chatter.”

“Meditating regularly probably influences the size and topography of the player’s brains as well. Not that all that extra brain matter is useful for blocking or tackling opponents, but work sponsored by the National Health Institute for Complementary and Alternative Medicine found an increased thickness in areas of the brain associated with self-awareness, introspection and learning after several weeks of short meditation sessions.”

“By halting negative thinking and replacing it with sunnier thoughts while in training, players learn to carry a more positive attitude onto the gridiron…This can also translate into direct physical advantages as well. For example…the time players devote to sitting on a meditation cushion with their eyes closed has taught many of them how to slow their heart rates during the intensity of play.”

Who knew? I love unexpected, positive connections.

May we be open to healing and strength, and to new possibilities.